This follow-up in the Lockwood & Co series lives up to the promise of The Screaming Staircase. Stroud does good when it comes to ghost fiction. WhThis follow-up in the Lockwood & Co series lives up to the promise of The Screaming Staircase. Stroud does good when it comes to ghost fiction. While his characters are all by nature children (an important plot point of the series, since only children can clearly see and deal with the ghostly threats that are plaguing England), Stroud doesn't go easy on them. They face some very nasty ghostly threats, and the reader is fully along for the ride.
I am a huge fan of a good and scary ghost story, and there are parts of this novel that are genuinely thrilling. I strongly recommend grabbing this on audiobook. Katie Lyons does an excellent job.
The trio of main characters, Lucy, George and Lockwood, make a great team. Lucy is the 1st person narrator, and the readers feels everything she experiences. Lucy has the 'talent' of hearing ghosts. There is a ghost attached to a skull that George stole from his former employers. George is a geek when it comes to ghosts, and he is nearly obsessed with the idea of communication with a type three ghost, the strongest communicators among the spirits. He performs all kinds of weird tests on the skull, but thus far, it has only communicated with Lucy. Lockwood is the dashing head of the Agency. Lucy still holds him in awe, but she is starting to know him better and realize that he needs her and George as much as they need him. I liked how Lucy and George are like siblings they way the fight with each other and trade insults, but also look out for each other and have each other's backs.
Aptly named, this story is about the growing communication with the skull that Lucy is experiencing, and the dire consequences of that. The skull itself is pretty creepy and disturbing, and I could definitely see why Lucy hated the skull.
I really like how the story builds so well in these books. While I can't say that things start out calm, by the end of the novel all the stuff has hit the fan, and the risk to the leads is very real. Not only from ghosts but from morally bankrupt human beings as well.
Atmosphere is probably the number one requirement of a ghost story. If one asked any of the ghost story masters, they would agree with me, I'm sure. Stroud has endowed this novel with plenty of fantastic atmosphere. He also knows that building tension is also important. Check! There are scenes in this story that almost brought goosebumps on my skin. The ghosts in this book are genuinely lethal, and even the harmless ones are still plenty creepy. The manner in which these hauntings manifest definitely helps to make the most of both atmosphere and tension.
I really like this series, and this book was equally good as the first, if not better. There were a rare few moments where I felt like my interest wavered and the story lost momentum. But overall, the plotting was excellent. While I didn't expect to find a good mystery, he definitely delivered one, and I was happily satisfied and surprised at the reveal. I definitely have to give this 4.5/5.0 stars
If you don't read juvenile/middle grade fantasy or horror, you need to start doing it now, and add this series to the top of your list of future reads....more
For a supernatural fiction-attracted person like myself, the idea of a Justice League sub-group with members who are alThe short of it: This is weird!
For a supernatural fiction-attracted person like myself, the idea of a Justice League sub-group with members who are all gifted in the magical/supernatural arena was too awesome to resist. It has some pretty weighty DC magical members, such as John Constantine, Zatanna (one of my new favorites), Madame Xanadu, and Deadman. Add some new to me character like Shade The Changing Man and Mindwarp, and you have an interesting cast of characters. Madame Xanadu is a powerful seer who foretells the end of the world, unless this specific group of people can work together long enough to set things right. That is much more difficult than it seems, with differing agendas and levels of commitment on offer. Not to mention a very powerful, very dangerous adversary, Enchantress, who has lost her human host and is going on a rampage.
Yeah, this was weird. I think the thing I liked the most was the ensemble cast. The storyline didn't really capture my interest. It was pretty gruesome and just plain kooky. Overall, made the book hard to follow. Also, some characters had stronger roles than others. I think that lacking backstory on some of the characters left a few question marks for me. I consulted the DC Comics Wikia and that definitely helped.
Of course, I'm not done reading this series. It's sort of a mediocre start, but I can see some promise. Plus, I just love Zatanna and I do have a sort of thing for that rogue John Constantine.
I was a bit underwhelmed with the New 52 version of Constantine. While it does retain the darkness of the prior incarnation, it lacks some depth. I thI was a bit underwhelmed with the New 52 version of Constantine. While it does retain the darkness of the prior incarnation, it lacks some depth. I think that Constantine has a tendency to be the Trickster, always working angles and not above double-crossing people when it give him an advantage. However, there wasn't enough explanation to go along with the visuals in this graphic novel. I think the writing could have been clearer and more expansive. The storyline itself was interesting, although there were certain aspects that I didn't like much. What happens to the kid that goes along with Constantine on his quest initially, was really hard to get past. I mean, Constantine is not a likable guy, but I hated him for what he did. Even if he felt he had good reasons. I did like how it's evident that Constantine knows he's a b*stard. But I don't think knowing you are a jerk and doing anything to change the situation is that big an advantage. Constantine doesn't mind playing dirty to outwit the dirtier magicians/sorcerers that he goes against. If you like an antihero, then you have to face that aspect of his nature. While I'm not always okay with his methods, I can generally acknowledge that its the nature of Constantine. However, I think maybe he goes too far this time.
