Bark at the Ghouls

Stay chill, it's only a silly book review.

I read the good, the awful & all of the "meh" in the middle. Mostly horror & romance of all kinds.

The Stranger by Steve Stred

The Stranger - Steve Stred

Malcolm and his family are taking their annual camping trip a bit late this season and instead of being met by the usual management, a tall, skinny man is there instead and he utters ominous warnings about avoiding road closures and animals and “other” things hungry for food. As if that weren’t enough, their neighbor is a stranger who refuses proper introductions and rubs Malcolm the wrong way because he’s rude and because he is Native American. Then there’s the giant black wolf that parks himself on the deck and sneers at Malcolm . . .

Umm Malcolm, I have a newsflash for you. These are SIGNS and signs should not be ignored! Turn around and drag your innocent family back home.

Malcolm is arrogant and stupid and he does NOT listen to me or anyone else and by the middle of the story (or probably sooner) I had absolutely zero sympathy for him. He is a thoroughly nasty man filled with hate and awful thoughts. His family members are all nice people and he absolutely did not deserve them and I do not understand how they put up with him. I’d rather live with a werewolf than a man like that. At least I could throw some meat at the wolf to shut him up when he annoyed me.

When the gruesome and terrible things began to occur I went from actively disliking Malcolm to thoroughly despising Malcolm for his careless stupidity towards his family. Ugh, this guy. Anyhow, he is one guy you can enjoy watching suffer without getting a case of the guilts so if you’re in the mood for that you will love this story! Take it camping with you. I dare you, haha! I only say that because I will never go camping of my own free will ever again.

There are many disturbing things about this book besides Malcolm and it’s a good choice for a quick summer read if you’re into an eerie, secluded in the woods tale where terror lurks around every corner. 4 Stars 

A Duke In The Night by Kelly Bowen

A Duke in the Night (The Devils of Dover) - Kelly Bowen

This is not a real review because I am lazy and I read this for myownself. I took a mini-break away from all of the horror and dread and backstabbing I typically read and I am not sorry. This was a delightful historical romance with a smart, independent heroine who had the backbone to stand up for her beliefs. August was a decent hero who was hellbent on protecting his future for himself and his family at the cost of everything else. The conflict bit was a little "meh" and dragged out too long for my impatient self but overall I had a good time listening and will grab the next in the series on audio.

Osgood As Gone by Cooper S. Beckett

Osgood As Gone - Cooper S. Beckett

Prudence Osgood once had a successful ghost hunting show but one terrible decision destroys her reputation and costs her the love of her childhood best friend. She hasn’t dealt with the fallout well at all and now heads a paranormal investigation podcast when she’s not too broken and too drunk to do so. She’s basically a hot mess who suffers from horrifying nightmares, chronic pain and chronic heartache and washes it all away with booze and sex with anonymous ladies she picks up while blackout drunk. After her latest binge, she receives a mysterious email that sets a fire under her butt to solve a long lost mystery and brings her back into contact with her old friend Aubrey which brings emotions bubbling back to the surface.

Osgood As Gone is a good read for those who enjoy a very flawed, very human main protagonist and for those looking for more of a strange occult mystery with some shades of horror. The majority of the story reads like an eerie mystery with clues strewn about here and there and connections that I never made because I am terrible at mysteries. The final few chapters morph into more of a surreal and bleak horror story and I loved that! Truth be told, I would’ve liked more of that but that comes down to my personal preferences.

The relationship between Pru and Aubrey is complicated and beautifully done. There’s pain and betrayal and loyalty and love and I felt it was all very well done. There’s also plenty of sarcasm and witty banter which I always enjoy. These characters felt like they knew each other inside and out. I would’ve liked to learn a bit more about Zack because I am nosy but I imagine that’ll happen in future installments of this series. I can’t wait to check out book #2 to see where it leads because it does end on a bit of a cliffhanger.

Bunny by Mona Awad

Bunny - Mona Awad

This book is pure demented madness.

 

I loved it. I loved all of it and I think all of you weirdos should read it because you might just love it too. Just don’t ask me what it was about because I have no idea what the heck I just read and I am perfectly fine with that, haha!

 

I was in a huge book funk when my friend Emily recommend this book to me as a must read. She knows her stuff and I listened and it was exactly what I needed. I blew through this book in two days on audio and was so involved at one point that I walked into the shower with my headphones still in my ears. By some strange turn of fate, I did not fry my earbuds or what is left of my brain and now I think may shell out some bucks for water-proof earbuds because I think I just found myself a few more minutes of reading time!

