I made the mistake of binge-reading Emily Carroll’s Through the Woods right before bed. Let me tell you, these are not stories you should read beforeI made the mistake of binge-reading Emily Carroll’s Through the Woods right before bed. Let me tell you, these are not stories you should read before turning out the light.
Through the Woods is a collection of fairy tale-esque comics. The illustrated stories are divided into chapters. There’s “My Friend Janna” a tale about fake psychics, “His Face All Red” featuring a formerly dead brother, a mysterious man in a black hat looms in “Our Neighbor’s House, “The Nesting Place” features monsters hiding in plain sight, and “A Lady’s Hands Are Cold” is about what happens when you go searching for ghosts.
The artwork paired with each of these tales is very gorgeous and contains enough black, grey, and red to add to the overall creepyness of the book. There’s also a starkness to many of the pages. It gives an unsettling sense of isolation to the characters. Just by flipping through the book, you get a sense that these are no happy fables but rather horror stories masquerading as fairy tales.
Each of Emily Carroll’s stories creeped me out. The entire book was unsettling yet weirdly fascinating, but my favorite tale had to be “Our Neighbor’s House.” It was very disturbing with the smiling sisters and the mysterious man paying house calls in the night. None of the stories made me quite as nervous as this one. (There was one moment in particular that especially creeped me out in “Our Neighbor’s House,” but I’ll leave that gem for you to discover yourself.)
“The Nesting Place” was my second favorite. It had a grosser edge to it than most of the stories–mainly because, while the other tales were often about specters, here there be monsters. If you have a thing for the TV show Supernatural, the beasties in “The Nesting Place” might remind you of even more nasty looking Leviathans.
Overall Through the Woods has a vibe similar that of Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber stories. While traditional fairy tales are often weird and disturbing (just read Anderson’s “The Little Mermaid”), there’s a distilled terror in these two women’s stories that will stick with you more than those tales told two hundred years ago.
I highly recommend reading Through the Woods (and The Bloody Chamber too if you haven’t already). Emily Carroll’s stories rest in a perfect balance between being absolutely terrifying and being gloriously enchanting. Please, just learn from my mistakes and don’t read it right before light’s out....more
I'm a sucker for anything about multiple universes, but I just couldn't get into this novel. The setting of alternate universe Salem was certainly intI'm a sucker for anything about multiple universes, but I just couldn't get into this novel. The setting of alternate universe Salem was certainly interesting with it's science as magic twist, but the characters were no where near as interesting as the setting so I was left feeling sort of "meh" about the whole book. ...more
Abigail Rook longs for adventure. Her parents, both rather traditional, want her to get educated and get married. Feeling as if she has no otThe Story
Abigail Rook longs for adventure. Her parents, both rather traditional, want her to get educated and get married. Feeling as if she has no other choice, Abigail runs off with an archaeological dig to the Ukraine. Her brash attempt at adventure goes badly. Determined not to return to England (and her parents) in shame, she takes a ship to America in the hope that, this time, her adventure-seeking won’t disappoint.
Her first day in America doesn’t prove entirely auspicious at first. Without cash in her pocket, she’s forced to seek work immediately. Unfortunately, no one appears to be hiring. She finds no job leads at all until she stumbles upon a listing for an Investigative Assistant at the post office. Feeling that she meets the criteria for the position, Abigail heads to the investigative service’s office.
From the moment she steps foot in the office, her life will never be the same.
Thanks to the nature of the detective service and it’s unusual detective, Jackaby, Abigail encounters ghosts, ducks who used to be Investigative Assistants themselves, banshees, and many other otherworldly creatures.
Much to both her chagrin (and fascination), Abigail Rook is dragged into a very dangerous murder investigation. This time, her desire for adventure might just have lead to her untimely death.
The book jacket sells Jackaby as “Doctor Who meets Sherlock.” The association left me skeptical until I started reading. Jackaby definitely has a lot a similarities to both series. If the Doctor had the ability to “see” mythical creatures rather than travel through time and space, I imagine he’d be very like Jackaby. I found it especially amusing that Jackaby seems to have the style sense of the 4th Doctor–complete with absurdly long scarf, eccentric hat, and raggedy coat.
(Side Note: I’m very interested in the appearance of the knit scarf and hat. I’d be tempted to make myself one or the other if I could figure out what they looked like. They just sound so comfy and eccentric!)
As for the Sherlock-y-ness of the book, Jackaby has bravado and awkwardness akin to that of Sherlock Holmes, and his unconventional behavior and bluntness creates a very familiar animosity between the police and himself. The interaction between Jackaby and Marlowe are especially similar to Sherlock’s and Lestrade’s–which was, truthfully, kind of fun to witness is a very different sort of story.
With it’s “Doctor Who meets Sherlock” claim, this book did set up very lofty and nerdy expectations for a reader like me, and surprisingly, with most things, it delivered. I liked Jackaby and Abigail as characters and the book only left me wanting to know more about them. I would love to read their further adventures, and thankfully, this is the first in a series so I’ll be able to.
