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Review: The Girl King

The Girl King - Mimi Yu

I received a copy from Netgalley.

 

I was so excited when my Netgalley wish was approved as this title was one of my most anticipated of early 2019. And I got it early.

 

And….it’s another one I honestly don’t know how I feel about it. I read the first half of the novel pretty quickly. The world building was interesting, and I loved Lu’s fierceness and determination to stand against the male dominated norms of her society. She was convinced her father the Emperor would name her his heir. She was a strong warrior, smart and determined, if a little headstrong. She certainly had an attitude about her, but it suited her character pretty well.

 

Of course the start of a 500 page plus fantasy novel, it’s never going to go as smoothly as this awesome girl is going to get what she wants and become the first Female Emperor. Lu’s mother is cold, horrible and manipulative. And clearly has an agenda of her own planned. Lu’s father is kind of passive. He’s a decent man but easily swayed.

 

So naturally Lu is absolutely livid when she finds herself betrothed to her moronic cousin Set and Set will be the emperor. Set is a jackass to say the least. Power hungry and dumb as a bucket of rocks.  The other main character in the novel is Lu’s younger sister Min. Min is the more reserved sister, favoured deeply by their mother, Min is a proper, demure lady who at first seems happy to do as she is told.

 

Furious at her father’s decision to make Set emperor Lu formulates a plan to get him to realise Set is the wrong choice. Which of course goes hideously wrong and before you know it while Lu is out of the palace the emperor mysteriously dies and Lu is wanted for his murder. Thrusting Min into a spotlight she never expected.

 

Min discovers she has secret magic, Set has a companion – a priest of sort who can help Min train her magic and help Set win over the empire. Min’s mother is all for Min getting together with Set. Min discovers countless twists and secrets in her new position. Her power is ever growing and in ways no one thought she was capable of. Min realises she doesn’t have to do what everyone always tells her.  There was so much more to Min as her story developed and I found myself routing for her as she grew over the course of the novel. She discovered inner strength and determination of her own. She could be just as powerful and manipulative on her own.

 

Lu meanwhile finds herself forced to make an uneasy alliance with a strange boy, Nok, whom she remembers from her childhood, a brief encounter but brief enough to make an impression. Nok (as far as he knows) is the last survivor of a race of magical shapeshifters. Who were exterminated by Lu’s family.

 

There’s a rumour of mystical race hidden in the mountains, people of immense power and a great army, and both Lu and Set seem to think that they can get these people on their side to cement their claim to the throne. Set by sheer force and domination, Lu by negotiation and determination. With Nok’s help. Of course, none of this goes according to plan and nothing is as it seems.

 

I really liked the magic system and the mythical side of things. Lu and Nok also showed incredible growth throughout, their views changed, and while some aspects of their personalities of course remained the same, (they wouldn’t be so interesting otherwise) they showed brilliant strength in their own ways.

 

Some of the novel dragged a bit, and all the things going wrong seemed a like one terrible thing happening after another and it did get a bit boring towards the middle with Lu and Nok’s story. Min’s story helped bring the novel out of its lull and things started picking up again towards the end. Which was unexpected. A cliff hanger of course. But I definitely want to know where this story is going.

 

Excellently written with some lovely imagery, and some interesting world building. It wasn’t without is problems but definitely an enjoyable read and would recommend for fantasy lovers.

 

Thank you to Netgalley and Orion Publishing for granting my wish to view the title.

Review: Flight of a Starling

Flight of a Starling - Lisa Heathfield

 

I received a copy from Netgalley.

 

I have no idea if I liked this one or not to be perfectly honest. I didn’t dislike it, but I don’t know if I actually liked it. I snagged this one on a bit of cover lust more than anything reading. And I have a weakness for anything with a circus based theme.

 

It follows the story of twin sisters Rita and Lo who are the trapeze act in their family’s travelling circus. They move from town to town performing. Rita is the more responsible sister, while Lo is the more rebellious ones. They’ve known the other circus kids their whole lives and are a pretty close knit group.