 

I think you should go into this book as blind as possible and I’m not going to be the one to spoil any of its surprises and will keep it brief. Samantha is a graduate student working on her MFA degree. She has to go to “workshop” in order to complete her degree and, too bad for her, this workshop is infested with a cliquey group of young women who wear dresses with cupcakes and kittens on them, who only eat itty-bitty food and who twitter and coo and call each other Bunny. They ignored the darkling Samantha the previous year except to bitterly and cruelly critique her work. Samantha is pretty okay with the status quo because who the hell wants to be a Bunny?! But one day Samantha receives a rare and coveted invitation to one of their “Slut Salons” and isn’t sure what to do.  But she’s as nosy as me, apparently, and against her better judgement she goes and the story pretty much goes batshit crazy from that point on and I couldn’t describe it if I tried. It truly has to be read to be believed. So go read it!

 

This book is surreal, deliciously evil, and wickedly funny and the writing is weirdly addictive. It’s getting all the stars because I loved every single twisted turn and madness infused word within its pages. You probably won’t know exactly what you’ve read once you finish it but I bet you’ll be happy you read it.

 

“The night is a dark earth I could dig my hands into forever.”

If You See Her by Ania Ahlborn

If You See Her - Ania Ahlborn

I read If You See Her for the Ladies of Horror Fiction Group discussion at Goodreads. I’ve read several of Ania Ahlborn’s books and enjoyed them all with the exception of The Bird Eater. That one wasn’t meant for me! Anyhow, if you’ve read her work you already know that she writes a slow burn, atmospheric, moody creep-fest whose characters are typically stuck in a bleak situation. Her books have a melancholy feel to them so you need to be ready for that. If You See Her features several suicides and a character that chooses to revisit them over and over again in his head so please tread carefully if this is a trigger for you. Suicide features strongly in many horror novels but it’s not something I choose to purposely dwell upon for personal reasons so I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t tempted to drop this book completely numerous times for this reason alone. But I stuck with it for the sake of the group read and I’m not entirely sure I should’ve. The things I do for you people, haha.

The prologue starts out strong. A group of teens head out to the local dilapidated haunted house. Three go in, two come out and you’re left wondering what the heck just happened. I was anxious to keep reading to learn all of the secrets despite and because of the thing that happened. I needed to know all of the answers. Chapter one picks up 19 years later where the memories of what happened in that house still linger with Jesse and Casey. Casey shows up at Jesse’s house one night disheveled and all worked up and convinces Jesse to visit the old house again. I screamed, “Don’t do it you dummies!” but they do it anyway. No one ever listens to me! As I suspected, things go very wrong. Jesse, who is still wracked with guilt over the first episode at the house, now has another horrible thing hanging over his head and spends the rest of the book attempting to hold his family, job and life together but it is difficult to keep it together when you’re possibly being haunted by a young ghost girl. 

This book was well written and had a constant sense of dread and gloom looming over every page. I liked the dread. I love a slow-creep and I love creepy atmosphere and Ania Ahlborn is very good at creating it. With that said, I struggled to finish it because I didn’t connect to any of the characters on an emotional level. I don’t know if it was me, it certainly could be me, but I found them all a little too lifeless for my taste. Jesse was gloomy and obsessed and self-destructive and his wife was such a non-entity to me that I found it too easy to disconnect from the story. 

The story is a slow burn, the "dream" sequences were effective and the ending was very fitting but I had too many questions about the origins of the paranormal aspects than I feel comfortable with and I felt myself slipping into a funk while reading it due to the suicides so I think I’m settling with a 3.

A Boy And His Dog At the End of the World by C.A. Fletcher

A Boy And His Dog At The End of The World - C.A. Fletcher

I picked up this book on audio because of the title and because a few trusted blogger friends convinced me with their reviews. I just want to tell you that I am not a big fan of adventure stories. I hold nothing against them and you are welcome to adore them. They just don’t happen to be the first thing I pick up when I’m looking for my next book but this book which is nothing but one large adventure is the exception. If you like action and adventure or even if you don’t, I think you should read it because it is amazing. Even if you think I have atrocious taste and know nothing, go read the other reviews and then go read this book!

I have to admit that I was a little worried at first because things weren’t 100% clicking with me but I think it was more my fault than anything in the book. When I discovered it was less a post-apocalyptic story and more of a “boy on an adventure tale” I started to tune out just a little bit. I’m sorry, I can be a jerk like that but I usually stick with things and in this case I am so very glad I did.

