I admit it, I'm a sucker for legends retold or "the truth behind the tale" books. I didn't check to see if this was written before or after the currenI admit it, I'm a sucker for legends retold or "the truth behind the tale" books. I didn't check to see if this was written before or after the current "Sleepy Hollow" TV series started, but in all honesty, it doesn't matter--other than setting, the two are completely different.
I do tend to be a little leery of books that have a teenager as the main character (I already went through high school once, why do I have to do it again?), but Jason was a pleasant surprise. He got through some tough situations with a minimum of whining and some amount of emotional maturity, but not so much that he was really an adult character stuffed in a teenage body. His inner dialogue could get a little preachy at times, but teens aren't known for their subtlety, so I'll give it a pass.
The author cranks up the scare factor for this one, from a description of the Horse and Rider that is genuinely terrifying, or the added detail of ghosts rising from their graves to point out the Horseman's prey. By the time I reached the climax of the book, I really felt Jason's claustrophobia, panic, and apparent helplessness and despair. When he gets his strength and self back (come on, it's not a spoiler--it's #1 in a series, OBVIOUSLY he's going to get back on track), I cheered with him. This story and these characters have a lot of places to go, and I look forward to reading the rest to see where their paths head. ...more
The truth is that there is nothing new under the sun, so when a writer finds a way to take very well-worn material (such as Beauty & the Beast) anThe truth is that there is nothing new under the sun, so when a writer finds a way to take very well-worn material (such as Beauty & the Beast) and make it fresh and engaging, that's definitely something to enjoy. It was a little trope-y at points, but it overall kept from bogging down in into "seen it all before" territory. The new take on the Beast was particularly interesting, and Rhianne was not a completely helpless heroine. I read it all in one afternoon and evening because I was so engaged in where it was all going. It's not exactly a weighty piece of literature, but it was a fun read to pass the time. ...more
It's hard to know what to say about this one. It had all the right set pieces, but for some reason they didn't really gel for me. I think part of it wIt's hard to know what to say about this one. It had all the right set pieces, but for some reason they didn't really gel for me. I think part of it was the fact that I found the main protagonist intensely unlikeable, which made it hard to connect the story and care about what happened. He was so passive and self-absorbed, in spite of all of his internal assertions that he was a good person trying to do the right thing. When the book started moving towards its climax and it required him to be considerably more active and brave, I had a hard time believing he was capable of it.
The rest of the book was largely in "not quite making it" territory as well. The plot holes were too numerous to count, the lore apparently made up on the spot and changing as it went along, and one of the final twists too hackneyed to mention (although it did make me almost want to re-read the whole thing to see if I could trace it backwards, so that's something).
So why give it 3 stars instead of 2? Partly because it did hold my interest and keep me reading, keep me turning pages to see what would happen next. I definitely didn't have to struggle to finish it, and that it worth something. And although the lore was nothing I'd ever heard of, it was inventive and different, and that also deserves some consideration. It's hard to come up with anything new in this genre, so managing to do so in any area also merits a reward.
And, finally, my edition contained a preview of the second book in the series with it, and that looks much better written and more interesting. So I'm looking forward to that, and giving half a star for hope. ...more
Less of a novella than a series of short stories tied loosely together by the same theme and, worse, the same structure. Two partners (the last two seLess of a novella than a series of short stories tied loosely together by the same theme and, worse, the same structure. Two partners (the last two sets male and female, with the predictable ending), one partner has powers, the other does not, eventually the powered individual shares his or her power with the partner. Other than covering different decades and spending too much time on the evolving fashions of each time period, the whole thing was just one long run on the hamster wheel. It was boring, the scenery never changed, and I never went anywhere. It's a shame to take such an interesting idea and beat it until it's left whimpering on the ground, begging for mercy and promising to never show its face again. ...more
This, THIS is what all of the horror novels I've been reading lately have been trying to achieve. (I'm looking at you, Sight Unseen: The Haunting Of BThis, THIS is what all of the horror novels I've been reading lately have been trying to achieve. (I'm looking at you, Sight Unseen: The Haunting Of Blackstone Manor.) I started reading and finished in the same day, reading obsessively at every opportunity to grab a few more pages. It helped that it was a relatively short book, but if it had been longer I don't think that that would have stopped me--I just would have been really tired the next morning.