 

I did find it totally fascinating how daily life within the circus group was portrayed, who was responsible for what, how the act was performed, the story behind it, was all really interesting. There was a deep sense of togetherness and family community.

 

However, when in one town, Lo makes friends with an outsider boy, things start changing. The girls are not supposed to have relationships with outsiders. The group moves all the time and the girls are essential to the act. Their father flat out forbids it. So Lo starts lying and sneaking about to be with this new boy she meets, Dean. Who’s nice enough and doesn’t judge her background. He presents a “normal” view of everyday life that she’s never experienced. And Dean’s life is not an easy one.

 

As they get to know each other more, the relationship changes and becomes something more romantic. Lo’s views start changing, her behaviour starts to change. Rita’s worried about her, and has her own drama when she starts falling for one of the much older men in the circus group, a very close family friend. Lo can’t understand it as Rita can’t get why Lo’s change in attitude. Then Lo discovers a shocking secret about the man Rita is convinced she’s now in love with.

 

Which adds a whole new element of secrets and family drama. There were some beautifully written passages as their girls struggle with their situation, thought provoking and emotional.

 

Then the novel takes an unexpected and quite devastating twist. It’s hinted at right at the beginning that something terrible happens and as I read a long I had sinking feelings I knew what was going to happen, but turned out it wasn’t anything like I thought it would be. And that made it all the more heart-breaking and surprising. A bitter sweet ending rounded the story off.

 

I wasn’t blown away by the novel, and as I said at the beginning I honestly don’t know if I liked it or not. It was…interesting to say the least.

 

Thank you to Netgalley and Egmont Publishing for approving my request to view the title.

Review: Words in Deep Blue

Words in Deep Blue - Cath Crowley

 

Another one I was lucky enough to snag from Hatchette Children’s on Netgalley (and another one I somehow managed to lose the review file and bought a finished paperback for).

 

I think this is a case of I liked the concept of this book, I loved the supporting characters, but I completely hated the main characters for most of the book. The book is an Australian based YA, telling the story of two main characters, Rachel and Henry.

 

Henry’s family own a popular second hand book stop, and have this wonderful thing called a Letter Library, a section of the bookshop stuffed with books that aren’t for sale, but where customers can put letters in the books where anyone can pick them and read them, and maybe write back. This was such a wonderful concept, there’s something about writing a letter where you can express yourself in words that you would never be able to say to someone’s face. Rachel and Henry were best friends, but Rachel has been crushing on Henry for years and never told him. When her family has to move, Rachel leaves a letter for Henry in his favourite book in the Letter Library telling him how she feels.

 

By this time Henry has a girlfriend, the beautiful Amy, who Rachel doesn’t really like much or get along with that brilliantly. Henry never finds the letter. Fast forward to school being over, Rachel is suffering from a family tragedy and struggling to cope, she hasn’t told any of her friends about what happened and is keeping everything bottled up inside. I found Rachel aloof, cold and rude. Yes, I get she’s going through something terrible and I could certainly empathise with her, but I really did not like her as a character at all. Her attitude grated on my nerves.

 

Rachel comes back to her former home town to move in with an aunt. She finds a job at Henry’s family’s bookshop. She hasn’t spoken to Henry since she left and he never found her letter. Henry meanwhile, is moping over a broken heart. His beloved girlfriend Amy has broken up with him, just weeks before they were scheduled to go on a round the world trip together. Henry can’t get over it, he can’t figure our or understand why Amy had ended the relationship. 

 

Out of the two characters, Henry was marginally more likeable than Rachel. He was friendly and approachable, though he spent most of the novel pining over Amy and basically acting like a love sick moron. It got very annoying very quickly.

 

One thing I really loved about the novel was the supporting characters. Henry had a wonderful family, his mom and dad were active characters, as was his sister George. Rachel’s aunt was also wonderful. The two of them had the same friends, and some additional characters came in, and I loved them all. I just didn’t like Rachel and Henry (or Amy and her douchebag new boyfriend). 

