Like pain, you can use threats to make you stronger. If they hide a serpent in your bed, you must catch it and make it bite the hand of him who leftLike pain, you can use threats to make you stronger. If they hide a serpent in your bed, you must catch it and make it bite the hand of him who left it.
I really should make a habit of reading more historical fiction. I always love the blend of fact and imagination that comes with taking a specific point in history and weaving a brand new tale into it. And yet, I almost always steer clear of it in favour of something with magic and teenagers.
But there *is* something magic about this familiar but completely different world, anyway. The Vanishing Witch is the first book I've read by Maitland but I doubt it will be the last.
After the darkly mysterious prologue, this book first paints us a quiet picture. It's small town life in Lincoln (north of England) during the reign of Richard II (1367-1400). We are introduced to families, to errant husbands, to comely widows and to an atmosphere of fear and suspicion. As I said, the picture starts quiet... but it becomes louder as more layers are peeled away and we get to see what lies underneath.
Despite the title, this is not really a supernatural novel. It does, however, carry a heavy sense of magical foreboding that permeates the entire book. The times in question were laden with fear of the supernatural and suspicion of witchcraft. When people start dying in strange circumstances, accusations of witchcraft rear their ugly head and infect the entire town.
From the very first chapter, there's a gradual and growing sense of dark malevolence creeping in behind the scenes. It increases as the story moves along and more is revealed. I would say it's a very creepy novel that would make a great horror film because of all the mystery and uncertainty. You get the feeling that something much darker and far more terrible is hanging over the story and the characters the whole time.
I'm dark matter. The universe inside of me is full of something, and science can't even shine a light on it. I feel like I'm mostly made of mysteriesI'm dark matter. The universe inside of me is full of something, and science can't even shine a light on it. I feel like I'm mostly made of mysteries.
Oh my... Magonia is one hell of a rare novel.
Not only does it offer an intriguing blend of reality-infused science fiction and highly-imaginative fantasy, but it is also unlike anything I have ever read before.
I've always said that - for me - originality is one of the best and rarest compliments a writer can get. Not "this is the next Hunger Games or Harry Potter" but "this is completely different to everything else I've read". How unusual it is to read a novel and be taken to places so new, fresh and wonderfully magical.
One of my favourite things has always been when authors manage to weave fact and fiction together in order to create a fantasy story with added realism. Especially when they introduce me to parts of history I'd never heard about before. Did you know that in France in 815, sailors claimed to have come from a secret realm in the clouds they called Magonia? This was one of the first recorded instances of UFO-related occurrences and it was completely new to me.
Many times I have wondered why YA authors insist on using the same old recycled mythology when there's a whole universe of weird and wonderful shit out there just begging to be turned into a story. Here we have a fine example. This book opens up an entire new world full of detailed and exciting mythology. I was like a kid in a toy store, staring wide-eyed at all the colourful weirdness and longing for more as the pages flew by.
The author uses language that deserves the comparisons to Neil Gaiman - a rich, atmospheric style of fairytale storytelling. And with this, she creates a cast of wonderful characters who I can only hope will reappear in sequels.
The main character in Magonia is Aza Ray and she is dying. The doctors are unable to discover what is wrong with her and have failed at all attempts to cure her of the mysterious disease that is causing her to essentially drown in the Earth's atmosphere. Then one day, circumstances see Aza awakening in a whole new world where she is no longer weak and sickly, but a powerful creature at the centre of a longstanding feud that will take her to places she never could have dreamed existed.
Suddenly, she discovers the truth about her life, her past and who she is; maybe this new world can offer her a place to live the kind of life she's always wanted? Or maybe nothing is as it seems. Stir in plenty of action, romance, and well-developed family dynamics and you have something pretty damn amazing. I should also point out that the love triangle I had feared might occur never went in that direction.
Looking for a genre-defying blend of magic, love, flying and family? The only downside is that we have to wait until April for the final book to be published.
You know what I mean... just sit somewhere in a busy place and watch people bustle past in all their colourful weirdness.Do you like to people watch?
You know what I mean... just sit somewhere in a busy place and watch people bustle past in all their colourful weirdness. It's a habit I've acquired with age. Sometimes I think back to being a teenager and remember how I always wondered if I was strange in some way - I guess a lot of teens wonder that same question: am I normal? I wonder, had I taken the time to people watch back then, if I would have felt so lost and strange. I don't see how I could have. People are all damn weird creatures and they're really not very good at hiding it.
I'm saying this because The Children Act feels like people watching. Some books are easy to sell to other readers because I can promise you dragons and magic, heart-stopping action and romance that will steal your heart straight from your chest. This is not that kind of book. It's not even easy to put into words what this book is about. But it was, for me, nothing short of fascinating.
