When I first read this book 6 years ago, I gave it 4 stars. Upon finishing it for the second time, I can't help but bump it down to three stars. It juWhen I first read this book 6 years ago, I gave it 4 stars. Upon finishing it for the second time, I can't help but bump it down to three stars. It just wasn't as"wonderfully creepy" as I found it the first time around. On the bright side, it's been so long since I've seen the (far inferior) movie version that I didn't picture the actors in my head as I was reading. Unfortunately, I still found that I couldn't stand Eleanor. And don't get me started on Mrs. Montague, that bitchy self-important cockwaffle. Despite a few unlikeable characters, I really did enjoy the story for the most part - especially that ending! Maybe in another 6 years I'll read it again and have a totally different perspective and rating. Third time's a charm....more
I originally rated this book 3 stars until I started writing down my favorite stories and realized how many there were. I think my biggest mistake inI originally rated this book 3 stars until I started writing down my favorite stories and realized how many there were. I think my biggest mistake in the beginning was trying to read all of them in just one or two sittings. I love short stories, but very rarely can I read them that way (although Everything That Rises Must Converge: Stories, Willful Creatures, and How to Breathe Underwater are 3 that come to mind where I did just that). I loved the avian theme in this collection, but it did make some of the stories feel similar, even if just for the constant naming of groups of birds and bird terms. Once I started reading one or two per night, I enjoyed them much more for their sometimes creepy, sometimes haunting, often clever individuality. My favorites:
The Mathematical Inevitability of Corvids - Seanan McGuire
Something About Birds - Paul Tremblay
Great Blue Heron - Joyce Carol Oates
The Murmurations of Vienna Von Drome - Jeffrey Ford
Blythe's Secret - Mike O'Driscoll
Pigeon From Hell - Stephen Graham Jones
The Secret of Flight - A.C. Wise
*Thanks again to Netgalley and the publisher for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review...more
I received a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
When I read non-fiction, it usually tends to be by authors like Mary RoaI received a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
When I read non-fiction, it usually tends to be by authors like Mary Roach, Deborah Blum, or Jon Krakauer. I guess I gravitate toward a more narrative, conversational, or pop science type of NF. I love learning new things, but at the same time I have that all too human need to be entertaaaaained. You know, teach me but don't make it so obvious that that's what you're doing. Especially when I've just spent the past 3 years of my life reading nothing but textbooks. So what the hell was I doing requesting this book from net galley? The title is what really caught my attention, but at the same time I knew that this book would be much more academic than my usual NF fare. How compelling could it really be? Turns out, VERY.
History, theology, philosophy, art, literature, mythology, film, music, language, anthropology, psychology, science (seriously, I could go on) - they are all studied in depth here as they relate to the horror genre and its ghosts, monsters, ghouls, and various other entities that go bump in the night. Meticulously researched and cohesively structured, Haunted is an historical treasure trove of information that, while somewhat dry in parts, consistently fascinated me and kept me turning pages as if I were reading a novel. I especially loved the chapter on the created monster and the in depth analysis and discussion of Shelley's Frankenstein. I want to reread it, as well as The Picture of Dorian Gray and The Strange Case of Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde with the new perspective and insight gained from this book. I also have a ton of books I'm now dying to read for the first time, from The Castle of Otranto to The Monk to Carmilla to 'Salem's Lot. I would love to get a paper copy of this book when it comes out to use as a supplement for all of my creepy reading and tv/film viewing.
Bottom line: an intellectual and entertaining study of the horror genre that is well worth the read....more
Sandwiched between seemingly endless stretches of 100+ degree days (that apparently will resume tomorrow), we've had a slight stretch of weather thatSandwiched between seemingly endless stretches of 100+ degree days (that apparently will resume tomorrow), we've had a slight stretch of weather that resembles a typical day in Washington state rather than the actual summertime hell that is Kansas. It's been grey, misty, cool, and wet, with multiple storms that seem to appear as soon as the sky goes dark for the night. How perfect that I happened to pick up this book during this small window of autumn in July. I would have loved the book regardless, but I'm what you might call a "seasonal" reader; some books strike me as perfect warm weather reads (Lonesome Dove, East of Eden, Flannery O'Connor or other southern gothic books/authors), while others are best read in the autumn/winter (Tolstoy [actually, add most of the Russians here], Sarah Waters, John Adljvide Lindqvist, Victorian and gothic lit). Is that weird? I couldn't tell you. Regardless, the unseasonably cool weather served as a great backdrop to this disturbing and perfectly paced story of a doomed family and their gradual yet inevitable undoing.
I'm not going to say much about the book's plot because I think it's best to go into it cold without too much background. I will say that I loved the use and POV of an 8 year old narrator. I will also admit that I did get uncomfortably creeped out a few times while reading this late at night (something I thoroughly enjoy). I've been searching for a "can't put it down" book for a while now, and I'm so glad I finally found it. I love it when a book lives up to - no, exceeds- my expectations.
I have a copy of Tremblay's In the Mean Time (thanks to the recommendation of Karen Brissette - the real one!) on my bookshelf. Time to bring it over to the nightstand, I think. I can't wait to read more of his work....more
You know, I can't properly review this book without spoiling something. What I can tell you is that:
1. I had high expectations going in (years of anti You know, I can't properly review this book without spoiling something. What I can tell you is that:
1. I had high expectations going in (years of anticipation will do that to you) 2. My expectations were met, if not exceeded 3. The atmosphere creeped me out enough that, at 1:30 in the morning, when I realized my husband forgot to turn the sprinklers off, I almost left them on all night rather than go out in the dark to the side of my house and turn off the water. (Granted, I am kind of chicken shit. I always check behind doors and closed shower curtains, and I've been known to sprint up the stairs after turning off all of the downstairs lights.) 4. I am bummed that it is over. I didn't want it to end, yet I couldn't put it down 5. This would make a badass movie
And for more atmosphere, add about 80% of Radiohead's music - especially Amnesiac & Hail to the Thief - to the songs below and you've got my Night Film playlist.
**Edited to add (July 28) - I was thinking about this last night and I had to come and update my review. I loved this book, but -of course- it is by no means perfect. One of the biggest problems that I had was Pessl's inability to "dumb down" character dialogue when it was necessary or appropriate. Characters would go into long monologues of explanation and I couldn't help but be jarred out of the narrative a bit. Most people do not talk like this, especially in the situations they were in (I wish I could be more specific, but spoilers and all that). For example (and keep in mind, these quotes were spoken out loud by characters:
"I was doing inventory in the back, when suddenly I was aware that all the light had retreated from the store, as if the sun had fled, cowering behind a cloud. Alarmed, I glanced up."
"When men desire each other, they crash together like wrecking balls, quenching their need right then and there, as if the world were about to end."
"... you felt as if you were following a beautiful twinkling light, luring you into the woods. As soon as you lost all sense of direction, were unable to find the way back, it turned on you viciously, exposed you nakedness, blinded you, burned you."
Great writing, but not really believable in context. Letter or journal writing, sure. Conversation? Not so much.
The bad news? About half of the poems in this (very) slim volume didn't really do much for me. The good news? The other half I absolutely loved.
(Full dThe bad news? About half of the poems in this (very) slim volume didn't really do much for me. The good news? The other half I absolutely loved.
(Full disclaimer: I will be the first person to admit that I know next to nothing about poetry. I cannot write eloquently about it, let alone critique it properly. More often than not I'm unable to even articulate why I like the poems that I do. All I know is the way poems make me feel (or don't) when I read them, and that is what I am basing my rating on.)