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Book review Book reviews Tuesday Book Blog

#TuesdayBookBlog DEAD OF WINTER. Journey 9, Doors of Attunement and Journey 10, Pergesca by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene (@teagangeneviene) The pace is quickening and wonders don’t cease. Get ready for the ride of your lives!

Hi all:

I bring you two more of the Journeys in the Dead of Winter serial, and wow, we are getting close now…

I have been following author Ríordáin Geneviene for a number of years now, down many of the paths her imagination has travelled, from her blog, where she has created a number of serials with the participation of her readers (incorporating the items they propose into her stories), in many genres (steampunk, historical fiction, fantasy…) always with a seamless weaving of research (into artefacts of a historical period, language and fashionable expressions of an era, music, and recipes of bygone times, names and mythology and their link to specific places and meanings…), a wonderful playfulness in her use of language, and a penchant for flights of fancy and whimsy. It doesn’t matter how closely you are following the events and how well you think you know her characters, there are surprises waiting when you turn the next page, and you’re always left wanting more.

Author Teagan Geneviene 

About the author:

Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene lives in a “high desert” town in the Southwest of the USA.

Teagan had always devoured fantasy novels of every type. Then one day there was no new book readily at hand for reading — so she decided to write one. And she hasn’t stopped writing since.

Her work is colored by her experiences from living in the southern states and the desert southwest. Teagan most often writes in the fantasy genre, but she also writes cozy mysteries. Whether it’s a 1920s mystery, a steampunk adventure, or urban fantasy, her stories have a strong element of whimsy.

Founder of the Three Things method of storytelling, her blog “Teagan’s Books” contains serial stories written according to “things” from viewers. Http://www.teagansbooks.com


Major influences include Agatha Christie, Terry Brooks, David Eddings, Robert Jordan, and Charlaine Harris.

See book trailer videos here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCoM-z7_iH5t2_7aNpy3vG-Q?

https://www.amazon.com/Teagan-Riordain-Geneviene/e/B00HHDXHVM/

Dead of Winter. Journey 9, Doors of Attunement by Teagan Ríodáin Geneviene

Dead of Winter: Journey 9, Doors of Attunement by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene 

In this ninth installment Emlyn, Osabide, and Fotia (in Zasha’s body) traveled to a third world, so little known that it is only called the Other Realm. They hope to restore Zasha. Will Fotia willingly relinquish her new life in a young body? There the trio meet unpredictable, but vastly powerful beings known as the Listeners. One of them is a new enemy. Another might be friend or foe. Either way, he is dangerous.

Arawn has grown stronger. An army of the dead gathers near the Lost Library. Hallgeir faces one of the biggest decisions of his life.

Journey with our travelers. Adventure awaits.

 https://relinks.me/B09F8Y5DML

 My review:

Fantasy is a bit of a hit-and-miss for me, but based on my previous experience reading this author, I knew I had to try her new (although originally written as a single novel a number of years ago) serial, Dead of Winter. And, as usual, she has surpassed herself. I’ve come to eagerly await the next journey, to celebrate every monthly publication, and it has become a highlight in my reading schedule.

In Journey 9, we have Emlyn, the main protagonist of the story, and two of her friends (although one is not quite herself, and that is one of the reasons for their quest), journey through the “Other” realm. It is an strange and wondrous place, and they are soon confronted with decisions (if you love game shows, the fact that they have to choose one of three doors will bring all kinds of connections to your mind) that require not only courage, but also intuition, trust in each other and belief in themselves.

Emlyn uncovers new powers/abilities she didn’t know she possessed, and we find out that the “Listeners” can take many forms and are as puzzling,enchanting, and unnerving as most of the other creatures we’ve come across in these journeys. Readers travel beyond the Other realm, there are more magical objects to be retrieved, and although they achieve their goal, they also confirm that risks and dangers are getting closer and closer.

There is a touch of Alice through the Looking Glass in this journey (although in this case, through a painting), and we get to hear from Luce, one of the most enigmatic characters in this serial (and that is saying something!), who, for the first time, allows us to peep into his mind.

