3.5 stars The diary structure, especially with the snarky, cluttered narrative, wore me down before too long. And yet this story had to be told this w3.5 stars The diary structure, especially with the snarky, cluttered narrative, wore me down before too long. And yet this story had to be told this way, and it has moments where it's genuinely funny as well as a little creepy--and I think the mystery is resolved in a mostly satisfactory way. I enjoyed it, though the style is going to be a turnoff for many.
3.5 stars An atmospheric, compelling book that kept the pages turning. Which part is a dream? Which part is reality? While I don't need every question3.5 stars An atmospheric, compelling book that kept the pages turning. Which part is a dream? Which part is reality? While I don't need every question answered, I'm not sure everything entirely worked or held together, and I would like to have gotten to know the characters better, and to feel more for them. But still, a strong debut with a style that keeps you suitably off-balance. Would definitely check out a future book by this author.
If you like Sarah McGarry's writing, you'll probably enjoy this.
Maybe a bit more of a review at some point. ...more
3.5 stars I liked this, but it felt overly long, and could have used better pacing. It's also kind of weird to essentially rewrite what we know of his3.5 stars I liked this, but it felt overly long, and could have used better pacing. It's also kind of weird to essentially rewrite what we know of history to recast a murderer as a heroine. At first glance it seems like a Abe Lincoln, Vampire Slayer-type mash-up, but it's really closer to the idea of giving Jack the Ripper good reasons, albeit supernatural reasons, to commit his gruesome crimes. I also wish we'd spent more time on the actual Borden murders--everyone here seems to avoid talking about or even thinking about it too much.
Still, the old-timey horror style is interesting, as is the nature of the creature feature. Whether we saw enough of all that, and whether there's enough here to sustain a sequel, is another story. I'd read book two, though....more
I love that these are horror stories from some of the best YA writers working today, some of whom don't normally write horror. Each story takes inspirI love that these are horror stories from some of the best YA writers working today, some of whom don't normally write horror. Each story takes inspiration from films, books, or music, and half the fun is seeing if you can guess the source.
I rated the stories as I went along:
Nova Ren Suma's "The Birds of Azalea Street" 5 stars Carrie Ryan's "In the Forest Dark and Deep" 3.5 stars Cat Winters' "Emmeline" 4 stars Leigh Bardugo's "Verse Chorus Verse" 4 stars Megan Shepherd's "Hide and Seek" 5 stars Danielle Paige's "The Dark, Scary Parts and All" 2.5 stars April Genevieve Tucholke's "The Flicker, the Fingers, the Beat, the Sigh" 3 stars Jonathan Maberry's "Fat Girl with a Knife" 3 stars Jay Kristoff's "Sleepless" 3.5 stars Stefan Bachman's "M" 3.5 stars Marie Lu's "The Girl Without a Face" 3.5 stars McCormick Templeman's "A Girl Who Dreamed of Snow" 3.5 stars A.G. Howard's "Stitches" 4 stars Kendare Blake "On the I-5" 3.5 stars
I knew that Jay Kristoff and Leigh Bardugo would have good ones--their usual writing is so well-crafted (and obviously, Kristoff's tinged with blood already), and I liked that they both switched from their usual genres and styles to try something totally different. Of course, Suma, Tucholke, Shepherd, and Winters delivered the kinds of eerie stories you'd expect, and I was pleasantly surprised by the new-to-me author Stefan Bachman (who's known for middle grade, but really must write more YA).
Overall, it's probably the strongest YA short story collection I can recall from recent years, and well worth seeking out if you like your stories not terribly gruesome or frightening, but a little grimy and torn and bloody.
An advance copy was provided by the publisher for this review.
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.