"In Blackness" is one of those books whose flaws are far outweight by its positives.
The flaws are few and far between, but they are there: the first h...more"In Blackness" is one of those books whose flaws are far outweight by its positives.
The flaws are few and far between, but they are there: the first hundred and fifty pages that just drag on and on (and on, and on); the characters that could use some fleshing out in personality (and which I found a bit hard to root for); the dialogue that can on occasion seem a bit forced. The build-up takes a while and lasts too long, but when it does come, it's worth it. Without giving away any plot points, or the ending, suffice to say that "In Blackness" is the one of the few books to truly creep me (a lifelong horror fan) out in the past few years. The ending is a bit unsatisfying -- but, then, as the first in a three-part series, that's to be expected and hardly something Harper can be faulted for.
It took me over a month to force myself through those first 150 pages, but I'm glad I did: the pay-off was worth it, and I'll definitely be buying the next two books when available.(less)
Another First-Reads win, and another book I might not have picked up otherwise, but ended up loving.
"Netsuke" is dark, disturbing, and wonderfully eng...moreAnother First-Reads win, and another book I might not have picked up otherwise, but ended up loving.
"Netsuke" is dark, disturbing, and wonderfully engrossing. The book's main character, a rather depraved psychoanalyst who preys upon his own patients -- rationalizing and justifying it so that it almost does seem like a logical thing to do -- is the sort of character one finds hard to forget after finishing the book; the sort who leaves a stain on the reader, one that takes days to shake off -- if one is able to shake said character off at all. The prose, as another reviewer said, is indeed lovely (typos aside, as this is an uncorrected copy, after all), and there are several phrases and passages I've highlighted in my copy to remember (though I doubt I needed to highlight them, really, as I doubt I'll forget them, memorable as they are).
This was my first experience with any of Ducornet's works, but it certainly won't be the last.(less)
Having a fondness for European history as I have, the lives of the Borgia family were not unknown to my when I won this book in a GoodReads giveaway -...moreHaving a fondness for European history as I have, the lives of the Borgia family were not unknown to my when I won this book in a GoodReads giveaway -- indeed, I entered the giveaway because I was already acquainted with their colourful lives and had always found them a fascinating family.
"Sins of the House of Borgia" -- an ill-fitting title, I think, but given the upcoming series, I can understand the choice -- follows the life of Esther Sarfati, a Jewess who converts to Christianity when she becomes a lady-in-waiting for Lucrezia Borgia shortly before her third marriage at age 21. Across its 544 pages, Esther (later Donata, then Violante) becomes entangled in the lives of the powerful and corrupt Borgia family, becoming a confidant to one and the lover to another. Fifteen years -- years of births, deaths, love, hate, and constant struggles for power -- pass between the time Esther becomes Lucrezia's lady-in-waiting and when she finally flees Europe, escaping to the New World and leaving everything and everyone she knew and loved behind. The novel's epilogue is fitting and sad, an appropriate end to the lengthy confession of an aging woman with a remarkable past. Those looking for a clean, happy ending will likely be disappointed, of course, but I found the epilogue to be my favourite part of the novel.(less)