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I had a really hard time getting into this book, because it was very scattered at the beginning. The heroine was very scattered and was either crazy oI had a really hard time getting into this book, because it was very scattered at the beginning. The heroine was very scattered and was either crazy or not aware of/in control of her powers, and the writing reflected that by being jerky and sometimes disjointed. I couldn't tell if the whiplash effect from the writing was a deliberate choice by the writer to emphasis her disorientation, or just, y'know, bad writing.
But the writing stabilized as Alex did, spinning out of control whenever she lost herself and then pulling back when she came back. I have to applaud the writer's ability to capture Alex's push-and-pull without going over the edge.
There was a lot of set up that didn't get pay off in this novel, since it's #1, and I appreciate the world set up that allowed for one situation to be wrapped up while still leaving others on the table for future works. I had to convince myself to give this a chance since the beginning was so choppy, but once I got into it I absolutely loved it. Can't wait to read the rest of the series. ...more
This is roughly a retelling of Hansel and Gretel, but only on the broadest forms. We see Hansel, Gretel, and the witch in the woods, but that's whereThis is roughly a retelling of Hansel and Gretel, but only on the broadest forms. We see Hansel, Gretel, and the witch in the woods, but that's where the comparisons stop.
I have to say that this is an amazing read. The story is incredibly inventive, and spreads over enough of a period of time that the characters grow and develop naturally. The kind of mental, physical and emotional changes necessary to make this story work just don't happen overnight, and giving the characters time made their growth arcs feel genuine and not forced.
One nit-pick before I talk about my favorite part of the story, is that it is very difficult to tell when and where the story is set. The names are mostly German and the description of the landscape sounds very European, but at some points "English" is specifically referred to as the native language. The cars and System referred to in the book sound futuristic, but life on the farms is almost backward. I assume that these were deliberate choices on the part of the author, but rather than making the book feel like Anywhere, Anytime, it just kept distracting and confusing me.
But let me talk about the real strength of this book, because I think it is SO important. The main characters, both hero and villain, were all women. And these were strong, badass women who took their lives, their choices and their destinies into their own hands. Even the villain, the "witch in the wood," made her own choices and lived with the consequences. No one here was a damsel in distress or shrinking violet. The heroines saved themselves, again and again, and that is incredibly unusual in any genre. The male characters, whether good or bad, were the kind of secondary or tertiary characters that women are relegated to, but even they were done richly, with humanity and layered personalities.
The tag line said I would be "guessing until the end," or something to that effect. Several times I thought that was a crock and I had the whole thing figured out. Let me tell you, I was wrong. Even the parts I thought I'd figured out didn't mean what I thought they did. I will definitely be getting the other books in this series, but this a breakthrough work for me.
This is definitely in the horror genre, because although it goes long periods without doing anything but cataloging events to move the plot forward, the parts that are "horror" are VERY graphic and intense. People who need a cleaner read should probably stay away. Everyone else, pick it up!...more
For people who like ghost stories but don't like horror stories, I think this is a nice, easy in-between. There's enough "spooky" and "mystery" to keeFor people who like ghost stories but don't like horror stories, I think this is a nice, easy in-between. There's enough "spooky" and "mystery" to keep it interesting, but it doesn't go over the edge into an area where I know a lot of people would be uncomfortable. I think of it more in the "traditional" haunted house genre, where what is most important is what you imagine, not what you "see." Because it is a new branch of a previously existing story set, I occasionally felt a little behind the curve, as the book referenced events and characters that I knew nothing about. One mystery in particular came from a preceding book, acted like it was going somewhere major in this one, and then ended in the epilogue like it had never been more than a blip on the radar. It was very odd.
There were enough open questions left to easily set up for the rest of the books in the series, although this part was wrapped up fairly well. It was a quick, easy (if a little odd) read, and I'd read more by the same author. ...more
Although going out of order, I have now read 3 of the 4 "World's Scariest Places" series, and I remain torn. I continue to maintain that Helltown wasAlthough going out of order, I have now read 3 of the 4 "World's Scariest Places" series, and I remain torn. I continue to maintain that Helltown was frightening because of the people, not the actual location. This book and The Catacombs, on the other hand, started ahead of that curve because their locations are terrifying on their own.
That actually hindered this book for me, because if you have a group of people who decide to tromp into the Suicide Forest for amusement's sake, and in the hopes of seeing a dead body, I start out feeling not particularly sympathetic to what happens to them. I file this under "If you dance on a grave, read from a book made of human skin, or sell your soul 'as a joke,'" you get what's coming to you.
However, I will say that the author handled the character arcs well, whether they were redemptive or not, and he is very aware that people in survival situations don't always turn into heroes--sometimes they turn into assholes. Sometimes they do both. Also, although the stories have a hint of supernatural to them, the point is all that the evil human beings do to each other will always be more frightening than something a creature does. I feel like the ultimate point of this series is that the world's scariest place...is the darkness of a human soul. ...more
In the last book, we had our first fatality among named characters, two years or more years into the war. I thought that was a bit odd--not truly compIn the last book, we had our first fatality among named characters, two years or more years into the war. I thought that was a bit odd--not truly complaining, of course, because I like most of the POV characters, but for a series that was trying to show the horrors of war, it seemed like a bit of a pulled punch. We're starting to make up for it now, with two POVs passing, and I can only assume that we will continue to build as we go through the war.
After three books and *cough* hundred pages, I'm finally keeping up with all the characters and their nationalities with relative ease. (Yeah, took me long enough, right?) I am becoming very attached to (most) of them, and I know there will be more deaths to come, I just hope that the casualties are characters I don't care about as much. Fingers crossed?
Every time I get through a book, I wonder how the series can keep going, because surely we're winding down to the end? But we keep going with a full head of steam, and I'm still invested in riding this ley line to the end. ...more