Conduits is a tale of Japanse horror, mixed with outstanding writing and an atmospheric, haunting setting. One of the best works on Darkfuse’s list this year, if you ask me.
Mara is a Japanese-American girl struggling with a dark past. She tries to stop the pain by cutitng herself, but ever since her boyfriend passed away, the pain hasn’t subsided, even when she cuts herself. Then she visits the most haunted place in Washington State, and what follows is a spiral of madness that lands her in a psychiatric ward. Her dreams are haunted by a strange house in the woods, inhabited by ghosts.
As Mara’s vision of reality crumbles, she’s forced to confront what happened to her older sister, and why the ghosts have chosen her as a counduit.
As I mentioned, the writing is great. However, the book would’ve been better if it had been slightly longer. A lot of things happen, and not everything is explored with the same level of detail. Overall, the story is great though, dark, hypnotic almost. It reminded me of “A Tale of Two Sisters”, a Japanese horror move that I absolutely loved, and that was creepy without adding gore, or anything of the sort.
Anyone who is a fan of Japanese horror, should definitely check out Conduits. Excellent writing, atmospheric story – I can’t wait to read more books by this author. ...more
Something Red is a lyrical, descriptive book, reminiscent of The Name of The Rose. It’s not too bad, but the plot doesn’t offer anything fresh, and the writing is so lyrical it slows down the pace. There are too many descriptions, and the plot drags along....more
In The Hexed, a murder takes place that is an almost exact replica of another murder that took place thirteen years ago. Craig Rockwell, a new member of the Krewe of Hunters, was the one who discovered the first body, a friend of his. He can hear voices of the deceased, and that’s what brings him to the Krewe of Hunters, and what got him to find his dead friend in the first place.
Devin Lyle has returned to the Salem area just when a woman gets murdered nearby the cabin she inherited from her great-aunt. She’s an author who writes about the witch trials, and witches in general. When Devin is being led to a third body, and there’s some connection to the Salem witch trials and the murders, she can’t help but get involved.
The two “detectives” unravel clues from the past. The friends of Craig’s past are questioned, and old friendships are tested. Add in ghosts, and I’m sold.
At least, I thought I’d be. And the plot is pretty decent, I’ll give you that. I liked the tie-in between the witch trials, the murders and the ghost. I wasn’t too fond of the characters though – both Craig (or Rocky, as he calls himself) and Devin are paper-thin characters, with no real personality. Whatever personality they do have, never develops throughout the book. The writing wasn’t spectacular either, but it was good enough.
All in all, I did enjoy the book, and particularly that it focused less on romance, and more on plot....more
Hurry Home features an original mix of paranormal elements, solid writing and an enigmatic main character. Emmalyn Evans, aforementioned main character, grows tired of her father being overprotective over her, so she runs away, in search of adventure. Unfortunately, the world outside has more dangers than Emmalyn accounted for. When she meets Nik, a warlock with his own share of dark secrets, she feels an instant pull toward him. But with someone out to murder her, and with her father trying to track her down and bring her back home, going on an adventure is anything but easy.
Emmalyn is an enigmatic heroine. Her struggle for freedom felt very real, and she acted like you’d expected from any young adult. She was stubborn, determined, intelligent, and just a bit naive, which you expected from teenagers. Her thoughts of how her adventure would look like were very different from how things turned out to be, as can be expected.
Nik was awesome. He was mysterious from the start, charming, in that bad boy kind of way. He hid plenty of secrets, which made him more intriguing. Nik and Emmalyn had a lot of chemistry between them.
This was an intriguing and enjoyable read. I look forward to reading more books by these authors....more
In The Exiled, William Meikle starts out by introducing us to a seemingly-regular police investigation. Several young girls are abducted from various locations around Edinburg, and it’s up to detective John Granger and his brother, Alan, a reporter, to investigate the case. The abductor leaves behind corpses of black swans at each crime scene, and kidnaps the girl seemingly unnoticed. The brothers face a mystery of the likes they’ve never encountered before.
The investigation leads them to a farmhouse, where they catch a glimpse of the placethe girls have been taken. From this point, the novel transmorphs into a supernatural fantasy, when the brothers enter another realm to try find the missing girls. They end up in a land of myth and horror, a faerie realm known throughout Scottish history, a realm they never thougth could exist for real. There, they will have to battle the Cobbe, a mysterious creature guarding the realm.
William Meikle has a lot of imagination, and he expertly blends mythology, the supernatural, a murder mystery and horror. The plot was surprising to say the least, the characterization was excellent and the writing was solid as well. Another excellent horror novel from the Darkfuse line, recommended to anyone who enjoys the genre. ...more
All right, so I’m probably one of the few people who hadn’t heard of S. Ansky before reading this collection. Shame on me, I know. Anyway, The Dybbuk is actual a theatre play based on a folklore story S. Ansky gathered info for during his travels. The story is about a young bride who is possessed by a dybbuk – this can best be compared to an evil spirit, or demon. Her name is Leah’le, and she went to the graveyard before her wedding day, where not only she invited her mother’s spirit to attend the marriage, but also the spirits of a young couple who were murdered before their wedding could be consummated. She’s also drawn to one other grave, that of Hannan, a young scholar who as in love with her, and wanted her hand in marriage, but was refused so by her father.
Leah’le comes back from the graveyard a changed woman. A local sage tries to exorcise the Dybbuk who has possessed her, but fails, and is forced to call in the help of the rabbi. The rabbi decides that Leah’le’s father must appear before the court of rabbis, apparently upon the request of the spirit of Hannan’s father. What follows is a trial half debated in the world of the living, and half in the spirit world.
It’s certainly an intriguing story, and I wished I could’ve seen the actual play. This sounds right up my alley. I enjoyed reading it here though, but it must’ve been even more intriguing to see it on stage.
This collection also features other stories by S. Ansky, but the Dybbuk was by far the most notable one. If you’re a fan of historical fiction, mysticism and paranormal stories, then you’ll probably enjoy The Dybbuk and Other Writings....more
Despite having the feeling I was thrown in the middle of a sequel instead of the first book in a series, I found myself enjoying Blood Relations more than I thought I would. Main character Alex Winters can control fire. At least, he can control it half of the time. He took over the Russian district, and tries to survive in the middle of gangsters, prostitutes, and heck, even vampires. When we meet Alex at the start of this book, he’s already the leader of the district, but he has trouble keeping control of the different pawns in the game. When he runs into a vampire gang, things start to get serious.
Alex is a complex character. He’s an anti-hero. He was abused during his childhood, as are most of the main characters in this book. But despite all this, he put out his neck to save a bunch of children who went through the same things he did. Even though he’s barely sixteen, he acts at least ten years older, probably due to what he went through as a kid. I loved how Alex looks out for the others, even though obviously being very damaged himself.
But when the vampires turn against Mr. Lupino, one of Alex’s associates, and a man who he respects and likes, and they threaten the kids he swore to protect, Alex is willing to do whatever it takes to win this fight, without anyone else getting hurt.
The writing was great, and the characterization, especially of Alex, was spot on. It’s been a long time since I encountered a character who I liked so much. The plot could be a bit more complex, but apart from that, I loved this....more
In Finding Fire, Kenna believes she’s just an ordinary human being, until she opens up a letter left to her by her deceased grandmother. The letter reveals that Kenna is anything but ordinary. She’s not an only child, but she has four siblings. Born as quindruplets, they each possess an unique gift, an element which they can control. Her parents died in an accident, and her grandmother was only allowed to take care of one of them. Kenna’s brothers and sisters are spread across the globe, and if she wants to reunite her family, she’ll have to find them. She starts by searching for her oldest brother, Aiden, who controls the element fire. But finding Aiden isn’t as easy as Kenna hoped it would be, and there’s danger lurking in every corner.
Kenna starts off as a whiny, insecure girl who has the habit of talking to herself way too often. She spends most of the time in her own mind. I understand she took her Granny’s death harshly, but I kind of wanted her to be a bit braver, a bit more eager to take her destiny in her own hands. However, she undergoes a real character transformation as the story continues. By searching for Aiden and eventually meeting him, she becomes a stronger, more self-reliant and independent person.
I actually enjoyed the threat of the Restorers. The Restorers are people who’d like to destroy Kenna and her family. By searching for her brother, Kenna unwillingly stumbles upon these Restorers, and from then on, a wild goose chase begins, in which the Restorers chase Kenna and her brother and try to eliminate them. It adds a whole new dimension to the book, adding suspense and excitement.
I’m looking forward to reading the sequel to this book. While the start could’ve been better, it really picked up halfway through and ended up being an enjoyable read....more
In The Unholy, Claire Sanchez is the daughter of a curandera, a medicine woman. At age five, she sw her Mom getting murdered by an evil creature in the woods. Growing up, she’s never been able to shake the memory of that fateful night. She decided not to take up her heritage and become a medicine woman. Instead, she works as a psychologist and tries to help people in her own way.
On the other hand, we have the villain, Archbishop Anarch, who is the leader of some kind of cult. Anarch is truly wicked – he has no problem killing others when they stand in his way, or convincing people to kill themselves when he stands to gain money from it. His followers are tightly in his grasp, and he abuses his power at every turn. The only one who has some form of control over him, would be his mother. But Anarch is convinced what he’s doing is right, which makes him one of the worst kinds of monsters.
When the evil Archbishop turns his eye to Claire, she has to rediscover herself and her heritage to find against the powers of darkness, to protect herself, and the people she loves.
The theme of the novel is pretty basic, good vs. evil. But the author takes that theme, twists it around, comes up with intriguing characters who often walk the balance between right and wrong, and takes things to a whole new level. Anarch would be completely evil, in the eyes of most, yet in his own point of view, he is not. He knows his actions are wrong, but justifies them in the name of the greater good. There’s action, suspense, a hint of romance, and definitely enough darkness to share around in this book.
The writing style is very descriptive, almost poetic. On the downside, that means it’s a bit wordy at times. Once you bite through that though, and start focusing on the story, then the book becomes really intriguing....more
I reviewed the first book in the series, Blood Relations, a while back, and really enjoyed it, so I was looking forward to reading the next installment, Brothers in Arms. Needless to say, I wasn’t disappointed.
When we meet Alex here, a little over a year has passed since the events in the last book. He’s doing rather well for himself, and seems to have banned out some of the darkness he carried along with him every step of the way through the first book. He lives with his girlfriend, Lori, and their baby in a nice home, he works as the underboss for the Lupino group, which unfortunately forces him to make choices he isn’t always fond of, but which is, all in all, a good job. However, his relationship with Lori is difficult at best. Just like him, she suffers from good days and bad days, due to what happened to her in the past. But all in all, Alex is happy, and hopes things will settle down.