I'm not sold on the artwork just yet. And the storyline is a bit obtuse. I'll have to see where this series goes. I won't write it off just yet....more
I confess that I started reading this series out of order. I can't say if that affected my rating. I will say I was disappointed with this first readI confess that I started reading this series out of order. I can't say if that affected my rating. I will say I was disappointed with this first read of Constantine in the graphic novel format. I have read a novel with him Hellblazer: War Lord, and I liked that more.
In all honestly, I am completely square when it comes to free love sex, drugs, and alternative religions. None of that are things I would choose for my life. Yes, that's an obstacle with this book, because they play a big part in this story. However, I believe all humans are equally worthwhile, and I care about the connection you form with a character, even if I don't necessarily agree with their choices.
John Constantine is on the run, implicated in a series of brutal murder with occult elements (when he actually saved the world in that situation and didn't kill those people). He runs into a group of earth-religion practitioners and bonds with a strange young girl with precognitive abilties named Mercury. Her mother Marj, is the poster child for an aging flower child/hippie chick. Her friends are all good-hearted, kind people who have a penchant for psychedelic drugs, earth spirituality, and living off the land. They generously take in Constantine, and he bonds with them. Constantine has led a rough, cynical life, but I get the impression that he is a kind person at heart, and goes out of his way not to harm others. When Mercury is kidnapped, he vows to get her back, even though it takes him back into the eye of the dark, occult storm he is trying to escape.
My biggest issue with this story was the graphic violence and the horrible murders that took place. I admit I am sensitive to that kind of thing. Ritual murders and stuff, and pretty much any kind of heinous murder or violence like that disturb me. This was all done by the bad guys, of course. So it's perfectly warranted to dislike them. ( I wish they had gotten more comeuppance in the end.) The Fear Machine concept was interesting, but stomach-turning. I think fundamentally, I hate when people's fears and weaknesses are manipulated, and I certainly hate innocent people getting harmed for whatever reason. Also, some aspects were confusing and didn't translate in the visual medium well. I had some question marks, even when I finished this book.
Constantine himself, is a likable character, what I'd consider an amiable rogue (and I do have a weakness for them and antiheroes). I think ultimately he does save the day, but I wish he had done so a little sooner, and the methods he used were kind of questionable and didn't make a lot of sense to me. I love the graphic novel format, but I feel that prose would have worked better for this storyline, and I might have liked this more.
Will I keep reading this series? Yeah. I really like occult detective stories. And while I didn't like some aspects of this particular volume, I am hoping that I will find other storylines that appeal to me more than this one did. Your mileage may vary....more
I'm loving the Hellequin series even more after reading this book. Nate is a Grade A Kickbutt Artist. The magic is pretty darn enthralling. SensitiveI'm loving the Hellequin series even more after reading this book. Nate is a Grade A Kickbutt Artist. The magic is pretty darn enthralling. Sensitive readers will find aspects of the storyline hard to read at times, but I am glad that Nate is there to deliver some hard justice to horrible villains in this book. This series is not to be missed if you're a fan of urban fantasy.
Still not in love with this series. I think I will continue to read it, but it might be too dark and twisted and it's definitely somewhat incomprehensStill not in love with this series. I think I will continue to read it, but it might be too dark and twisted and it's definitely somewhat incomprehensible to me.
I really like the idea of stories within stories, which is a prominent feature of this book. I just wasn't that fond of the stories, except I did kind of like the one written by Bill Willingham about a man trapped in a castle with the last surviving servant and the creatures who are stalking them. I despise cockroaches and I found the tale from the viewpoint of a cockroach utterly disgusting. Your mileage may vary. The Constantine story was interesting but sad. The poet, Eduard's backstory, not sure how I feel about it.
I'm not loving the overlying thread of the Conception and Cain. I guess there is some dark humor in the fact that Cain continually kills Abel (who then resurrects), but I am not a huge fan of that plot device. It's just kind of mean, honestly.
I do like some of the characters, like Fig and Harry and Pirate Mary, but this is one of those series where you never know if someone is going to get killed off soon, so better not to get too attached to anyone.
I'm trying to figure out what is inhibiting my enjoyment of this series. I really do think I have an issue with a lack of clarity in the concept. I feel that things are getting even more difficult to understand (instead of the opposite) and the subject matter is really quite unpalatable.
I would like to hold out and see where things go with this series, especially with the Constantine connection. And I hate the fact that I am so clueless about what's going on here. I'm stubborn. Always have been. I won't throw in the towel just yet....more
Sadly, I like this series less with each book. I am not giving up on it yet, but I'm getting icky feels that leave me disenchanted. I have to be honesSadly, I like this series less with each book. I am not giving up on it yet, but I'm getting icky feels that leave me disenchanted. I have to be honest and say I don't really get the kernel of thought behind the story. I feel like it's out of reach of me and I don't think the expected revelation is coming as I read. I feel like my chain is being tugged, and I hate being manipulated.
