I didn’t think I would enjoy this; I love watching period dramas on TV and at the cinema, but when it comes to reading them, I’m not so great at underI didn’t think I would enjoy this; I love watching period dramas on TV and at the cinema, but when it comes to reading them, I’m not so great at understanding the language, but I thought I would give this book a go anyway. I am so glad I did, I really enjoyed it!
I loved Picky’s voice, and learning things about the time period through her experience of it. There was no trouble understanding the language as it was all through Picky’s point of view, and it was really quite amusing!
The plot was really clever, and if you’ve seen it, it reminded me quite a lot of the UK TV programme Lost in Austen. I was, however, a little disappointed in Picky’s lack of knowledge about history. She may be 13, but surely 13-year-olds know that the internet is pretty new in the great scheme of things, and would have heard of Nazis.
I also found that Picky’s real school life was a little forced. The events were believable, but the reactions to them were a little off to me. And as much as teenagers may say it, I got a little annoyed with Picky’s over use of the phrase, “No. Seriously.”
The Dresskeeper is a cute story over all, and I really enjoyed reading it. I loved the characters from 1685, and how Picky’s view of things changes, and how she learns about herself along the way. It was a lovely story, and I can’t wait to read what Mary Naylus brings us next! ...more
I don’t really know what I expected with this novel, but this book is so much more than anything I could have expected! It sounded awesome, which is wI don’t really know what I expected with this novel, but this book is so much more than anything I could have expected! It sounded awesome, which is why I wanted to read it, but the blurb just scratches the surface. The excitement that surged through me as I read this novel was so, I can’t even begin to explain.
Some of you may be aware that I am a huge David Eddings. I love his novels for a great many reasons, one being that Pawn of Prophecy was THE book that made me an avid reader, and whenever I read it, I get that same feeling of awe that books can be so enchanting as when I first read it . It may sound odd to be mentioning my love for Eddings in this review, but I do have a reason; Eddings’ Belgariad series was about a quest to fulfil a prophecy, it was intricate, it was magical – just like Prophecy of the Sisters. And just like Pawn of Prophecy, I was filled with the same awe, and the same feeling of how lucky we are that books, stories and authors exist for our enjoyment when I read Prophecy of the Sisters!
This is the kind of fantasy that I absolutely adore! You are left guessing with every page you turn, with every clue there are so many possibilities that could be the answer, and the excitement and wonder at Zink’s incredible story telling abilities just grow and grow.
This story is so complicated. When I read the prophecy, I sat there blinking at it, unable to make any sense of it at all, but as the story unfolds, and the clues arrive, and the jigsaw pieces are slowly fitted together, I challenge anyone to read this book and not be amazed at just how intricate this is! J. K. Rowling should watch her back, she has competition in the complicated and clever stakes!
It’s known by a fair few that I am not really a fan of historical fiction, so once I opened the first pages and saw it was historical, I inwardly groaned. I was sure I wouldn’t like it, and didn’t think it would work; a historical urban fantasy? But it does! The historical aspect makes Prophecy of the Sisters feel more like a high fantasy, which I love!
I love the characters! Lia makes a great main character, and despite the time period, she is very relatable. Strong, yet human and deals with her problems as such. Sonia and Luisa are just brilliant secondary characters, with their easy friendship, but their concern and worry that is very normal; I think sometimes, in some novels, people seem to accept the fantastic far too easily, and cope far too well with the issues, but it’s not the case with Sonia and Luisa, and it makes them more likable and believable.
Alice is probably the most impressive character; she is absolutely despicable, and far too disturbing for words, but utterly brilliant in that she evokes such dislike and abhorrence. As weird as it may sound, I am excited to see just how cruel and evil she can become, to what lengths she’ll go to next to try to get what she wants. To see if she can make me loath her even more. I can’t tell you just how amazing this book is! I absolutely loved it, and I am itching to read the next in the series, Guardian of the Gate. If you haven’t read this book yet, get yourself to a bookshop now, you NEED this book!...more
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs is one of those books that I've always wanted to read, but never got round to. I think part of the problem for me is that I'd had a flick through the book, and I found some of the photos included kind of creepy, and they gave me the heebie-jeebies. I'm not generally into creepy, so I think that's why I steered clear. But then I saw the trailer for the movie, and thought it looked incredible! So I eagerly picked up the book and found it to be a really interesting story!