Unfortunately, his dream is shattered when a man from the GenEx group approaches him. The GenEx group has discovered others with similar abilities to his own – his ability to make fire with his mind – and they want to unite these individuals. Alex has a bad feeling about it from the get-go. He doubts they just want to gather them around for a nice chat. But even he isn’t prepared for what’s to come next, and the risks he’ll have to take to protect himself, his friends and family.
Alex has gone through a lot, and his personality has developed in a good way since the first time the reader meets him. Even in this book, he goes through a lot of character development. He’s complex and intriguing, and instead of getting to know him better, I feel like he gets more and more complex the more I figure out about him. I liked Lori too – her dark personality matches Alex’s own, and she struggles. She’s deeply flawed, but she tries her best to overcome the obstacles of the past.
This book offers a more complex plot than the first one, which was a great bonus. If I had to find one flaw in the first book, it would be how simple and straightforward the plot was. Not so here, hence the slightly higher rating.
If you like dark fiction, supernatural, and a good dose of action, then try out this series. You will not be disappointed....more
Dark Energy offers a great setting, with impressive world building. In the world author John O’Riley has crafted, there are magic users of different levels, and our main character, Josephine, is a level six wizard. But there are also vampires, succubus’s and even immortals thrown in the mix. There are different kinds of magic – white magic, which is very rare, for instance, and whih is practiced by Josephine’s boyfriend, Mark. Josephine is destined to be young forever, immortal in a way, but for once, here we have a character who actually acts like an old person stuck in a younger person’s body. Every time I read books about immortals, I’m surprised by how childish these immortals are, even though having lived for centuries. Not here – Josephine is in every way a grumpy old wizard, albeit a fun one.
It’s a little weird to see the relationship between Josephine and Mark, because he’s much younger than she is. In terms of how they look, they look more or less the same age though. And Mark tends to act like a person much older than his age – he’s very wise for his years. So after awhile, the weirdness disappears, and I actually started to like them as a couple.
The magical world created by the author for these novels is vast and impressive. Since I haven’t read any of the other books in the series, it was a little hard to follow, but after a few chapters, I started to get the hang of it. josephine and her friends kept being attacked by a construo letalis curse, which makes a human-looking creature that follows them, intent on killing them. The curse doesn’t stop until its target is dead, or the curse itself is destroyed. I loved this – it’s so fresh and original. There are other original elements in the book, and it really feels like a fresh breath through the supernatural genre.
A great book for fans of supernatural stories who want something new and different. The author did an outstanding job creating a magical world that feels fresh and original....more
After losing their baby, Meg and Harry move to a remote cottage on the northeast coast of England. This marks the start of Lurker, a novel that gets progressively darker and more threatening with every turned page.
Meg starts to explore the nearby area, and she stumbles onto a deserted eighteenth-century quarry mine where she hears eerie noises. With her husband often not getting home until late, Meg spends countless hours on her own in the cottage, which is fine at first, but when she starts feeling like something followed her from those mines, she wishes Harry would come home more often.
Muddy handprints appear on the side of the cottage, with no explanation. Strange noises keep Meg from sleeping through the night. And the real question is: what is real, and what only exists inside her mind?
We don’t really get to know Harry. He’s in and out of the picture so often that he doesn’t get the time to develop a full personality. Meg however, we get to know really well and it soon becomes clear her sanity may not always be crystal clear. That’s what makes this book intriguing. The monsters are unique and original, and their descriptions made my heart pound in my chest. The author definitely has a way with words, and with describing things vividly. However, the real question “is it real or is it all in her mind” is what really brings out the best of this book.
The final event can be interpreted in different ways, each way equally horrific. What was the author’s true intention, or how should it all play out according to the author? I’m not sure I want to know – I thought the different possibilities ending was quite satisfying as it is.
A delightful, spine-chilling, quick read, ideal for a dreary winter night....more
I was pleasantly surprised by The Goddess and The Great Beast. The setting is Baghdad in the middle of World War II, at least that’s where the story starts. Vivian, the hero of this story, is bored and spends most of his time hanging out with Farouk, a smuggler who also happens to be a member of a secret cult, which intrigues Vivian endlessly. He begs Farouk to take him to one of the cult meetings, and what he sees there, changes his life forever.
He takes a secret drug no one should know about it, and enters a hallucination about an ancient Babylonian Goddess. Afterward, he nags Farouk to bring him along again, and he does so, even if it’s against custom. But the further Vivian gets trapped into the world of ancient rites and customs, the more he feels the rituals may be dangerous. Until the goddess attacks him with a knife, then he decides it’s time to quit.
The goddess, Ishtar, continues to torment him though, while he travels through the Middle East. After the war, he settles down in London, convinced the Goddess has finally left him alone. He gets a girlfriend, JJ, and starts to enjoy life again. That is, until he meets Ishtar once again, this time as a singer in a London bar.
The story is unique and intriguing, and I had no idea what was going to happen next. The author has a way with words that is definitely intriguing to read. He knows his vocabulary well. The characters were also very interesting, especially Vivian. They’re not your standard cardboard cut-out characters. They’re three-dimensional, with enough qualities and flaws to make them stand out.
An excellent read, and one I’d recommend to anyone who enjoys supernatural thrillers....more
What an amazing, at times frightening, at times heartwarming, read. Blind Study introduces us to Alice, our MC, right away, but in the most dire of circumstances. Alice tumbles down a cliff trying to save a little girl, and spends the next year in a hospital bed. Even long after her injuries have healed, she’s struggling to cope with tremendous pain. The doctors are baffled, and no one is able to come up with a cure. Until she signs up for new, revolutionary pain medication.
The medication helps, but there’s a side effect no one could’ve dreamed of. Terrifying, vivid nightmares begin to haunt Alice every moment she’s asleep. In the nightmares she meets Riley, an Iraq war veteran who lost his legs in the war, and who participated in the new medication program as well. Riley and Alice grow closer to each other as they stand side by side to fight the nightmares.
When the nightmare realm starts to cross over with the regular world, Alice has to confront the creatures of her nightmares, or quit the drugs and go back to her solitary life, ruled by pain.
Alice has to make tough choices, and she’s in a tough position. The pain makes her a rather unlikeable character, but the guilt she feels afterward for what she’s done, instantly brings her back to the likeable side. She’s down-to-earth and realistic, but she has a rather dark and gloomy view on things, probably due to the accident. Riley is a lot like her, and that’s probably why they work so well. I really liked their interactions, the bond of respect they had for each other, and well, everything. For such a tough guy, Riley can be rather sweet, and that really warmed my heart.
The plot was quite original, and the story was refreshing and intriguing. It was fast-paced, and the writing was decent, ideal for a YA book.
One of my favorite YA reads of the year. If you’re in the mood for some chilling YA novel with supernatural elements and endaring characters, check out Blind Study....more
I love ghost stories. They’re my absolute favorite stories, so I’ve read a lot of them. I have to say that The Secret of Crickley Hall is one of the better ghost stories I’ve read. Next to The Woman in Black and The Shining, it’s one of my absolute favorites.
First of all, the setting, which is absolutely perfect. A small, quaint town, with a rather gruesome (but not too gruesome) history. In 1943, amidst World War II, more than forty people drowned when the rivers flooded. Eleven of them were orphans who resided in Crickley Hall, an ancient house built in ugly, grey stone, by no means a beautiful place. When The Caleighs move to Crickley Hall, they’re trying to get away from the events that tormented them back in London. Their youngest son, Cameron went missing, and there’s been no trace of him ever since. Gabe and Eve try to deal with it as well as they can, but losing a son is never easy. Eve tries to pull through for her daughters, teenage Loren and younger Callly, but her guilt for what happened to Cameron continues to haunt her.
The strength of this book is that a lot of it thrives on emotion. Crickley Hall is haunted, and we realize that soon enough, but more important is the feelings of the protagonists, their growing anxiety and fears. The haunting itself is subtle at first, but quickly expands, a little too quickly to really make me terrified, but it was done nicely all the same. The history behind the haunting is what intrigued me the most – what exactly happened that particular night? But I also loved The Caleighs, and I enjoyed being with them through their sorrows, hardships, and also newfound happiness.
The book isn’t perfect though, although it’s a great gothic horror story. The narrative sometimes derails in long paragraphs reading to nowhere, or switches point of view where it shouldn’t, moving on to different characters. I liked it when the author got into the head of the villain, but some perspectives were unnecessary and dragged on the story.
Like with my previous James Herbert novel, which was Ash, I couldn’t help but feel like the author deliberately made the story longer, using repetitive sentences and scenes, telling instead of showing, and sometimes even offering entire paragraphs of inner monologue. The Secret of Crickley Hall is a lot better than Ash though. Here we have an actual ghost story, ghosts with rules and boundaries, an ancient mystery to unlock and genuine characters with feelings and emotions. I was ready to stop reading Herbert alltogether, and only picked this one up because it was a very cheap book. After reading, I’m ready to give Herbert another try.
If you enjoy ghost stories, or paranormal mysteries, then you’re going to enjoy The Secret of Crickley Hall. It has it all, from an old, creepy mansion to a series of ghosts, some good, others plain evil, and a family trapped in the middle of mayhem. ...more
Of all three books, The Kingdom is my favorite. It starts out with Amelia visiting Asher Falls, a small community in the shadows of the Blue Ridge Mountains. For Amelia it’s the perfect opportunity to get away from Charleston for a while, a welcome escape after the events that transpired in the previous book. She’s also eager to get away from Devlin, who is haunted by his own ghosts, something Amelia can’t have in her life right now. She goes to Asher Falls to restore a cemetary, but the moment she arrives in the small town, she notices things aren’t what they seem around here. The lake at the edge of Asher Falls harbors an ancient cemetery and the old town, which flooded ages ago. There’s a grave hidden in the forest nearby the cemetery Amelia came to restore, a well-kept grave nobody seems to know about. Strange creatures follow Amelia around, and the dead are more active here than ever before. Whatever secret Asher Falls harbors, Amelia is stuck right in the middle of it.
Amelia shines here more than in the previous book. She’s become this interesting person who is so real and solid I can almost imagine her as a real person as opposed to a book character. Her emotions are more streamlined than they were before, and at the same time more conflicted. She’s unsure with the whole Devlin situation, and although she’s glad to get away from him and his ghosts for a while, she also misses him. When she meets Thane, the grandson of the famous Asher family patriarch, the most influential family of Asher Falls, she’s unsure about him at first. He seems like your regular “got it all, thinks he can get anything” type, but the more she gets to know him, the more she realizes he’s much more than that. Thane too has secrets, most of them going back way into his past. And when Amelia starts digging for answers, she comes across some of Thane’s secrets, which put him in another perspective. I have to be honest here and say that I actually liked Thane more than Devlin. He seemed more dependable. With Devlin there’s always the issue of his wife and daughter, who passed away, and Thane was free of any such burdens.