 

The more time they spend together the more Henry realises he might have feelings for Rachel, and Rachel finally finds herself dealing with some of the stuff she’s been going through and talking about it, and therefore finally able to get to a place where she can be comfortable with herself and move on. 

 

It was well written, and very easy to picture what was going on. As I said, I just did not like the two main characters at all. There were some lovely emotional parts towards the end, but it wasn’t really enough to give this book a wow factor for me. It was just okay. 

Review: Girlhood

Girlhood - Hachette Childrens Books, Cat Clarke

I received a copy from Netgalley. This was one I got with my Hatchette Children’s auto approvals. I had heard of the author before, but never read any of her books so I decided to take a chance on this one. 

 

Trigger warning - anorexia. 

 

Then between changing Kindles and changing iPhones I managed to loose the original review copy file and ended up buying a finished paperback (along with several others by the same author).

 

I have a weakness for boarding school stories, particularly ones that promise a mystery. I was sort of expecting one girl vs the mean girl gang. But the main character Harper seems to actually be friends with some of the girls who form one of the popular cliques. It’s a fancy private school where very rich people goes. Harper’s family recently came into a boat load of money. Also suffering from a terrible family tragedy where Harper’s twin sister died recently as well, Harper needed a change of scene so found the boarding school.  She’s made friends and just about coping. 

 

Harper was a likeable enough main character, though she had a few flaws and could do some crappy things and wasn’t always the brightest bulb in the box, but a decently rounded character that was well fleshed out. She’s also dealing with terrible guilt believing her sister’s death was her fault. The sister was anorexic.  They both started a post Christmas diet at the same time and one took it more seriously with tragic consequences.  Anorexia isn’t something I’ve come across in YA fiction before, and it’s not something I can even begin to wrap my head around. Harper’s grief and guilt are gut punch. The writing packs a punch and can be emotional without being flowery about it. 

 

When new girl Katie comes in Harper finds herself connecting with Katie, despite the issues her other friends seem to have with the girl. Katie is quiet and keeps to herself, she only seems to connect with Harper. Misunderstandings and misinformation start passing around and with any girls boarding school, the girls can be very nasty when things don’t go their way. Harper finds herself torn when things start going wrong, stick to her own group of friends, stand with Katie...disagreements and arguments start and its hard to tell the truths from the lies. 

 

It’s a very compelling read and at times quite tough to get through emotionally. Not the most complex book I’ve ever read but definitely interesting. All the characters were interesting, even the ones I didn’t like much. I was rather surprised at how it all turned out in the end, certainly not what I expected, and I’m actually quite pleased on reflection, that it was different to what I thought.

 

Definitely recommended if you like YA boarding school books. 

Dnf Blanca and Roja

Blanca & Roja - Anna-Marie McLemore

DNF I have no clue what’s going on in this one. And not invested in the characters enough to want to read more and find out.

DNF: Red Harvest

Red Harvest (Haunted Hollow Chronicles) - Patrick C. Greene

Calling it quits on this one.

 

I really wanted to like it as it had everything I like in small town horror. Characters from the normal to the weird, a sense of community in a place where there's history, everyone's known each other a local Halloween tradition, a family with a creepy secret. It's clear something is going to go very wrong very quickly.

 

I'm losing patience with the story, there's too many characters to keep track of and it seems like too much going on. My other major problem with this book is how poorly it's edited. Random words are missing from sentences or in some instances entire sentences are missing and while with most you can get the idea of what's going on, it's annoying and jars you out of the narrative. I've had enough, DNF. Not for me.

 

Thank you to Netgalley and Kensington Books for the review copy.

Review: The Towering Sky

The Towering Sky - Katharine McGee

I received a copy from Netgalley.

 

I finished a trilogy!!!!

 

This will be a super short review because it’s going to very hard to avoid spoilers as this is the conclusion of an epic series.

 

A satisfying ending with all the questions and lose ends tied up.