As this journey ends, Hallgeir —one of the men travelling with the Deae Matres and protecting them— finds his loyalty put to the test. Or his loyalties, because, should one always put family before everything else, or are other callings stronger than blood? It is a particularly tense moment, and I am relieved to already have Journey 10 waiting to be read, as it would have felt like a very long wait otherwise.

Those who are following the story already know the author includes a cast of characters and locations at the end, to ensure readers don’t lose track and don’t miss any of the details. This keeps being updated with each new journey, to avoid spoilers.

I loved the descriptions of the new characters, the places the protagonists visit, and, in particular, the insight we are given into their innermost thoughts, doubts, and feelings. A journey full of wonder and adventure, and an ending that pulsates with excitement and expectation.

Don’t forget to read the journeys in the right order, and go on, keep reading Dead of Winter.

Dead of Winter. Journey 10, Pergesca by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

 

Dead of Winter: Journey 10, Pergesca by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene 

Dead of Winter: Journey 10, Pergesca” resumes outside the Lost Library, where Hallgeir was faced with a decision that could impact the entire world.

Lucetius is gravely wounded when he attempts to deliver a message. Emlyn, Zasha, and Osabide are again separated from all their friends. The Three must continue their journey without assistance or protection from the other travelers. They must reach the faraway city of Pergesca. That is also the seat of power of the ancient Society of Deae Matres. Will the companions eventually be reunited?

A vicious enemy returns, displaying unexpected strength.

An important character dies in this novelette. The death of a character is a rare thing in stories written by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene.

https://relinks.me/B09J6TH8TD

 My review:

What to say! We’ve reached Journey 10 in Dead of Winter, and for me, it has definitely been a big journey into a realm I rarely visit, that of high fantasy. I’m not a reader lacking in imagination or preoccupied with productivity and getting the most out of any lecture time. My love for fiction was born when I was a child, and although I’ve read (and still read) a lot of factual and non-fiction books (for professional and personal reasons), my preference for my downtime is fiction. I read realistic fiction, but I’m quite fond of fairy tales and horror as well. My problem with high fantasy, I think, is not so much with the fantasy side of things, but with the build-up to the stories, the large number of characters, often with strange and somewhat similar names (I have the same issue with some spy novels, although those I find dry at times), and the huge amounts of backstory and telling usually required to explain the worlds where the stories are taking place. As much as I love a well-written plot, I have also been more of a character reader, and in some cases, those seem to get lost among all the scaffolding in some of the big fantasy sagas. So, reaching Journey 10 of this serial is an achievement, for me and one that shows the skill of the author.

In Dead of Winter, Ríordáin Geneviene manages to combine a weird, wonderful, scary, terrible, and beautiful world, with different realms and with a cast of characters that although not always “human” and/or “alive” we can easily connect with. Emlyn, the main protagonist, is a credible normal child (only twelve years old) but also gifted, unique, and the perfect hero to guide us on this quest. And I am sure every reader will have his/her own favourite among the many characters (creatures included).

This Journey is pretty special, as the author explains because one of the characters dies. I’m going to avoid any spoilers, although I was not surprised by the event. When I thought about the author’s prologue, I imagined who it could be; it is well done, makes perfect sense, and brings some sense of completion to that character.

There are many other adventures and magical events in this journey: we have characters surprising everybody with changes of heart (possibly); the three women with a most delicate mission (Emlyn, Osabide, and Zasha) are placed in great danger due to a mean and vengeful character trying to get revenge; a new favourite of mine puts in a star appearance; we have further “through the looking glass” moments; Emlyn finds herself in a city for the first time and doesn’t quite know what to think; Zasha —who is slowly recovering her old self, but with some changes— is back home and playing guide; there is further evidence of the breach(chasm in the veil separating the world of the living from that of the dead; we meet new characters and old characters who leave mysterious messages and warnings, and the future appears very uncertain.