I was a little skeptical at the slow start, including the excruciatingly detailed description of making coffee. Later I realized that love of coffee was an integral part of the character, and so it bothered me less, but the slow start may have been a little too slow. But keep going through the first chapter--a bit of overwriting occasionally did nothing to take away from the rest of the work, and the prose definitely tightens up as you move through the book.
Luckily, I kept going through the descriptions of making coffee, a barren office and a leeching cold to get into the meat of the story, because then I was hooked. Our hero PI Harlan Ulrich starts as a dyed-in-the-wool skeptic of all things supernatural, and he begins his missing person case with no time for the "superstitions" surrounding this target's last known location. Since this was labeled as an "occult thriller" by Kindle, I knew that this wasn't going to last, but I was grateful that Harlan was a smart enough man to realize when he was up against something not of this world sooner rather than later. He wasn't one of those main characters who persists in believing that there's "nothing out of the ordinary" here when all the evidence tells him otherwise, and I liked that. Sometimes you spend half the book waiting for the protagonist to admit that there's something more going on, and that just gets old.
Ibsen threw in enough elements to keep you guessing just how much was really supernatural and how much had other explanations, but he kept that restrained as we moved closer and closer to the white-knuckle ending. Too many details will spoil it, but I will say that everything he had built toward had an ultimate payoff in the end. I didn't realize that I was reading a #1 at the time, so I was convinced that that would be the last we saw of our intrepid PI. Now that I know it's a series, I'll definitely be checking out the rest of his adventures. ...more
What a resounding "meh." I was hoping for some good, edge of the seat horror here, but I got nothing that hasn't been done a thousand times before andWhat a resounding "meh." I was hoping for some good, edge of the seat horror here, but I got nothing that hasn't been done a thousand times before and a thousand times better. There were some solid elements, such as the (view spoiler)[psychic (hide spoiler)] working with a (view spoiler)[priest (hide spoiler)], but mostly it just was an endless rehash of every haunted house trope you want to think of. This tried so hard to be The Haunting of Hill House that it became almost farcical. The writing was strained and the characters unsympathetic. I had hoped that with two female protagonists we might actually get somewhere, maybe cover some new ground, but the obsession with their own boobs and asses (what do men think adult women do when they have friends over? All that was missing was the giggling pillow fight.) and too much wine made them weak rather than compelling.
I did read it quickly because I had hopes that it would get somewhere in the end after starting so very slowly; it's very short so when it seemed like we had reached the story's climax at what my kindle showed was "82%" of the book, I figured there had to be a big double-twist coming. No, that's just the preview of the a different book; this one actually ends at 87% on my edition, and the "twist" of the end isn't surprising when you consider how mind-numbingly stupid most of the main character's other decisions had been.
The only good thing I can say is that the author describes the beauty of Victorian homes so well I had a sudden urge to go by one and start my own career as a home restorer. Don't think that's what he was going for, but it's the most inspiring thing that happened in the whole book. Take your wins where you get them, I guess? ...more
I accidentally purchased this sequel to Skeleton's Key by pushing the wrong button on my Kindle app, but I'm glad I did. I liked it better because itI accidentally purchased this sequel to Skeleton's Key by pushing the wrong button on my Kindle app, but I'm glad I did. I liked it better because it spent less time on "Yankees and Southerns have cultural differences!" and "It's hot in the South if you're not from there, and sometimes even if you are!" and more on the actual plot. With the characters and their relationships already established, we moved into the story much more quickly and spent less time on explanations and backstory.
The majority of the plot I thought was good, was original. Counterfeit CSA relics! Dixie Mafia! Kidnapping! It all ties together with the last book! Or does it? Maybe! There was a lot going on, but it all moved together in a way that felt very organic.