I feel that it teeters on the edge of being the kind of horror that doesn't appeal to me. Stories with darkness that don't make sense. Seeing bad things happen to good people for no good reason. Where things seem random and unclear. I'm sure that some readers of this series understand, and if you do, I'd love to hear what you think of it. For me, it's just starting to be the law of diminishing returns.
I think my litmus test will be the next book. If I feel that way about it, I'm going to throw in the towel on this series. ...more
This volume was a mix of emotions: "wow", "that's so sad", "I don't get it", and "not so much". I do have to say that Love Stories for Dead People defThis volume was a mix of emotions: "wow", "that's so sad", "I don't get it", and "not so much". I do have to say that Love Stories for Dead People definitely canvasses the theme of this collection. Love is so much more than a four letter word, with infinite potential to shape our lives for the best and worst. This volume delves into that with a dark, twisted, and often gruesome collection of stories.
I loved the backstory on Ann, who was a pirate back in the day. I am all for a kickbutt, take charge, dangerous woman, and that's definitely her. I can see how deeply she was hurt, and why love isn't something she focuses energy on. And of course, I am a pirate theme lover. As far as Miranda, once a waitress in the House and a part of the crew, what was that about??? I didn't get it! The bits about Fig and an important person from her past were interesting. I can see that she has an ability that is going to play a huge role. I didn't understand what Cress did to Simon, but I know it has something to do with her terrible luck with love. Simon reminds me of John Constantine so much, it isn't funny! I loved the fact that Cress's doctor suitor looks exactly like Peter Cushing. Anyone else pick up on that, I wonder?
I feel like I didn't understand a lot of what was going on. The whole Cain/Abel thing and the nightmares that Harry had to battle. I could use some Cliff Notes for this book, but thankfully, I did find a Wiki, and I'll read some of that and hope I don't get too spoiled.
It's hard to give a good analysis of this book because I was feeling so lost for a lot of it. I saw a mix of nightmarish images with some events that had a little more clarity. I think the best part of this book was getting more of a backstory on two of the main characters: Ann and Cress, and finding out about Harry's earlier days in the House and his decision to make it into a bar. Oh and finding more about Fig's relationship with her father.
I hope I don't feel so lost in the next edition of this series. ...more
I preferred this to the last volume. I am still undecided whether I like this series as a whole. Good and bad. I love the literary nods and the concepI preferred this to the last volume. I am still undecided whether I like this series as a whole. Good and bad. I love the literary nods and the concept of metafiction. How can I not as such a bibliophile? I find the imagination of this series infectious, but there is a lot of meanness with the storyline and the characters.
I feel a lot of sympathy for both Tom and Lizzie. They are both being manipulated by grand masters at the game. Lizzie is both better off in that she has more understanding of the situation than Tom, but worse off because of how she was used as a pawn. Her origins are pretty intriguing, in fact.
I liked the "Choose Your Own Adventure" part of the collection, but I couldn't figure out how to get past page 35, so I gave up and just read it panel by panel. Shame on me, veteran Choose Your Own Adventure book-reader.
The bad guys in this are truly evil, and I don't mean Count Ambrosio. The mustache guy, man I despise him. Waiting for him to be "written off," permanently. The rest are more of the corporate cabal type of evil (don't get their hands dirty themselves).
Tom is slowly gaining awareness of his situation and starting to realize he has power to shape his next steps in the battle against the Cabal his father sacrificed everything to fight. He also has two friends on his side, much like his literary counterpart, Tommy.
It took me forever to get into this book. If it had not been a book I committed to review, I would have DNF'd it. Finally, I reached a breakthrough anIt took me forever to get into this book. If it had not been a book I committed to review, I would have DNF'd it. Finally, I reached a breakthrough and I was able to finish it. It turned out to be good, but I feel the writing needed more work to be more accessible. I love British just about anything, but I think some of the Britishness of this book didn't translate very well on paper.
A dark, twisted, and at times, incomprehensible urban fantasy novel.
Did you know that the fear of dolls is called Pediophobia? It is. I just learned something new just now about my deep-seated fear of antique dolls. SuDid you know that the fear of dolls is called Pediophobia? It is. I just learned something new just now about my deep-seated fear of antique dolls. Suffice it to say that I for one find antique dolls very creepy. Apparently, I'm not alone. Holly Black seemed to take pediophobia and run with it. Imagine these kids who have their elaborate role-playing game that involves action figures and dolls, and they employ one of the girl's mom's prized possessions as the Great Queen. She rules over the imaginary lands in their games like a sinister matriarch.
When Zach's father throws away his action figures, Zach is devastated, and he is forced to abandon the games he plays with Poppy and Alice, leaving them both confused and feeling betrayed. Poppy decides that they need a quest, and the quest takes the form of a mission given by the spirit of the doll, a young girl named Eleanor, who comes to Poppy in her dreams. Zach needs and craves an adventure, even if he's not sure he believes completely in this Eleanor. Although the doll does seem to have a creepy life to her. Alice is the peacemaker of the trio, with a very overprotective, controlling grandmother, and she's developing feelings for Zach that go beyond friendship.
This trio of friends go on an adventure to settle the restless spirit of Eleanor, and perhaps in the process, they can mend their broken friendship.