 

We finally get the will-they-won’t-they answer to Rylin and Cole. Leda and Watt get a conclusion and start looking towards their futures. Watt has some pretty tough choices to make regarding his education and his super computer implant Nadia. Leda has some demons to deal with and amends to make for her crappy behaviour. The secrets between Avery and Atlas finally come full circle. Not, of course, without it’s drama. Calliope and her con artist mother have their work cut out for her when one Calliope’s former marks, who happens to be Cole’s older brother Brice turns up hot on her heels. But things take an unexpected turn. Avery makes a life changing decision.

 

Same epic world building and emotional drama as the first two. Glitz and glamor, romance and betrayal, questionable motives and morals abound. What’s not to love? As with the other two, it doesn’t take any great effort to enjoy this, it’s fun and easy to read and great ending.

 

Thank you to Netgalley and HarperCollins UK Children’s.

Review: The Hunger

The Hunger - Alma Katsu

I received a copy from Netgalley.

 

I’ve been morbidly curious about The Donner party ever since I read Stephen King’s The Shining where The Donners are referenced. I looked it up – it was a true story, a disturbing one, but a true one. So I was really looking forward to this book as soon as I heard about it.

 

I was really excited when I got my review request approved, and when I started reading, I liked it so much I bought a finished copy after a few chapters and read that. This one took a while to get used to the style of the writing. There were an awful lot of characters to keep track off, some got more detailed back stories than others. It was hard to keep track of who everyone was.

 

But the more I read the more fascinated I became with it. There’s a real sense of history and how hard it was for the people making the trek to California. The hardships they went through. The relationships between the people is well written. It’s brutal as well – not everyone is going to get along, obviously, so many people have so many different thoughts, feelings, opinion, violence will breed, love, lust, obsession, hatred…

Thea

The author does a brilliant job of capturing a storm of emotions. As well as putting a spooky twist on the story.

 

It did drag a bit in the middle, but as conditions slowly started getting worse and seeds of mistrust and doubt deepened amongst the people, the story picked up again and was unputdownable towards the end, and quite frightening as the winter hit really bad.

 

A hard book to read in parts, but so, so worth it. I loved it. And would definitely read it again.

 

Thank you to Netgalley and Random House UK, Transworld Publishers.

Review: While You Sleep

While You Sleep - Stephanie Merritt

I received a copy from Netgalley.

 

This one came to me in one of those “read it now for the first 200 members” emails. I love gothic thrillers when they’re movies, particularly ones with a Scottish setting. So why not give it a go? I really liked what I read enough to buy a finished hardback.

 

Not my usual type of read, but this one caught my interest right away. I was intrigued with the mystery surrounding the main character, Zoe. She seemed quite cold and standoffish. She comes to a remote Scottish island to rent a manor with a foreboding location and gloomy history looking to get away from a tragedy and a failing marriage. The writing is delicious and the whole thing has a delightfully creepy and murky atmosphere to it.

 

Like with any small town, I would imagine, a community where people have known each other forever, Zoe is an anomaly and the subject of curiosity. The locals obviously know a lot more about the manor she is renting than they do. A strange history and the sight of recent traumatic event as well. Nosy neighbours galore, and unwanted attention from creepy men, Zoe does her best to keep to herself and deal with her own drama.

 

Doesn’t happen, of course. She finds herself drawn into the mysteries of the manor, the history and starts to get to know some of the locals pretty well. There was a surprising and well written erotic element to the mystery side of things as well. The characters were well fleshed out and believable,  even the unlikeable ones.

 

There were quite a few surprising twists, one or two of them I worked out, but some of them managed to surprise me. The tension was exceptionally well built throughout. The imagery was really vivid and the writing made it very easy to picture what was going on. I would love to see this book made into a movie.

 

Highly recommended and really, really good.

 

Definitely an author I will read again.

 

Thank you to Netgalley and HarperCollins UK, HarperFiction for the review copy.