The Kingdom takes it up a notch from The Restorer – it goes beyond everything The Restorer is. Asher Falls has a Silent Hill vibe going on. The town is nearly deserted, there’s a sunken graveyard which I have to say is pretty darn awesome, and there are secrets piled up everywhere in town. Add the creepy monsters that followed Amelia to the cemetery, the appearance of a girl ghost who killed herself years ago but can’t seem to find peace, and the Asher’s secrets, and you’re in for one hell of a ride. This book is sinister and dark, and it mixes everything from romance to thriller to a paranormal mystery. Only a handful of authors really manage to impress me with their writing, and Amanda Stevens firmly earned her place amongst them with this book....more
The Restorer is one of the best books I’ve ever read. Since I average 150 books a year, that’s saying something. I bought the first book in the series, was thoroughly impressed, and immediately went out to hunt for book two and three. This week I will review all three books, and give you my honest opinion about what I consider one of the best series ever. The only downside? I find it remarkably tough to write reviews about books I enjoyed immensely. Anyway, on we go.
Amelia Gray, main character, restores old graveyards, which instantly gives her one of the coolest professions ever. I’ve always been fascinated with ancient Victorian graveyards, and so is Amelia, which instantly made me bond with her. The second quirky thing about Amelia is that she sees ghosts. She’s seen them ever since she was a little kid. She tried to stay away from them and ignore them because her father told her to, but that doesn’t always work out. When the dead see you, they grow attached to you, they feed on your energy, and Amelia tries to avoid that. She spends most of her time on hallowed ground, such as graveyards, to avoid seeing the dead. If she’s not safe on hallowed ground come nightfall, things might get ugly.
Her ability to see the dead has made it difficult for Amelia to make friends and to date guys, so she’s a twenty-seven year old single woman who easily reminded me of “Bones” from the TV series. Intelligent, brave and actually a nice person, but someone who has trouble befriending people or dating people. I liked her personality, her attitude, her spark. She doesn’t see her ability as much of a gift, and to be honest, it isn’t really, at least not for her. It hinders her in everything she does or tries to do, sometimes even putting her on harm’s way. She’s the opposite of a superhero, her powers a true curse for her. I liked that. The tragic hero thing, a person who genuinely is hindered by her abilities, even though others might find them awesome.
At the beginning of the book, she’s working to restore Oak Grove Cemetery when a bound is recovered on the cemetery. This could be no news at all, if the body didn’t belong to a missing person and was quite recent. The detective on the case, John Devlin, is the kind of man Amelia could fall for. Southern charm, handsome, strong, intelligent, he’s practically every girl’s dream. But Devlin has his own ghosts to deal with, and Amelia has learned the hard way not to get close to people who are haunted by their past, sometimes quite literary. As a male lead, John Devlin doesn’t do that much though. I wanted to see more of him. The entire story is told from Amelia’s POV, which is great, but I would’ve liked a few more scenes with Devlin so I could have a better idea of his motives and what drives him.
When another body turns up at the cemetery and Amelia finds out the body the police found isn’t the first body to be discovered there, those are the first clues for one of the best mystery novels I’ve ever read. There’s an evil force at work in Oak Grove Cemetery, and Amelia may have to use her ability to communicate with ghosts if she wants to find the culprit before he finds her. Her safe harbor, the hallowed ground of cemeteries, suddenly isn’t so safe anymore.
The plot itself was pretty much kick-ass awesome all the way. The mystery was amazing, and I could barely keep up with the rapid pace, luckily interrupted with moments of self-reflection from the main character. Toward the end though, those moments started to annoy me. I was in the middle of the plot and boom, suddenly, Amelia started her self-reflection habits up again. Ugh. So not the moment. Luckily this was a small hindrance and not enough to make me dislike the book or something.
What I also liked is how this book mixes all sorts of genres. There’s romance, there’s a paranormal mystery, but there’s also a suspense novel, a thriller, and even a bit of horror here and there. I like books that break the genre boundaries, and in that aspect, The Restorer definitely succeeds.
I recommend this book to everyone who enjoys reading books with a paranormal element. Even if you’re not generally a fan of romance, the romance subplot is small enough here not to distract you from the main plot. If you dislike thrillers or suspense novels, the romance and ghosts may be enough to lure you in. And if you’re a fan of horror, then this book has something for you as well....more
First of all, I didn’t read any of the other books in the David Ash series. I came across this one in my local bookshop and I picked it up because theFirst of all, I didn’t read any of the other books in the David Ash series. I came across this one in my local bookshop and I picked it up because the synopsis intrigued me. A creepy, haunted castle. A parapsychologist with a disturbing past. A secret, elite organization harboring more secrets than the Illuminati. So far, it all sounded good. The only downside was the execution. I enjoyed the premise, but this book was so sloppily executed I had trouble getting to the end.
The plot is actually pretty simple and straightforward, which means there’s no excuse for why it takes 700+ pages to get to the end. David Ash is a seasoned ghost hunter asked to solve the gruesome mystery surrounding Cromraich Castle, a secluded fortress where one person has been brutally murdered by a ghost. Other, smaller events have happened in the castle as well and its inhabitants are terrified. Said inhabitants are a mix of wealthy people who did something wrong at one point in their lives, then vanished off the face of the earth and chose to spend their remaining days in the luxury of the castle. They’re protected by an organisation called “The Inner Court” who has roots dating back to the middle ages and blackmail material on every influential person including the royal family. Some of these people committed smaller crimes, whereas others commited full-on genocide. Not exactly the crowd I would like to mingle with, or would bother to save, but Ash doesn’t seem to mind all that much.
Parapsychologist David Ash is an intriguing and memorable main character. He struggles with a rather cliché drinking problem, and he’s lost many people he cares about. What makes him interesting was that, at the beginning of his career, he was very skeptical toward the existence of ghosts and supernatural phenomena. It was only when he saw for himself that he became a believer. I liked this aspect about him, as well as his sharp, analytical mind. Unfortunately, the rest of his personality fell flat. He’s described in such a dry, monotone way that he never came alive on the pages. He was never more than a figure in a book. Part of this is thanks to Delphine, his supposed love interest. Delphine is a psychologist and the moment Ash meets her, he falls for her. I can understand attraction, but true love at first sight? That’s so ridiculous I can’t believe a seasoned author wanted to pull that off. Also, Delphine has a problem with her lingering sexuality because at one point she spent a passionate night with her co-worker and head nurse of Cromraich castle, Rachel. She acts like she’s terribly ashamed for the act afterward, and that might very well be, but the way the author describes it comes across like A) women are only meant to be with men, and can’t have meaningful relationships with other women (mainly because during the sex scenes with Delphine and Ash, the author mentions how it finally felt right for Delphine and a whole lot of other crap like that, which makes it seem like same-sex couples are the spawn of Satan) and B) every lesbian is evil and jealous. It’s so ridiculous and offensive I couldn’t grasp why any editor would allow such crap to remain in a book.
Another problem is that the author constantly refers to the main character as “Ash”, which is his last name. It put such distance between the main character and the reader that it was almost impossible to cross the distance and get into the main character’s head. This could’ve been easily solved by calling him “David” instead. Also, David doesn’t act like an actual ghost hunter. He’s more busy probing his nose into the political mess going on at the castle than trying to solve the mystery. Talking about the mystery, it’s basically one huge joke. Nothing is ever truly solved. I don’t want to spoil the book for you, but there’s never given any actual reason for the murder at the start, and we just have to believe it happened completely randomly because he was at the wrong place at the wrong time. We’re given a stupid, annoying, ignorant, offensive explanation half-way through of how it is that the dark forces only gathered in Cromraich after hundreds of years, and at that point I was ready to rip my hair out. But more about that later: let’s focus back on the characters first.
Delphine suffers from major Mary Sue syndrom. She’s perfect. Except that she’s useless and a waste of pages. She has no purpose in the book except to cling to Ash’s arm and cry for help, and make for some disgusting sex scenes I skipped through. I had serious problems with Ash falling for her right away, and vice versa, as well. That’s just not believable. Especially since this book is for adults, and I expect a thirty or forty something man (I have no idea how old Ash is) to know better than to fall for someone right away. Especially since he’s supposedly gone through all this crap with past lovers. Anyway, I was kind of hoping something big would be revealed and Delphine would be on the bad side all along, but alas. Such clever plot devices clearly weren’t thought of during the writing of this book.
The second problem was that the author suffered from “God-syndrome”. He wanted to look into the mind of all occupants of Cromraich Castle. He switches perspective from Ash to one of the inhabitants every so often. We get into the mind of people like Ubuntu and Khadaffi, and it doesn’t help the plot one bit. If anything, it slows it down. I don’t want to look into these people’s mind – it adds nothing to the story. I want to know what Ash is thinking and what he’s doing, because by the end I had the feeling he hadn’t been doing much to solve the mystery.
Also, the people in the castle are clearly retarded, and with that I’m not meaning the ‘lunatics’ held in custody in the subbasement of the castle, but the staff and leaders. Seriously? If you have people suffering from mental illnesses, you do not stuff them in a basement in inhumane circumstances, in tiny rooms with no sunlight, barely any food or accomodations. We’re 2013, and shit like that, THANKFULLY, doesn’t happen anymore. The people staying at Cromraich pay enormous amounts of money to stay there or have their loved ones stay there, so I doubt any single one of them would be happy to know they’re kept like rats in a cage and treated worse than animals. When I came to these passages, I wanted to burn the book. I’ve never come that close to burning a book either. And you’d think that, even if the people doing these terrible, terrible things were evil enough to do them, at least Ash or Delphine, near-perfect Delphine, would try to stop them. But no. The moment Ash finds his way into the subbasement, he gets attacked by almost feral ‘lunatics’ who somehow managed to escape their cells. It would’ve been better if the author, before writing this utter ridiculous piece of crap, would’ve bothered to visit a contemporary asylum and see the workings there. I can’t believe anyone, even someone as powerful as the Inner Court, would get away with threating their patients like that nowadays. And I think Ash, as opposed to being a brave ghost hunter, is in fact the world’s biggest coward for not trying to do something about it.