I listened to Doll Bones on audio, and I think this is the ideal format for this book. The narrator makes the most of the creepy elements of this story. He's good with voices and altering his pitch to mimic the voice of tween girls in a way that feels authentic. He also captures the chaotic emotions of children of this age, especially those with troubled home lives like all three kids.
I wouldn't say this was scary enough to cost a woman my age some sleep, but it did give me a shiver or too. It also made me feel nostalgic for the imaginative games of childhood that are now in my past. I didn't have the same close trio of friends to play dolls with, but I did play Barbie dolls on my own for longer than I care to admit, and the power of one's imagination takes those dolls to a place where they are endowed a life one wouldn't expect of carved figures of plastic.
As far as parental guidance, the aspect of these young kids taking off on an adventure in the middle of the night would probably make the average parent's hair stand on its end. There are some other questionable moral choices that would make me caution a parent to have some oversight if their younger child read this book. Nothing too crazy, but certainly worthy of caution.
This was good but not great. I definitely recommend reaching for the audiobook if one's interest is perked.
This is a book essentially about being an outsider and being misunderstood by everyone. That's the story of Courtney Crumrin's life. Her parents don'tThis is a book essentially about being an outsider and being misunderstood by everyone. That's the story of Courtney Crumrin's life. Her parents don't understand her at all. She's considered the weird kid at school. When she goes back to visit her parents, she reconnects with her former best friend, and they have grown apart. He's fallen in with a bad crowd, and though Courtney tries to save him, she can't save their friendship.
I could intensely identify with Courtney in the sense I was not a popular kid. I was picked on a lot growing up. One thing that I feel was a real blessing about it, was I learned to embrace the fact that you are your own person and you can make decisions for yourself and do your own thing. Like Courtney, it made me feel lonely at time, but there were consolations.
When Courtney gets back to her Uncle Aloyisus' house, she has to deal with the popular kids of the warlock families. They take bullying to a new level when they cast a spell of one of them's younger brothers. While Courtney would rather not get involved, she knows that she has to do something to help the kid, who was turned into a Night Thing. As since she has personal experience with the Twilight Kingdom, of course she has to lead the expedition to get him back.
This book is also about making good choices. Doing the right thing even when it's hard and the rewards seem nebulous. Courtney is not what I'd call a girl scout, and she did something really bad to get revenge (or in her mind, so see justice done), she hasn't completely lost her moral compass. I liked that about this book. And of course, the Faerie elements.
I like the way Courtney is drawn. She's sassy, with her little bat barrette and Gothesque outfits. She's kind of like Daria in the way she expresses herself.
I'm really starting to like this series more. It's not an upbeat read, mind you, but it's atmospheric, and you can't help but like Courtney.
This is all in black and white, but it shows how much you can really do with chiaroscuro (light and dark shading). I'm sort of lazy when it comes to it, but it challenges me to work on this technique.
I would exercise caution if I was a parent of a prospective child reader. You might want to read this first. Some subject matter and themes are not appropriate for younger readers. I would say this is 11 and older.
This second volume in the Courtney Crumrin series is superior to its predecessor. It's atmospheric and creepy, and a bit sad underneath it all. CourtnThis second volume in the Courtney Crumrin series is superior to its predecessor. It's atmospheric and creepy, and a bit sad underneath it all. Courtney is not remotely a sweet little girl. She's cranky and isolated from her peers. She has a devious nature. However, she's also decent and kind when she wants to be. She's so well drawn, her personality coming through loud and clear.
At first, I didn't like that the whole book is drawn/inked in black and white. I prefer color, but it suits the story and the mood very well. The drawings are gorgeous and the use of shadow and light (values) is impeccable. As an artist, it's important to be able to convey everything through the strength of one's skill with that particular medium, and Naifeh definitely succeeds. It's interesting that I just completed a unit on Chiaroscuro in my drawing class around the time I read this. This book enhanced my understanding of its usefulness in illustration.
There is a very sad element to this book that affected me even after I finished the book. I'm still grieving about it, actually. Someone innocent is used as a pawn and injustice seems to win out. Courtney resorts to extreme measures to exact justice, and one wonders what stains that will put on her soul. Her magic ability is growing in leaps and bounds, and it's going to be interesting to see where that goes in the next volumes.
I like her uncle. He's a pretty tough character. I wish there was more interaction between Courtney and him in the books.
An interesting world that seems to be growing in an intriguing way. I'll keep reading these....more
I picked up House of Mystery because it was recommended to people who enjoyed Fables, and I can see the appeal. The concept is one of almost existentiI picked up House of Mystery because it was recommended to people who enjoyed Fables, and I can see the appeal. The concept is one of almost existential horror. Five people end up in a strange house, and they cannot leave its grounds. Essentially, they are trapped in a nightmare they can't wake up from. I have had those dreams where I can never get where I'm supposed to go, no matter how many diversions in direction I make. Finally I wake up out of sheer frustration and the futility of the effort. I liken the feeling of this to how the characters must have felt (or still do).