 

 

DNF: A Blade So Black

A Blade So Black - L. L. McKinney

This was one of my most anticipated books of last year. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. After two months I’ve barely made it past a hundred pages and have gone to the conclusion that I just don’t like it. I kind the idea of the book but the plot isn’t grabbing my attention, the world building is all over the place and I don’t really care about any of the characters. Which sucks because I really wanted to love this book. But I just don’t. So unfortunately it’s one for the DNF pile.

DNF The Wicked Vampire

The Wicked Vampire (Last True Vampire series) - Kate Baxter

It’s bern nearly two months since I last picked this book up and current have no desire to finish it. While there are some deliciously steamy sex scenes the plot seems repetitive in the I love you but I hate you theme. It’s not badly written or anything it’s just not doing anything for me personally right now.

Thank you Netgalley and St Martin’s Press for the review copy.

Review: Sawkill Girls

Sawkill Girls - Claire Legrand

 

I received a copy from Netgalley.

 

It’s been a long time since I read a book and thought what the fuck was that when I finished. I was rather looking forward to this one as well. I’ve heard of the author and have most of her YA books on my shelves. So I was quite excited when I got the approval for this one. I saw it featured around Halloween a lot on my YA twitter feed last year.

 

I usually like books that are quite different, especially ones that promise a spooky atmosphere and a strange plot. But in this case – I really just did not like this book at all. Right off the bat something didn’t sit well with me on this one. I didn’t connect with any of the characters and the style of the writing was weird. It had some really descriptive lines, some scenes almost boarding on poetic.

 

Then something would happen and try to be gory and freaky and it came across as more comical than anything. One thing I really did like was plus points for diversity in the characters – one character is asexual, and the other two girls hook up and there is some really hot girl/girl scenes.

 

The plot was too bizarre for words. I only kept reading because I wanted to know what was going on, but the more I read the more annoyed I got with it. This book was a major disappointment.

 

Thank you to Harper360 for approving my request to view the title.

Review: A Thousand Perfect Notes

A Thousand Perfect Notes - C.G. Drews

I received a copy from Netgalley.

 

I honestly don’t know how to feel about this one. I wound up getting a finished paperback, I saw it in the bookshop and couldn’t resist after seeing how pretty the cover was. At just under 300 pages it’s a fairly short read.

 

A contemporary YA set in Australia. – Trigger warnings for abuse both mental and physical.

 

15 year old Beck lives with his mom and younger sister Joey. Beck’s German mother was a piano prodigy in her youth but circumstances cut her glorious career short so she’s decided to live her dreams through her son instead. Beck is forced to practice complicated classical piano all his spare time before and after school. He lives in a very strict environment where everything revolves around his piano playing.

 

His mother is one of the most brutal, violent YA parents I have come across in a long time, she was absolutely vile. She ridicules Beck every opportunity, as if she’s looking for anything to criticize his playing. She uses threats and violence. Beck is allowed no friends, no freedoms, only focus on the piano; even school seems to be a second thought. The mother has spent every last cent she has on the piano Beck plays and they are not well off. Something she never fails to remind him of.

 

Poor Beck is a shrunken, pitiful mess. He’s afraid of his own shadow. The story is told from his point of view and his voice is just heart breaking. I spent most of the novel wanting to hug this poor kid and take him away from his horrible home life. He has a small relief in his delightful younger sister Joey. Joey is a loud and bright kindergartner who loves her big brother.

 

Because of the violence hanging over his piano playing Beck has no idea just how good he is, since all he’s heard is he’s never going to be good enough. He has a secret hobby of writing his own music. For a school project Beck is paired with August, a flighty girl who’s a big animal rights activist. She’s airy and full of personality, doodles on her hands, walks around with no shoes. August was nice enough, but there was something about her that I didn’t get. I couldn’t really connect with her character at all.

 

While Beck is trying to get through school with as little effort as possible, August despite her somewhat flaky personality, is a straight A student. She’s determined to get a good grade on the project. She slowly begins worming her way into Beck’s life, meeting with him before school so they can walk Joey to the kindergarten together and discuss their project. She bonds with Joey and tries to find out more about Beck. He’s clearly resisting and doesn’t want to know, but she just doesn’t seem to want to accept that.