So, it’s sometime in the future and most of humanity has died out which likely serves them right. Idiot humans did something idiotic to the dogs so they are scarce as well and the love of a good dog isn’t something to be taken for granted. When Griz’s best dog Jess is stolen he doesn’t stop to think. He is angry and upset and he sets off after the thief like his pants are on fire, leaving his life and everything familiar behind except his other little dog Jip. Things naturally go awry. He makes some decisions that he will come to regret but he’s young and hurt and his actions are always believable. I loved Griz. Griz had so much grit and courage and was such a strong young soul. Griz lived on an isolated island before his big adventure and knows little of the world and seeing everything new from his eyes was fascinating. He’s also a big reader so most of you here will appreciate all of the bookish references. 

This is how the book starts and once Griz is off after his pup the book barely comes up for air (except for one section that was a wee bit slow). There aren’t many characters in this book but the one’s Griz meets are compelling and interesting characters. Some good, some somewhere in the middle and some quite terrible but through it all Griz never gives up hope. There are turns and twists and all of them caught me off guard. It was an exhilarating read. 

I admit that I feared this book with its dogs and children constantly in peril was going to break me by the end and though it came close to doing that a time or two, it did not destroy my heart and crush all of my dreams and I will say no more about that. It’s ultimately about risking it all for the love of your best companion and never giving up despite the odds against you. It was a little slow in that one section but mostly it’s nail-biting and heart-warming and all of those clichéd things people say about the best books. This is one of the best books. Go read it or listen to it. If you’re a dog lover I don’t think you will be disappointed and if you are you can blame one of those other reviewers!

Stay Sexy & Don't Get Murdered

Stay Sexy & Don't Get Murdered - Karen Kilgariff, Georgia Hardstark

I HIGHLY recommend you listen to the audiobook version of this book because it is narrated by the writers and you'll miss a lot of the emotion in the words if you don't hear them tell it. I also suggest that you only pick it up only if you are a fan of the My Favorite Murder podcast - otherwise you might not get what it is all about and you'll probably be very disappointed and will be left scratching your head at the title. It's not a guidebook instructing you how to "Stay Sexy & Don't Murdered" (that's the tagline of the true-crime comedy show), it's a book about the podcasters very personal, very intimate struggles with family, mental health and their careers. As a fan of the show, I found it both interesting, painful and funny - just like the weekly podcast.

 

 

Recommended to fans of the podcast only, especially if you're super nosy like myself

Terminal by Michaelbrent Collins

Terminal - Michaelbrent Collings

I’ve read a few books by author Michaelbrent Collings and they have all been solid horror stories as well as excellent character studies and as reader who loves a good character driven story, I really appreciate the deep dive into their psyches. I like knowing what makes people tick because I am nosy and also because so many authors don’t do it. They allow the action to take over the entire show and that’s when they usually lose me. If you’re the same type of reader, you should check out this guy’s work. 

Several people awaiting a bus find themselves trapped within the bus terminal when a creepy fog rolls in. The fog brings with it death and dire warnings “if you leave, you die” and they soon realize via a text message that they’re all trapped inside of some sort of sadistic game, trick, or alien invasion and that only one of them will survive. If they don’t choose a survivor within the specified time frame they’re all going to die!

So guess what happens when you put a gang member, a junkie, a lazy good-for-nothing jerky security officer, a drug dealer, a Mary Kay pusher and a few decent people (with secrets – yes, that is my catnip and there are plenty of them here) under intense pressure like this? TERRIBLE THINGS, bloody things, messy and gory things, heehee! The intense situation brings out the best and the worst in these people and it expertly shows all of the intricate facets that make them both awful and human. And, also, what the heck is out there lurking in the fog?!

Terminal is a weird, sinister story that kept me guessing and, even though I’ve read probably too many horror stories for most sane people, I did not figure out that ending and I appreciated that. There were plenty of clues but I apparently missed them all until the reveal and then I was all “ahh, you dummy it was all there right in front of you!” I’d recommend it to anyone who enjoys getting to know a cast of characters and watching them get picked off in terrible ways, one by one!

Essential Titles for Moonlight

Geek Love - Katherine Dunn The Secret Life of Souls - Jack Ketchum, Lucky McKee Deerskin - Robin McKinley The Listener - Robert R. McCammon

This post is in response to Moonlight Reader's Call for essential reads.

 

Geek Love - It's a timeless story about avarice, ego, innocence lost and horrible parenting. 

