In reading the gothic psychological novel Affinity, it is nearly impossible to shake off an overwhelming feeling of gloom and pervasive dread. FollowiIn reading the gothic psychological novel Affinity, it is nearly impossible to shake off an overwhelming feeling of gloom and pervasive dread. Following a failed suicide attempt, a young "lady visitor" named Margaret Prior develops a relationship with an inmate named Selina Dawes in a Victorian women's prison, and both their lives are forever changed by their acquaintance.
Narrated in alternating chapters by the two very different women, this dark, moody story incites fear, melancholy, and terrible pity. As always, with this author's work comes a thoroughly researched story and a compelling look at women in oppressive circumstances, as well as how their limited choices often lead to desperate attempts to control their own destinies. There's also an erotic undercurrent of forbidden attraction running deep in this novel as Margaret finds herself increasingly drawn to the mysterious Selina Dawes, who has been imprisoned for a spiritualist reading gone horribly wrong. Their subtly blooming attraction is heightened by the misery of the contrast with Selina's living conditions at Millbank Prison (an actual London prison, by the way), and it's a certainty that in Margaret's desire to save Selina, she is also desperate to save herself.
And what will your sister do if her husband should die, and she should take another? Who will she fly to then, when she has crossed the spheres? For she will fly to someone, we will all fly to someone, we will all return to that piece of shining matter from which our souls are torn with another, two halves of the same. It may be that the husband your sister has now has that other soul, that has affinity with her soul--I hope it is. But it maybe the next man she takes, or it may be neither. It may be someone she would never think to look to on the earth, someone kept from her by some false boundary...
Sarah Waters writes in dense, elegant prose and tells stories that unfold with exquisite deliberation. Affinity is similar to The Little Stranger, in that there are such evocative, spine-chilling moments (including a particularly vivid one involving (view spoiler)[dripping wax and a dimpled baby's arm :-O (hide spoiler)]) that I literally had to put the book down and step away from it. She masterfully creates an atmosphere of suffocating melancholy and builds the tension to an almost unbearable point, so that when the characters finally break, there is a blessed emotional release and relief in the confusion and madness that follows.
As with all of the authors' novels, it's important not to read too many reviews or interviews lest important surprises are spoiled. I've read enough of her books to know that I needed to pay attention to every word that is uttered, but she still kept me guessing until the devastating end. If you decide to read this, try to save it for a day when it's cold and dreary and drizzling; I did, and my imagination nearly went wild over the awful conditions of the prison, as well as the evocative seances I could picture perfectly in my mind. Affinity isn't the typical jump-out-of-the-closet horror novel, but for the reader who appreciates subtlety and who might feel a fine shiver when things don't feel quite right in the house, it can offer an incredibly suspenseful and terrifying read.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Still my favorite gothic novel of all time. A troubled love interest, an unwelcoming housekeeper, a house haunted by the memories of its previous mistStill my favorite gothic novel of all time. A troubled love interest, an unwelcoming housekeeper, a house haunted by the memories of its previous mistress, and a young girl who is ill-equipped to handle everything...all the elements for a wildly mysterious and romantic story that is unforgettably and beautifully written....more
A haunted house, a forbidding lady, a master who has gone mad, and a servant girl caught up in the middle of the whole mess. If this premise appeals tA haunted house, a forbidding lady, a master who has gone mad, and a servant girl caught up in the middle of the whole mess. If this premise appeals to you, there's no doubt you'll delight in this book. I'm a big fan of Victorian fiction, and the author does a superb job of making the era come alive and keeping the language and decorum pretty true to the period.
Abigail Tamper is a 14-year-old servant at Greave Hall, where she's lived all of her life. Her mother died under mysterious circumstances not long ago, and the troubled Master of the house seems to know more about her death than he will admit. Abi has few confidants among the other servants, and her only protector against the cruel Mrs. Cotten, who rules the household, is her childhood friend Samuel, who is the Master's son who is badly wounded from his service in the Crimean War. Abigail's terror and loneliness are palpable, and readers will feel for her as she tries to unravel the mystery and figure out whether there is more danger in the supernatural forces present in the house...or from the earthly ones.