Next up is the supposed culprit of the haunting. I’m going to start giving out some spoilers, so don’t read on if you don’t want to know them. It wasn’t that surprising though. The culprit is actually Hitler’s daughter, born from an affair he had with an English woman. Turns out that not only was his offspring a girl, but she was also handicapped. She has an ‘enormous head’, which makes me think maybe she has Down’s syndrome. In any case, she’s been held in a small, confined room in the subbasement without any sunlight or company ever since she was born. And the staff is SURPRISED that she tries to attack them. During this entire book, she’s painted as the ‘bad guy’, and I wonder why. At some point she was raped and gave birth to a baby. Nobody even saw the baby, except when it was dead. I can’t imagine what that poor girl must’ve gone through. She probably had no idea what was going on, and she did try her best. But then the author comes and adds some more gruesome details, trying to paint her as the bad guy in all this. She was an innocent child, and the staff of Cromraich decided to experiment on her, lock her up in a room without a toilet or proper bed, and then somebody raped her. If anyone is the ‘bad guy’ in this, it’s not her. And I wished the author would stop trying to make her into that, simply because she’s Hitler’s daughter.
Then there’s ‘the boy’. Oh, well, that certainly wasn’t a big surprise to me. The boy has a curious condition. His skin is so translucent you can see his veins, organs and what not. This is because he was born ridiculously early. Also, he’s a hermophiliac, which instantly said ‘royal family’ to me. So he’s apparently Diana’s son, but they never told her he was born alive because of his condition. We’re to believe in all this that ‘the boy’ is the good guy, and hey, he is. He’s pretty good and decent, but his treatment is such a stark contrast as to how Hitler’s daughter is treated that it made me even more angry. Why should he get all the love and care? Because his mind functions properly and his only special condition has to do with his body? Everyone deserves to be treated with the same care, regardless of who their parent is.
As you can guess, by now I was ready to torch the book. The plot was all over the place and quite frankly, made no sense at all. The book isn’t about a ghost hunter solving a paranormal mystery, as I’d hoped. The paranormal takes on such a small spot in this book it might as well not have been there. Even the haunting is random. The castle is apparenlty cursed because some lord was murdered there five hundred or more years ago. It has had a history of bloodshed and horror, and now the ghosts of the past decided to cling on to Hitler’s daughter to make their return into the world of the living. A hired assassin for the Inner Court is facing an illness and decides to kill his employers before he dies himself. His apprentice assassin gets killed by large cats stalking the territory of the castle for no reason. These cats apparently don’t work in packs, but now they do, and it’s never really explained why. All this together, you’d think there was some common ground. There isn’t. It’s like the author threw three or four random storylines together, without bothering if they worked or not. In my opinion, the book could use an entire rewrite, and maybe even cut some storylines because they offered little to nothing to the story.
Oh, and the end was so freaking confusing. SPOILERS ahead, so don’t read on if you haven’t read it yet. But Cedric Twiggs, the assassin, makes the entire castle explode by carefully-placed bombs and then goes back to the cabin, but why the heck is the decaying corpse of his apprentice there and why the heck is he still alive (zombie-alive though)? This makes absolutely NO sense. None of the other dead people in the castle come back to life either. Why he? Ugh. That’s just one of the major plot holes in this book, and I’m long done counting.
Last but not least, the writing. It took over a hundred pages for Ash just to get to the castle. The pace was slow, the writing repetitive and dense. Some of the sentences were wonderfully crafted pieces of art, but not everything needs to be described, and you don’t need half as many adjectives or adverbs as the author used in this book. Seriously. This book could’ve been easily 100 to 200 pages shorter, and the pace would’ve been much more consistent if the writing wasn’t so overly flowery and descriptive. It slowed down the pace so much that at times it was imbearable to read.
On top of that, there was no real, no real storyline, and that resulted in no real tension. For a horror or thriller novel, one of the most important parts is the tension. When I picked up this book, I fully expected to shiver in fear while reading. Alas, nothing of the sort happened. This book wasn’t scary. It wasn’t even suspenseful. It was nothing but shallow characters, a hollow plot and run-on sentences filled with adverbs.
I don’t recommend Ash to anyone, unless everything you’ve read so far sounds like you’d like to read it. But if you’re looking for a ghost story, then there are tons of books out there that are a million times better than this one. This book lacks in every single aspect, and I couldn’t find any redeeming qualities. It was a waste of twenty bucks, and a struggle to get to the end....more
he Vanishing Game left me with mixed feelings. I enjoyed the premise of the story, and for most parts the writing and characterization were all righthe Vanishing Game left me with mixed feelings. I enjoyed the premise of the story, and for most parts the writing and characterization were all right as well, but the book lost me halfway through. The pace was too slow, the writing a bit too erratic and the characters lacked depth and mystery. The mystery, which is the main part of this book, wasn’t that mysterious to me at all. The author does an admirable job waving in mystery with the other elements of the book, but the clues left were a bit too straightforward for my liking, and sometimes I hit myself over the head when the main characters, Jocelyn and Noah, couldn’t find it out.
The book has a few twists and turns, and some supernatural elements, but nothing too out of the ordinary. I thought it was very clever how the author had waved together the action and the background story. It never felt like info dump, not even when the characters revisited their past and talked about it. Jocelyn was an interesting character, but the one who truly shone was Noah. I liked him a lot, and wished more of the story had been told from his POV as opposed to Jocelyn’s.
I thought The Vanishing Game would be creepier than it actually was. There were some scary scenes, but nothing bad enough to make me bite my nails and curl under my blanket to cry.
I’m normally all for supernatural/paranormal, but in this case, it just doesn’t work. It had a good start at the beginning, but halfway through the book lost all its footings. I think this book would’ve been better off without the supernatural elements, and without the creepiness that didn’t deliver. The story of Jocey and Noah following Jack’s clue was intriguing enough. Sometimes I also felt like explenations were thrown out at random, and they left me going ‘whaaaaat’. But I can forgive those. The story was decent enough, and the characters interesting enough. Recommended if you want a quick mystery read, but don’t expect the next big thing....more
Let’s face it. Vampires are sissies, and have been for the last decade. Ever since the paranormal romance genre introduced us to the vampires in loveLet’s face it. Vampires are sissies, and have been for the last decade. Ever since the paranormal romance genre introduced us to the vampires in love with our heroes or heroines, vampires have been known as goody-two-shoes, true romantics at heart. We’ve forgotten the roots of these creatures. They’re not meant to fall in love or seduce our main characters. They’re meant to be terrifyingly scary, dark and dangerous, bloodthirsty murderers who maim and kill with a passion. No longer do good and evil overlapse in these creatures of the night. Instead, they’re delightfully evil, returned firmly to their roots in the deepest circles of hell. No sparkling vampires if you read The Darkening Dream, and to be honest, aren’t we all glad for that?
Not only did I find the sheer evilness of the vampires – evil just for sake of being evil, in some cases – utterly refreshing from the tame vampire characters we’ve come to know, I also thought this book offered an intriguing view on ancient folklore, and an unique approach to Salem at the beginning of the twentieth century. The main character, Sarah, isn’t exactly what you’d be looking for in a main character. She doesn’t have the typical attributes we usually seek for in a heroine. The turn of the century is a difficult era for the inhabitants of Salem. On the one side, progress happens more rapidly than it did before. On the other hand, people are keen on holding on to the past they’ve come to know and love. Amidst this constant battle between progress and tradition, one of the most ancient monsters this world knows decides to make an appearance: an ancient vampire, with his mind deadset on destroying everyone who crosses his path.
Sarah and her friends, twins Anne and Sam, become friends with Alex, a boy from Greece. Most of the book is written from Sarah’s POV, and other parts are from Alex’ POV. I liked Alex. He was different. Being a Greek immigrant now living in turn-of-the-century Salem, he had an unique look on things that I very much admired. I also liked his relationship with Sarah, and the growing attraction between them.
The Darkening Dream obviously isn’t something thrown together quickly to come up with a story. This is a bulky novel, well-thought-through from start to end, with an impressive backstory and lore. It wraps together vampirisim, ancient Egypt Gods, a magical horn belonging to an Archangel, warlocks, witches and more. Evil is delightfully evil. The worldbuilding is superb. The author obviously did a lot of research before getting started on this book.
It’s hard to classify this book. It’s YA, the main character is a young adult, but it’s not YA like we’ve come to known. It’s unique, even in this approach. The main characters don’t always act like young adults, and this book has such outstanding source material I have no doubt it could be enjoyed by young adults and adults alike. It’s too large to fit in one age category, just like you can’t easily fit it in one genre.
The only reason I didn’t give this book a five-star rating is that, at times, I found the narrative dragged a bit. I had trouble with some of the descriptions, and at first, I had trouble getting into the story. As soon as I delved further into the book, this changed though. It’s hard to get through the start, but this book gradually gets better, so don’t give up right away.
If you’re a fan of vampires or paranormal romance in general, try out The Darkening Dream. It’s new, refreshing, a major improvement from the YA vampire novels currently out there. It’s very dark, and definitely lives up to its name. There’s romance, horror, suspense, mystery, drama, a historical setting, memorable characters and a big bad you’ll never forget. I hugely recommend this to all fans of paranormal novels or vampire novels....more
I read The Woman in Black late at night, with the lights out except my reading light. Thank God, I wasn’t home alone. This novel was one of the scarieI read The Woman in Black late at night, with the lights out except my reading light. Thank God, I wasn’t home alone. This novel was one of the scariest books I’ve had the pleasure to read all year. It made shivers run down my spine, and occasionally I risked a glance behind me to see if some supernatural creature hadn’t crept up on me from behind.
The prose of this book is delicious. It reminds me of Edgar Poe, of Austen and Mary Shelley, a fluent narrative that is both entrancing and exciting. The story itself is both unique and familiar. A young lawyer named Kipps needs to handle an estate out in the country, after its owner, an old woman, passed away. When he travels there, he finds out that the old woman’s paperwork is in bad shape, and he needs to spend a few days in her mansion in the moors to make an index of everything she owned. Local villagers aren’t pleased to see Kipps go to the moors. At first, Kipps isn’t sure why, until he spends a day at the Eel Marsh House and finds out a thrilling but terrible secret that rocks the foundations of his very world. Eel Marsh House is haunted. Kipps has to find out by whom and why, before she extracts her terrible vengeance on him as well.
So this story has the basic shape of every gothic ghost story. An abandoned house in the moors, a young protagonist who does not believe in spirits until confronted with them, whose also brave and resourceful, and a tragic secret of the past that’s the source of all this ghostly activity. What The Woman in Black does with these predefined elements of horror literature, is reshape them and rebuild them, mold them into a story that is truly horrible and scary, eerie in its very nature, a sort of climax of everything the gothic horror genre stands for.