The writing is immaculate as usual, with truly emotional moments, vivid descriptions of action and battle scenes where we can feel the danger jumping at the protagonists, and some reflective and quiet moments when we are privy to the thoughts, reflections, and doubts of the protagonists (mostly from Emlyn’s point of view, but we get some insights into Zasha’s thoughts and feelings as well). The pace of the story and the narration is quickening, and things are coming to a head. I will be sorry to see this story end, but, at this point, I’m also eager to know what will happen. Winter seems to have arrived already, and time is of the essence.

I’ve recommended this story to all and sundry, and other than people who only read non-fiction and cannot stand fantasy in any shape, I cannot imagine many who would not enjoy it. The serial format works beautifully to ensure that no reader gets overwhelmed by the story building and the number of characters and settings, and the author also includes a cast of characters at the end, which she updates as required, to help those who might have a doubt or want to remind themselves of some stray detail. Read the serial in the right order, and be prepared for the journey. It is a wild and magical ride.

Thanks to the author for this wonderful serial, thanks to all of you for reading, and remember to stay safe and take care above all, and to like, share, comment, click, and, always keep smiling. 

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Book review Book reviews Tuesday Book Blog

#TuesdayBookBlog One Year of Ugly by Caroline Mackenzie (@BoroughPress) (@HarperCollinsUK) A memorable, witty and dark comedy. Highly recommended.

Hi all:

I bring you a book that although it might be an acquired taste, I enjoyed immensely.

One Year of Ugly by Caroline Mackenzie

One Year of Ugly by Caroline Mackenzie

‘Deliciously dark’ EMMA JANE UNSWORTH
‘Funny and important’ LAURA JANE WILLIAMS

It was Aunt Celia who got us into the whole mess. The entire Palacios family thrust smack into the middle of a crime ring.

Meet Yola Palacios.

Having escaped crumbling, socialist Venezuela, Yola and her family are settling into their peaceful new life in Trinidad.

But when her beloved Aunt Celia dies, the family once again find their lives turned upside down. For Celia had been keeping a very big secret – the Palacios are seriously in debt to a local criminal called Ugly, and without the funds to pay him off, they must do his bidding until the debt is cleared. So far, so ugly.

In the midst of the turmoil appears Román – Ugly’s distractingly gorgeous right-hand man. And although she knows it’s foolish, not to mention dangerous, Yola just can’t help but give in to the attraction. Could this wildly inappropriate (and very messy) romance be the perfect antidote?

Told with wry humour and irresistible wit, ONE YEAR OF UGLY is devastatingly funny, blisteringly fresh story of family, first love, and finding home.

https://www.amazon.com/One-Year-Ugly-raucous-debut-ebook/dp/B07W3PXWTS/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/One-Year-Ugly-raucous-debut-ebook/dp/B07W3PXWTS/

https://www.amazon.es/One-Year-Ugly-raucous-debut-ebook/dp/B07W3PXWTS/

About the author:

Hello there and welcome to my author page! This being my first rodeo as a published author, I’m thrilled to even be able to write that sentence. I suppose that’s the most important thing to know about me – I’m a first timer in the daunting world of publishing, and my debut novel ONE YEAR OF UGLY, out May (UK) and July (US) 2020, is the book that made that happen.

What else is there to know about me? I’m a French Creole (née de Verteuil) born and raised in Trinidad. I studied abroad for five years, first in France then in the UK, earning a BA in French and Spanish studies and an MSc in specialised translation. I’m now back living in Trinidad with my family and a veritable menagerie of tropical animals too bizarre to get into here.

As a new(ish) mum, I’m still navigating the demands of motherhood to figure out my new writing routine, but I’ve managed to get back to writing consistently every day, which is nothing short of a triumph. Novel #2 is consequently well underway.

To wrap up with a few fun facts:

  • The illicit stripclub setting in ONE YEAR OF UGLY was inspired by the two + years I spent waitressing/hostessing at a Spearmint Rhino during my undergrad studies in Brighton. You could call me a connoisseur of the stripclub industry.
  • I am a lifelong francophile and fantasise about moving to Martinique one day.
  • Reality TV is my most shameful yet effective means of unwinding. Nothing says ‘switch off your brain and rock back’ like a Bravo or MTV original series.