Jacob has grown up with his Grandpa Portman telling him stories about his time as a child at an orphanage, the children with strange powers who lived there, and the monsters he used to fight. Jacob loved hearing these stories as a child, but as he got older, he stopped believing in them. When his grandpa is fatally attacked, his final words to Jacob are a bungled message before dying in his arms: find the bird in the loop behind the old man's grave. Just after he dies, Jacob sees a terrible sight; a horrible creature with three tentacled tongues. No-one believes what he saw, and instead think he's suffered a mental trauma due to his grandpa's death, proven by the horrific nightmares that visit Jacob sleep almost nightly. But when a letter is discovered that proves his grandpa really was at an orphanage off the coast of Wales, Jacob is desperate to go. Convinced by his psychologist that this could be good for him and help him get closure, Jacob's parents allow him to go, accompanied by his dad. But the orphanage is a crumbling ruin now, hit by a bomb in the second world war, and no-one is left alive who knew his grandpa. But there's evidence in a group of photographs that perhaps the stories his grandpa told him weren't just stories to entertain a child. And maybe the children who lived in the orphanage when his grandpa was young, might actually still be alive.
For me, the story can easily be broken down into three parts; Grandpa Portman's death and Jacob trying to work out the message he gave him while visiting the crumbling ruins of the orphanage, when Jacob meets the peculiar children, and the part that leads to the climax that I'm not going to spoil. I found the first part really intriguing, and I was completely gripped, what with all the clues and the message, and this ruin of a home. What did Grandpa Portman mean? Who lived at this house? Why was Jacob's grandpa there? It was such compelling reading, and I was desperate to know more!
But once Jacob works a few things out and is introduced to the peculiar children, the story kind of fizzled out. Jacob gets really interested in these kids - Emma who can create fireballs from her hands, Olive who can levitate, Millard who's invisible, and so on - and is content just to hang out with them. I can understand that he's not really had proper friends before, but the story just kind of stagnated here. There are these children, and they can do such fantastic things, but all they're doing is hanging out together. I think this would have been enough and really fascinating, learning about the children and all their different abilities, but with that absolutely gripping beginning, this middle just really didn't match up in intensity, nor was it as fascinating.
But then the story moves forward and things start to get interesting again! Suddenly Jacob remembers the unanswered questions he has about his grandpa, and he wants the truth. There are a number of really exciting, edge-of-your-seat moments; you think the story is bad right now, but then something else happens, and you're constantly wondering how it's going to end. There was an element to the story that I had already guessed, but a number that I hadn't twigged, and I found it pretty gripping again. But once the story had finished, I think in all, I was disappointed with the climax. In the moment it was exciting, trying to work out where the story will go, but once I knew, there was a disappointed "Oh" moment.
I found the romance of the story to be unbelievable, in the literal sense. I just didn't feel it, and I most definitely wasn't rooting for it. No, no, no. That was just too weird for me. And I'm kind of undecided as to how I feel about the ending, and where things stand for the next book. I'm just not sure how I feel. Do I want to read the next book? I think so. Am I in any rush to do so? Not particularly. I just felt, overall, the beginning was the best part of the story, and I don't know if that mysterious feel is going to continue. There's still a lot that needs to be figured about, but... I don't know. I know I found the last part exciting, but is the excitement going to continue and get better, or am I going to be disappointed? I really hope it's going to be exciting! I do think the movie is going to be brilliant, though, I can see the movie taking the good parts of this book and making it wow. Having read the book now, I know just from the trailer there are a few things that have been changed for the movie, and I think some might be good, so I'm excited to see it! I just wish I was as excited for the second book, Hollow City, as I am about the movie.
Thank you to Quirk Books for the review copy....more
Wow. I am currently in a state of awe. I finished reading The Ship Beyond Time by Heidi Heilig yesterday, anOriginally posted on Once Upon a Bookcase.
Wow. I am currently in a state of awe. I finished reading The Ship Beyond Time by Heidi Heilig yesterday, and I'm still reeling over just how good it was. This book is incredible!