Inside the house is a bar where all sorts of beings (many not remotely human) can enter and drink and eat, and they can leave. They pay for their drinks by telling a story of their choice. The drama of this piece is processing the stories of the visitors, and learning why the five characters ended up in the house.
The newbie is Fig, and she has a very strange connection to the house. She designed it, in fact. A house of her dreams that she was told by her professor didn't make sense. Yet here it is. Despite the fact, she wants out of the house. She'll learn that she's not alone, but the other four have accepted the fact that they won't be leaving the house anytime soon.
The House of Mystery is a cleverly constructed creation in which this strange house and its trapped denizens set the framework for the explication of other stories, told by the visitors to the bar within the house. The stories are varied in tone. One in particular was very gruesome, bringing back memories of dealing with such a situation in real-life veterinary practice. Another takes a very different look at fairy tale princesses and their search for their true love prince--a jaundiced one at that. One is about a mafia assassin who gets the best of his would-be murderers. It's hard to pin these into one genre except by calling the sum total speculative fiction. The artwork conveys much in each story, and about the house and the five people who are trapped within it. This is one of those graphic novels where I trained my eye to examine everything in the picture, so I didn't miss anything important to the story. I liked that different drawing styles and inking/coloration, and lettering techniques are used in each story to convey a narrator change and also the distinct tone of each story.
It's hard to say exactly how I feel about this overall. 'Like' isn't the right word. Let's say I appreciate it for what it is, thus the four star rating. While not all the stories were to my personal taste, I was left with an overall positive feeling towards this graphic novel, and my interest has been perked in continuing this series....more
The Unwritten strikes me as being somehow 'impressive'. It's hard to clarify what I mean, but the idea of it and the execution was very well done. ItThe Unwritten strikes me as being somehow 'impressive'. It's hard to clarify what I mean, but the idea of it and the execution was very well done. It delves into the very fruitful literary territory of metafiction, where reality and fiction intersect. I find I truly enjoy metafiction, probably because of being such a lifelong bookworm and having my head stuck in a book for most of that life (since I was four).
In the case of Tommy Taylor, it's a painful intersection. His father is a famous novelist of children's books (in the vein of Harry Potter) who suddenly disappeared. Tommy is left depending on the uncertain income from coasting on his identity as Tommy Taylor, the eponymous character of the books his father wrote. When a lady shows up at a comic book convention and challenges his identity, the stuff hits the fan, and the adoring fans of the books become hateful, vengeance-seeking stalkers. Tommy's life implodes. But things only get worse, when he develops enemies that hail from the so-called mythical landscape of the books.
One of the things I liked the best about this graphic novel was the illustrations. It is clean and elegant. The lettering is also well done and distinctive. My eyes wanted to stay on the page and observe every detail, whereas with some graphic novels, there is too much to look at (so I pick and choose), and some aspects of the frames seem to fade into the woodwork because they are deemed less important. This book is a great midpoint where neither clarity or detail is compromised.
I also liked the prose and the storytelling. I felt sorry for Tommy. He really got a rough deal being who he was, and in effect powerless to change his life. I hope that he does gain some agency and authority in his life situation.
I do have to say I didn't care much for some aspects of one of the sections. The idea of tackling horror conventions since they were at the house at Lake Geneva in Switzerland, where Mary Shelley (and apparently John Milton earlier) wrote the famous masterpiece they are known for, was a good one. I just didn't care for the gory turn of the story. I think it pricks a sore spot I have about the horror genre in general--the sacrifice of story and genuine narrative content for splatter and gore. I understood the purpose of this, but it just seemed gratuitous (although I admit it was still tastefully done).
The last section was rather odd initially. I didn't get why Rudyard Kipling was the narrator, until well into the story, and then the lightbulb came on. It ties in very well with this developing and expansive story and endows it with increased sense of threat and risk.
I still have a lot of questions, and I want to keep reading this series because it has my interest and attention. I hope that Tommy will come to understand his troublesome situation and discover the hero within.
I'd recommend this novel to lovers of books and literature in its various forms. ...more
The Fables series is back on track after Volume 13 Fables, Vol. 13: The Great Fables Crossover, which was one of the first volumes in the series I didThe Fables series is back on track after Volume 13 Fables, Vol. 13: The Great Fables Crossover, which was one of the first volumes in the series I didn't rate five stars in a long time. When I considered this book, I knew I was being extra-picky not to give it five stars. The story really is excellent, and some of the profound questions I've had about the Witches on the 13th Floor are starting to be answered. The reveal on Frau Totenkinder is deeper than I thought and was written so poetically. You even get a glimpse into the power politics between the 13th Floor witches. Frau Totenkinder has a young rival in Ozma. Yet they will have to work together to defeat the threat of the Dark Man, known as Mr. Dark. He is out to destroy all the Fables and build his own kingdom of darkness in its place. He truly is creepy and a terrible enemy. The secret of the power of the gateways and the magic that sustains Fabletown itself is revealed, and it's very much related to both Mr. Dark and an ancient corp of sorcerers who fought dark magic for the Empire, and Frau Totenkinder goes on a journey to recruit one of them to help their cause.