The characters are colorful and different. They’re standard prototypes and yet they’re not. The descriptions are amazing, and instantly transport the reader back in time. The setting is both tranquil and eerie, a perfect fit for the story unfolding in the background. The protagonist is both charming and endearing, both skeptic and a realist.
I’ve read the book, and then watched the movie. The movie doesn’t entirely follow the plot of the book, and that’s a shame. The movie ending felt flat, even a little lame, a stupid ending as opposed to the truly horrific ending of the novel, in true gothic horror style. Even if you’ve seen the film and were disappointed, give the book a try. The prose alone makes it worth reading, and the well-developed characters and multi-layered story only add to that.
The Woman in Black is one of my favorite books ever. I recommend it to all horror and ghost story fans. Ideal to read late at night or during a thunderstorm....more
This must be one of the shortest synopses ever, but yet it still intrigued me enough to request a review copy of this book through Netgalley. Let me sThis must be one of the shortest synopses ever, but yet it still intrigued me enough to request a review copy of this book through Netgalley. Let me start by saying that Kill Me Again did not dissapoint in the slightest. When I first started this book, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I thought this was going to be a ghost story, or at least a story about a girl who dreams about a past life. While that’s partly true, this novel is so much more as well. Alexis travels back to the town where her Mom grew up. But as soon as she arrives in town, it looks eerily familiar, as if she’d been there before.
According to her Mom, that’s normal because she went there once when she was a toddler. Eerily enough, while she was there, Alexis stumbled upon the body of a teenage girl, who drowned in a pond in the park. But as Alexis spends more and more time in her hometown, she begins to suspect the teenage girl drowning wasn’t a drowning at all. And as for her aunt Nan, Alexis isn’t entirely convinced Nan left home all those years ago.
Then another girl ends up missing, and eventually Alexis is the one to find her body in the same body she found that other drowned girl over a decade ago. As she begins to remember things she couldn’t possibly remember, Alexis grows convinced of two things. She’s the reincarnation of Nan, and she didn’t run away from home – she was murdered. And she wasn’t the only one…A serial killer is loose in the town of Oxford, and Alexis is the only one who can figure out who it is. Before it’s too late and she becomes his next target.
The author does a great job of describing the town of Oxford to the readers. I especially liked the “drowned” city, a part of the city flooded by water which now rests in an underground lake.
I really enjoyed Kill Me Again. All of the topics, from the romance subplot to a serial killer on the loose to reincarnation intrigued me. I was a bit dissapointed that ghosts didn’t play an actual part in this book, but I got over that quickly. Leslie Rule definitely surprises with sublime characterization skills, excellent prose and the ability to hold one’s interest until the very end, revealing the clues slowly enough to keep tension building. If you’re a fan of thrillers, ghost stories and paranormal mysteries, this is definitely a nice read. I hope Leslie Rule’s other book, Whispers From The Grave, is just as good....more
Olive can know a person’s past whenever she touches them, delving into their deepest emotions and most well-guarded secrets. Although she tries to refOlive can know a person’s past whenever she touches them, delving into their deepest emotions and most well-guarded secrets. Although she tries to refrrain from using her powers, that’s easier said than done. Then she’s contacted by an agency who wants to put together an “Elite” team, a team of people with other intuitive gifts. Together they have to stop a series of supposed terrorist crimes happening all over the country.
The people in Olive’s squad all have gifts of their own. Cadan for instance can read other people’s emotions – if they’re anxious, happy, sad, and a lot more than that. Whereas Olive can see the past, Hope can see the future. And Zac can manipulate people into behaving a certain way. But there are more uncanny resemblances between them than just the fact that they’re all gifted with something related to emotions. They were all born on April Fool’s Day as well. And they’re not the only ones.
What author Jayne Fordham has written here is supernatural suspense at its best. I was immediately enthralled with the characters, especially Olive. She’s a psychologist, so she’s used to helping out patients deal with traumas and experiences, but once she gets thrown into the action herself and suffers from a near-death experience, she has trouble adapting her psychologist skills to her own life. This, along with several other characteristics, make her very human. She struggles between staying in a relationship with her long-time boyfriend Trent who obviously doesn’t love her the way he should, and she relies heavily on her friends in time of crisis. I wish we got to see more of Olive’s relationship with her parents though. We see a brief scene of her talking to her Mom, who has bought a gigantic number of socks on ebay, but that’s about it. Her Mom does sound like a fun character though, so I hope we get to see more of her soon.
I liked Hope and Zac, but it felt like they were a bit underdeveloped. Hope doesn’t show any real personality, making her the weakest link in the entire squad. She seems friendly enough, but is she really? I wish Olive would’ve taken more time to get to know Hope personally so the readers could get to know her as well. Knowing one’s past is relatively simple compared to possibly knowing the future, and I would’ve liked if the book delved more into that topic as well. It seems overlooked. Our main character Olive is a bit wary of Zac from the start. He’s over-confident, sometimes bordering on arrogant, but we soon figure out why. I actually thought Zac was, next to Olive, the most interesting character. Again, I wish I could’ve seen more of him, but hopefully in the next few books.
Cadan, the other remaining member of the Elite team, soon becomes Olive’s love interest. He’s everything her current boyfriend isn’t: attentive and caring, not a big fan of going out and getting drunk, intuitive and intriguing. There was genuine chemistry between these two characters and I was cheering for them early on, especially when Olive’s boyfriend turned out to be an idiot. Olive definitely has a lot more patience than I have, because she stayed with Trent longer than I would’ve.
This book relies heavily on its plot, and the plot itself is very intriguing. There are supposed terrorist attacks happening all over the country. Fires start seemingly out of the blue and firemen are left wondering what the heck is going on. But then the Elite Team gets a lead, and the cause of the fires may be more supernatural than anyone believed at first…
Intuition is a decent, fast-paced novel with some intriguing plot twists and loveable characters. It’s the ideal book to read on a rainy afternoon or when you’re getting ready for bed. Although aimed primarily at adults, there are no inappropriate scenes, and it could be read by young adults as well. If you’re a fan of supernatural suspense, you don’t want to miss out on this one....more
The Wedding Gift wasn’t what I expected at all. For starters, I thought that this book was going to be a horror story based primarily on the ghost ofThe Wedding Gift wasn’t what I expected at all. For starters, I thought that this book was going to be a horror story based primarily on the ghost of Robina Willets as she haunts Leeann and George as they live in what Robina still considers her own home. I was convinced that Leeann would slowly discover more about Robina’s past and find out why exactly Robina killed her entire family thirty years ago and why her spirit still lingers on. I was expecting a horror story that would make shivers run down my spine, and a page-turner thriller that kept me breathless. Unfortunately, this book doesn’t contain a scary story that will make you look underneath your bed and search for the boogeyman, or terrify you to death when you notice your closet door is still open in the midst of night. In fact, I didn’t think The Wedding Gift was scary at all, which is particularly strange since it does deal with ghosts – my number one scary thing that goes bumping in the night.
The main character of this book is called Leeann and she’s supposed to be your typical southern Oklahoma girl and she talks exactly like a hillbilly. Talking like a hillbilly or whatever it’s called is one of my personal pet peeves in books. I would have liked The Wedding Gift a lot more if Leeann spoke like any other regular American girl, and not with an accent appropriate for people living a century ago. Moreover, Leeann is not a likeable character. She is extremely vein and continues to indicate her beauty to everyone who wants to her. Supposedly she’s the most beautiful girl in town. And poor George Willets, her husband-to-be falls in love with her based on looks alone, the perfect ingredient for yet another disastrous marriage in the making. Moreover, she has the brains of a mouse. No, scratch that. I’m pretty sure a mouse has more intelligence than Leeann has. The only thing she’s clever about is finding out that a ghost is haunting her new home, and what to do about the ghost. Apart from that, she spends most of the book being clueless about just about everything. She has no morals whatsoever and goes as far as to drink and do drugs while being pregnant. And sex without a condom? Of course Leeann isn’t bothered by that at all, because George makes up some lame-ass excuse no self-respecting young woman would ever believe. No, in terms of morality, Leeann definitely is no expert.
George Willets on the other hand, Leeann’s love interest, well he certainly got more respect for me than Leeann did. I actually liked him better. Sure, he’s not better than Leeann as in the fact that he allows her to use drugs or get drunk, but at least he steps up and does the right thing when he finds out she’s pregnant. Additionally, it’s quite clear to the reader that although Leeann certainly doesn’t love George the way she should when they get married, George does love her. Perhaps it’s not perfect, but at least he’s willing to commit to his marriage fully. Leeann threats George like crap even though he carries her on both hands. She even goes so far as to cheat on him with her childhood crush. Well Leeann perhaps it’s a bit late to think about your supposed true love when you’re newly wed to another man, and with newly wed I mean you’ve been together for two weeks.
I always thought that if the main character of a story had as many flaws as Leeann – to be honest, I can’t say one good thing about that girl except that she’s funny when she’s completely clueless, plus I have absolutely zero respect for her – I would never be able to like that book. The Wedding Gift proved me different. Although the narrative, told with a southern accent that is more than just annoying, is odd and annoying at first, it gets better as the story unfolds and you get used to it. At its core, The Wedding Gift offers quite a mesmerizing story, filled with intrigue and excitement. Not horror though, but still quite the enjoyable paranormal mystery. I couldn’t help but continue reading until the very end, so it must have been doing something right. Unfortunately though not enough to score highly on my rating chard, but I was impressed anyway.
As I already mentioned, I liked George Willets. Oddly enough, I liked the house as well. As the story progressed I began seeing the house more and more as a character on its own. I wouldn’t have minded getting a mansion as a wedding gift, even if it’s haunted. Moving on to the haunting…The haunting is, to put it frankly, over-the-top. The ghost of Robina is not your ordinary poltergeist or vengeful spirit. She is far more powerful than you could ever imagine – even so powerful that she would put the ghosts of Paranormal Activity to shame. She can kill people. Yes, she can actually kill people by stabbing them, clawing at them or throwing them out of trees. Actually she was the one who killed Leeann’s older brother Charlie, in what the police deemed a freak accident. Like that’s not enough, Robina can contact Leeann even when she’s not at the haunted house, she can pull Leeann’s soul out of her body when she sleeps, etc. That’s kind of the problem with this story. It starts out grand, with the right amount of tension and terror, but it turns ridiculous from that point on. I had to keep reading to solve the mystery and because I did enjoy the story, but the terror element dissapears completely as the ghost’s powers are presented as totally and utterly ridiculous. Robina’s ghost can do virtually everything. I’m more of a fan of a subtile ghost story, where things go missing, eerie noises can be heard in the middle of the night, doors open and close on their own, and eventually a phantom appears stalking the house’s owners. A ghost who just wants to rip your throat out right away? Hilarious, but not scary.
