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The Blade Between

3.55  ·  Rating details ·  64 ratings  ·  38 reviews
From Nebula Award winner Sam J. Miller comes a frightening and uncanny ghost story about a rapidly changing city in upstate New York and the mysterious forces that threaten it.

Ronan Szepessy promised himself he’d never return to Hudson. The sleepy upstate town was no place for a restless gay photographer. But his father is ill and New York City’s distractions have become t
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published December 1st 2020 by Ecco
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Average rating 3.55  · 
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Nilufer Ozmekik
Nov 12, 2020 rated it liked it
A small town’s abrupt change by losing the spots of local stores to the new hipster owners, floating whales, increasing pressure and blowing hateful energy ! What a complex, creative but also a little confusing story! The author’s profound love to the whales made him use them as important spiritual addition to this story as he did at his previous work.

I loved so many unique, inventive, different things about this book which waltzes between different genres including horror, mystery, thriller, d
DNF - 30%. I tried but I’m out. The truth is this book isn’t for me. I can’t give it just 1 star because it does have some great complex characterization (Ronan - protagonist) that I enjoyed, but here’s why I’m out. Ronan hates, HATES Hudson, a homophobic hellhole he endured and left. Now he’s returned because he’s doing a photo shoot for a guy who.... uh is actually dead. And now Hudson is a gay Mecca of sorts! That part, cool as heck, but then he starts a love affair with his married ex, and t ...more
Looking forward to read this. Special for this Halloween it's auto-approved in Netgalley. It has whales. WHALES. If you've read Blackfish City (which was one of my fave books in 2018), you'll know why I'm excited for this. ...more
Book Barbarian  (Tammy Smith)
eARC received from Edelweiss, thank you to Edelweiss and Ecco HarperCollins (opinions are my own).

I know two things about Sam.
He writes really well. And he is fucking obsessed with whales....

Sam’s previous novel Blackfish City really let me down and/or I over-hyped myself for it to me more than it was but I really wanted to read more from this author because he is very , very talented and he proves it with this very eloquent horror novel.


The author easily went from writing fantasy to writ
Apr 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
As a person who also moved far away from my small town, and then moved back as an adult to care for my aging father, I related a lot to this book. Well, maybe just in that way, and not so much the other things this protagonist did....but they sure were fun to read about.

The main character, Ronan, a NYC photographer, has returned to his small town upstate while drying out from a recent crystal meth addiction. He passes the time by catfishing, searching for blackmail material, and obsessing over h
Aug 10, 2020 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2020-mt-bookpile
Something about this just didn't work - the fear? the setting (Hudson seems to have moved from actually on, you know, the Hudson)? not caring about the characters? DNF after 25%.

eARC provided by publisher via Edelweiss.
Nov 26, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: to-review
"Love is harder than hate.
Hate is easy.
But love? Love is hard."

This is definitely a case of my low rating not being a good reflection of the book - but of me.
This is actually a very well written, interesting, lyrical book - and it's the reason I'm giving it 3 stars. I think a lot of people will find this book interesting and that it makes an interesting statement and leaves you thinking well after you are done.

But it felt very much like Magic realism (or maybe sci-fi realism? Is that a thing?).
Jo Ladzinski
Nov 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: net-galley
Read an ARC via NetGalley
Trigger warnings: Arson, stabbing, suicide, eviction, drug addiction, sexual assault (implied)

The city of Hudson, New York is rich in a history that’s about to be erased by the gears of gentrification and corporate interests. The community fights back, but it isn’t until the whale gods and ghosts of Hudson’s past join the fray, feasting on hate and unleashing violence upon this already-tense community.

It’d be ridiculous to say that every new Sam J. Miller book is my new
Nov 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nov-2020-reads
This was a book that was way out of my comfort zone and I’m thankful for the experience in helping me grow as a reader. Initially, this was a mash up of The Bright Lands and When No One Is Watching, but once the second half of the book commenced it broke out more on its own (thankfully).