In The Girl From Everywhere, Slate wants to get back to 1868 Honolulu, Hawaii, so he can save his wife, Lin, before she dies, but they never make it. In The Ship Beyond Time, Heigil takes what is just an idea in the first - wanting to try to change history - and runs with it. Another navigator, Donald Crowhurst has sent a message to Nix - he needs her help, and in exchange, he will teach her how to change history, as he has done in the mythical utopia Ker Ys, stopping the flood that destroys the city from happening. Nix has just found out from her father that she is destined to lose the one she loves to see sea. Fearing losing Kash and becoming like her father, to spend her life desperately trying to find a way to bring Kash back after he dies, Nix takes Crowhurst up on his offer. But there's more going on at Ker Ys than meets the eye, and Crowhurst doesn't seem to be telling her everything.
There are so many aspects of this book that I love. I adored all the questions surround time, fate, and the past. It really appealed to the part of me that loves Doctor Who and all that "wibbly wobbly, timey wimey stuff". It gets you thinking about cause and affect; if you change the something in the past, even something small, what will that mean for the future? And when your future is someone else's past, it's going to happen, right? But what if you try to prevent your future from happening, what will that mean for the past that has already been? And if you're a time traveller, and something is going to happen in your future, in your timeline, but it happens while you've travelled into the past, and therefore happens at some point in history - and in a sense, has already happened - does that mean destiny and fate exist? And if so, can you outrun fate? Does the simple fact of knowing your fate set things on a course that makes it come about? Oh my gosh, it's all so clever! A clever, intricate, and skillfully woven story that isn't as complicated or as confusing as I make it sound. But I live for this stuff, so every twist and turn, I lapped it up, creating theory upon theory of where things will go, what certain things mean, and just revelling in this incredibly imaginative story!
And Heilig is so clever! I've only covered the time elements, but this story evolves around a mythological city - a city that never existed - and trying to change what happens there. It's a myth! It's a story, it's been written and told, and it's known, but it's fictional. If the story is changed, what would that mean for the real world? For those who retold and wrote the story down? Well, in a sense, this is covered, in regards to history books. But it's just all so big! Trying to imagine it all and I am just full of questions, and it's incredible! But not only does this story focus on a myth and trying to change the myth, one of the important characters in this books actually existed. Donald Crowhurst was a real man, who disappeared at sea during a round-the-world sailing race. A real person changes a myth. This just makes me unbelievably happy, and it makes me laugh. It's just wonderful!
As exciting and adventurous as this story is, it's also incredibly emotional. This is Nix's life; her future, the future of Kash, the one she loves. There are also parts of this book that are just absolutely beautiful and makes your heart fit to burst, but then incredibly heartbreaking. It's too much, it's just too much, but in the best possible way.
Heilig is an expert storyteller, effortlessly weaving romance, time-travel, adventure, myth, fantasy and history together to make an incredibly exciting, suspenseful, emotional, beautiful story. She captured my imagination yet again and took me on one hell of a ride. I just can't express how incredible this book - this duology - is. It's epic - epic - and I am so, so sad that that's the last of Nix, Kash and the others that we'll see. The Ship Beyond Time is simply perfect.
Thank you to Hot Key Books via NetGalley for the eProof....more
When I heard that Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones was a retelling of The Labyrinth, I was sold. It's also a kind of reimagining of the Hades and Persephone myth, and is partly inspired by The Goblin Market by Christina Rossetti, all things that had me wanting to read it! However, there was very little about this book that I enjoyed.
That's not to say that it's a bad book, necessarily, just that it's not my kind of book. I had a certain idea in my head of what goblins are like, but these goblins are more like cruel, evil fae (and I believe they are, actually, fae - but I can't find anything credible online to back this up). There's a certain feel to faery stories, one that's easily recognisable even if fae aren't mentioned, like with Wintersong, but I fell out of love with fae a number of years ago. They're just not the kinds of stories I enjoy anymore.
But I also had a few problems with this particular story, again, most of which are preference based. There are several parts to the story, but in my mind, there are just two; Liesl tries to save her sister Käthe from the Underground in the first, and the second part covers what happens after. The first part I found to be very predictable. In the second part - the longer part of the novel - nothing much happens. There is the composing of music, there are conversations and arguments, there's sex, but not much else. I spent most of it waiting for something to happen, and it never really does, not until the end.