This is an enjoyably creepy, atmospheric Victorian murder mystery with a strong heroine and wonderfully detailed, moody setting. The descriptions of Abigail's duties as a housemaid are particularly well done, as well as the hierarchal interplay between the servants. While experienced readers may guess the villain before he's revealed, this is a quick, enjoyable read and a terrific addition to the gothic genre, especially for the younger teens for whom it's intended. Plus there's an embroidered fabric Ouija...how fun is that?
One of my favorite books growing up, and one I wish more people had read. A pervasive dread and terrible sadness permeates the story, and the characteOne of my favorite books growing up, and one I wish more people had read. A pervasive dread and terrible sadness permeates the story, and the characters are well-drawn, the plotting superb, and the emotions it evokes unforgettable. Definitely a book worth seeking out online or in secondhand bookstores, since it's sadly long out of print....more
Have you ever stood in your house, listening to a quiet, unfamiliar noise, and felt the hair rise on the back of your neck? Cas Lowood has, and the unHave you ever stood in your house, listening to a quiet, unfamiliar noise, and felt the hair rise on the back of your neck? Cas Lowood has, and the unholy hell of what he finds when he investigates will make you jump a little bit in your seat. He's a 17-year-old who kills the dead with a magic athame, just as his father did before him--and now he's faced with the task of killing Anna, a homicidal ghost who was murdered more than 60 years ago.
Cas is a fantastically strong and appealing protagonist, but it's really Anna who takes center stage. Imagine the visual of a pale girl with inky hair floating in a dark house, her beautiful white dress slowly drip-drip-dripping with blood. She's deadly dangerous and full of vengeful fury, however, because of the way she was killed. When you find out what really happened to Anna, it's hard not to feel terrible pity for her--and to understand why Cas has such a hard time killing her.
If you've been looking for a great YA horror novel, look no further. Anna Dressed in Blood is a stunning novel, full of atmospheric spookiness and unthinkable horrors. I cringed reading about ghosts with stones where their eyes should be, I yelped when Cas goes down into a basement full of...dreadful things, and my eyes got as big as saucers when the walls starting bleeding. But although the descriptions are full of vivid imagery and there's plenty of brutal action, what happens isn't at all gross. If anything, there's a dark beauty in the descriptions and an elegance in the writing that makes every scene a true pleasure to read. My reading status updates will give you a peek at some of the lines and scenes that particularly made me shiver, but I really had to restrain myself from posting one every couple of pages, as there's so much to savor, even in simple but humorous lines such as "She's wearing the same smile as her cat." I found just as much to love in the writing as I did the fantastic story, and the cheeky humor made me laugh even in dire and inappropriate circumstances.
This is the darker, more grown-up version of Hold Me Closer, Necromancer, and it's much more violent and much more polished. Anna offers an unforgettable thrill of a ride--and it catapulted instantly to my favorites list for the year. I am so excited about this author and I can't wait for the sequel, Girl of Nightmares, to come out in 2012. Read it, read it, read it! I promise it will make you shudder, in the very best of ways.
Eerily beautiful and incredibly disturbing, Imaginary Girls is a novel unlike any other I've ever read. As the story begins, Chloe is coaxed into swimEerily beautiful and incredibly disturbing, Imaginary Girls is a novel unlike any other I've ever read. As the story begins, Chloe is coaxed into swimming across a reservoir at night by her magnetic and beautiful older sister, Ruby. A dangerous and illegal activity, made all the more frightening because Chloe would be swimming over the lost town of Olive, which was flooded to make room for the reservoir. The idea of swimming over a ghost towns in the dark of night, with the possibility of "cold, webbed hands" reaching out for your ankles, is incredibly evocative and scary, and it created a distinct feeling of unease that never left me.
If that wasn't enough, Chloe finds herself face to face with a dead body at the end of her swim. In terrible shock, she leaves town for awhile to live with her father. Upon her return, however, she finds that while everything still seems to go Ruby's way, absolutely nothing is exactly what it seems--and something terrible lurks beneath the surface of the charmed world that her sister has created.
