I read this in one sitting, not because it was un-put-downable but because it was a quick easy read. The horror of Lou's imprisonment and the growingI read this in one sitting, not because it was un-put-downable but because it was a quick easy read. The horror of Lou's imprisonment and the growing romance between her and Eliza were well done, but not especially new. It was a good book but if you're looking for a book to take the top of your head off, I'd be quicker to recommend Alias Grace for the Victorian asylums bit, and Fingersmith for the Victorian lesbians bit....more
This was an odd book. I never once considered putting it down before I was done, but it was more out of a perverse desire to get to the explanation thThis was an odd book. I never once considered putting it down before I was done, but it was more out of a perverse desire to get to the explanation than actual gut-instinct interest. I was pretty excited by the reviews I'd read of this series, labeling it as what would happen if Holmes and Watson were romantically involved instead of just full of subtext. I was expecting banter, a good twisty mystery, and a decent dose of that lovely societally-induced repression that makes Victorian romances (especially queer ones) so delightful. But I was disappointed on all three counts.
The narrator is Ethan Pruitt, the Watson to Colin Pendragon's Holmes. He has a sly sort of humor to him, but it was swallowed up by the massive amounts of angst he went through over the course of the book, as the mystery touched on some painful events in his past. Pendragon was clever, yes, but the ways in which he ordered Pruitt about in public fell short of the whimsical rudeness of Holmes and Watson. In the books and especially the 2009 movie, Watson's put-upon suffering is funny because it's intercut with moments of real emotion between the two-- but I never really felt that emotion between them, the weight of their long relationship and what they meant to each other, the way I wanted to.
The mystery itself was rather muddled for me as well. At one point Pendragon complains that he can't make sense of the crimes that have been committed, and I felt rather the same way. There didn't seem to be any clear objective the murders were driving toward, there was a lot of misdirection and confusion, but not the kind that ramped up my own sense of urgency and curiosity. There was really no clear indication that the crimes had been committed by one person with a specific aim in mind, which is something I hadn't thought of as vital to a murder mystery until now. And the pacing was very choppy too-- every time they made a discovery they decamped back to their Baker Street equivalent for tea and haranguing from their landlady, only to rush straight back out again when a new development occurred-- if going back home wasn't a chance to show Pruitt and Pendragon outside the realm of their cases, then why bother? It gave the whole book a very disjointed and episodic feel, no sense of flow from one event to the other. Ultimately the reveal of whodunit packed no punch, because there'd been no foreshadowing and almost no development of the character in question beforehand. The final confrontation was decently done, but I thought the death unnecessary (though perhaps if I'd read the first two books I'd have cared more about the character?).
This was hardly a bad book, and I think it did a wonderful job of portraying queer characters in genre fiction without making the story all about them being queer. But the plot could have used tightening, and my lack of emotional connection to the characters made it fall flat.
2.5 stars. Might have gotten the full 3 if it had been better paced and edited (halfway through, Penny Brannigan started appearing as Penny Barrington2.5 stars. Might have gotten the full 3 if it had been better paced and edited (halfway through, Penny Brannigan started appearing as Penny Barrington, which is so egregious and silly, and not the only error). But it was sexy and fast, and hilarious with regard to historical accuracy, or lack thereof....more
Delightful fluff with surprising plot. Definitely didn't see the thing with Aunt Freddy coming. Loved that the "mean girl" twins ended up being awesomDelightful fluff with surprising plot. Definitely didn't see the thing with Aunt Freddy coming. Loved that the "mean girl" twins ended up being awesome (definitely reading Genevieve as gay, obvi). Think I liked Oliver and Jane just slightly more than Robert and Minnie, but it's close. Sometime should illustrate Jane's many ugly dresses. XD...more
Best $0.99 I ever spent on Amazon. Read another by Milan first, then this, each one finished in a couple of hours (stayed up way too late to do so - nBest $0.99 I ever spent on Amazon. Read another by Milan first, then this, each one finished in a couple of hours (stayed up way too late to do so - no regrets!) and they were both delightful. Witty, interesting, good subplots both, and very sexy. Looking forward to reading more by this author....more
Although much shorter than, and with just as abrupt and weird an ending as, its companion volume, I actually liked Saints a lot more than Boxers. I coAlthough much shorter than, and with just as abrupt and weird an ending as, its companion volume, I actually liked Saints a lot more than Boxers. I connected with Vibiana much more than with Little Bao-- which isn't to say I didn't like Little Bao as a protagonist, because I did. But I found Vibiana's struggles much more familiar, and much more emotively written. Her identity issues, starting first and foremost with not even having a real name, moving forward into believing she's a devil, the whole devil face thing dealing with the issues of how she's seen-- figuratively and literally-- by the people around her, finally finding with the Christians that she is seen in all ways and accepted, even if they don't truly know the heart of her... I think that's the tragedy of this half of the story, honestly, that the only person who knows Vibiana and inspires her is a dead saint.