 

The Secret Life of Souls - another timeless story about love, devotion and horrible parenting.

 

Deerskin - yet another timeless story about perseverance, transformation and strength in the face of horror and horrible parenting (lol).

 

The Listener - my final timeless (my word of the day) choice about humanity and the lack thereof wrapped inside a thrilling story. 

 

All essential reading, IMO that I feel will stand the test of time. 

Little Darlings by Melanie Golding

Little Darlings - Melanie Golding

This book was so unexpectedly creepy! I tend to put any thriller and secret twist looking book that I find available on Overdrive on hold and then wait in line for weeks and weeks and by the time my turn comes around I have no idea what the thing is about. This is often the best thing to do with “twisty” books so wasn’t I surprised in the best way imaginable when I started this one and realized it was a creepy, modern day dark fairytale with horror underpinnings! I LOVED it from sinister beginning to sinister end.

 

The story starts off with the arrival of the Little Darlings. Lauren gives birth to two beautiful identical twin boys. The delivery is exhausting and once they arrive she feels a little twinge of guilt because she isn’t drowning in overwhelming feelings of love for them - this fleeting thought causes her much grief and anxiety later on. Lauren is tired, she’s sore, her belly is mushy and she feels sad and then a bedraggled woman shows up in the hospital and whispers strange things and demands she hand over one of the boys as “justice done” or she'll take them both and replace them with the dirty shape-shifting creatures she's holding in a filthy basket! Lauren calls the police but they convince her that she imagined it all. Her husband isn’t exactly the caregiver type, so as the days pass she doesn’t begin to feel any better and struggles to simply get out of bed. She has fallen in love with her little boys though and she will do anything to protect them. . .

 

I don’t want to spoil the story so I’ll only say that it may or may not be about changelings, old fables and that it gave me a major The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman vibe only re-imagined for modern times. There is some scary shit happening in this story! The atmosphere and characters are crafted with care. You’ll feel for Lauren and for police officer Jo Harper who doggedly pursues the case for Lauren and does some questionable things because she has a gut feeling and she goes with it no matter the risk to her own career. I loved that her character was so multi-faceted and that she wasn’t just plunked down into the story to get things done.

 

If you like stories with a dark fairy feel and horror-ish undertones, I cannot recommend this addictive and creeptastic book highly enough! It is the best of the best, in my opinion. All the stars.

Call Me Evie by J.P Pomare

Call Me Evie - J.P. Pomare

“We all develop our own little movements and habits to keep the ugly parts hidden.”

 

This is a book where all of the characters appear to be unreliable narrators. I mean, seriously, every last one of them. They are all shady and untrustworthy at some moment in time. If this doesn’t bother you, and it doesn’t always bother me, you may love this but ONLY if you don’t mind being thrown smack into the middle of a story and being confused for nearly all of it. That’s the part that I didn’t like too much. It hurt my brain and it was very difficult to get to know and understand the characters and even harder to emphasize with them or even dislike them because you never knew what was real and what wasn’t. After a bit of this, I became bored. This might be better on a reread when my brain is ready for it but this time around I found myself being pulled away and having to rewind the audio on several occasions.

 

The story is told in two sections. The NOW and the BEFORE. Many stories are told in this format but there was something about this one that left me feeling completely out of the loop. I suppose that was the point but it didn’t work for me this time. The BEFORE is filled with some mostly minor teen drama and the AFTER is about a teen who may or may not be a captive of a man named “Jim” or at the very least is being held somewhat against her will, being force fed drugs and is on the lam and hiding after a terrible deed was done. Maybe?!  Maybe not! Obviously things happened in the time between the before and the after but they are doled out super slowly throughout the course of the book. If you have patience all will be revealed. I had the patience, believe it or not, but some of the reveals weren’t so great. Or maybe I’m just not so great at reading books written like this. Either way it is getting two and a half stars from me. You may enjoy it more than I did. Most people seem to. I felt completely off-kilter during the entire thing and I didn’t like that feeling but that’s just me and the way I am. Also, a dog is put in peril due to someone’s complete stupidity and I didn’t like that at all. Be warned. I wish I had been warned. Please warn me next time, friends.

The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon

The Winter People - Jennifer McMahon

I’m going to say this right up front even though I know people will yell at me for it but that is nothing new. I read this book for the Ladies of Horror Fiction Community Readalong while I was doing a re-listen of Pet Sematary and yes, I now realize that this was a very dumb idea indeed and I do NOT recommend doing so to any of you because both books have some very similar themes. “Sometimes, dead is bettah" and that’s all I’ll say about that. I know it’s never a good idea to compare one writers work to another but in this case it was impossible not to do so as I was reading them both at the same time and it is 100% my own damn fault. 