 

As the days progress they get to know each other and little by little, Beck slowly starts opening up to August, learning to like some new music, some new foods. It’s sweet watching them come together, but…eh, there was just something not working for me where August was concerned. She gave off this sort of “I’m so speshul because I’m different” vibe I didn’t gel with as a reader. One thing I really did like about August was her parents. Her parents run an animal sanctuary, and they were awesome. I loved August’s parents.

 

Meanwhile Beck has the threat of several very important performances hanging over him, and things are not going well. When things don’t go well his nightmare of a mother goes into violent overdrive. It’s horrifying to read as things go from bad to worse for Beck. We learn a little about his mother’s background when Beck’s uncle – a very famous pianist comes to visit. But it’s no excuse for her behaviour. And the uncle is not trying to excuse it, at least.

 

It’s not an uplifting story at all, really. As mortifying as some of it is, there are some scenes that were beautifully written, capturing Beck’s terror at home, the loathing he has for the piano, the secret desires and longings. While some of it was rather boring and slow. It has its moments as well were hope shines through in a rather grim story.

 

Certainly shows a lot of promise for a debut. I rounded up and gave it three starts (it’s somewhere between a two and three for me).

 

Thank you to Netgalley and Orchard Books for the review copy.

Review: Charlotte Says

Charlotte Says - Alex Bell

I received a copy from Netgalley.

 

An enjoyable creepy prequel to Frozen Charlotte. I remember Frozen Charlotte vaguely, and it was really the hot pink cover on the prequel that drew me in. I don’t really like prequels, but I thought I’d give this a shot. Went into it without looking at reviews or anything, just going off the synopsis.

 

It’s a historical set at a gloomy boarding school in the Isle of Sky in 1910. The main character Jemima has gone there with an assistant teaching position after the deaths of her mother and stepfather. Something horrible happened and Jemima is tormented with flashbacks as the novel opens. The opening catches the misery and nasty weather perfectly. The school is an institution for non-criminal destitute girls to teach them working skills. Mostly serving work.

 

Jemima is late on arrival and reprimanded immediately by the horrible ogre of a head mistress, the nasty school maid gives her a hard time. The only saving grace is her childhood friend Henry who lives nearby and works at the school as well. Some sort of butler/ grounds keeper. She gets along with the children, who treat her with respect. She’s appalled at the way the headmistress treats and frequently punishes the children for the slightest infractions.

 

It’s very well written and atmospheric. It’s certainly got a sense of gloom and foreboding to the storytelling, and at moments is downright creepy. Through flashbacks we learn more about Jemima’s history with her mother (there’s no father in the picture) – her mother posed as a “medium” to make money. She attracts the attention of a rich and powerful man who woos her into marrying him, but he of course, has sinister motives for marrying a medium. Things got bad quickly after the marriage and took a dark and unpleasant turn.

 

At the start of the novel, a box arrives for Jemima of Frozen Charlotte dolls and a big doll house, which she donates to the school. Shortly after, Jemima starts seeing scary things out the corner of her eye, thinking she’s hearing things – people taking to her who aren’t there. The behaviour of some of the children starts rapidly changing, accidents happen, and fatalities start happening. And when questioned the children all have the same answer – the dolls did it. The Frozen Charlottes told them to.

 

Jemima was a likeable character, she had a no nonsense attitude about her, but showed a softer side in how she interacted and cared for the children, helped them when no one else would. There’s not much lightness to the story, it’s a murky one and unpleasant. Though Henry is Jemima’s light in the dark and even though she tries to deny her feelings for him, she can’t hold it in. The other characters were well written – the maid and the school mistress were really awful people. (The sort you hope something nasty will happen to).

 

There was quite a dark twist at the end when things started unravelling and truths were revealed. And a creepy end that left me with a twisted grin.

 

All in all a thoroughly enjoyable read if you like horror-themed mysteries.