To its credit, the story is enjoyable and has enough twists and turns to keep me reading. But Leeann isn’t a likeable character at all, and her morals are questionable at best. The supportive cast is nothing special as well. Leeann’s father is a drunk who couldn’t cope with the death of his son Charlie, her best friend at least has an ounce of brain cells – she would actually make a way more interesting main character than Leeann – and Leeann’s crush is just as stupid as she is. The only character I really liked is George, and I felt terribly sorry for him. I don’t want to spoil this book for you, but at some point something happens to George and although it’s tragic, it’s also quite hilarious, because it doesn’t make any sense and gives our resident ghost superpowers.
The Wedding Gift isn’t a terrible read, but it’s not a wonderful book either. The writing, although annoying at first, was compelling as well, and the story was intriguing enough to make me read it in one setting. Although the main character is vain, stupid and lacking any morality whatsoever, I’m not sure if that’s a bad thing. At least it’s original, and an author needs to have a lot of nerve to present their readers with a main character with such a terrible personality, so I have to congratulate Kathleen McKenna for that. The story wasn’t necessarily scary to me, but it does make a good supernatural thriller and it offers some original elements. People who aren’t that experienced with the horror genre might even get scared while reading this book. In short, if you’re a fan of paranormal mysteries, you will probably enjoy this book. It’s definitely not the worst out there, but I would have enjoyed it more if the tension had built up slower and if the ghost didn’t have obvious superpowers. Overall a good read, but nothing extraordinary....more
Ghost Island is one of those books that grabs you and doesn’t let you go. Seriously, it doesn’t. I was supposed to be studying – I have that a lot, thGhost Island is one of those books that grabs you and doesn’t let you go. Seriously, it doesn’t. I was supposed to be studying – I have that a lot, that I’m “supposed” to be studying – and I thought that I could read a chapter of this book during my break. Well, yes, that definitely didn’t happen. I didn’t read a chapter. I read the entire book. Result: study plans, gone entirely. Even from page one, I was intrigued by this book. I wanted to know what was going on, what it was all about, and more importantly, what secret our main character was supposedly hiding. And boy, was I in for a surprise.
Livia has a secret she desperately wants to hide from the other pupils who joined her on this trip. Ms. Gates, one of the chaperones, is the only ones who knows about her secret and still threats her the same. Mr. Freeman, the other chaperone however, behaves towards her like most people do: with caution, condescending and sometimes downright awful. When Livia manages to become friends with Grace, one of the rich girls whose parents sponsored this trip, she knows that if she wants their friendship to last, she’ll have to guard her secret with her life. But once they arrive on Avalon, everything turns out to be different than expected. With a storm brewing, they are trapped on the island for days. Ghostly spirits communicate with them in their dreams, and Livia doesn’t think these spirits are benign. In fact, they might be a threat to their very lives. But who will believe her, especially when the truth about her comes out?
It’s obvious that this isn’t Bonnie Hearn Hill’s first book. It’s way too good for that. The writing is sublime, the way the characters talk is spot-on the way regular teenagers talk. The writing itself is fluent and it doesn’t linger too long on descriptions. The setting is amazing. The island, Avalon, is both atsmospheric and eerie at the same time. On the island of Avalon, the lines between the world of the living and the world of the dead – the spirit world, if you will – are blurring. With a storm racing around the island, our main character are trapped like animals in a cage. There’s no way to escape Avalon until the storm lies down. This reminded me a lot of another paranormal horror book I read recently, Dead Sky Morning by Karina Halle. It has the same setting – a haunted island – and the same tension and atmosphere – the main characters can’t possibly escape the island until the storm lies down. I’ve seen this same setting in a number of horror movies as well, and I’m surprised by how well it works every single time. The sense of dread and despair is instant, the feeling of terror continuous. In Ghost Island, this happens as well. Bonnie Hearn Hill takes the most out of the setting of the novel, and uses atmospheric elements to her utmost example. The result is stunning and terrifying and just the way I like it.
Livia is an intriguing character. She has a very defensive personality, because of the secret she’s hiding. She’s also very much on edge througout the entire story, stressed and leaning towards depression. You would think that these traits don’t make her a very likeable character, but that’s hardly the truth. There’s another side to Livia we meet later on as the novel progresses. She’s caring and protective over her new-found friends, Grace, Johnny and Charles, and she’s not afraid to rebel against the rules to protect them. She is brave and clever, and although I found her a bit naive when it comes to Aaron, the boy she sees in her dreams, I could understand why she’s attracted to him and the promise of real love, especially after what happened with her ex-boyfriend. However, I’m a much bigger fan of Johnny, the potential other love interest.
The side characters are great. I loved Johnny. He was funny and cute and smarter than I initially gave him credit for. Grace was a complicated, but intriguing character. It’s like on the one side she wants to be friends with Livia and she’s level-headed enough to understand what’s really going on, but on the other hand she has the potential to break easily. One of the most interesting things about these characters was that they each had a very distinct personality. On top of that, we also learn their greatest fears and passions, since that’s what the ghosts initially use to lure them into the haunted theater/casino. Talking about ghosts and passions, I find it very original that the ghosts have the ability to find out the character’s greatest desires and use those against them. I’ve never heard or read anything of the kind before, and I thought it was new, refreshing and scary.
The storyline evolved enough to keep me entertained till the very end and, as I already mentioned, the writing was flawless. The pacing is fast and the plot twists are unexpected and unpredictable. I loved the characters and I enjoyed the story. I would definitely recommend this to all fans of paranormal mystery and paranormal romance out there. Since the story ends on a cliffhanger, I can’t wait to read the next part in this series....more
Although The Night Strangers is the first book by Chris Bohjalian I’ve ever read, I did hear a lot about this author earlier on. Even after the firstAlthough The Night Strangers is the first book by Chris Bohjalian I’ve ever read, I did hear a lot about this author earlier on. Even after the first few chapters of this book, I understand why that’s no surprise. From all the authors I’ve read for the very first time this year, Chris Bohjalian is without a shadow of a doubt the most talented one. He has a writing style that is both gripping and enthralling, both mesmerizing and mysterious, and draws you in from page one. It’s a writing style I connect to the horror genre almost instantly, and which reminds me of certain masters in the genre like Poe, Faulkner and Stephen King. Chris Bohjalian fits right up that alley. I wonder if his writing style is similar in his other works, which aren’t situated in the horror genre, but in any case, it fits this genre perfectly. The narrative voice is both distant and eerily familiar, both disfigured and logical, and that all adds up to the twisted, demented feeling you get while reading The Night Strangers.
The most intriguing part about this novel is that it’s based partially on reality. Well of course the horror parts are imaginary, but some parts of this novel are actually based on things that really happened to the author. As he admits in this article on CNN, Chris Bohjalian got his inspiration from two random occurences. For starters, when he purchased a Victorian townhouse, he found a sealed door in his basement. Nailed shut, actually. Curiosity killed the cat, and it forced Chris Bohjalian to open up that door and enter what can only be described as a crypt or closet of some kind. Secondly, a plane crashed in The Hudson River nearby, adding him the second part of inspiration he needed to create this book. Eerie, especially that door. I wonder what it was really used for…well, in any case, Bohjalian offers a plausible although creepy solution in his book.
The Night Strangers tells the story of Chip and Emily Linton and their twin daughters Hallie and Garnet. By moving to the small town of Brethel, they hope to escape the trauma that has ruled their lives after Chip was forced to land his airplane – he is an airplane pilot, or well, he was one – in Lake Champlain on August, 11. Thirty-nine passengers died that day, and although it isn’t Chip’s fault per sé, he does suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder and a severe case of survivor’s guilt. Convinced that they have to start over somewhere new, the family moves into a Victorian townhouse with quite the chilling history. As legend has it, a young boy killed himself in that very house when he was twelve years old. His mother went crazy afterwards and was convinced that someone – or something – was after her and her family. The depths of her madness are only discovered by the Lintons when they find three curious objects hidden in places all around the house: a crowbar, a knife and an ax. Why would someone hide these objects in their own house? And what are they so afraid of?
Like it’s not worse enough that the previous owner of their house was a raving lunatic, Chip also discovers a small door in their basement. This door is conveniently nailed shut with thirty-nine long nails. Thirty-nine. The exact same number as the passengers who died during the planecrash. In an attempt to discover what is hidden behind that door, Chip destroys it with the ax and discover a small cabinet of sorts. The room is so small that an adult probably couldn’t stand up straight in it. And it’s definately not a coal chute, like everyone wants to believe.
Moreover, the longer Chip spends in his new house, the stronger and more frequent his visions and hallucations become. At first, he only dreamt about the people who died in the planecrash and occassionally suffered from flashbacks. However, the longer he spends in Brethel, the more vivid these hallucations, until he can actually see three of the people who died in the crash: a young girl named Ashley, her father Ethan and a young woman named Sandra. It soon becomes clear to Chip – with a little help and encouragement from Ethan – that Ashley really deserves some friends in the afterlife. These thoughts only add to Chip’s insanity, as he spirals down into madness.
But wait, you thought that was it? The combination of survivor’s guilt, PTSD and some ghostly visions? Wrong. Chris Bohjalian clearly isn’t done yet. Because in the town of Brethel, not everything is at it seems. The local women, who are all conveniently called like herbs – Anise, Reseda, Sage, etc. – have a dark secret of their own. They call themselves herbalists, and each of them has a greenhouse much like the one standing in the Linton’s backyard, but somehow they don’t seem as harmless as they would like others to believe. When they develop an uncanny interest in Chip and Emily’s twin daughters for the sole reason that they’re twins, Emily is the only one who can still save them. And is there a connection between the town’s herbalists, the suicide of that twelve-year-old boy, her husband’s increasingly strange behavior and that door nailed shut with exactly thirty-nine nails?
As you can gather from this synopsis, The Night Strangers is a lot more than just a ghost story. Although that was definately my favorite part of the book, it focuses on a lot of other things too. It focuses a lot on how Chip deals with his PTSD and his increasing hallucinations, and how he slowly but definately descends into madness. It’s a psychological journey that is both mesmerizing and terrifying, and Chris Bohjalian’s excellent and engaging writing style makes it all the more real. The real question at the end of this book, is what’s more terrifying. A town where half of the population is driven by egoistic, animalistic reasoning? One man’s increasing insanity because he cannot deal with the guilt of what he did? Ghosts who are stuck in a world inbetween? It’s up to the reader to decide and I for one, have a hard time deciding what exactly scared me the most. Perhaps a combination of everything, because the way the author combines these different parts and turns them into one fluent, enthralling story is flawless.