Follow me here and on Goodreads for updates on ONE YEAR OF UGLY’s upcoming release and to check out what books (and bad TV shows) I’m loving these days.

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8285902.Caroline_Mackenzie

My review:

Thanks to the Borough Press (Harper Collins UK) and NetGalley for providing me an ARC copy of this novel that I freely chose to review.

This is a debut novel, and what a debut! Although I hadn’t heard of the author before, I was thrilled when I realised that we had a few things in common (I’ve also worked as a translator, and we’re both alumnae of Sussex University. Go Sussex!), and I am sure this will not be the last novel I read by Mackenzie.

This novel touches on many things, and although it does it with wit and humour (at times a very sharp and quite dark sense of humour), the themes it delves in are quite serious. Illegal immigrants (in this case, Venezuelans in Trinidad) that try to settle into their new life, but whose already uncertain and danger-ridden existence becomes more complicated when they are blackmailed into doing all kind of other illegal things to settle the debt a member of their family, Aunt Celia, left unpaid upon her sudden death. The Palacios, an extended but close family, with their traditions, their unique personalities, their traditions from home and from their adopted land, their parties and meals together, with their quirks and their not-quite-upstanding members, are suddenly thrown into the hands of the criminal underworld, and their lives become even more dangerous. There is blackmail, housing other illegal immigrants, being tracked and followed, having to work all hours to keep their non-paying guests, being threatened and pushed around, and some of their members are even driven out of their minds by the pressure. To all these events (and more that I’m keeping quiet), we have to add life as usual for this family, and that includes secret love-children, a young girl’s pregnancy, dangerous love affairs, strong women (some with a flair for drama), weak-willed men, heavy drinking, unfaithful husbands, grief and mourning, mental illness, trying to fit into a completely different place and being the object of prejudice and suspicion. The author explains her reasons for choosing to write a comedy in her note at the end, and they make perfect sense to me. First, because, as she says, some people might resist reading another book that deals in some of these very serious topics if they are presented in a straightforward manner, but a comedy might reach those readers, and also because comedy and humour are great weapons to deal with dark situations and to endure and keep hope alive when things are tough. The author does a great job, both in dealing with the illegal immigration angle and also in creating a family that we love (or at times, love to hate).

There are many characters, some pretty major (not all the members of the family have important roles, but we do get to know them fairly well by the end of the novel, although there are plenty of surprises, and I’m not only talking about Aunt Milagros here), and others that only pass-by, like some of the illegal immigrants they are forced to house through the year, and in many cases, they are depicted like a cartoonist would do, exaggerating some traits for comedic purposes, but affectionately. Yola, the main protagonist, who narrates the story in the first-person, is intelligent, witty, hard-working, and although she might not see eye-to-eye with all the members of her family, she loves them fiercely and would do anything for all of them, even for the new arrivals that she’s not so keen on. Aunt Celia, who has died just before the story starts, is also very present in the novel, as she had been writing her biography/memoir, and the manuscript is passed on to Yola, who is also a writer and translator, and whom the majority of the members of the family think of as the most suited to follow in Aunt Celia’s steps (and become the family’s official bitch). Celia’s book is priceless, and we get to hear her voice through Yola’s reading. Then we have Ugly, who although doesn’t turn up often, his few appearances are very memorable. And Román, the romantic hero (yes, I know, the name is self-explanatory), who at first appears more of an antihero, but there is more to him than his gorgeous looks, and, well, let’s say the romance side of the story is bound to satisfy most readers keen on the genre. I liked Yola, and although some of her actions seemed pretty unreasonable and inconsistent, she is fully aware of it. As we’re inside her head, it’s easy to empathise, especially because she’s put in pretty impossible situations at times, and it’s difficult to imagine what else she could do. I also liked most of the members of her family, and yes, Aunt Celia and Aunt Milagros truly shine through. The female characters are more memorable than the males (other than Román and Ugly), but they are also familiar, and it’s likely that most readers would identify people they know who share characteristics with them. As is the case in all families, you might have your favourites, but there’s so much history shared that you feel for them. Yes, I’ll miss the Palacios.