This is a fascinating story about a compelling and uncomfortable relationship between a mesmerizing older sister and her profound influence on her younger sibling. Chloe refers to herself as an "echo" of Ruby, and the imbalance in their interactions becomes more and more troubling. What rings very true, especially for anyone who might have an older sister herself, is that Ruby mostly does not control those around her with threats or extremely negative behavior, but confidently captivates them with the beguiling persuasiveness of her personality. And it's the poison you love that usually does the most damage. The interesting thing is, as one of my fellow reviewers pointed out, I wouldn't necessarily call Ruby the villain of the piece, however. The situation is much more complicated than that.
Throughout the book, I wasn't entirely sure what was going on--is it supernatural? is it not?--and I think its dreamy, distant mood was perfect for a story that creates a lot of puzzling scenarios but doesn't necessarily provide clear cut answers. I think some readers may have an issue with some of the unresolved questions, but for me, its Twilight Zone quality was part of its appeal.
This is an extremely compelling and layered book, with gorgeous, haunting imagery and quietly frightening scenarios. It takes a gifted writer to make something as innocent as a bunch of balloons into a reason to make you worried and afraid. The shivers I felt upon reading that scene still haven't quite left me, and the disquieting mood of this strangely beautiful book certainly never will.
The Town of Olive:
There's a fascinating story behind the author's inspiration for this novel. The lost town of Olive was inspired by and loosely based on the communities in the Hudson Valley that were torn down to build the Ashokan Reservoir in 1917. The author also answers some other frequently asked questions on her website.
In the beginning, it starts with a single feather drifting slowly down from the sky. When 17-year-old Penryn sees this simple sight, she is filled witIn the beginning, it starts with a single feather drifting slowly down from the sky. When 17-year-old Penryn sees this simple sight, she is filled with incredible dread, because this lovely, floating, ephemeral thing is an unlikely sign of terrible things to come.
Six weeks after a devastating attack on earth, the world has been torn apart by a war between angels and humans. Caught up in a battle she doesn't understand, Penryn watches in horror as an angel named Raffe is cornered and brutally stripped of his wings. In trying to help, she antagonizes one of the perpetrators and is forced to watch as her wheelchair-bound little sister is taken away. Penryn angrily demands that Raffe provides information and assistance in finding her sibling, and the two natural enemies must work together to outwit danger at every turn.
If you've been searching high and low for a worthy successor to The Hunger Games, the wait is finally over. Susan Ee's stunning debut novel is the perfect combination of post-apocalyptic YA + cannibals + badass angels + kickass heroine, and it blew me away with its perfectly paced blend of action, story, and emotional tension. Penryn is a fantastic heroine, a whip-smart, funny girl who happens to be awesome in combat. I also found her interactions with her schizophrenic mother to be very touching, and it's impossible not to admire how her desperate resolve to find her sister never falters. As for Raffe...who the hell thinks of writing an agnostic angel? Brilliant! And so intriguing. Raffe is clearly hiding secrets, but it's impossible not to be drawn to him anyway. His relationship with Penryn develops slowly and naturally as they struggle to find shelter and to survive in bleak circumstances (yeah, they eat cat food at one point), all against a bleak backdrop of a war and all kinds of unspeakable horrors.
Readers who are uneasy with more gruesome books should be warned that there are some pretty intense scenarios, although they are tastefully (view spoiler)[hah hah, tastefully! (hide spoiler)] done and mostly appear in aftermath, rather than in present action. For my somewhat twisted sense of humor and enjoyment of creepy visuals, it was exciting to find an author who writes such dark and vivid imagery, however, and I'd say that if you're someone who's comfortable reading zombie books, you'd probably be okay with what happens here. Not that I didn't want to run around screaming when Penryn and Raffe happen upon the...things hanging in trees, mind you. But that's all part of the fun.
I have a few minor quibbles, mostly about Penryn's failure to ask and demand enough answers, as this seemed completely out of character for someone who grits her teeth and cool-headedly calculates whether she can keep someone alive long enough to be of use to her. It was frustrating and implausible that in such forced intimacy, a girl like this wouldn't have mercilessly hounded the information out of her traveling partner. I also wish we'd learned a bit more about the war and about the ghoulish experimentations that were going on, although you can certainly put some of that down to my general impatience to read the rest of this 5-part series. My quibbles are far outweighed by my rampant enthusiasm over this book, however, as the action-packed story, sharp and funny dialogue, macabre touches, unforgettable characters, and well-researched angelology all make for an incredible read. The twists and turns in this story are superbly done, and even if you happen to guess one of the major plot points that will have a major effect on the future books, it's not going to matter. And that's the mark of a book that can and will be read again and again.
