Slade House is a fever dream-induced tale with familiar ghost story and horror tropes all mixed together to bring us something new. Slade House isn't Slade House is a fever dream-induced tale with familiar ghost story and horror tropes all mixed together to bring us something new. Slade House isn't your typical haunted house; it only appears every 9 years and only to a particular person(s). This selected person finds themselves wandering down Slade Alley when they come upon the small door in the wall and when entering the door find themselves in the beautiful garden of Slade House. Here, they meet either the sister or brother who reside in Slade House, and while at first all of this seems wildly normal, by this point it is too late for them and they will never leave Slade House.
Each chapter of the book takes place in a different decade and is told in a first person narrative from the point of view of that decade's selected guest. I have to admit that the opening chapter, which takes place in 1979 and is from the POV of a young autistic boy, was the strongest for me, with each subsequent chapter feeling slightly less compelling. Not that the later chapters didn't hold up, there was just something about that opening chapter that struck a chord with me.
It wasn't until after I read Slade House that I discovered it had ties to Mitchell's previous book, The Bone Clocks (which I have not read), so I can't tell you what those ties are, but I'm definitely going to want to read that now, and probably follow it up again with Slade House. However, you don't need to have read The Bone Clocks in order to understand what's going on in Slade House, as I'm assuming the connections between both books must be minimal, as I didn't seem to be missing anything in the story when I read it.
If you like ghost stories or horror, I think Slade House would work for you. It's dark and atmospheric and does a great job at upping the creepy factor....more
I received a finished copy of this book from the publisher for an honest review.
A deliciously dark and twisty take on Alice's Adventures in WonderlandI received a finished copy of this book from the publisher for an honest review.
A deliciously dark and twisty take on Alice's Adventures in Wonderland that can read as both a retelling or a continuation, Alice by Christina Henry finds our heroine Alice locked away in an asylum after she is found wandering the Old City with no memory other than a bloody tea party and a man with long ears, like a rabbit would have. In the cell next to hers is Hatcher, a serial killer who lives in a world of lucidity followed by fits of madness. They form a bond, only able to communicate through nothing more than a mouse-hole in the wall. One night, the hospital catches fire, and Hatcher and Alice escape, just in time to watch the hospital crumble and something dark and sinister rise from the smoke.
The world they escape into, the Old City, is run by mob bosses who each holds a portion of the city under their control. There used to be magic in this world, too, but the Magicians were long thought to be gone from the world. Now there is only the Old City, and the bosses that control it. But Hatcher and Alice know there is something else in the city now, something killing everyone in its path as it searches for the one thing that can destroy it, and Hatcher and Alice are the only two who can stop it.
I love new takes on Wonderland, and thought this was an especially impressive re-imagining. Full of dystopian and noir elements, this Wonderland is certainly not full of wonders; instead it is full of dark corners and dangerous shadows, all under the control of the bosses of each district in the Old City, bosses such as Cheshire and the Caterpillar. This was something I particularly enjoyed, seeing familiar characters presented in entirely new renditions, yet staying true to their original essence. These are treacherous characters, though, and the lives of those living in their districts mean nothing to them. It is a precarious balance in the Old City, one that seems to be challenged by the bosses wanting to expand their territory, and whether they like it or not, Alice and Hatcher find themselves caught up in the disputes.
Alice is not for the faint of heart. The world Henry created here is a dangerous one full of violence, and terrible things happen to the people inhabiting it. There are moments of light sprinkled here and there, but this is not really a happy book. Don't come in expecting a dream-like tale, jumping from one psychedelic adventure to the next; this is one giant psychotic nightmare. Of course, should Christina Henry ever revisit these characters, I'll be sure to find out what happens to them. After all, there are still plenty of characters from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There that we haven't met in Henry's world yet. ...more
So... I don't even know where to start with Ishbelle Bee's The Singular and Extraordinary Tale of Mirror and Goliath. This will probably be ranking asSo... I don't even know where to start with Ishbelle Bee's The Singular and Extraordinary Tale of Mirror and Goliath. This will probably be ranking as one of my favorite books of the year, but I can't tell you a think about it! I'm not entirely clear I understand what I read or understand what was going on, but I loved every minute of it. The story follows the strange events surrounding Mirror (who may or may not be dead) and her shape-changing protector, Goliath Honey-Flower, who are trying to figure out what it wrong with Mirror, since she has been altered since her grandfather locked her in a strange, coffin-shaped clock. Then there is John Loveheart, who may or may not be wicked, and his "adopted" father, Mr. Fingers, the lord of the underworld. Throw in the personification of Death, time travel, an Egyptian princess, eccentric serial killers, quirky Victorian sensibilities, and a secret group trying to live forever, and you've got yourself a rather unusual cast and series of plot points.
The writing is beautiful (tho slightly choppy in some spots), and the imagery is quite vivid (plus, I love when Bee plays with type size and spacing in certain scenes to give a sense of the action going on using the typographic structure of the sentence - nice touch!). Ishbelle Bee doesn't rely heavily of overt description on how the magic works in her world; we, as the reader, just accept that's how it is and move on with the story. These elements reminded me of Susanna Clarke or even Neil Gaiman; the world they create is strange, dangerous, and beautiful, but we don't need to slapped over the head with heavy descriptions, it just is what it is, and Bee conjures that same sense of suspended reality in her book, and I'm anxious for more from her.
And let us take a moment to appreciate the cover to this book, shall we, because it is gorgeous....more
This time around, I feel like Ms Bee really let herself take off with the story; she has a much clearer idea of who the characters are that inhabit her world, and what a fine and madcap cast they are! Mr Loveheart is back this time, along with White & Walnut of Scotland Yard, and they are joined by a wild new group of characters: Pedrock and Boo Boo, orphans sent to live with their relatives in the village of Darkwound, where we also find Mr Loveheart and his various, colorful neighbors; Professor Hummingbird, a butterfly aficionado; and Mr Angel-Cakes, Boo Boo's mysterious, and possibly quite deadly, imaginary friend.
Ms Bee has injected an entirely fantastic level of humor into her story, reminding me of Gail Carriger's books. Here again, the lack of explanation, just the necessity to accept the magic in her world is expertly wielded, and something that I'm very happy to see carried over from the first book. Her use of typography to express some of the action is still present, as well, something I'm very happy to see. This is something that I think works so well in her books, and I hope she continues using it, should there be more books.
Needless to say Ishbelle Bee has completely won me over, and I can only hope that we have a great many more adventures with Mr Loveheart to look forward to!
I need to take a moment again to comment on the cover! Somebody at Angry Robot is doing a bang-up job on these covers and book design, and I desperately wish that as we are given more adventures with Mr Loveheart, we are also given more of these gorgeous covers. Beautiful marketing, Angry Robot! Keep up the good work....more
Told through 13 rhyming couplets and accompanying illustrations, Neil Gaiman and Gris Grimly's The Dangerous Alphabet is a delightful (if suspiciouslyTold through 13 rhyming couplets and accompanying illustrations, Neil Gaiman and Gris Grimly's The Dangerous Alphabet is a delightful (if suspiciously inaccurate) study of the alphabet. We follow the adventures of 2 children, their pet gazelle and their treasure map as they travel underground, on adventures both macabre and perilous, as the alphabet is presented in conjunction with the story.
The story is fun and the rhymes imaginative, but the art is the star here. Gris Grimly's illustrations bring the story to life, and really add an element of almost the grotesque to the story. From the almost rag doll likeness of the children, to the ghosts and ghoulies that inhabit the underground, Grimly's illustration are both beautiful and disturbing at the same time. Take time to study each page, as you'll discover something new each time you look at it....more