The King book will destroy you emotionally. It does grief so exquisitely that it breaks your heart as if the grief were your own. It takes its time making you feel it all deep within every one of your bones and it remains hyper focused on fleshing out all of the awful/terrible/heartbreaking feelings as Louis Creed is faced down with nothing but terrible choices. The Winter People doesn’t give itself enough time to ponder the grief of the situations its characters face because it throws in so much other. Much of the other was unnecessary to the core story, if you ask me, and I felt that it took away from the compelling storyline set in the past. But this is just my opinion, of course, and you are getting what you paid for here. I know people love this book. Please don’t come at me because I didn’t fall madly in love. I wanted to but sometimes love is elusive.

This is a haunting story of grief and emotional turmoil and there is also a mystery or two or three. There is a timeline based in 1908 and a timeline set in the current day. As I said up there somewhere, my favorite timeline was the one set in the past. I had so many questions and felt an amazing sense of time and place and I needed to know all the answers. It was atmospheric and eerie as hell and gripped me right away. Honestly, I never wanted to leave 1908. Unfortunately, I didn’t feel the same about the story or the characters in the present day. They weren’t nearly as compelling or interesting and they only seemed to add confusion to the story. Or maybe it’s just my faulty brain.

At any rate, this book is a difficult one to review which is why I’ve put it off for several weeks now. The writing in the beginning was five star material but somewhere after the first quarter things got too bogged down and it began to hurt my brain. There is a big reveal in the end that simply didn’t ring true to me because one character wasn’t fleshed out enough for me to buy into the situation – and that’s all I can say about that. There’s also another decision made near the end that left me . . . frustrated. Again, that one comes down to characterization. Had the plot not been quite so over-stuffed there may have been more space to explore the characters and understand some of their decisions. 

I can say this book kept me guessing and it kept me reading and the early parts were spectacular so I’m giving it a 3 for those reasons. 

I will leave you with my favorite creepy quote:

“I couldn’t take my eyes off the casket. Just the right size for a girl like me.”

The Stranger Inside by Laura Benedict

The Stranger Inside  - Laura Benedict

The Stranger Inside has a weird and highly unlikely premise but I am not an attorney or a police officer so who am I to say, maybe this shit really happens? Here’s the scene: Kimber comes home from a retreat and discovers she cannot get into her own damn home. Someone has changed the locks and the squatter claims he has a lease that Kimber signed and basically makes her appear like she’s lost all of her marbles, then he whispers something sinister in her ear. The police won’t help her and her elderly neighbor friend claims that she saw her let the guy in so she is pretty much screwed. She leaves and goes to stay with her only other friend and calls up her ex (an attorney she dumped) to help her out of this oddly unrealistic bind. Gabriel AKA the Ex Who Still Loves Her For Some Bizarre Reason eagerly agrees even though their break-up was rough on him. A murder may or may not happen.

 

Kimber plots and does her own investigating and attempts to get back into her home all the while learning more about the man inside her house. The man who is probably wearing her underwear at this point (ahhh). Her digging leads to the eventual discovery of many secrets but it takes a while to get there. First there are reveals about Kimber’s guilty past, told in flashbacks in a separate timeline, her shady relationships (shady on her end because she is an AWFUL and terrible person) and a bunch of other things that I’m not going to reveal.

 

I basically threw my brain out the window and went with the flow after that wild setup. I’d advise you to do the same here. The twists and turns defy all logic and the emotional entanglements are a tad over the top but it’s never, ever a boring read. I have to give it that.

 

Most of my notes about this story are about Kimber and are not something I’d like to expose the rest of you to. Kimber is one of the most unlikable main characters I have read in a good long while. You can’t get on her side because she is such an AWFUL person in both timelines. The more I learned about her, the less I liked about her. Her only redeeming quality to me was her kindness to a sad little dog, everything else about her was selfish and just full of ugh. But I can’t lie, I found her horribleness fascinating. What made her this way? I had to know and I had to keep reading!

 

In the end I was left feeling a wee bit disappointed with some of the revelations but the telling of the story was compelling and it grabbed me even if I wanted Kimber to sit on a porcupine for the rest of her life when I turned the last page.

Teeth by Kelli Owen

Teeth - Kelli Owen

“Just like all living things, we are rotting from the inside from the moment we’re born.”