I'd strongly recommend this book for: readers who were mesmerized by the grim beauty of The Reapers Are the Angels, zombie enthusiasts who enjoyed the spectacular first half of Ashes, people who loved the creepiness of Anna Dressed in Blood, anyone who was drawn to the idea of evil angels in Angel Burn, skeptics who thought that chick in Aftertime should have spent more time thinking about her daughter, action junkies who enjoyed the fight scenes in Divergent and Blood Red Road and Legend but wanted a little more substance, anyone who liked Daughter of Smoke and Bone, anyone who expected more from Smoke & Bone. And finally, anyone who appreciates a truly original and exciting story. Period.
Buy this book NOW! It's only 99 cents as an ebook at the moment for Kindle and Nook, and may also be read on your computer or Smartphone. If you're undecided even after seeing all the phenomenal reviews of this book, you should read the first 5 chapters on the author's website. Update: the book is also available for purchase as a paperback from Amazon.
And believe it or not, this book also happens to be self-published. I'm not sure why Susan Ee decided to go the indie route with this book, but I'm quite sure it was by her choice and her design. Regardless of whether you read it now or whether you read it later when it's available as a print book, I can't imagine that most readers won't have a tremendous time with it. This is an author worth supporting, and how exciting it is to find her so early in her writing career.
A Thank You to My Lovely Friends
This is one of those cases where GoodReads must be thanked for providing such a great platform for all of us to find out about such incredible books. If it weren't for the amazing reviews written by Michelle and AH back in July and for Jen's nudging a few weeks ago, I never would have read it, and neither would many of my friends. If you've found your way to this book and enjoyed it, I hope you'll please do your part in helping someone else find it as well.
"It's probably going to be blood," Thomas says in a regretful tone that doesn't match the devious excitement in his eyes. "It's almost always about b"It's probably going to be blood," Thomas says in a regretful tone that doesn't match the devious excitement in his eyes. "It's almost always about blood."
If your dead, ghostly girlfriend sacrificed herself for you, you'd hope she'd at least finally be at peace, right? But it turns out poor Anna is still a lost, unmoored soul, and Cas Lowood is still haunted by her face everywhere he goes. In this sequel to Anna Dressed in Blood, which was one of my favorite books from 2011, Cas must find out what's happened to the girl he loves, all the while uncovering more long-held secrets from his past.
Sequels are always a tricky business, so I breathed a sigh of relief when I found that it was easy to immerse myself in this world again. I love the dark beauty of Kendare Blake's writing and her macabre humor, and I think most readers who enjoy a bit of levity with their horror will appreciate the way this story is written.
His skin is black as a struck match, cracked and oozing liquid metal heat, like he's covered by a cooling layer of lava. The eyes stand out bright white. I can't make out from this distance if they have corneas. God I hope they have corneas. I hate that creepy weird-eye shit.
There are some fantastically spooky scenes, particularly a jumpy one involving a Mrs. Bates-type of moment, and a tension-filled chapter set in the depths of an eerie Suicide Forest similar to this one. I do wish there were more spooky scenes, however, and that we spent more time with Anna. She is such a crazily vengeful, strong-willed spirit that her absence was keenly felt. What can I say, I love wallowing in ghoulish excess! I think I was a bit spoiled after the last book's non-stop creepfest, but it truly doesn't mean I enjoyed reading this book any less.
The tone in Girl of Nightmares is a little more serious than its predecessor, but we also get more emotional content as well since Cas is struggling with the loss of his girlfriend. I liked that the vividly imagined world we were introduced to in Anna is expanded here and that the story follows a logical progression, although I'm a little sad that it appears we won't be seeing more of these characters. I didn't realize when I started the story that this would be the last book in the series, but this conclusion is exactly what I would have hoped for. It feels...right, and I am very satisfied with the end of Cas and Anna's story.
If you enjoy dark humor with your YA ghost stories, you've probably been salivating after this book as much as I have. But if you haven't met Anna yet, what are you waiting for? She's one ghost you really, really don't want to make angry.
This review also appears in The Midnight Garden. An advance copy was provided by the publisher.