In addition to the main two characters, there was a wide and interesting cast of minor characters. I liked the duck-who-used-to-be-a-person and Jenny especially. I think it would be cool for those two to team up for a side adventure somewhere down the road.
While the slightly Whovian set-up and characters made this story a fun, little romp, the main focus of the plot–the murder mystery–was fairly weak. I knew the killer VERY early on and one of the major twists could be seen a mile off. (Subtle this book was not.) Still, I enjoyed myself thoroughly following Jackaby and Abigail on their road to the same conclusion so I wasn’t as annoyed with lack of a good mystery as I otherwise might have been.
I’d definitely recommend this book in spite of this weakness. It’s an amusing read, and I hope the series will only get better from here on out....more
Morgan lives in a city in the sky. Her world is insular and small and, although it is treason to think so, she longs to know what exists on the groundMorgan lives in a city in the sky. Her world is insular and small and, although it is treason to think so, she longs to know what exists on the ground below her city, the Interment. Her dreams of land, however, are soon shattered by a murder—the first that has occurred in the Internment in a generation. The murder victim, a girl roughly Morgan’s own age, is soon discovered to have written a treasonous paper about the sky gods and the king before her death. In spite of herself, Morgan soon finds herself commiserating with the dead girl and her opinions. Unfortunately for Morgan, such commiseration can only lead her into danger.
Perfect Ruin by Lauren DeStefano is the first book in the Internment Chronicles.
Pros for Perfect Ruin:
1.Setting ~ Kudos to DeStefano for creating a truly unique Dystopian setting. I kept thinking that the Internment couldn’t really be in the sky—that it was some sort of domed, social experiment—but I was wrong. DeStefano’s characters really were living on a chunk of dirt in the sky. I don’t know how the Internment works, but it’s just plain cool. I look forward to getting the truth in the next book (or books) in the series.
2.No Love Triangle ~ Or, at least, I hope no love triangle. A potentiality for one is presented in this book, but I hope it isn’t pursued because it was nice for once not to have the main girl have two (or more) boys dogging after her. Anyways, romance wasn’t the point in Perfect Ruin which is, unfortunately, refreshing since I still come across way too many YA Dystopias where the love story is the entire story.
3.Alice and Lex ~ Morgan’s brother and sister-in-law were fantastic characters. I even kinda sorta wish the entire book had been about them. With her forced termination and his jump-inspired blindness, they were just much more interesting than anyone else in this novel. I wanted to know more about them, but, unfortunately, we had to spend most of our time with the younger, less interesting characters.
Cons for Perfect Ruin:
1.Most Characters Weren’t Well-Developed ~ Morgan never felt like a realistic, well-developed character to me. She was dull and lacked personality. What’s worse is that I didn’t like her and I didn’t dislike her. She just sort of existed for me as this two-dimensional story guide. A lot of the characters in this book were like that (with the exception of Alice and Lex). The main reason for this blandness I think is because the main characters didn’t know the stakes until too far in the book. The characters that did know how bad things were and also knew they had things to lose were much more realistic than Morgan and her friends who were blind to what was really going on. It would have been better if Morgan had been “in the know” earlier on in the book because then the thriller-y aspects of the story would have been way more intense.
2.Not Frightening ~ This book really wanted to be frightening, but it just couldn’t get there. The characters freaked out about one murder, a fire, and the like, but it just didn’t seem all the bad when you compare it to the stuff that goes down in books like the Hunger Games or even all the horrible things people see in real life. I know Morgan was scared, but I just couldn’t get worked up with her. Maybe, like I said before, if she knew how bad things really were and knew people were out to get those who disobeyed the king, it would have been more intense and frightening, but the world will never know.
3.The Ending ~ I’m not going to spoil things, but the ending had an eye-roll worthy moment that was just completely incomprehensible. It wasn’t a twist per say, but it was a turn of events that just made no sense whatsoever. Be forewarned.
While Perfect Ruin isn’t the best Dystopia out there, it isn’t bad. I’d recommend checking it out if you haven’t been burnt out by the genre yet. If you’re starting to tire of it, however, I’d steer clear of this one. It’s kind of the same old, same old. ...more
I don't like untrustworthy narrators. They actually annoy the living daylights out of me. I really didn't like this book until I reached Part Two. I jI don't like untrustworthy narrators. They actually annoy the living daylights out of me. I really didn't like this book until I reached Part Two. I just couldn't get into the first half. I knew I was being lied to and that simply kept me from becoming too invested in the story. I couldn't make myself care about the characters or what was going on so long as it was Julie talking. It's not that the story was bad or the characters were unlikeable--I just really didn't like the author's narrative choice. For me, it was sort of a dealbreaker. Still, the book did get better for me once I could actually trust the character who was telling the story. I was finally able to grow to like the characters a bit, but, sadly, the ending just didn't have the emotional impact for me it probably should have. It wasn't a bad book, but it definitely wasn't AMAZING. ...more