I really was interested by the dual themes of vision in these books-- that both these kids are visited by spirits and ghosts, that both are "called" to look outside themselves for a purpose, that both feel lost until these visions give them a goal. I wish more had been done with Vibiana's story-- it is much more passive than Little Bao's, but I feel like some of the story of the Society's growing legend could have been told from Vibiana's POV, and that her later years could have been fleshed out a lot more. IDK, I really wanted more from her story than I got. But I liked what I did get quite a bit. Looking forward to discussing this at book club tonight!...more
I was not prepared to love this book as much as I did. And I have to be really grateful to my book club for picking it this month, because I probablyI was not prepared to love this book as much as I did. And I have to be really grateful to my book club for picking it this month, because I probably would never have picked it up otherwise, would have written it off as predictable. But Berry's writing style is spare but beautiful, and Judith's character is gripping and relatable from the first page. I admit I did guess a lot of how her past horrors had gone down, but it's a mark of really good writing (in my opinion) when I can guess the way the story will "end" and yet remain just as riveted as my predictions start coming true. Really really well done-- 4.5 stars....more
oh my god, I LOVED this book when i was a kid. i would never have remembered the name of it but i came across it on a book discussion community and froh my god, I LOVED this book when i was a kid. i would never have remembered the name of it but i came across it on a book discussion community and freaked out. XD such a classic....more
The creepy kid trope is often used as a mini deus ex machina, not to solve the problems of a particular story, but to expose them. The idea of a child that knows too much is unsettling-- a child that can think like an adult, and worse, perpetrate evil or horrifying acts like an adult, is one of the creepiest there is. Even if the creepy kid's job is just to stand by and make ominous pronouncements about what's going to happen, it's still unsettling. Kids are supposed to be innocent, and when faced with one who isn't, it jolts us out of our comfort zone faster than you can say Linda Blair.
(view spoiler)[So if your book contains an albino 12-year-old with a long white rat's nest of hair and pale eyes who barely talks except to read runes and make cryptic statements about the people around her, I just go into it assuming she's one early bedtime away from going Lizzie Borden on everyone around her. Add to that the fact that the pregnant lady gives her a doll and she scratches its face off with a knife because she doesn't like it looking at her, and that she's crazy good at hunting but takes ages to actually kill her prey because she likes watching the animals struggle? RED ALERT EVERYONE, THIS IS NOT A DRILL.
So while I may have called it pretty early on that Narigorm (which is a near-anagram for guess which Celtic goddess whose abilities include foretelling the means of a person's death?) was behind the wolf hunting and shredding Camelot's companions, no one in the book seems to figure it out, even as the body count rises.
Which is kind of the point, if you think about it. The best and scariest killers are the ones who do their dirty work right under others' noses and get away without suspicion (hello, Doctor Lecter). And who would suspect a child of murder? As Camelot finds out to his great chagrin, people don't want to even consider the possibility, even when it's standing there telling them in a sepulchral voice that the runes say someone's going to die less than 12 hours before one of their group turns up stabbed to death with his man-bits torn off. (hide spoiler)]
I should also mention this book is not for people who are squeamish about blood. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
This book was masterfully written but very bleak. I loved the dual perspectives, and the idea that history can be affected by the present as much as tThis book was masterfully written but very bleak. I loved the dual perspectives, and the idea that history can be affected by the present as much as the present is affected by history. This is not a happy book, but it is gripping and has an immediacy of voice and place that make it unforgettable. Plan to read something fluffy afterward; you'll need it....more
**spoiler alert** I was hovering between three and four stars for this, and in the end settled on four, because I want there to be more books like thi**spoiler alert** I was hovering between three and four stars for this, and in the end settled on four, because I want there to be more books like this one in the world, and I appreciate what LaFevers is doing with her heroines. But I admit this was slower to get going for me than -Grave Mercy- was. Sybella seemed a little too tropey-- cold and scornful, full of hatred and detached from her own feelings, I would barely have been surprised to hear she was fond of black eyeliner and had a secret fondness for mournful cello music, or whatever the 16th century version of Bright Eyes was. But once the book started moving, it moved. The Beast of Waroch was one of my favorite characters of -Grave Mercy-, like Sandor Clegane's emotional flipside-- scarred and fierce, yes, but genial and always looking for the good in life. While I don't love that the series seems to be setting up these strong heroines only to make their stories focus around how they find love in unexpected places, I did enjoy the romance between these two. Sybella was at her most believable when she was with Beast, and I loved the scenes of them fighting together. What can I say? I have kind of a weakness for badass couples. I also really liked the book's conclusion-- I felt certain Sybella would have to confront her earthly father again, and was pretty sure that like Ismae in -Grave Mercy- she would end up meeting her heavenly one as well, but I liked how both scenes were done. I liked that Julian got a little redemption, and that there was an acknowledgment that what poisoned him had always come from their father. I also liked that there was no unnecessary denouement-- the book ended on a note of action, and left me smiling. I will definitely read the third book in this series when it comes out....more