Here is Kendare's doodle in the ARC she sent me:
Nothing could set the tone for this book better, hah.
Win a copy of Girl of Nightmares!
While I wouldn't give up my doodled copy for all the magical athames in the underworld, we do have an extra autographed ARC to give away to one lucky winner! It features the first design with a bloody red cover, which is slightly different from the final one that matches the colors of the first book a bit more.
Why are readers drawn to horror? Read our Q & A with Marcus Sedgwick, the Printz honor author of Midwinterblood. Plus win a finished copy of thisWhy are readers drawn to horror? Read our Q & A with Marcus Sedgwick, the Printz honor author of Midwinterblood. Plus win a finished copy of this fantastic book!
4.5 starsBlood-soaked nightmares. Of another time. Of another place. Of another life.
The unusual story of Midwinterblood begins in the future, in the year 2073. A young journalist named Eric arrives on a remote island, where it is rumored that the people live forever. He is immediately drawn to a woman named Merle, but soon begins to notice that the locals are behaving strangely...very strangely. Little does he know that his story is but one chapter in a piercingly poignant, savage saga that stretches across time and transcends the boundaries of life and death.
I love fiction that is unsettling, particularly when it comes to the YA genre. Eric and Merle's story has elements of the shrieking madness of the film The Wicker Man, including a distinct undercurrent of unease and disturbing pagan rituals. To tell you too much about the seven interconnected stories would be to give away too many of their delicious secrets. But following the opening segment, the plot moves backwards in time, and by the third story "The Airman," the pieces start fitting together. My favorite ones are "The Painter"(1902), "The Unquiet Grave" (1848), and "The Vampire" (10th Century), many of which are violent, pensive, and sad. One of the things I like best about the plot is how Eric and Merle are bound together throughout the centuries, and yet their relationship is never the same. Sometimes they are lovers, sometimes they are children, etc., but there is always a connective emotional thread between them.
The prose is descriptive and powerful, with fragments of rough beauty jutting out from the horror contained in the intricate framework of the story.
Behind them grew a tree, an odd tree, with a straight trunk, and a pointed crown of brilliant green leaves. Gold objects hung in the glossy leaves, and Bridget was startled as she saw they were skulls. Shining golden skulls.
Although I read a great many books for sheer entertainment value, it's coming across an author like Marcus Sedgwick that reminds me how very formulaic many YA books tend to be. When I read his chilling gothic mystery White Crow last year, it freaked me out--I couldn't believe the intensity of the emotional pitch, or how the persuasively suggestive writing played tricks with my perception. Midwinterblood solidified the author's place on my list of favorite writers, and I will be seeking out every title of his that I can get my hands on. I wish we saw more YA with this degree of depth and complexity.
If you're the type of reader who prefers goth over gore, mood over mayhem, or disquiet over digust, this is exactly the kind of horror story that will appeal to you--one that is odd and beautifully strange, and one written with passion, but also with great restraint. Unapologetically bold, horrifying, and desperately doomed, Midwinterblood is not a book any reader could easily forget.
This review also appears in The Midnight Garden. An advance copy was provided by the publisher.
Midwinterblood Tour Stop
We're very pleased to be kicking off the official Midwinterblood Blog Tour next Monday, February 5th! Stop by for our Q & A with author Marcus Sedgwick, when you may also enter to win a copy of this spectacular book. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Take a photographic tour of the Monstrous Beauty world as Elizabeth Fama stops by The Midnight Garden to kick off her blog tour! Plus win a finished hTake a photographic tour of the Monstrous Beauty world as Elizabeth Fama stops by The Midnight Garden to kick off her blog tour! Plus win a finished hardcover of the book.
It was a woman--as pale and luminescent as a ghost, with swirling white hair. Ezra startled, dropping his pencil into the water. Her face snapped toward him. Her eyes were too large, clear green, and had horizontal, slit-shaped pupils, reminiscent of an octopus.
Did your pulse quicken when you read that paragraph? Mine did! I had a feeling I was going to love this book, because it blends several different things that I love: mermaids, the nineteenth century, and ghosts. What I wasn't prepared for was an unconventionally striking story that will definitely not appeal to someone looking for a typical YA paranormal book. I found this dark fairy tale to be wildly exciting and utterly gorgeous, however, and I think it will find its audience in readers who enjoy literary fiction or more mature YA.