Teeth isn’t a typical vampire book and I’m okay with that because I’ve read a LOT of vampire novels in my reading life and most of them bore me at this point. Those vampires are either sexy whiny monsters or they are ugly whiny monsters and there usually isn’t a helluva lot of room left for anything in-between.

In Teeth, vampirism is treated like a condition because it is one. People afflicted are called Lamian’s and it strikes when a person is a teen and their pointy teeth come in (of course, at the WORST possible time because being a teen isn’t bad enough!). They can still go out in the daylight, they do not need to be bloodthirsty savages and they aren’t instantly made glamorous and gorgeous by that tired old vampire “curse”. "I am immortal and forever beautiful and nobody will ever love me more than I love my loathsome self. Boo-hoo-hoo"Anyhow, those afflicted basically have to take supplements to survive but a segment of society is suspicious (at best) and prejudiced (at worse). That’s why many are terrified of coming out to the public when their Lamian genes start kicking in and who can blame them? People can be terrible creatures.

I enjoyed this story a lot because it took an old thing and made it into a new different thing. The story follows several teens as their teeth start erupting from their gums. They struggle with the alienation of people they thought were their friends and, in some cases, their parents. There’s also a deviant running about who is on a grisly murderous spree and he stars in some super gross scenes which were gloriously cringy and wonderful. If you are squeamish, read it anyway, haha.

The writer sets up an intriguing world here and if she ever chooses to revisit it, I’ll definitely be there to read more.

Our Frail Disordered Lives by Mary M. Schmidt

Our Frail Disordered Lives - Mary M. Schmidt

I requested this title from Netgalley thinking it was a horror novel because it was in the horror category. I must be more careful about hitting that request button without doing a little research first.

 

This book is a comedy about a demon gone rogue because his boss Satan is an unappreciative pain in the bum. Satan sends all of his bounty hunters out to drag the demon’s sorry butt back to Hell. But this is not a horror novel. At least not the first 25%. It is written in the sarcastic spirit of Christopher Moore and Clive Barker’s Mister B. Gone which is a book that did not get along with me and I normally adore Barker so you can see how this going to go, can’t you?

 

Not well, if you were wondering.

 

I gave up on this book at the 25% mark not because it wasn’t the horror novel I was expecting (so don’t rag on me about that) but because the characters were all loathsome unlikable creatures and I wasn’t in any kind of mood to deal with them. I am also very particular about my humor. This was vaguely amusing but wasn’t making me laugh or snicker or any of those things it should’ve been doing. It was mostly frustrating me because it is written in the “tell don’t show” mode, the plot was extremely disjointed, the ARC had all kinds of pesky formatting errors and it was not keeping my attention no matter how hard I tried. I think a good pass through an editor could easily fix those things but as is, I couldn’t find the will to continue.

 

Thank you Netgalley for sending me the ARC. I wish it could’ve been a five star read for me but you can’t win them all. I'm sure there are many out here that will dig the humor but unfortunately I'm not one of them.

Second Lives by P.D. Cacek

Second Lives - P.D. Cacek

Second Lives has an amazingly creepy cover and an intriguing blurb and when I sat down with it I knew it was going to be an emotionally intense read. The plot is about a group of four people who die, after all, but I wasn’t expecting the heavy blanket of sadness that was dropped over my head to stay there until almost the very last page.

Be warned if you’re feeling blue because this one may need to wait a bit but if you’re feeling too chipper give it a go but make sure you have no distractions and big chunk of time and maybe a notebook . . .

This book starts out telling the backstories of eight characters and five different timelines chapter by chapter. I’ve seen some people say they read like short stories and they do but they do eventually connect but it takes a while before that happens. There is a lot to absorb in the first half or so of the book. I took notes to keep everybody straight because I knew my faulty brain would never be able to keep up and I did find myself referring back to my notes to remind myself who was who. After the first half (or so) it was easy going and I no longer needed them but without them I would’ve been tripped up a time or ten.

The characterization here is incredible and the author really excels at breathing life into all of her people. I found it an easy read for that reason but it left me feeling blue the entire week of reading. It’s incredibly sad and lacks any sort of break from all of the gloom. Each situation is pretty terrible and heartrending for everyone involved.

This one is hard to review and even more difficult to rate. I’m going to settle on a three. It’s not a book I’d ever willingly read again because I found it incredibly depressing but it’s well written and fans of fantasy and reincarnation-type novels might feel differently.

*Thank you Flame Tree Press for the advanced readers copy!

 

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