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
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.
Great setting and entertaining plot, but the storytelling felt loose, jumbled, and confusing. The characters could also use more development2.5 stars
Great setting and entertaining plot, but the storytelling felt loose, jumbled, and confusing. The characters could also use more development, there were stirrings of an unnecessary love triangle, and the dialogue was painfully stilted at times. Still, the author creates a compelling atmosphere and there were enough interesting scenes to keep me going. This debut feels like it could have been something solid with a few more drafts, so I'll leave the door open for trying another book by this author down the road.
An advance copy was provided by the publisher for this review....more
This is the story of a girl, locked in a room, who is strapped into a chair every morning while a man holds a gun to her head. She’s wheeled into a clThis is the story of a girl, locked in a room, who is strapped into a chair every morning while a man holds a gun to her head. She’s wheeled into a classroom in which there are other kids strapped into chairs just like hers, where a woman teaches them lessons that they will probably never need to learn.
This book is like a fantastic combination of
the scrupulously researched medical thriller aspects of Mira Grant's Deadline + the queer, feral curiosity of a child who's not what she seems, like Octavia Butler's Fledgling + the wandering survival aspects of The Reapers are the Angels and its badass heroine Temple + the dichtomy of high-functioning/degenerate beings in Warm Bodies the poignant, impossible need in Let the Right One In.
But with a fascinating pathogen, distinctly drawn characters, and unexpected (and AWESOME) ending of its own. First 5 star read of 2014!