So much happens in this volume that I feel that I will get spoilery if I go into it. I did like the side story about Frogcatcher and Red Riding Hood. I always like catching up with the various Fables and seeing how life is treating them (and that's not always well).
This series is so near and dear to my heart. I'm glad it bounced back from the last volume so adroitly....more
I took this one back to the library because I am not in the mindset to read it right now. I couldn't really get a hold of the story, and the violenceI took this one back to the library because I am not in the mindset to read it right now. I couldn't really get a hold of the story, and the violence was getting to me a lot, as far as what I've read.
I may go back to this one at a later day. For this time period, this book isn't a good match for me....more
I picked this up because it was recommended to readers who enjoyed A Tale Dark & Grimm on Amazon. I loved the humor and the quirky twist on the faI picked this up because it was recommended to readers who enjoyed A Tale Dark & Grimm on Amazon. I loved the humor and the quirky twist on the fairy tale of Hansel and Gretel in A Tale Dark and Grimm, and I just plain love fairy tales, so I am looking for innovative, interesting retellings of these classic stories. I'm glad my library had this on audio. It was a fun and quick read, about 3 hours (It took me longer because I listened in spurts).
Initially, I was very drawn in. The characters of Sol and Connie are captivating, their story was somewhat poignant. I definitely felt for these kids. If you're familiar with Hansel and Gretel, you can get a head start on the storyline, although McGowan throws in some novel touches that were fun. I won't say which, because that's the fun of reading it. Sol is a young genius and inventor who gets a huge blow to his confidence that he has to work through. His mischievous, free-sprited, and intuitive sister Connie carries a burden of guilt related to Sol's greatest failure. This is a pivotal element of this story, and the author does carry it through successfully to the end. The story shows what the child-eating witch is up to in the modern age, and she's definitely streamlined her operation.
The child-eating witch is truly heinous. What makes it even more harrowing is that people actually volunteer their kids to be eaten because of the manifold failings of those kids! Definitely folks who shouldn't have reproduced! It's humorous, but on one level it's really kind of disturbing that parents would set their children up to be eaten by a witch just because they misbehave or fail to live up to certain standards. I think that they are even worse than the witch, honestly.
This is one of those books that won't appeal if you don't like a dark and kind of twisted sense of humor. Let me just say that here and now. But I think readers who like the Hansel and Gretel story won't find anything here that countermands the original story. Instead, this is just a modern update with more humor.
If there was anything I was underwhelmed with, it was the use of the secondary character who happened to be a witch as well, but she's a good witch. I understand why she couldn't help the kids very much, but I still feel she was underutilized in the story. I also wished there was some sort of confrontation between her and the evil witch. Also, I feel the ending was too abrupt. I know this is supposed to be a short book, but I wasn't fully satisfied with the ending. I definitely wanted more story and more closure.
Overall, this was pretty good. It's hard to rate it higher or to perform a very intensive analysis, because it's very short. I am glad this was recommended to me because I liked A Tale Dark and Grimm. However, it doesn't live up to the excellence of that book, and that's one caveat I would give any reader who is investigating humorous, middle grade/juvenile fairy tale retellings.
As far as suitability for young readers, I think it's fine for kids who are 8-12 (or older readers who like J/MG fiction). However, this would be too scary for a younger reader. Not that much is described, but the idea of a witch eating bad kids or even worse, their parents giving them away to the witch, is pretty disturbing, even for a much older reader like myself.
If you are able to get this on audiobook, I recommend it. I liked the narrator.
One of the most enduring motifs of the Western genre is the town in the forsaken deserts of the West where people go to run from their past lives andOne of the most enduring motifs of the Western genre is the town in the forsaken deserts of the West where people go to run from their past lives and to escape to a new one. In this novel, Golgotha is such a place, however the voice that leads travelers into its depths is a sinister, ageless one. A voice that also attracts all sort of supernatural phenomena.
Young Jim makes it to edge of this town, where the desert almost kills him and his beloved horse, Precious. His life is saved by a strange half-Indian man, Mutt, who turns out to be the town's deputy, and to have a supernatural heritage of his own. Jim gets hired to work for the Sheriff, Jon Highfather, a man who has cheated death again and again. A man who is the protector for the town from the supernatural evil always lurking in the dark.
Golgotha is full of strangeness, and also flawed humans, such as a wife and mother who has an incredible legacy. There is also a resident mad scientist, who has more interest in the dead than the living. And did I mention that Golgotha has a very large Mormon population? There might also be an angel lurking in the town. But I can't confirm or deny that.
The Six-Gun Tarot was very much a surprise find for me on the new arrival shelf at my library. I couldn't resist it, because I love the Weird West, and this book couldn't get any weirder. Many times, this book is more horrific than anything else. The deep, dark secret of this town is pretty darn harrowing, and the fact that its menace lurks behind a dark religious cult out to destroy the world as we know it.
There is a lot going on in this book. I think the author does a good job of holding it all together. The twisted threads of the story and the various character point of views come together as a cohesive whole that gave me a shuddery feeling as I read. I was glad I feverishly finished the last 160 pages during the day yesterday, trying to get it done, since it was due back at the library. It would have been a not so good thing to read before bed!