In the late 1800s, a mermaid named Syrenka makes a terrible mistake in judgment as she seeks companionship. More than a hundred years later, 16-year-old Hester searches for the mystery behind a tragic curse that has haunted her family for generations. The book alternates between past and present in a small fishing town in Plymouth, Massachusetts, and the shifts in time and multiple POVs are handled with skillful aplomb. Deep secrets are slowly revealed in both young women's pasts, and a fine thread of tension running through the story eventually escalates into scenes of shocking madness and violence.
There are despairing stolen souls. Creepy churchyards. A woman drowned in a sarcophagus. Rape. Underwater doll graveyards. A boy who (view spoiler)[quite literally (hide spoiler)] gives his heart for the one he loves. A truly repulsive mermaid queen (view spoiler)[with rows and rows of sharp teeth, like a shark (hide spoiler)]! Through it all, the seductive beauty of the language irresistibly lures the reader into the story's unique mythology, so that by the end of the book the lonely, painful fates of the characters seem as gut-wrenchingly immediate as your own.
"Even in rage, she was eerily beautiful."
Syrenka is such a splendidly doomed creature, however, that Hester unfortunately pales just a bit in comparison in the beginning. Because readers see the perspectives of both past and present, they'll likely guess certain truths well before Hester does, which provides a few moments of frustration. Later in the book, however, Hester's story takes on more shape and her choices are both brave and heartbreaking in their necessity. The plot has many twists and turns, and while I did guess quite a few of the surprises, this didn't detract from my enjoyment of this beautifully crafted story at all.
Mermaid lovers should note the sea creatures in this story are incomparable to anything that has come before them; the disturbing nature of their animal instincts and deadly muscularity is boldly unapologetic, and the story is all the better for it.
Readers who appreciate literary young adult fiction will love this book.Monstrous Beauty's dark moodiness is incredibly evocative, and the startling originality of its story--as well as the lush vividness of its imagery--will not soon be forgotten.
Strongly recommended: for fans of Angela Carter, Cat Hellisen, Margo Lanagan, and possibly Laini Taylor; for adults who don't normally read young adult fiction and for mature YA readers; and finally, for anyone who has been searching tirelessly for a mermaid book that truly transcends its genre.
Heed the siren call: this mermaid story is unlike any other you've read.
This review also appears in The Midnight Garden. An advance copy was provided by the publisher. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Are you in the mood to spooked? Here is a delightfully dreadful tale that will give you the creepy-crawlies.
12-year-old Victoria's best friend LawrenAre you in the mood to spooked? Here is a delightfully dreadful tale that will give you the creepy-crawlies.
12-year-old Victoria's best friend Lawrence has gone missing. Not only is she confused and lonely after his disappearance, but no one in town seems to remember who he was. Prickly, persnickety Victoria is determined to find out what happened to him, and gradually her questions lead her straight to the tall, gray-brick Home at the end of her street where the bright-eyed Mrs. Cavendish lives.
Written in brisk prose reminiscent of Roald Dahl's, The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls showcases a gratifyingly smart debut by author Claire Legrand. The clever writing assumes that its readers are intelligent thinkers, with vibrant verbs and grim humor marching the story purposefully along with its spirited heroine and her quest.
There is much wickedness afoot in this story, with the dastardly deeds ranging from abusive behavior to murder to...eating things that one really oughtn't. (Truly, I will never look at butterscotch candy the same way again.) One of the things that makes it especially deliciously creepy is that Victoria partakes in some of these activities without even knowing it, so the gradual realization of what's really going on in this dark carnival house is a shudder-inducing experience.
I loved the scenes in which Victoria is overcome by nightmarish swarms of insects and when the dark walls move and breathe and when she realizes exactly what the beautiful but ghoulish Mrs. Cavendish has been up to. There were moments in the ending chapters that were absolutely magnificent in their gleeful fiendishness, and they made me do happy creepy dances in my seat. This is a story that may not appeal to those with more delicate sensibilities and probably isn't suitable for very young children, but Legrand's deft hand certainly makes it palatable for middle grade readers.