The writing is sharp, witty, and eminently quotable. It flows well and although I know many readers don’t like first-person narratives, I enjoyed this one, and also the fragments from Aunt Celia’s memoirs. There are words and expressions in Spanish (I’m not from Venezuela, but the Spanish terms are well-written, and the research has paid up), but they do not impede the understanding of the text, and rather add to the atmosphere and the realism of the piece. I have highlighted the text extensively, but I’ll try to share a few examples of the writing. As usual, I’d recommend prospective readers to check a sample first, to see if it suits their taste. (Some reviewers did not like the humorous tone when dealing with such serious matters, but I felt that was one of the strong points of the novel).

Her wit was as lethal as a syringe of cyanide.”

Only a real political genius like him, with his communist sympathies despite everything we’d been through in Caracas, would name his kid after Fidel Castro.”

Our immigrant story is as classic and unchanging as any Hans Christian Andersen fairytale —the tale of the illegal refugees who risked it all to live like cockroaches, hiding in the dank cracks of an unknown society where they hope no one will find them, antennae forever twitching, listening for the heavy boot of National Security, only to discover that the strange new place they call home has all the ugliness of the world they left behind, except worse, because here you’re stripped of rights, dignity, personhood.”

’Life is a big piece of sugarcane’. ‘Sugarcane?’ ‘Yes, a maldito sugarcane! You have to bite down hard and suck as much sweetness out of it as you can.’”

The ending is open to interpretation and to what we have learned and think about Yola. I liked it, as I liked the whole book, and whichever choice readers think she goes for, it is certain to be hopeful and positive (although this being Yola, not without a touch of irony and ambivalence). Considering what happens during the book, the ending is perhaps too neat, but this is a comedy so it goes with the territory, and I think most readers will enjoy it.

This is a great debut novel, which deals in serious topics using a comedic register that in my opinion works very well but might not suit everybody. The characters are wonderful, if somewhat cartoonish at times, and the family Palacios is likely to stay with readers for a long time. I recommend this novel to people interest in finding new authors, and who don’t mind the use of dark comedy to discuss important issues. I highly recommend this book and I am looking forward to the next novel by the author.

Thanks to NetGalley, the publisher and the author for this fabulous novel, thanks to all of you for reading, and remember to like, share, comment, click (the book is published on the 14th of May 2020, so you might need to wait a couple of days to get it if you read this on the day it goes live), review, and always keep smiling!

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Book review Book reviews Tuesday Book Blog

#TuesdayBookBlog NOT HERE: A DINA OSTICA NOVEL (Dina Ostica Series Book 1) by Genevieve Novoco (@GNocovo) #RBRT For lovers of the movie Chinatown and strong female protagonists.

Hi all:

Today I bring you a book that resonated with me for many reasons. I hope it piques your interest as well.

Not Here: A Novel by Genevieve Nocovo

Not Here: A Dina Ostica Novel (Dina Ostica Series Book 1) by Genevieve Nocovo. Loved the movie Chinatown? Love San Francisco and female protagonists? This is your novel!

Would you surrender your free will to save your life?
A city in turmoil. A neighbor disappears. When her concerns are written off, Dina investigates on her own — and becomes a target, at the mercy of those in control…

In San Francisco, where the poor are systematically displaced by well-off yuppies, Dina Ostica is part of the problem. The damaged, determined twenty-three-year-old scrambles to make a name for herself in the burgeoning world of podcasting, with the city as her muse. She is hell-bent on professional success, thinking it will mend her broken spirit.
But when her go-to source on local history disappears without warning, she begins to uncover an uncanny pattern that hits too close to home, getting her tied up in the city’s underbelly.
What follows is a gritty tale of exploitation, betrayal, and the strength one needs to survive the whims of those in power.
Will Dina escape or fall victim to the injustice chewing up the city?
If you love contemporary thrillers with strong female protagonists, don’t miss this read!