There is a lot about music - playing instruments, composing, and so forth. Music is a huge part of Liesl's life, of her family's life, and so it's right that it should come up frequently. But there was a lot of musical terminology, and if you don't know music, it's not going to mean anything to you. Of course you could look it up, but I don't think it's really necessary to know them all to catch the drift of what's happening - the composing, the passion, the soul soaring soaring at the beauty and freedom that comes with making music. You don't need to know what everything means to understand Liesl's love for music and the happiness it brings her. I don't share her passion, and although that's not necessary generally to enjoy a story, it mattered that I didn't here. I just had no interest, and would feel myself getting sighing in annoyance whenever music was the focus. Which isn't really fair. This book just wasn't meant for me, I am not the correct audience for this book.
There were also things I found so very annoying. The phrases "tall, elegant stranger" and "the austere young man" were repeated more times than I can count. Liesl kept talking about how plain she was, and had what seemed an obsession with appearance, forever putting herself down. It went beyond having low self-esteem, she was fixated. Although in this case it wasn't the same words that were repeated, it was the same idea that was. Smarter people than me may see think and see the theme of music, and make a link between the repetition of words or certain thoughts and the repetition of musical phrases in songs - I don't know if they would, I'm not really one for analysis, and I don't know enough about music to know if there even is a link - but if they would, that doesn't change the fact that I found it highly annoying.
The sex in the book also made me feel uncomfortable. I have no problem with sex in books, no problem with sex in YA. And nor do I have a problem with writing about rough sex. But I do have a problem with how this book dealt with consent. The Goblin King would always ask, aloud, one way or another if Liesl was happy to continue. Liesl didn't. No matter how many times the Goblin King said "Stop" or "Don't", she still kept trying to get him to have sex with her. It doesn't matter what his reasons for not wanting to have sex were, he didn't want to, and consent goes both ways. He said stop, she should have stopped, but she didn't. He had to physically force her back a number of times, and that's just not ok. It doesn't matter that he was aroused and she knew he wanted her, he said stop. But time and again does she refuse to listen.
There was also the idea of sex breaking Liesl that I really didn't like. Liesl needed to give the Goblin King a part of her, her music, but music she couldn't reach, and the only way she could, she said, was if the Goblin King broke her. Through sex. Then she could find it. What. The. Hell?! What does that even mean? I can get that there's freedom through sex, that unlocking desire can lead to liberation. But this wasn't about breaking free or being liberated, it was about being broken. The Goblin King would break her if he had sex with her. He told her so. She knew it - but she needed to be broken to access something that had nothing to do with sex. I have a problem with the language of it all, firstly. Rough sex that's consensual is fine, and that's what they had, but broken? I can't equate that word with consensual sex (which is sex, really. Sex without consent is rape, sex with is just sex.) - reaching limits and breaking through them, yes, but not breaking a person. I don't think the language was right here, because there was no rape. Lisel technically sexually assaulted the Goblin King a few times, but he didn't sexually assault or rape her, and to break a person with sex? Rape is what that suggests to me. But there's also Liesl needing to be broken to reach a certain part of herself. Yes, she locked a part of herself up tight, and she's finding it difficult to access that part of herself now, but I do not see how or why sex would/did help. Sexual freedom can lead to unlocking desire, sure, but her music? Not even the music itself, but a part of her that composes with abandon, something that doesn't actually have any link to the sex she's having, other than passion, but even then it's different passion. It's never sex and music, music and sex, the two are kept separate in the book, so why one is needed to reach the other just didn't make any sense to me. And again, I just don't like the idea of a person needing to be broken, in any way. She needed to unlock that part of herself, she didn't need to break. Saying all this, though, the sex isn't really a huge part of the novel, and it's never graphically described - though it is made quite clear that it's rough sex.
The best part of this book? The Goblin King. He is such an enigma, There are so many layers to him - he's not just a bad guy. For most of the book, I liked him. I wanted to know more. We do find out more about him, but it's so little. I sympathised with him and his eternal struggle, imprisoned by his role, the loneliness I sensed in him. I think I would have enjoyed this book a hell of a lot more if it was told from his point of view. I think he's the more complex and intriguing out of him and Liesl. He's the one I cared about.