The narrative switches between a third-person narrative from either Emily’s, Hallie’s or Garnet’s viewpoint, and a second-person narrative from Chip’s viewpoint. Let me say a thing or two about this second-person narrative. That’s the ‘you’ form, and it’s rarely used in literature, although it’s one of the easiest ways to compell a reader into a story, because as an author you’re continuously talking to the reader himself basically. It goes like this: “When your airplane hits the flock of birds, the passengers in the cabin behind you feel the jolting bangs and the aircraft rolls fifteen degrees to its starboard side.” (taken from page 3). Notice how that you-form simply draws you in, as if you’re really an aircraft pilot and your plane really is going to crash soon? Well, at least it did that for me. I enjoyed the you-form especially as it made it a lot easier for me as a reader to relate to Chip, and to follow him as he slowly descended into madness. I think it’s something psychological, because that ‘you’ points to the reader directly and immediately makes them part of the story, makes them become the character. Eerie, to say the least, but so is the rest of this book.
To classify The Night Strangers as a horror novel, seems a bit one-sided. This book just offers so much of everything. It’s a drama, in which the main characters need to deal with their traumas, it’s a story of coming-to-age for the two young twins Hallie and Garnet as they each develop from children into puberescent teenagers, it’s a ghost story, a psychological thriller when we view Chip’s side of things and there’s event hints of a mystery: what’s going on, and who is the real bad guy here? I personally think it’s nothing short but a masterpiece. I can already see this book being compared to other classics in the genre and not coming short at all. Bohjalian’s characters are rich and compelling and I especially liked Garnet. She just had this vibe around her that told me there was more to her than meets the eye. And guess what…I wasn’t mistaken. Another bonus is that from point one, you’re continuously wondering what’s going on, what’s the explanation for this and that, but you have to wait till the very last chapters to hear the entire story, which means you’re literally sitting on the edge of your seat for over three hours. As a bonus, scary things can happen all the time, and you have to be prepared for it from start to end, meaning that those shivers running down your spine never cease until you’ve turned the last page.
Additionally, it’s clear that Chris Bohjalian put a lot of time and effort in writing this book and investigating things like aircraft, botanica and New Age rituals. I always love it when an author takes the time to put genuinely interesting information in his books, and once again, Bohjalian doesn’t dissapoint. This author has got me completely hooked. This is the kind of horror movie that would make excellent film material, although the film would probably be well over two hours. The madness, the weird and distant but compelling writing style, the interesting characters, the countless secrets and the ghostly apparitions make The Night Strangers into the perfect Halloween novel. I, for one, am absolutely hooked.
You would think that, after escaping from being held as a sex slave, life would look up for Inga. I mean, how much bad luck can one person get? A lot,You would think that, after escaping from being held as a sex slave, life would look up for Inga. I mean, how much bad luck can one person get? A lot, apparently, as Inga is thrown from one disaster into another. As she runs away barefooted from the very people who kidnapped her, locked her up, raped her, beat her and threatened to kill her whenever she did something wrong, she is rescued by a young man named Alman. Although he appears friendly enough and offers her a place to stay for the night with the promise that she can call her mother first thing in the morning, Inga soon learns that something is totally off about Alman. And it’s not just Alman whose acting strange – it’s his entire family.
What if the secret Alman and his family are hiding is something worse than all the things she experienced in that house of terror alltogether? What if, in reality, this is the true house of terror? Alman and his family start acting more and more peculiar with every passing day, she can’t leave the premises and why does she keep on hearing terrifying screams in the dead of night? When she makes a run for it and ends up at the sheriff’s office, who promptly returns her to Alman and his family, Inga begins to realize that whatever is going on, the entire town of Quiet River seems to be involved. Who can she turn to from help? Whereto can she escape if everyone and everything is against her? Help may come from an unexpected corner in the form of Anthony, a too-successful lawyer, travelling to the town of his youth to escape his own guilt.
Natasha Salnikova has a writing voice that’s excellent for storytelling. She gives just the right amount of attention to detail, but doesn’t waste any time starting the action as well. From page one, you’re tumbling into the story head on, like you’re on a rollercoaster of events and the only way to get out is to jump. After Inga’s escape from the house of terror, the tension builds up gradually. The author presents the eerie and spooky atmosphere of the town of Quiet River perfectly, and she also describes the rising tension inside Alman’s family home in a believable fashion. Everything and everyone is against Inga. Where can she escape if the only route left is through a looming forest, possibly filled with boobytraps and other monsterous things as well? What can she do if the local sheriff is not to be trusted and her savior turns out to be an even more terrifying monster than her previous captors? This sense of being captured, being stuck, having nowhere to go, is palpable from the very beginning of the story, and it only expands in proportion as the story continues. The tension is overwhelming and omnipresent, and I occassionally caught myself gasping for air, feeling equally as trapped as Inga felt in the novel.
The way Inga is portrayed is excellently done as well. Inga is a very likable character, probably because we see her in the role of unwilling victim from the start. As a reader, you instantly feel sorry for her for two main reasons: 1) she’s being used as a sex slave, 2) she mentions how much she misses her mother. That touched a soft spot with me, and made me like her right away. Then, when she escapes, I cheered her on, hoping that she would somehow end up somewhere better, although the book synopsis had already told me that wouldn’t be the case. And when Alman turned all savior-new-captor-like on her, I felt like shooting him through the head with his own hunting riffle. It’s very easy to be on team Inga, both because you instantly feel sorry for her, and secondly because she seems to have a nice, caring personality. Maybe she’s not the brightest one out there, going to a shady-looking audition in the big city, but that could happen to all of us. And maybe she’s not the most courageous and brave person ever either, but that makes her all the more human. Those heroines looking for weapons to bash in the heads of their captors immediately are interesting, I give them that, but they’re not real. Some people might be like that, but most of us would be scared to hell in the face of possible murderers, and we would cower and do as we were told as well. Inga is an excellent example of this, and it shows her flaws and humanity, and makes her all hte more likeable.
In terms of originality, I have to say The Voice of Waterfalls scores quite high as well. I’ve heard about crazy people living in remote towns near the forest before – a lot of times, actually – but the author adds her own original spin on it, which I enjoyed immensly.
Caleb has seemingly got it all. A hot girlfriend, a goofy but trustworthy best friend, excellent grades and a wonderful future waiting ahead of him. YCaleb has seemingly got it all. A hot girlfriend, a goofy but trustworthy best friend, excellent grades and a wonderful future waiting ahead of him. Yet when he receives a card from Christine, an old childhood friend of his, Caleb realizes that sometimes the past cannot be forgotten. He travels back to the town of his youth only to realize that it looks nothing like the home he remembers. For starters, his father is missing. His childhood home is abandoned, but it looks like his father had to leave in a hurry…Caleb can’t begin to understand why his father would leave all his files, food and other things of that kind behind. Moreover, the amount of people who have gone missing in this small village is anything but ordinary. And whatever is going on in the Sleeping Center, where Christine is at, all Caleb knows is that it’s not a harmless sleeping experiment, like the center indicates…It’s something darker and more disturbing…
The Sleepwalkers stands out from other YA horror books because it’s…well, it’s horrifying really. Like it’s not enough that children are being abducted, they also turn into “sleepwalkers” and commit one horrible crime after another while asleep. The thought that an entire community just stands by and lets this happen is very unsettling, but it’s exactly what happens. I wasn’t too fond of the inclusion of the prophecy – I would’ve been just as happy had the entire event been random, because that would be even more terrifying, but I can understand why the author wanted to put some purpose behind it all. Also, the fact that Caleb supposedly plays a central part in all of these events didn’t sit right with me either. This story could’ve been much more terrifying had Caleb actually nothing to do with whatever was happening and if he was an innocent bystander who just happened to get caught up in these unsettling events because of sheer bad luck. But alas, we can’t have it all.
What we do get, is very satisfying though. Strong characters with intriguing personalities thrown together in the battle ofa lifetime. J. Gabriel Gates does not sugarcoat readers: the violence is real, horrifc and sometimes even deadly. A main character can just as easily die as a minor character. The author’s writing style is fast and fluent and simply sucks you into the story. Once you start reading The Sleepwalkers, there’s really no way to turn back. The events just have you so horrified, the story is so enthralling that you can’t do anything other than enjoy it. And look behind your shoulder every once in a while to see whether or not you’re being terrorized by little kids sleepwalking.
The suspense drops with the addition of reasoning behind why everything is going on, and trust me when I say you probably won’t spend the night tucked underneath your blanket screaming for your mommy. But for as long as it lasts, the suspense is intriguing and will make your heart beat significantly faster. I recommend this book to all young adults who enjoy a good horror novel once in a while. It’s decent and scary enough, but it won’t give you nightmares.
Vampire Knight is the manga that actually got me addicted to…manga. And anime. Not only is this a successful, still ongoing manga series in Japan andVampire Knight is the manga that actually got me addicted to…manga. And anime. Not only is this a successful, still ongoing manga series in Japan and the rest of the world, it also served as the base for an intriguing anime series existed of two seasons: Vampire Knight and Vampire Knight: Guilty. Each season has thirteen episodes of anime goodness. If you’re a fan of vampires you definitely shouldn’t miss out on this series. Even if you’ve never read manga before or if you’re not generally an anime fan, this story definitely has all the goodies vampire fans will swoon over.
The setting is Cross Academy boarding school, a school for both regular teenagers and vampire teenagers. The school is divided into two separate classes: the Day Class existing of regular teenagers who occasionally swoon over their vampire counterparts and the Night Class where said vampires reside. Like in any self-respecting vampire series, the vampires are all equally gorgeous, Kuran Kaname the most handsome one of them all. That’s because, as is revealed quite early in the story, he is actually a pureblood vampire, whereas the other students of Cross Academy are only nobles. Although this faintly reminded me of Harry Potter and the entire pureblood drama, it can’t really be compared. In the universe of Vampire Knight there are only a handful of purebloods left and since they’re supposed to be the rulers of the vampire world, this naturally causes a lot of trouble.