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07MZHT9TQ/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07MZHT9TQ/

Author Genevieve Nocovo
Author Genevieve Nocovo

About the author:

Genevieve Nocovo lives in San Francisco, hikes the city streets, and soaks up the fog. A real-life conflict with city development, a love of thrillers, and the yearning for a bold-yet-relatable female protagonist inspired the Dina Ostica novels.

https://www.amazon.com/Genevieve-Nocovo/e/B07N182STB/

My review:

I write this review as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team (authors, if you are looking for reviews, check here), and I freely chose to review an ARC copy of this novel.

This is the first novel published by this author, and although it might not be to everybody’s taste, I found it an intense and gripping book that deals with important topics. And I was fascinated by the portrayal of the protagonist.

I was intrigued by the description of the novel because I do like the promise of a strong protagonist (although it does not always work, I did like Dina), and because the topic promised something a bit different to the usual thriller. No serial killer, no small-town setting, but a narrative closely linked to a time, a place, and a social issue. Any reader who lives, or has lived, in a city, knows how expensive it is to secure accommodation in a safe neighbourhood, and what a cut-throat world property development can be. In this novel, set in San Francisco, that is literally so. The fact that the protagonist was trying to make a name for herself in the world of podcasting, added to the interest for me, as I’ve always interested in radio and, in my mind at least, podcasts are closely linked to the immediacy of radio, especially to the programmes broadcast by local radio stations.

The story is told in the third person from Dina’s point of view. And it is a very interesting choice, because at times it feels like a first-person narrative (there are plenty of descriptions, although brief, of things like the clothes the protagonist is wearing, and the drinks she makes… She likes tea, and I’d dare say her choice of tea at any point is a clear indication of what her mental state is like at the time); it manages to capture perfectly the tone of character’s thoughts, her fears and anxieties, gives readers a good insight into her mind and feelings, while at the same time offering an outside perspective, an observer’s point of view. I might be stretching it here, but I felt that this is the way Dina sees herself. She is a young woman who has undergone a very traumatic experience and went through a period of depression following it. Now, determined to survive and get back on her feet, but also to never be a victim again, she is always on alert, observes things and people around her, never quite trusting what they say, or her own actions and reactions, second-guessing others and her own motives, ready to flee at the slightest hint of risk, but working hard to rebuild her life. She is not going to take it lying down. She joins a gym and self-defense classes (well, an interesting combination of martial arts and fighting that introduces action scenes and another setting that proves very important to the story). She is determined to make her podcast a success and wants to pursue stories that are important for the people around her, rather than those that might bring her commercial and financial success. Although she is cautious, due to her previous experience, she puts others’ needs ahead of hers, and never hesitates to step up to help others and offer her support, even when it might be dangerous. Her reactions to what happens to her in the story (that, in a way, mirrors her abuse, at least in her head) are totally believable and they match the defence mechanisms she has put in place.  I don’t usually do trigger warnings, but I feel survivors of domestic violence and abuse might find it a hard read. On the other hand, she has moments of desperation but she never gives up fighting, and she is a compelling and inspiring human being rather than a one-dimensional cut-out.

I felt the psychological side of the story, and the insights into Dina’s thoughts and reactions were very well done —there is no magical cure here, no saviour that comes along and sorts everything for our protagonist, and she does not fall for the first person coming along either, no matter how attractive he might be— and although some of the story elements stretch somewhat the imagination (and test the suspension of disbelief, but when we think about true stories we have heard or read, we soon realise that they are not as far-fetched as at first they might appear), the author manages to create a compelling and cohesive story from diverse strands: the world of podcasting, the city and property development, homelessness and crime in San Francisco, abuse and domestic violence, cage-fighting, police corruption, local government conspiracies…

This is not a light read, and there are hardly any moments when the tension loosens up. No light relief present either, and readers need to be prepared to experience a gamut of uncomfortable emotions, that succeed each other at a fast —take-no-prisoners– pace, especially towards the end of the novel.  I’ve mentioned already the descriptions that might not suit all readers. The author ignores Stephen King’s warning about adverbs, and although I have never been too worried about it, I admit it might give one pause, especially when they stray away from the most neutral and commonly used. But other than that, the book is written in straightforward style, it flows well, and it shows a good knowledge of the city and the topics without going overboard and “telling” too much.