This isn't a feel good book, I must warn any who want to read it. It's dark fantasy/horror that seats itself very identifiably in the aesthetic of the Old West, where blood runs freely, and regret and prejudice are a part of the landscape. Where peoples of many heritages coexist uneasily, when they aren't at each others' throats, and the time comes to band together to face a darker, far from human threat which cares nothing for humanity, or anything right or decent. While not a feel good novel, the writing is very good and atmospheric. Belcher inspires empathy for the flawed characters in this novel. Their failures in some ways equip them for just the threat they face. There are many subtle references to works of weird fiction, such as a character who has Ashton Smith in his name, and quotes from Frankenstein by Mary E. Shelley. I want to read more stories in this town, since this threat they face in this book is neither the first, nor will it be the last.
If it's not obvious, I liked this book, even in its highly disarming moments. Good solid, weird fiction with a very credible Western setting and iconography. I'd recommend it to the brave reader who doesn't mind some tentacle, squirmy elements....more
While I'm not a big zombie fiction fan, I couldn't resist reading this book about WWI with a supernatural/steampunk twist. And Joseph Nassise doesn'tWhile I'm not a big zombie fiction fan, I couldn't resist reading this book about WWI with a supernatural/steampunk twist. And Joseph Nassise doesn't disappoint. It's high caliber action that brings to mind movies like The Dirty Dozen, but twenty plus years sooner. I don't know a lot about WWI, to be honest, but what Nassise writes seems credible. I like that he takes what is known about WWI fighting and integrates some steampunkish and supernatural elements. I think that he builds on the ever-present sense of horror that war inherently has, and that's a firm foundation for a supernatural suspense novel. I can't verify this, but the Germans seemed kind of Nazish already, especially in the blatant defiance of human rights and experimentation on humans. That part was rather disturbing.
I felt the suspense element was a huge appeal of this book. I literally didn't know what would happen and I even had to put it down a few times to get a break. Although I wanted to keep reading. I find zombies really disturbing, and the fact that the Germans are using gas to turn people into zombies is pretty darn awful. I wanted the heroes to open up a can of whip@$$ all over them.
If anything could have improved this was more dialogue and interaction with the members of Burke's team. I cared about all these guys, but I think I would have liked to know more about them. I realize that this book occurs over a short period of time, but this would have enhanced my reading experience. The main villain Richthofen was a "real you know what". He's the kind of villain you want to see get his butt handed to him. But he's a credible villain in that he's not easily defeated. He's enough to give you nightmares, actually. I don't think I'll have any, I hope. But just in case, I tried not to read this before I went to sleep. This book is so much scary as unnerving in that I can put myself in the soldiers' shoes and imagine that sense of constant fear that dealt with in the trenches. If being blown up or shot or gassed to death isn't enough. That's a chance they will be turned into zombies or see their fellow soldiers come back to try to eat them to death! Yeah, that's pretty disturbing.
Overall, this was a very good book. Great action moments. I liked the lead characters, especially Burke. The villain is nasty enough to make him a worthy antagonist. The supernatural/steampunk parts are excellent. They tie into the WWI setting very well. I think with more development of the secondary characters, this book would have been even more effective as a read. I will definitely continue this series, but when I'm in the mood for a creepy zombie novel with good action.
I listened to this book on audio, and it was definitely a distinctive read. I have to say that while I enjoyed it, it was challenging to listen to. II listened to this book on audio, and it was definitely a distinctive read. I have to say that while I enjoyed it, it was challenging to listen to. I found it hard to visualize some concepts. I honestly have no brain for mechanical concepts, so listening to descriptions of the mecha devices was difficult for me. I decided to stop analyzing and go with it. Not worry about trying to get a crystal clear image of those parts of the story, but just enjoy what I could understand. The ideas were interesting, but I was a bit clueless about what exactly made Clare what he was, and the exact interplay between his physiology and his abilities. At the end, I determined that he was heavily depending on the continual processing of information for his well-being, but he could think too much and end up in trouble. Perhaps he also has some enhanced sensory abilities which also make him susceptible to different environments.
While the magic system was very intriguing, it took me a long time to understand it or get a handle on it. I absolutely loved some parts. They were darkly beautiful. They inspired a deep sense of unease with the arcane natures of the magical acts and the beings perpetuating them, but also a sense of awe. While I have no real life interest in magic whatsoever, I do love reading about magic in this kind of fictional setting. And I thoroughly enjoyed the fact magic is so intrinsic to the fabric of Great Britain in this novel. It was very cool that the present monarch is a host for the spirit of Britannia. I haven't encountered that concept before.