Until I realized where they were going in the end (which I did about 20 pages before the "big reveal"), and then I was sincerely disappointed with how it was all getting tied up. Honestly, how many times can the final villain be the one that nobody saw coming? "Not him, it can't be him!" So in this book we had bad guys who were both The Most Obvious and The Least Obvious (The Butler Did It), and I'm taking points off for both.
I did enjoy the read, up to the very end, and then I was so annoyed that I took a star off. ...more
**spoiler alert** I was a huge fan of the Redwall books when I was a kid, but even at the time I remember thinking, on occasion, "Wow, I wonder if it'**spoiler alert** I was a huge fan of the Redwall books when I was a kid, but even at the time I remember thinking, on occasion, "Wow, I wonder if it's okay that I'm reading this? This is kinda violent."
I found Martin at the last book sale and decided to reread as an adult, and I have to say... When I remembered these as been violent, I was not remembering a fraction of what these books were about. In the first 15 pages of Martin's story, once you get past the prologue, Martin is savagely beaten, staked outside overnight in a storm until he passes out, and left to be eaten alive by sea birds. Honestly, Martin reminded me a lot of Richard Cypher in Wizard's First Rule, and the rest of the early Sword of Truth books. The violence was not as bloody, and there was no sex, but in a lot of other ways they were very similar.
From that promising beginning, the characters are never out of danger for more than a moment or two, going from one hair-raising situation after another. Although the battle may be bloodless, there is no off-screen violence here. Death is up close and personal for everyone, from the villains to the heroes. Just because the characters are mice, otters or rabbits, does not make these book cute and cuddly or really in any way appropriate for the age range they are marketed to.
Although, to counter my own point, I read them in the age range they were marketed to, and I did not absorb the violence then at the level I do now, because I think I didn't really "get" it then. What you do get from the Redwall books is the same thing that you will get from most high fantasy, from The Chronicles of Narnia to The Lord of the Rings. There is good, and there is evil, and good can have no truck with evil. And you can want peace and strive for peace and negotiate for peace all you want, but if evil wants war, then eventually, you will have war to keep your peace. If you're looking to teach your kids that violence is never the answer, these are not the books to use, because the reader can only walk away from Redwall (and Narnia, and Middle Earth) with the knowledge that sometimes violence is the only answer to pure, unremitting evil.
As a side note, and the only real nitpick I have, I cannot understand how seasoned fighters kept setting up camp and sleeping in areas that they'd been told were dangerous, without ever setting up a watch! Talk turns asleep and have someone on patrol at all times! Sheesh!
Although I read this when I was younger, I don't have any problem re-reading it as an adult; the cross over is seamless. It was not "dumbed down" in any way, either in writing or in action, and it's just as fresh and vibrant now as it was when I was 12 or 13. I understand more of what's going on and I get the philosophy more than I did as a child, such as the discussion of whether it's better to be a live slave or a dead hero, but the core story itself adjusts whether you're reading as a preteen or *ahem* a couple of decades later.
Appeasement versus resistance, valor and cowardice, doing the right thing no matter what the personal cost...this book about talking forest animals may have been written for children in 1993, but I find that it's remarkably relevant now. ...more
Really 3.5 stars. I liked the twisty, turny plot, with plenty of red herrings and enough misdirections to make the mystery actually mysterious. And ofReally 3.5 stars. I liked the twisty, turny plot, with plenty of red herrings and enough misdirections to make the mystery actually mysterious. And of course, any story where the South, history and restoration actually play major roles is always going to get big pluses from me.
I did find some drawbacks in some of the characterizations. I felt like in trying to avoid stereotypes, and sometimes having long discussions about them, the author oversimplified them to such a degree that her attempts to fight stereotypes became stereotypical in and of themselves. Her characters still seemed like they had to fulfill archetypes rather than simply being allowed to...be. I missed book 1, but I'm starting book 3, so I'm hoping that will flesh out the characters and fix that flaw. ...more
I have to say, overall I was really impressed. Especially once the plot really got going, I just could not put the book down. It took a little while tI have to say, overall I was really impressed. Especially once the plot really got going, I just could not put the book down. It took a little while to get going, and even more time to switch from "random encounters into the catacombs" (some of which were still pretty intense) to the actual plot line. Then things went absolutely nuts, a combination of The Descent and As Above, So Below, with touches of The Hills Have Eyes. And though it was a little far-fetched, really, it was not completely out of the realm of possibility, and that's what it takes for a good horror story; the idea that it could actually happen.