 

Thank you to Netgalley and Stripes Publishing/Little Tiger Group for the review copy

Review: Bonfire

Bonfire - Krysten Ritter

I received a copy from Netgalley.

 

I snagged this one when it was offered on a read it now for the first 100 members. I take a break from the YA I read for grown up mysteries and thrillers, this one sounded good and the fact it was written by Krysten Ritter caught my attention immediately.

 

Unfortunately, I just didn’t like this book. The story has been done before in one form or another, there wasn’t any particular character I necessarily liked. Most of them were horrible people. The story line was interesting enough – a small town girl leaves and goes to college, becomes a lawyer and winds up working for a centre for legal advocacy. Something to do with environmental law. Finds herself returning home to investigate a big company who make plastic and give the dying town new life and new employment opportunities. With some nasty side effects to the environment and some of the people who live there.

 

Nothing unfamiliar. The main character fell fowl of the school’s mean girls. The most popular one who used to be a childhood best friend turned toxic became the queen bee and disappeared under mysterious circumstances. Some sort of sinister Game is hinted at, to do with risqué pictures and blackmail and a whole host of perverted things related to it. There’s something going on and may be related to things that happened when the MC went to high school there, only things have taken a significantly darker turn. And of course there are people who don’t want the past digging up or the MC to connect the dots to what’s really happening.

 

Technically speaking there wasn’t anything terrible about the way it was written – it had its moment and really managed to capture the small dull life of a town without much going for it. The novel did a pretty good job of showing how horrible people can be behind the smiling facades they put on. Girls who were bullies in high school that don’t learn from it and don’t become good people.  The main character is reasonably level headed and intelligent and the investigation is interesting enough that it kept me wanting to know what was going on. One or two characters had some redeeming moments, but for the most part, nothing stood out.

 

Overall, it was just okay.

 

Thank you to Random House UK, Cornerstone for the review copy.

Review: The House by the Cemetery

The House by the Cemetery (Fiction Without Frontiers) - John Everson

I received a copy from Netgalley.

 

This book was immensely fun in a twisted way. Haunted houses are my favourite type of horror movie, from the downright creepy to the laughably bad and gory to the what the fuck did I just watch? This book reads like a combination of all of the above.

 

Down on his luck Mike is in desperate need of a job, his buddy Perry has a plan to renovate a spooky old house into a Haunted House attraction in time for Halloween. The house is in the perfect creepy location next to a cemetery and there are boundless rumours of the house being haunted. Satanic rituals and murders on the property. Anyone who’s ever seen a horror movie or read a horror novel should know that to logical people building a haunted house in a place with this kind of history should scream bad idea, bad idea! Something is going go hideously wrong!

 

And of course, therein, lies the fun.

 

Mike starts building the house, a girl Katie, and her creepy friend appear and random intervals, Katie is pretty and younger than Mike. She and her friend start helping Mike with the renovations. Weird things start happening, odd noises, strange…things…turning up out of nowhere.  Meanwhile a host of other characters are introduced, the people who are getting involved in designing and making the haunted house.  The set designers, the costume makers and prop-makers, the actors, the makeup artist and her boyfriend. They get together and start working on their project.

 

And at the same time, two paranormal investigators are ranting about what a spectacularly bad idea this haunted house thing is. Restless spirits, a dark place etc. Their attempts at getting into the house fail miserably.  Katie has a secret. Halloween night arrives and with it, a blood bath! Not a lot happens until the opening night of the attraction, its short chapters, lots of characters. And the plot doesn’t require any kind of thinking or figuring out deep ulterior movies or anything.  It’s atmospheric and has some creepy moments. The characters have absolutely no depth to them. The secret behind the old murders, and weird things happening is just stupid. And there is a murderous rampage of epic proportions. But it doesn’t matter how ridiculous it all is.

 

It’s entertaining, and daft haunted house fun is the whole reason for reading it. Thoroughly enjoyable.

 

Thank you to Netgalley and Flame Tree Press for approving my request to view the title.