And, I guess, because of that, I shouldn't have been surprised by the ending. But I was. I wasn't expecting it at all, and I think that was because it was from Liesl's point of view, because after everything, it ends like that? I finished it thinking, what was the point? What was the point in any of it happening, if that's where it was going to end up? The point is Liesl; who she was, who she becomes, the self-discovery she makes. But I didn't ever really care about Liesl. I cared about the Goblin King. And yes, those who have read it could argue about what the point was in regards to him, and I would completely get that, but I would say that would have worked better, been a more beautiful, moving, emotional story if it was told from his perspective. That would have been something. But it's not told from his perspective, so it wasn't something, not for me - for me, it felt like a waste of time. Not for me. I can't explain how I mean it without spoiling the story, but I don't mean that I felt like I wasted my time.
Because I did love the Goblin King. He is what I'll remember about this book; his story, what we know of it, and what we don't, and how the story will continue, even though the book has ended. He's the only reason I kept reading.
But as I said, I'm not the right audience for this book. This is mostly all based on my personal taste, and doesn't mean you won't enjoy it yourself. Do read a few other reviews before making a decision on whether or not you'll read it....more
After mostly enjoying As I Descended by Robin Talley, I was in the mood for another Shakespeare retelling, and sReview posted on Once Upon a Bookcase.
After mostly enjoying As I Descended by Robin Talley, I was in the mood for another Shakespeare retelling, and so picked up The Steep & Thorny Way by Cat Winters. A gender-bent retelling of Hamlet set in 1920s prohibition-era Oregon, where Hanalee's African American father was murdered for his skin colour, I knew this was going to be an interesting though scary story - I just didn't expect it to be as brilliant as it was.
When Joe, the drink-driving teenager who knocked down Hanalee's father, Hank, and killed him, is released from prison early on good behaviour, Hanalee is intent on revenge. What she doesn't expect is for Joe to forcefully plead his innocence, and lay the blame at someone else's feet; Dr Koning, her new stepfather. According to Joe, apart from a broken leg and a sore arm, her father was fine after he hit him, talking and even joking. Joe helped him to his house and got the doctor. Hank was fine when the doctor closed the door, but when he opened it again, he was dead - as if he'd been poisoned. Joe was sent down for it, and wasn't allowed to say anything in his defence. He believes Dr Koning is part of the Ku Klux Klan, and murdered Hank because of his skin colour. Hanalee no longer knows what to think, but she's never felt ok about her stepfather being in her father's home, in his bed with his wife, so soon after his death, and something is not quite right. She knows the only way to get answers is to ask the one person who knows - her father, whose ghost has been seen haunting the cross roads where he was hit.
This story is incredible! There are so many elements interwoven to make the whole; bootleggers and their moonshine, the KKK and racial intolerance, and then also the Hamlet retelling. The 1920s is a hard time to live in; The Great War took many wives husbands, and farms are no longer bringing in the money they had been during the war. Families are struggling, and they are having to resort to illegal means to make money; moonshine and bootlegging. Though anti-Catholic, the KKK seem an almost harmless force who are just raising money to to fill the potholes in the highway. And yet it's a time when interracial marriage is not acknowledged under Oregon law, where racial intolerance simmers under the surface, and Hanalee is treated differently for being the daughter of a white woman and an African American man. She's always been treated differently because of the colour of her skin, disliked and judged, and knows there are rights she is not given because of this, but she's not felt like she was in danger. But after she starts digging into the truth behind her father's death, things change rapidly when she realises she could be living in the same house as her father's murderer, a possible member of the KKK, who killed him because of his skin colour - a skin colour she shares.
Then you have the Hamlet elements. It's been quite a while since I studied Hamlet, but I remembered the basics, and that's pretty much all you need to know for this story, because it twists and turns, and you're never really sure what the outcome is going to be. You're constantly left guessing, sitting on the edge of your seat as Hanalee tries to work out exactly what happened to her father - a dangerous task anyway, when you're trying to find a possible murderer, but made even more dangerous as her digging draws attention to herself in a town of bigots. You're never really sure where the story is going to go, even if you know the story of Hamlet; as new evidence and new clues come to light, you come up with theory after theory, never quite sure which will be the one that's right.