I’d recommend this book to people looking for a different kind of thriller and a strong female survivor as a protagonist. Not a superhero, but a young woman determined to make it and an inspiration for readers familiar with these feelings and experiences. I kept thinking about Chinatown as I read this novel (perhaps because of the focus on local politics and speculation) and although it is set in a different city and historical time, if you enjoyed the plot of that story, love San Francisco, and are keen on a dark urban setting, you should try it. I can see this author going from strength to strength, and as this is the first in the series, I look forward to seeing what Dina does next.

Thanks to Rosie and her group, to the author, thanks to all of you for reading and remember to like, share, comment, click, review and to keep smiling!

 

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Book review Book reviews Rosie's Book Review Team Rosie's Book Team Review

#TuesdayBookBlog #Bookreview THE REVENGERS (The Revengers Series, Vol. 1) by David Valdes Greenwood (@dvgtweets) For lovers of YA stories, revenge, paranormal subjects and mythology. And kick-ass female protagonists.

Hi all:

It is Tuesday and I have another great offering from Rosie Amber’s review group, Rosie’s Book Review Team (if you are looking for reviews, you might want to check here). When the author mentioned his interest in diverse characters, his writing credits and I read the description… Well, just check the review.

Revengers by David Valdes Greenwood
Revengers by David Valdes Greenwood

Revengers (The Revengers Series) (Volume 1) David Valdes Greenwood.

How far would you go to make things right? Ama, Mark, and Justin are about to find out. All three have each witnessed a murder that went unpunished, and they’ve lived broken lives ever since. In recent months, their dreams have been haunted by someone who understands their pain: a Fury who survived the witch hunts of Old Salem. Three days before Halloween, she enters their dreams and summons them to be Revengers, just as she has done for a new trio of teens every year for centuries. If they abide by her seemingly simple set of rules, she promises supernatural protection while they avenge their losses. One catch: exacting revenge means becoming killers themselves. And they don’t have much time to wrestle with the moral dilemma, as the Fury’s protection will end on the Day of the Dead. When they agree—setting in motion three bloody acts of vengeance—things begin to spiral out of control and they come to understand they are pawns in an ancient game. As the Fury toys with them, they race against the clock, hoping to live more than just a few more days…

https://www.amazon.com/Revengers-David-Valdes-Greenwood-ebook/dp/B06XFBMMKH/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Revengers-David-Valdes-Greenwood-ebook/dp/B06XFBMMKH/

Author David Valdes Greenwood

About the author:

David Valdes Greenwood is the author of Revengers, The Rhinestone Sisterhood, Homo Domesticus and A Little Fruitcake. As an award-winning playwright, his work has been staged coast to coast and in the UK. A former freelance journalist, Valdes Greenwood is best known for his Boston Globe columns. Currently, he details life as a parent as a Huffington Post blogger and may be followed at https://www.facebook.com/davidvaldesgreenwoodauthor and on Twitter @dvgtweets.

https://www.amazon.com/David-Valdes-Greenwood/e/B001IXQ3MW/

My review:

Thanks to Rosie Amber (from Rosie’s Book Review Team) and to the author for providing me with an ARC copy of this novel that I freely chose to review.

Revengers is the first in the YA Revengers Series, and it is the first work by the author, David Valdes Greenwood, better known for his non-fiction books and his plays, I have read. This is a revenge story with a supernatural twist. If that is not unusual (we all know revenge stories orchestrated by evil or sometimes simply very angry spirits), both the details and the characters are.