This is definitely a book for the Trump era. (With a country so divided and the pervasiveness of the us vs them mentality.) One thing I would never anticipate thinking about that came to my mind a few times was
Nov 07, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: horror
Thank you NetGalley and HarperCollins for letting me read this unpublished ebook. Well, I’ll start by saying that at least I liked this story better than The Arrest or The Pumpkin Farmer, which are two of the last three books I’ve read. Ronan is a young, gay man who is an up and coming photographer in NYC. He wakes up on a train and realizes he's back in his hometown of Hudson, NY, an old seafaring city. Ronan has a few problems. He also feels a lot of hate toward the people - “outsiders,” who h ...more
Becky Spratford
Aug 07, 2020 rated it liked it
Review in the October 2020 issue of Library Journal

Three Words That Describe This Book: cosmic, intense dread, childhood trauma

Draft Review:
Award-winning, Science Fiction author, Miller, takes Cosmic Horror head on with chillingly realistic results. Ronan, a famous NYC photographer, comes home, to Hudson, far upstate, to care for his dying father. Returning to the palce of childhood trauma, a place where being openly gay was dangerous, Ronan reconnects with his first crush, Dom, now a police off
Oct 27, 2020 rated it liked it

One thing for sure about Sam J. Miller’s THE BLADE BETWEEN, it’s not a cookie cutter novel. I’m not even sure what genre it is. I have to wait until December to see how classifies it. I was thinking perhaps fantasy or science fiction. Readers on Goodreads lean toward horror. Whatever it is, it may develop a cult following, but I find it hard to believe it’ll do well wi
Aaron Mcquiston
Jun 10, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was excited to see a new novel being released by the author of “Blackfish City,” a novel I bought when it came out, always had intentions to read, but did not crack the spine. This means that I requested the ARC of “The Blade Between” on my excitement over the intentions of reading Sam J. Miller’s previous, acclaimed work. 

“The Blade Between” is about Hudson, a city with a rich history. This history fills the town with ghosts of people, of whales, and of the things that it used to be. Ronan fl
Jul 31, 2020 added it
Shelves: owned
I don't really write formal public reviews but since I won an ARC in a Goodreads giveaway I feel kind of obligated to say at least something about it. Here goes. Sorry if this review sucks. (It will probably suck. I'm not great at reviews.)

The Blade Between lies somewhere at the crossroads of Needful Things (a town on the edge, just waiting for the spark that sets off a powder keg of violence) and Night in the Woods (a town haunted by the eldritch memories of its violent past and a protagonist c
Zachary Houle
Nov 09, 2020 rated it liked it
I’ve seen how gentrification has changed the city I live in — Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. There’s a strip of Wellington Street in Hintonburg that radically transformed overnight from being nothing but row upon row of biker bars to upscale pubs and swanky fast food joints, one of which is named Hintonburger. (Get it?) It’s been a marvel to think about how seedy the street was 20 years ago and how things are different, and for the better, now. But, of course, gentrification is not always a good thing ...more
Nov 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
My genres of choice are LGBTQ+ and horror and this checks both of my boxes. I consider myself fairly well-read in both genres. There's a lot for me left to read, of course, but I think I'm comfortable saying what feels original. Sam J. Miller, in my opinion, has crafted a completely original ghost/monster story that is directly tied to a man's gay experiences in both a literal and metaphorical way. Miller beautifully crafts the pervasiveness of hate, fear, anger, pain, and sorrow and explains ho ...more
Nov 25, 2020 rated it it was ok
Thanks to HarperCollins and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this in exchange for an honest review!

Themes of gentrification, police involvement, the effects of bullying and homophobia, how a community can effect individuals, and how social media can be destructive.

You may be saying to yourself, wow this sounds interesting! And it is! For about 50 pages or so until it starts wearing out its welcome. All of these themes are done in a clumsy manner with as much subtlety as a car crash. It hone
Nov 23, 2020 rated it did not like it
Shelves: laser
This is a story about the harm gentrification of in a small town in New York. And how it harms and pains those being pushed out of their homes. I struggled with this book a lot mainly because the execution is flawed. But first, the good, the pain around the gentrification and the disgust and rage against the gentrifiers is very well described, especially in a small post-industrial town. I think the relationships between the characters are also believable, especially the side characters. The auth ...more
Kim McGee
Oct 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
You have an old whaling town in New York that is currently being overrun by wealthy buyers from the city. People who have lived in Hudson for generations are losing their businesses and homes as well as their past. Antique shops and trendy restaurants have replaced butcher shops and dive bars. You also have three friends who have been reunited and form a love triangle - Dom and his wife Attalah and newly returned from New York City, Ronan. Attalah and Ronan want to take back the town and they be ...more
Nov 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
I received this book through Goodreads giveaways.

I wasn't sure if I was going to enjoy this book for the mystical/supernatural aspects but I really did enjoy this read. The author did not rely on the paranormal and instead used it as a tool to build the story further. Once I started to get into the book it was a quick read because I wanted to know what was going to happen.