The story starts with a young girl who’s standing outside on a snowy night and who is suddenly attacked by a vicious vampire. Luckily enough, the evil vampire is stopped by…yet another vampire. This time a more gorgeous one, local pureblood vampire Kuran Kaname. He saves the little girl and brings her to Cross Academy. This little girl is actually a younger version of our current fifteen year old heroine, Yuki Cross, prefect and school guardian. It’s her job to keep the Day Class students as far away as possible from the Night Class students. This gets extremely hard around the time the Day and Night Classes switch, since all teenage girls keep on swooning over the vampires and would do everything humanly possible to touch them. It’s actually more serious than it sounds. But whereas none of those unfortunate girls even get the chance to come remotely close to any of the vampires present, we see Kaname asking Yuki if she’s alright after she is thrown on the ground by the over-enthusiastic teens. It’s revealed practically right away that Yuki has a huge crush on Kaname, since she blushes feverishly when he talks to her.
So now we got to know one part of this epic love triangle, in walks the second part of the love triangle, Kiriyu Zero. He is the other school prefect and the only other person apart from Yuki and the headmaster who know about the existence of vampires and their presence at Cross Academy. A flashback teaches us that Yuki was raised by the headmaster of Cross Academy after she was brought there by Kaname on the faithful night he saved her from the vicious vampire that tried to kill her. A couple of years later, Zero is brought to Cross Academy as well after he witnessed his entire family getting slaughtered by a vampire. Needless to say, Zero is not a big fan of vampires. On the contrary, he hates them.
As the basis is set for the most epic love triangle you will ever come across. Most love triangle immediately point out one of the potential love interests as their favorite, but Vampire Knight refrains from doing so, pointing out both Zero’s and Kaname’s strong points. Yuki Cross is obviously stuck in the middle, except that she’s clueless about most of the things going on around her. Even though she’s madly in love with Kaname she has not the faintest clue that he likes her as well. And although she occasionally stresses the fact how much Zero means to her, she doesn’t realize the depth of her own feelings let alone Zero’s feelings for her. This obvious lack of insight could make Yuki an annoying character who makes the reader want to bump their head on the keyboard, but this isn’t the case here. Her innocence actually has a disarming effect, making the reader – at least, this happened to me – like her instantly. It’s not that Yuki’s a complete moron, it’s that she has two troubles. Lack of self-confidence leads her to believe that Kaname couldn’t possibly care about her in the slightest, and the fact that Zero is a master at hiding his feelings causes her not to see past the facade her fellow prefect has put up.
The supportive cast of this novel is impressive as well. The vampires, although hard to distinguish at first – some of the male vampires look remarkably alike – each seem to have different personalities, some of them well-developed, others still enhanced in mystery. Of course, this is still the initial setting so I suspect to learn more about the supportive cast as well, even if only gradually. There were some additional scenes in this manga that made me want to jump up and down in excitement. For instance, there is a racy exchange between Yuki and Aido Hanabusa, Cross Academy’s resident bad boy vampire, that hints at an erotic subtext missing from the rest of this volume. The flashbacks to the night when Yuki and Zero met are haunting and touching. Yuki’s interactions with her best friend indicate that there is more to this supposedly innocent and blatantly kindhearted protagonist than what meets the eye. She can be stubborn and resolved as well, and she’s obviously not afraid to fight for what she loves.
As a side note, the volumes are broken into Nights, rather than chapters. Chapter One is conveniently called Night One. I thought it was definitely an original thought. Secondly, the artwork for Vampire Knight is simply amazing. I read in other reviews that some people don’t like the artwork, or that it takes some time to get used to, but from all mangas I’ve read after reading this one, I still have to say I liked Vampire Knight’s art the best. The glassy eyes of some characters give this book a supernatural and ethereal appearance whereas the occasional cute chibi form adds a hint of humor to a manga that doesn’t shy away from dark themes and angst.
Each of the main characters has an interesting back story that explains why they display certain personality traits. For instance, we understand quickly why Zero is hateful towards all vampires in general, and we instantly feel for him when one of his darkest secrets is revealed in chapter four. On the other hand, we learn that Kaname cares for Yuki, but we’re still in the dark as to why exactly. The secrets and mysteries pile up and suck you right into the story. The characters were complex and enthralling enough to keep me on the edge of my seat, thanking God and all saints in heaven that I bought more than one volume of this manga. If you like reading about vampires, don’t dare to pass out on Vampire Knight. Although the first volume serves mostly as a way to set the mood and introduce us to the characters, it already holds a fair share of suspense, reveals some devastating secrets and some surprising plot twists, and makes the reader yearn for more.
Everyone and their pet chihuahua seemed to request this book from Netgalley, and I decided to ask it too and see what all the fuzz was about. I’ve heaEveryone and their pet chihuahua seemed to request this book from Netgalley, and I decided to ask it too and see what all the fuzz was about. I’ve heard a lot of people in their reviews saying that after the dissapointment offered by Starcrossed and Hereafter – both of which I haven’t read yet I’m sorry to say – they felt like Die For Me was a nice change, and a fresh breeze in YA paranormal romance. Albeit familiar, with supernatural creatures roaming our earth, and a teenage girl falling head over heels for one, I have to agree that Amy Plum’s take on the whole supernatural thing offers an original concept and a refreshing idea. If you’re tired with vampires, werewolves, witches and every other well-known nightly creature passing the revue, then you will probably find Die For Me a nice change. I certainly thought it was interesting, entertaining and at times, even heart-melting.
Kate Mercier is just your average teenage girl. She is pretty, but not popular, and a bit too self-conscious to truly accept her own good looks. She enjoys reading books and visiting museums. Since her parents only recently died in a car accident, she keeps a lot to herself, and suffers from depression and a sadness so grave even the beauty of Paris during summer cannot solve. One day, while reading a book in one of the local cafés, she stumbles into a guy named Vincent, who is there accompanied by his two friends Jules and Ambrose. Although Kate feels an instant connection towards the gorgeous stranger, she also realizes that he might be dangerous – especially after she sees his best friend Jules getting killed, and Vincent not even blinking, or looking sad afterwards. Confused and pained, Kate has no idea what’s going on. When she stumbles into Jules – who was supposed to be dead – a couple of days later, her confusion reaches an entirely new level. She realizes that Vincent may not even be alive, and that, in any case, he probably isn’t human. But as Vincent explains her true heritage to her, and reveals that he is in fact a Revenant, a person who keeps coming back to live after dying and die to save others, Kate must find a way to deal with the truth and her feelings for Vincent. But on top of that, there’s this law in the universe that says for every good guy, there has to be a bad guy…
Let me start by saying that although some parts of the storyline might be predictable (like Kate falling for Vincent, that’s a big no-brainer), there are some parts that are truly intriguing, fascinating and original as well. I loved the mythology after the Revenants, and I was constantly wondering why no one had ever used the concept of people coming back to life after giving their own life to save others in YA paranormal books before. The concept was original enough, and highly entertaining and interesting, and for that alone, I would have kept reading. Except that Amy Plum offers a lot more than just an original, refreshing story in her novel: she offers great quality writing, extraordinary characterization skills and a protagonist who you will grow to care for like a sister.
The setting is Paris. I’ve been there before, one on a rainy weekend in autumn, and once on a sunny day in August. There’s a big difference between Paris in summer, in which the city comes to life, with vibrant colors, plenty of people, lovely and cozy cafés and this special vibe that screams “I’m the most romantic city in the world”, and Paris when the wheather is grim, dark and unsettling. Amy Plum manages to cover both sides of Paris beautifully, and her descriptions of the city made me reminisce my time there, and made me want to take the first train in that direction. She makes the city come to life on the pages of her book, and she blends the main characters in with the decor, as if they belonged there all along. Georgia, Kate’s sister, albeit born in the South and raised in New York, makes the perfect parisienne socialite, obsessed with going out, always to the trendiest clubs in town, and practically conquering the entire city as she goes along. Kate on the other hand, is the perfect example of the bohemian artist vibe the city still portrays: the girl reading paperback novels while sipping lemonades in a local café, or the art collector strolling seemingly random through the different museums. I liked the contradiction in the girl’s personalities, as they appear to be representatives of the contradiction in the nature of the city itself, and I thoroughly enjoyed how, despite their many differences, they managed to get along just fine. I loved their interactions, their fights and struggles, and their unconditional love for each other.
Another bonus point is that Vincent is the perfect French gentleman. He is considerate, caring, sweet, and just heartbreaking. I really wanted him for myself, but since Kate is such an amazing and kind-hearted person, I’m willing to share. No, but really. There are a lot of guys in YA paranormal books that are so-called bad boys, or they treat girls badly and yet the protagonist still manages to fall for them, or they’re stalker-material like Edward in Twilight (that’s not to say Vincent doesn’t have the whole stalker-concept going on, because he does at times, but I can forgive him for that). No, on the contrary, Vincent is the boy your parents would want you to take home. He has a lot of qualities, and seems like a genuine and caring person, which gives Katy plenty of reason to fall for him besides his extraordinary looks. I also enjoyed the fact that Kate and Vincent actually went on a date – that’s one of the first time I’ve seen this happen in books of this genre – and that they actually took the time to get to know each other better. They laughed, flirted, joked around, and worked on building a friendship to strenghten their romantic feelings for each other. It was great, and a very mature take on things, which you probably would expect from a Revenant like Vincent, and from a person who recently lost so much like Kate did.
Jules and Ambrose were interesting characters as well, and both were equally charming. I must admit that I really liked Charlotte as well. I thought it was good for Kate to have a female friend, and the same thing counted for Charlotte as well. She’s also a very interesting character, and I would like to see more of her in the next book in the series.
As I already mentioned, Amy Plum’s writing style is absolutely fantastic. I was mesmerized by Kate’s trials and adventures from page one, and I stayed like that till the very end. Then why only rate a 4,5 and not a 5 stars, you ask? Well, I would have liked the author to completely shred all YA paranormal romance clichés, and take the Revenant twist a step further. I would have liked the bad guy not to be that obvious – I knew from the moment we met him in the story – and to make the romantic feelings between Vincent and Kate even more believable and realistic. I was very proud of Kate to think about the consequences of their relationship, and to even try to turn him away when she noticed she might not be able to handle it, but she gives in easily enough when he keeps on trying. I would have loved it if they had taken things more slowly. Also, I feel like the mythology of the Revenants could be a bit better developed.
Die For Me has a lot to offer to potential readers, that distinguish this novel from other books in the same genre. It offers a protagonist you will sympathize with almost instantly, who has real, honest human emotions, and who has to deal with a lot of grief, and has her own way of coping with that. It has one of the most beautiful cities in the world as its main setting. There’s an original take on supernaturals, introducing a whole new breed of them called Revenants, and telling us of their mythology and personal history. The romance is sweet, and not all that “girl sees guy and falls head-over-heels with him” crap we see all too often. Considering all of those qualities, I would definately recommend this book to everyone who enjoys paranormal romance, or young adult novels in general. It’s a most enjoyable read, and I’m already looking forward to the sequel....more