Those who love mythology, in particular, Greek (and Roman) mythology, will probably appreciate the thematic link to the Furies, ancient vengeful deities whose roles and interpretation changed over time. Because, the book tells the story of three adolescents who’ve experienced terrible losses at different ages (Marc, a Harvard dropout, only a year ago, whilst Justin and Ama were much younger) and who, for different reasons, have had to grieve alone. They’ve been experiencing terrifying nightmares since the events, that they witnessed, and suddenly, these nightmares become more real than before. A strange and scary female figure tells them to go to Salem and leaves them a journal. They feel compelled to obey Rebecca, the fury/spirit behind their nightmares whose story we learn later (and who had good reasons to seek revenge).

The story is told in the third person, mostly alternating the points of view of the three main characters (although also briefly from the victims and other characters with small parts in the story, including Rebecca herself), who, although don’t know each other at the beginning, end up becoming an ersatz family. They are as diverse as they could be (ethnically: African-American and Dominican blood, Chinese, old Massachusetts stock, sexually: Marc is gay and Ama and Justin haven’t had much time to think about such things so far; they also have different interests, studies and their economic and family circumstances are miles apart) but have to form a team to be able to fulfil the rules and get rid of their nightmares forever. Although killing somebody is not an easy task, they don’t realise how complicated things can get until later, when secrets and half-told truths come to light. The rules they are given, that seem to be clear-cut and not leave any room for ambiguity, aren’t so clear when one scratches beyond the surface, and there is no such a thing as getting off scotch-free.

The Salem of the story (I cannot comment on how much it resembles the real location, although for me it is more of a paranormal backdrop to the story than a real place, and it reminded me a bit of Demon Road where an alternative order and lifestyle existed side by side with normal life, without anybody other than those involved being aware of it) is full of secrets, tragedy, lessons not learned and people trying to maintain the status quo while pretending everything is fine. Although it might appear like business as usual to Halloween Tourists, to those in the know, witches are the least of their problems.

The three main characters have distinctive personalities and are realistically portrayed (Ama is quite suspicious, Justin can be quick to act, Marc is a bit of a softy) and they are all flawed, and not all that likeable at the beginning of the story but make a good team and learn to appreciate and accept their differences and skills. For me, one of the most appealing aspects of the book (apart from the suspense and the mystery) is the strong bond that develops between the three adolescents who at that point didn’t have a close connection or intimate friends who knew their secrets, shared their concerns and cared for them. I particularly liked Ama, who although is tough and determined, is also the character who often hesitates and questions the morality of their actions and who will go to any extent to try and keep everybody safe. And that is why in the end… (Don’t worry, no spoilers).

The book is compellingly written, with enough imagery and description to feel the changes in weather and scenery (that are all in tune with their experiences and the action providing visual and sensory emphasis to the events), without becoming cumbersome. The interactions between the adolescents and with other characters ring true and help build their characters more convincingly. There is plenty of action, it has many scary moments and the suspense builds up from the start (as we have a time-frame and the clock is ticking continuously, with the tension increasing towards the end of the story).  The inclusion of the point of view of some of the victims makes the story more morally ambiguous and complex. This is not just a revenge story with a few paranormal scary touches. It will make readers (and who hasn’t thought about getting revenge on somebody at some point) think twice about justice and revenge. Although the ending (no, no spoilers) opens up the series to the next book, do not worry about unfinished businesses or annoying cliff-hangers. This is not a story divided into several books where you never get any resolution. So you won’t feel disappointed because of a lack of ending (you might have preferred a different ending, but that’s a completely different matter).

I recommend this novel to readers of YA stories who love suspense, paranormal subjects, mythology and strong and diverse protagonists. Especially those looking for a new series with a kick-ass female protagonist. The author has promised to keep me informed when he publishes the next books in the series, so I’ll keep you posted.

Thanks so much to Rosie and to the author for the book, thanks to all of you for reading, and remember to like, share, comment, CLICK and, if you read any books, remember to leave a review!

 

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