Hanalee was a fantastic character; despite how she's treated by some, she's strong and determined to find the truth. She's wary of Joe, but something about what she's been told just doesn't ring true, and so she cautiously trusts him as they work together to uncover the truth. She puts herself in potential danger more times than I can count, but she keeps going, needing to know what truly happened to her dad, wanting to help his ghost rest. Joe is also a pretty great character, and a bit of a surprise. Joe is gay, and has been hiding out in a shed on Hanalee's friend's property because his Reverend father won't have him back, as he's a sexual deviant. When the truth of his sexuality comes out, people warn Hanalee to stay away from him if they ever see him, though never really explaining to her why. Through Joe, we see it's not just racial prejudice that's rife in Oregon, but also homophobia. Joe tells Hanalee of the things he learnt in prison, about Eugenics; how some prisoners people like him, people like Hanalee, were being castrated and sterilised, to keep them from "breeding" more people like them. Seriously, the beliefs and opinions of these people are absolutely disgusting and so terrifying.
But the terror continues as the story reaches it's climax. I read in horror, shocked and appalled as the truth was discovered, and what discovering the truth meant. This is not an easy book, and it's not one that will shy away from the actions of the past. This book will make you angry, sick to your stomach, and, given our current political climate, scared. And if you're a white, straight, cis person with any human decency, it will make you feel ashamed.
The Steep & Thorny Way is a wonderful book! It's captivating and gripping, it's eye-opening and shocking, and a fantastic retelling. A truly amazing story.
Trigger warning: This book features a suicide attempt.
The Disappearances by Emily Bain Murphy sounded amazing. It had such an incredible premise, and it showed so much promise, but it fell flat for me right at the end.
It's 1942, and three weeks after their mother dies, Aila and Miles' father has to go to war. As there's no-one to look after them, they go to Sterling with Mrs Cliffton, their mother's childhood best friend, and her husband Dr Cliffton. Sterling is a small quiet, town no different from any other - except that something will go missing every seven years. It started 35 years ago, and the people of Sterling have lost scents, the stars, their reflections, and their dreams. Aila and Miles aren't made to feel welcome in Sterling, as some believe it was their mother who caused the Disappearances; they started when she was born, and when she left Sterling, she got everything back, while other members of Sterling never did. And with another Disappearances due this year, the people of Sterling are worried, even more so now that Aila and Miles are here. Desperate to clear her mother's name, Aila tries to find out all she can about the Disappearances; what causes them, and how to stop them. But the past is full of secrets, and curses can be more intricate than she ever imagined.
Doesn't that sound just so exciting?! I was so eager for this to be amazing and blow my mind! The Disappearances is one of those quiet, calm stories, and normally I enjoy that kind of story, but it took a while to really get going, for Aila to have a theory that looked like it might lead somewhere. But once it did, oh my god, it was so good! It was so clever and so complicated, but so intriguing and fascinating. Murphy really know her stuff, and I was just so impressed and so eager for the truth.
And then there's the mysterious Stefen. For the most part, the story is narrated by Aila, but every now and then there would be a chapter from Stefen, coming more often as the story goes on. He, also, used to know Aila's mother. When we meet him, he's about to commit suicide by jumping in front of a train. At the last minute, he changes his mind, and decides to go and meet his father, Phineas. He's never met him before due to being in prison for grave robbery, and never coming back for Stefan when he got out. Stefan has a troubled past; he caught influenza when he was young, and it really affected him. He was left in a wheelchair for a long time, unable to do most things like children his age, like go to school. His legs are stronger now, and he can walk, but he still struggles. There's also the fact that he and Juliet, Aila and Miles' mother, fell out a long time ago, and there was someone from his past that he was in love with. He too is affected by the Disappearances, and is jealous of Dr Cliffton for discovering the Variants, something he believes he should have got some credit for. But he has a plan of his own. I was so intrigued by him! Who is Stefan? How did he know Juliet? Is he somehow linked to it all? And his own plan. It's all so intriguing, but he's also kind of sinister. Even so, I really enjoyed his chapters.