As far as characters, Emma really came to life for me. She's such a complex person. She's a mix of good and bad, and her manner of interacting with others can inspire winces as often as wows. I loved how vigilant and fierce she was. She took her role as a Prime sorcerer very seriously, and her vow to protect Britain. And it often cost her personally. The scene near the end brought shivers down my spine. I also loved Mikhail. He was luscious. The way the moderator spoke his parts was utterly appealing. Especially the way he spoke to Emma and called her Prima. It sounded like a verbal caress. I was surprised at the direction that the author took with Emma's relationship with Mikhail. It added to the complexity of her character. I wish I had more answers about what Mikhail is. I have to be honest that he is a big draw for me right now, although I also find Emma very appealing as a heroine, although not always laudable in the way she acted towards some characters. Clare was interesting. I enjoyed his deductive reasoning and analysis of the very strange situations he encountered after being recruited by Emma as the sole surviving unregistered mentath. As I mentioned earlier, I didn't always 'get' what he was doing and how it affected him. I hope that will change with later books. I also liked Valetinelli. I have a fondness for roguish characters who are insanely good at being lethal. That's definitely him. The moderator made his voice very fun. He spoke with a blatant Italian accent that was lyrical and appealing.
I think the major reason why I didn't give this a higher rating was that I had a hard time getting a grasp on the story to the extent that I desired. I had a lot of questions. As far as the writing having an appeal and impact on me, that was very well done. Saintcrow has a way of bringing magical and arcane elements to vibrant life that stays with me. That imagery was very well depicted. As a visual reader, I could feel and experience the powerful magics that the characters employed, although some parts were just plain weird and my brain didn't know what to make of those. I also give this book points on having such a distinctive heroine. Not always pure in her motives, but underneath, driven to do what is right. That's a hard thing to conceptualize in a novel without polarizing your audience.
I have to give this 3.5 stars because it was flawed in some ways, but in others a very good book. I will continue this series with the hopes I will be enlightened on some of the world-building particulars and to explore more of Emma, Clare, and Mikhail, and not to mention, Supernatural Victorian Great Britain.
Jack Walker’s dream was to be a Navy SEAL. He was going to make it through BUD/S training, no matter how much it punished his body. Just four more weeJack Walker’s dream was to be a Navy SEAL. He was going to make it through BUD/S training, no matter how much it punished his body. Just four more weeks. But he’s pulled out of training early, and drafted into an ultra-secret, elite SEAL team, one that has an unusual team number. This team fights threats against the free world that are supernatural in origin. And Jack is specially equipped to be a member. For the dark scars of his youth mark him with a special ability to sense evil.
I liked the idea of this book, a military special ops story with a supernatural twist. Ochse’s attention to detail as far as military ops lends credibility to the writing. I really appreciated the look at how a SEAL team operates and the whole involved procedure of keeping the world safe, top secret-style, with the ancillary support of various defense agency personnel. His focus seems to be more on this than the supernatural component, but he grafts together the two aspects of the story fairly well. Still this book seemed thin to me. Like it was serviceable, but merely scratching the surface of possibilities. Yes, I think that was the big issue I had with this book. It lacked depth.
I wanted more character exploration. While I felt I did get to know Jack fairly well, I didn’t get more than a surface portrayal of most of the others. I realize that the story occurs in a short period of time, but I had this feeling that the characters merely existed to move the story, or to get killed off. That saddened me. The death of a team member and the ritual associated with his passing, had more time spent on it than seeing that team member as a living, breathing human. Of course, death is an everyday experience for these men. They know they could die on any mission they undertake. But I needed to know them better, because knowing someone is part of the process of caring for them, that they live and die for a purpose. Otherwise, our mental health defenses build a wall between us and the suffering of others in the world, because to cry for every person who dies will destroy you. We just don’t have that capacity. But if you know someone, even a little, it breaks your heart to know they have died. To introduce a character only to kill them without much effort to infuse depth makes a mockery of that. I really dislike the tendency towards presenting characters as sacrificial lambs in a story. Just enough to introduce a character and then they get killed off. I felt this was a shortcoming of this novel.
The action is well done. The pace was intense and appropriate. I got the real sense that I was going on ops with these guys. In this case, all in relation to the supernatural threats in this book. If even possible, that brings a higher level of threat to the situation. There’s only so much a gun can do against an undead, immortal threat, or one from a world of strangeness that doesn’t follow the rules that govern this physical one.
The supernatural storyline was intriguing and definitely horrific. Ochse does build the sense of wrongness and weirdness that would disturb an average person. I like a weird supernatural story like nobody’s business, but I had some moments where I was thinking, “That’s just wrong!” Imagine being a SEAL, trained to eliminate lethal threats all around the world, but previously naïve to the supernatural darkness in this world. You have to keep moving and do your job, and you don’t have time for “WTFs”. So yes, that part was very well done. The particular threat they faced in this book felt novel and very intimidating, and the author ties it into things going on in the world arena. While the climax was too abrupt for my tastes, it definitely had impact, and as I said, I enjoyed the action moments.
With this book, I had that feeling that everything was scratching the surface when I wanted things to get deeper. With an intriguing storyline like this, I get excited to see what journey the author will take me on. Overall, this was a book that kept me reading. It was a pretty good book. A nice mélange of spec ops action and supernatural weirdness. I think the author could have given me more as far as characterization, which is the biggest shortcoming of this novel. However, I would keep reading this if it becomes a series.