I think some of the scenes would have had more impact if they'd been lengthened, however, as the horror is so brilliant that holding that tension just a bit longer would have allowed us to relish them more. Conversely, the build-up of the mystery also felt a little long for my personal taste. I would also like to have seen some deeper emotion, as the story skims on some sadness and fear, but doesn't quite leave the sort of lingering feeling that a reader like me yearns for. I still loved reading the story, however, and I'm very much looking forward to the author's future work.
If you're in need of handsome presents this holiday season, by the way, this one fits the bill in more ways than one! The book itself is absolutely beautiful, with a textured book jacket, lovely end papers, and wonderful illustrations by Sarah Watts. As you turn the pages, there are also surprises in the form of smudgy little cockroaches sprinkled here and there throughout the text. *shudder* The design is perfect for this book, and makes it an even more pleasurable reading experience. (More photographs of the hardcover can be found here.)
The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls is an elegant nightmare that will appeal to imaginative children with a sense of humor, and to those of us who have longed for stories that aren't afraid to scare us--but also puts a reassuring arm around us in the end. The next time you're in the mood for a shivery read, Cavendish the perfect thing to curl up with on a blustery night.
* Riveting beginning with fantastic scenes of horror * An uneven middle that I'd love to do all kinds of unholy surgery to, especially the over-emphas* Riveting beginning with fantastic scenes of horror * An uneven middle that I'd love to do all kinds of unholy surgery to, especially the over-emphasis on the uninteresting and rather tedious romance(s) * But saved by a great premise, awesomely freakish moments, solid writing, and a bang-up, untraditional ending.
4.5 starsAnother Little Piece is a deliciously dark and savage debut. Please don't mistake this for a typical YA paranormal story: it does not featur4.5 starsAnother Little Piece is a deliciously dark and savage debut. Please don't mistake this for a typical YA paranormal story: it does not feature any screeching heroines, cliched scenarios, or last-minute romantic rescues. Instead, this is a strange, startlingly original horror novel that is beautifully written, thoughtfully considered, and yet somehow leaves you longing for more. Its fractured structure and ambiguous nature mean that it's not a story that will work for everyone--but holy hell, did it work for me.
4.5 stars This gorgeous, poignant retelling of The Phantom of the Opera has shudder-inducing moments, wistful romance, and protagonists who care deepl4.5 stars This gorgeous, poignant retelling of The Phantom of the Opera has shudder-inducing moments, wistful romance, and protagonists who care deeply about things other than themselves. AND diverse characters and class division and the most beautiful cover I've seen yet this year.
Recommended for fans of Cruel Beauty, The Winner's Curse, and other such dreamy but serious stories featuring forbidden love and atypical YA heroines.
Review to come. But man, oh man--don't miss this one if you're a fan of StWell, this book is just crazy. (view spoiler)[CRAZY GOOD! :D (hide spoiler)]
Review to come. But man, oh man--don't miss this one if you're a fan of Stephen King. One of the few cases where that comparison in the marketing materials is not just an empty promise.["br"]>["br"]>...more
Creepy, complex, genuinely frightening, thrilling, sad, and unbelievably tender and hushed and beautiful all at once. This is a dark, violent fairy taCreepy, complex, genuinely frightening, thrilling, sad, and unbelievably tender and hushed and beautiful all at once. This is a dark, violent fairy tale, it's a mystery, it's a fantasy, it's horror, it's historical, it's gothic, and it's also the story of a girl trying to find a place for herself among a grieving family torn apart by war. The family dynamics and sister relationship are so well done, as are the way the book handles loss and longing. And on top of that? Feminism and jazz and tea shops and plates and plates of cake! (view spoiler)[Not to mention shrieking dolls, shudder-inducing but poignant consumption of various things, and a fantastic play on the fears of parents re: changelings. (hide spoiler)]
I haven't read a middle grade book with this much nuance and wild imagination and feeling since The Golden Compass--and I'm betting those who liked Coraline or the original Grimm's fairy tales will like this. I was thrilled by the intense creepiness and dread of the mystery behind Triss' illness, I was outraged by what she has to endure, and I teared up over what was to become of her. Best read knowing as little about the plot as possible--just enjoy the wonderfully descriptive writing, the perfectly paced plot, and the experience of not knowing where the story will go next.
Love love love love love. And now I have to read everything else Frances Hardinge has ever written.