The problem is, there were too many questions without answers. Firstly, Dr Cliffton is a scientist who discovered Variants, things which will bring back the lost things temporarily for the user of the Variants. He's discovered Variants for reflections and for scents, but not for the stars or for dreams. But in his experiments, he's discovered other Variants, and so has a doctor in a sister town - because it's three towns that are affected by the curse, not just Sterling - so there are now Variants that will create warmth, Variants that will keep the rain off you, and so on. But there's no explanation as to how they work, or why they work. As the story goes on, we learn more about specific Variants, what's in them, and the link there is to literature, how sometimes they can point out things that Dr Cliffton has tried and has worked. So we know literature, in some way, is involved, and although we don't get told why or how the Variants work, I assumed it was part of the overall mystery of the curse, and when the truth finally came out, it would be explained. No. I mean, I've finished the book, and so I know what the curse was about, but it doesn't explain why, for example, crushed Blessed Thistle can bring back scents. I don't accept that it works because an author wrote about it. It gets difficult for me to discuss my problems with this without spoiling the story, but basically, so what? So what if this person wrote about it? Why does that make it work? And how does it work? I know you sprinkle it on flowers or food, and voila smell, but how does it actually bring back scents? There were no answers.
And the ending was just the biggest disappointment of all. I was getting so close to the end, and still no answers, and so I was sure this would end on a cliffhanger and there would be a second book. But no. The ending is convenient, and really, just ridiculous. It just all happened too quickly, and there are still so many unanswered questions. There are so many holes! I know about the curse, but there are still so many how's and why's! That whole ending could have been taken and developed a whole lot more. It was far too easy. It was ridiculously easy. I feel cheated. It should never have been that easy, they never would have worked it out without something conveniently happening. They would have no idea. And there's never any proof about their theories anyway. There is so much conjecture about what's going on without any real proof that this is the case. Aila and her group of friends just decide this must be it because it all seems to work out, but they don't know for sure, and they just go along with it, and yes, they're right.
(view spoiler)[When Shakespeare's works were brought in, and everything that was happening to Sterling and it's sister towns could be found in his plays and sonnets, it was amazing. It was so intricate! And then Shakespeare's missing seven years, and the quote on his gravestone. But it just came about so conveniently. Stefen gives Aila the map, Aila and friends find links to the Helena Stone in Shakespeare's works, and find the quote on the gravestone about the curse, and that's enough for them to solve everything. It just wasn't enough. Why did Shakespeare curse his grave? How does the curse work? And why did the curse specifically affect people by losing certain things? "He linked it to his work!" they say, but how? And oooh, the map leads to places where Shakespeare's bones are, so we'll just dig them up and bury them all together, and everything will be fine! No! Too easy! And why would Phineas have made a map of where he buried the bones anyway? Why would he care where he buried them? He didn't know what was going to happen, he was just burying them to get rid of them. The locations of those bones should have been more difficult to find. There shouldn't have been a map. Too bloody convenient.
(And also, on a side note, how on earth did Stefen make his so called virtues? Seriously, what does he do? How does he make the mice fell peace, and how does he extract it? What is he actually doing? These are never answered!) (hide spoiler)]
It should have been harder to work out, harder to fix, and more questions should have been answered. This is fantasy - historical fantasy, yes, but still fantasy. None of this happens in real life, so you've got to make it believable. And to make it believable, you've got to work on the world building. You've got to answer all questions and have things make sense. It's got to be believable! That whole ending could have been worked on and made into a second book. I finished the book in complete disbelief, and quite angry really. It was a shoddy ending, and I'm so disappointed and so annoyed.
The Disappearances had so much promise! It was doing so well! I really can't believe Murphy got away with that ending really. I feel ripped off. I really don't know if I'll read anything by Murphy again, because although the book completely had be gripped and seemed so clever, with no answers and an easy, convenient ending, I just can't see why it would be worth my time.
*I requested The Disappearances on NetGalley a while back, and was then offered the opportunity to review the UK edition a couple of weeks ago. I accepted, not realising they were the same book until later.
Thank you to HMH Books for Young Readers via NetGalley for the eProof, and thank you to Pushkin Children's Books for the review copy....more