The main plot follows the life of an aging judge called Fiona whose husband has just announced that he wants to have one last passionate love affair with a younger woman before they can both settle into old age. He seems to believe she will be okay and accept the situation because of his openness and honesty. He is, not surprisingly, wrong.
I guess this book is what people tend to call a "character study" but that sounds so boring, right? Like something you'd be set for a college assignment, leave until the last minute and rush out in a mediocre essay (possibly while drunk). It isn't. Fiona's tale may be a quiet journey through the inner workings of someone's life, job and marriage, but it is also an extremely interesting portrait of a woman who continues to go through the motions of her everyday life while her private life may be falling apart.
Fiona (and the reader) finds herself emotionally pulled inside the case of a boy who is a Jehovah's Witness and wants to be allowed to refuse medical treatment. Because he is a few months shy of eighteen, Fiona must rule whether he should be allowed to refuse the blood transfusion or whether the hospital can ignore his wishes and proceed to save his life.
I don't know how to convince others that this book is interesting. I have to admit that I would not have picked it up without having read the author's previous work. It's such a simplistic, quiet story that is transformed into a powerful tale in McEwan's hands. I have absolutely nothing in common with Fiona, but her thoughts, emotions, doubts and insecurities feel extremely relatable.
There are some authors that create stories which feel very personal and particular, but simultaneously feel completely universal. For me, this was one of those rarities. I am so glad I took a chance on this book and got to immerse myself in Fiona's life.
I'm not sure what crazy people shelved this book as "romance". You is romantic in the same way that Lolita is romantic. In other words: an insane, obs I'm not sure what crazy people shelved this book as "romance". You is romantic in the same way that Lolita is romantic. In other words: an insane, obsessive and manipulative romance from the perspective of a charming psychopath.
It's a fucked up tale told from the POV of a stalker who obsesses over and spies on a young woman. He gradually plants himself into her life and seeks a relationship with her, whilst simultaneously hacking her emails and following every little thing she does. If you're looking for a creeptastic story just in time for Halloween then you need look no further.
What is perhaps most unsettling about our narrator is how closely he resembles some of the love interests in YA and NA romance books. Telling his unreliable tale, Joe truly believes that he and Beck are meant to be. His narration is completely insane, horrifying and - at times - beautiful.
He is a fantastically unreliable narrator, made more so by the charm and humour he uses to engage the reader. Like Humbert from Lolita, Joe's intelligence, wit and candor make it easy to sympathize with him, even though we are aware of how twisted he really is.
The novel evades the boundaries of genre; not quite a contemporary, maybe, but also unlike most psychological thrillers, creating something new and complex - quite unlike anything I've ever read before. Being inside Joe's head is a poisonous but admittedly fascinating place to be. Through him, the author examines the games people play with one another and the gentle manipulation that even the most innocent of us are capable of at times:
You also offers an interesting look at stalking in the digital age. Joe is able to commit his crimes through the use of email, Facebook and Twitter; finding out huge amounts of information about Beck without even leaving his house. It made me incredibly aware of how visible we all are these days and had me almost looking over my own shoulder as I was reading it.
A random spur of the moment read that really paid off.
I'm not sure my review of this is really needed. If you're wanting to explore the world of the free Tor short stories, you should just check out karenI'm not sure my review of this is really needed. If you're wanting to explore the world of the free Tor short stories, you should just check out karen's reviews, which is where I find all the good ones. But I can't just leave this review space blank either, the story deserves more than that.
“Mama Alice would say that God never gives us any burdens we can’t carry.” The harpy says, Does she look you in the eye when she says that?
I find it amazing sometimes how I can read a 500-page novel and remain fairly emotionally detached, but some writers are just able to tear my heart open and leave me thinking about their story for hours... with just a few pages of powerful writing.
This story is so raw. The writing has an edgy, gritty, ugly honesty about it that drew me in and had me living inside the narrator's mind. I guess it's some kind of magical realism / dark fantasy if you want to get into genre-specifics but it's also way more than that. It's a portrait of a young girl called Desiree who was born disfigured and sick, a girl who is dying and must take pills every day... but she's not dying - in her own words - "fast enough".
"I’m dying. Just not fast enough. If it were faster, I’d have nothing to worry about. As it is, I’m going to have to figure out what I’m going to do with my life."
If she had a couple of years, she could resign herself to her fate; if she had a full life, she could live it happily. But, instead, she's somewhere in between. Still dying, longing for everything normal people get to have, and having to decide what to do next with her half-life.
Every day, she visits the harpy who lives in an alley near her home; she feeds it garbage and the two form a strange kind of friendship... strange, but possibly the most genuine relationship in Desiree's life. Hell, I feel emotional just trying to write this damn review.
It's a very dark, bleak tale that you probably shouldn't read if you're feeling particularly depressed, but it was an incredibly effective piece of storytelling. I hung on the author's every word.