There wasn't a character I didn't like in the book. They were all believable, enjoyable and relatable. I think the author did
Nov 20, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ronan Szepessy told himself that once he had left the small town of Hudson, NY, he’d never returned. But he is inexorably drawn back to the town and the people who had made his life miserable. What he finds is not the sleepy town he’d left but a town overrun (in his mind) by rich City dwellers who are buying up property like it was going out of style and gentrifying it into something unrecognizable. The people who call the town their hometown are outraged at the changes and want them to stop. Ev ...more
 Gabriele | QueerBookdom
DRC provided by HarperCollins via Edelweiss+ in exchange for an honest review.

Representation: queer protagonist, Black bi deuteragonist, Black disabled tritagonist.

Content Warning: drug abuse, queerphobia, racism, death, suicide, violence, internalised biphobia.

Have you ever finished a book and had literally nothing to say about it? It not being neither great nor terrible? The Blade Between by Sam J. Miller exemplifies this for me. It is both a visceral book and a fever dream: it deals with heav
May 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Going home means different things to different people. For some, it can be a time of joy, of happy reunions with family members, a time to connect with long-lost friends. For others, though, it’s the opposite: a return to the people and the places you worked so hard to get away from, the memories and the nightmares you tried to leave behind.

In The Blade Between, Sam J Miller explores the meaning of ‘going home’ when your home isn’t yours anymore.

This is the first book by Sam Miller that I’ve
May 30, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an interesting book that centers on what it means to 'go home'. The protagonist moves away from his small and small minded town at the earliest opportunity vowing never to come back but years later due to some unusual circumstances he comes home only to find that everything is changed. He then has to face the people he left behind and his own complicated feelings about his hometown. This novel beautifully portrays the many layered emotions that someone can have about their hometown, how ...more
Portia Kapraun
Sep 16, 2020 is currently reading it
Sam Miller does it again! Ronan Szepessy has avoided visiting his home town of Hudson for years. He was taunted and misunderstood and a child, and now he can't face his father's failing health. But when he finds himself back in Hudson even though he can't remember why he boarded the train, he quickly becomes enmeshed in town politics as locals try to push back against the New Yorkers who are taking over their small town. Ronan learns first hand that you can't go home again, but you can't ever re ...more
Nov 14, 2020 rated it liked it
THE BLADE BETWEEN by Sam J. Miller is a unique novel about a man, Ronan, returning to his hometown to deal with his past, city developments and the supernatural. Right at the end of Part One I was intrigued. However getting further into the book while the plot was interesting the writing didn’t wow me. The part I loved the most was all the characters names. I read most of this book in one day as I was curious to know how it would all end but I wouldn’t read this book again.
Thank you to Ecco Boo
Angie Jenkins
Jun 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is a story about learning to love our cages.

This book was well written, inventive and creepy. I wanted to love it because I love a good ghost story, but I didn’t ever warm up to the characters. That being said, the author can build a world like no one’s business, and this is definitely worth reading if you have any attachment to New York, or if you’ve ever loved & hated a place in equal measure.

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ .

Thanks #netgalley & #harpercollins for the e-ARC! The Blade Between is on sale 12/1
Faith Hurst-Bilinski
The Blade Between tried to do a lot of things. Too many things. It seemed to jump around but never finish anything it started out to do. There is the sadness of changes to somewhere you use to know. The anger of gentrification. The pain of relationships. And then there is the supernatural. All of it was promising. None of it seemed to be fully fleshed out or to deliver what it promised in the end. I think this could have been a longer and more developed story.
Jul 20, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I received this book as an ARC through BookCon, and let me just say, I couldn't put it down. It was bizarre, but weird in a good way. The characters are relatable, and I can't help but want to hug Wick forever. I love the character dynamics, and the way they work with and against one another. Well written, and definitely an interesting story!
May 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A really good, thorny novel about gentrification, collective trauma/healing, the power of hatred, imaginative uses of both analog and digital networking, and eldritch whale gods. Like NK Jemisin’s The City We Became crossed with Lauren Beukes’ Broken Monsters.
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Sam J. Miller is the last in a long line of butchers, and the Nebula-Award-winning author of THE ART OF STARVING, one of NPR's Best Books of the Year. His second novel, BLACKFISH CITY was a "Must Read" according to Entertainment Weekly and O: The Oprah Magazine, and one of the best books of 2018 according to the Washington Post, Publishers Weekly, and more. He got gay-married in a guerrilla weddin ...more

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