It's definitely an, ah, earthy book, with drugs, sex and alcohol galore, in addition to the required gore and swearing. But that made it feel very gritty and real, rather than a more "sanitized" story. Looking forward to the rest of the books in the series, if they're all told as well as this one. ...more
I was excited to read this, based both on the description and the author's moniker as the "Queen as Scream." I was sorely disappointed on both counts,I was excited to read this, based both on the description and the author's moniker as the "Queen as Scream." I was sorely disappointed on both counts, as I found the whole thing uneven. I haven't read the other Jack Ryder books, so I can't say whether the protagonists were acting out of character, as other reviews have complained. I can say that the heroes spent a lot of time being not particularly likable, which added to my frustration with the book; it's hard to care about the life and death of people that you're not interested in.
The plot alternated between very interesting and draaaagging along. Sometimes I couldn't put it down, and other times I was flipping pages, going "come on already, give me something to work with." I wasn't really expecting screams, but at least some adrenaline pumping would have been nice. The few times I got really hooked, my attention was soon squandered by wasted pages, wandering all over the map with things that didn't really matter or paragraphs on side plots that didn't affect the main story. I didn't care about (view spoiler)[Emily's anorexia (hide spoiler)] for example, and it didn't seem like it had anything to do with the plot, except for a brief detour at the end when everything else was all wrapped up. Talk about wasted energy.
I didn't mind the time jumps, as that did build up suspense as it became clear early on that the "haunted" house in the early parts of the book was still around and causing issues in the current timeline. It was obvious that whatever evil surrounded "the chair," it was still going strong in present day.
I did have real issues with the author's inability to decide if she was writing a supernatural horror novel or a hardbitten detective story. There were elements that were never clearly explained either way, and rather than being ambiguous elements of a ghost story, they were just loose ends that never went anywhere. I would be okay with some of the more supernatural elements not being explained if I felt like she was doing it on purpose, leaving the question of what was real and what wasn't up to the reader, a la The Turn of the Screw. Instead, it just made the story seem uneven and unfinished, like two distinct plots were mashed together and made to stick. And the final scene, rather than being a cliff hanger or a plot twist, made even less sense.
Maybe if I'd read some of her other books this style would make sense to me, but I haven't, so all it did was annoy. Pick your genre and stick to it--if you want to write a thriller where people are sick bastards and do crazy things because they're just evil, I will follow you there. Or you write a horror novel with ghost possessions and haunted houses and I will read that with evil glee. But if you're going to try to do both, don't half ass it, get lost in the middle and then back away without ever really committing to either device. It just leaves the reader (or at least me) frustrated....more
I didn't realize that this was #2 when I picked it up, so there were times when I was totally lost. I know I complain when books in a series totaMeh.
I didn't realize that this was #2 when I picked it up, so there were times when I was totally lost. I know I complain when books in a series totally rehash prior events, but it turns out that it's just as bad when there's no explanation of where we came from at all. The writing was so-so; sometimes I really enjoyed it, and sometimes it was so mired in tropes and aside that I wanted to throw the book. Luckily for the book, it was on my phone, and I wasn't about to throw that. Also, I could have done without the protagonist (author's?) distaste for the military, since the military saved his butt on more than one occasion. Maybe that was explained in #1, but grated on my nerves.
After wandering all over the literal map to get to DC, I am done. For awhile I thought I'd go back and get #1, and then I realized that if I committed to this I would have to get #1 and then continue for at least 2 more books, and I am done. I do not care enough about these people to invest any more time in them. (Although I do have to admit that the (view spoiler)[vaccine (hide spoiler)] and how it was handle is a unique twist.) I love zombie-everything, but it has to be done right, and this just didn't hang together for me. ...more