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Book review Book reviews Tuesday Book Blog

#TuesdayBookBlog EAT THE POOR (GALBRAITH & POLE BOOK 2) by Tom Williams (@TomCW99) A supernatural mystery with a sharp sense of humour #RBRT

Hi all:

I bring you another book from Rosie’s Book Review Team that I discovered thanks to some of the reviews by other members. They were right!

Eat the Poor (Galbraith & Pole Book 2) by Tom Williams

Eat the Poor (Galbraith & Pole Book 2) by Tom Williams

A werewolf is on the loose in London.

Chief Inspector Pole, the vampire from the mysterious Section S, teams up once again with his human counterpart to hunt down the beast before the people of the city realise that they are threatened by creatures they have dismissed as myths.

Time is short as the werewolf kills ever more recklessly. Can Galbraith and Pole stop it before panic spreads through London?

Galbraith and Pole start their search in Pole’s extensive library of the arcane, accompanied by a couple of glasses of his excellent malt whisky. All too soon, though, they will have to take to the streets to hunt the monster by the light of the moon.

But the threat is even greater than they think, for in its human form the werewolf is terrifyingly close to the heart of government.

This is Tom Williams’ second tongue-in-cheek take on traditional creatures of darkness. Like the first Galbraith & Pole book, Something Wicked, this will appeal to fans of Ben Aaronovitch’s Rivers of London.

You never know when the forces of darkness may be released and there will be no time for reading then. Buy Eat the Poor before it’s too late.

https://www.amazon.com/Eat-Poor-Galbraith-Pole-Book-ebook/dp/B09ZG373VR/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Eat-Poor-Galbraith-Pole-Book-ebook/dp/B09ZG373VR/

https://www.amazon.es/Poor-Galbraith-Pole-Book-English-ebook/dp/B09ZG373VR/

Author Tom Williams

About the author:

Tom Williams used to write books for business. Now he writes novels set in the 19th century that are generally described as fiction but which are often more honest than the business books. (He writes contemporary fantasy as well, but that’s a dark part of his life, so you’ll have to explore that on your own – ideally with a friend and a protective amulet.)

His stories about James Burke (based on a real person) are exciting tales of high adventure and low cunning set around the Napoleonic Wars. The stories have given him the excuse to travel to Argentina, Egypt, and Spain and call it research.

Tom lives in London. His main interest is avoiding doing any honest work and this leaves him with time to ski, skate and dance tango, all of which (before covid) he thought he did quite well. In between he reads old books and spends far too much time looking at ancient weaponry.

Tom’s blogs appear regularly on his website, https://tomwilliamsauthor.co.uk where you can also find details of all his books. You can follow him on Twitter as @TomCW99 or Facebook https://www.facebook.com/AuthorTomWilliams

My review:

I write this review as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team (author, check here if you are interested in getting your book reviewed) and thank her and the author for this opportunity.

The description of the novel sets up the plot quite clearly, and I won’t elaborate on it. Readers can find elements of the police procedural novel (one flexible enough to allow for a supernatural element rather than one where logic and realism to the minutest detail are the required standard) with an unlikely and seemingly unsuited couple of investigators, and the tongue-in-cheek approach suits beautifully the description of the inner workings of the police department, and the way promotions and a career in the police are likely to progress for those who care for the actual job and are not that keen on cultivating influences and playing political games within the force.

The ironic commentary on UK politics helps make the story even more memorable. After recent shenanigans in the UK Parliament, one can’t help but wonder if a conservative MP with pretty radical (and classist) views, with the peculiarity of being also a werewolf, would really be that much worse than what had been happening. (And, of course, readers in other countries would wonder the same as well, as although the details might be different, the behaviour of the political classes has been less than stellar pretty much around the world).

There is a mystery that owes plenty to the cozy genre (despite some vicious murders and the addition of the supernatural Others that usually belong in the horror genre) and is likely to attract people who are more interested in quirky and original characters than in the investigation itself.

I haven’t read the first novel in the series, so I don’t know anything about the background story between Pole and Galbraith, and I can confirm that this book can be read as a stand-alone. There are some references to the previous case, but those are contextualised and don’t affect the action or the development of the story. Of course, having read this book, I’d like to know more about the first case, but that is to be expected, having enjoyed this one so much.

The story is narrated in the third person from two of the characters’ points of view (mostly, although there are some paragraphs and comments from an outside observer’s perspective), those of Galbraith and of the criminal they are trying to track. That gives readers a better understanding of the personality of the perpetrator and the circumstances behind the crimes, some of which are well beyond anybody’s control. That doesn’t make the criminal more likeable, at least to me (his politics are quite extreme, although looking at the general political situation, it is evident that many people share similar views), but it allows us to follow his reasoning and to see how easy it could be for someone to move from similar type of thoughts to action. Despite the light tone of the story and the amusing characters and events, there is more than a slight touch of social criticism and a call to attention that is impossible to miss. From feeling privileged and proud of one’s achievement to thinking that those who aren’t as well-off as one is are undeserving of any help or assistance there is but a small step.

Chief Inspector Galbraith is a sympathetic character, and especially those readers of a certain age who have seen their jobs change and become enmeshed in bureaucracy and a never-ending litany of meetings and committees are likely to identify with him. (I had to nod at many of the situations, and some of his reflections as well).

Pole is a mysterious character who never quite reveals much about anything, especially himself —he mentions Arthur Conan Doyle and Sherlock Holmes, and it is impossible to read about his character and not think of Doyle’s creation—, but there are moments when his real feelings and emotions filter through the hundreds of years of containment and good breed. I came to like him more and more as the story progressed, and I hope there will be plenty of occasions to get to know him better in future books.

I’ve talked about the baddie already, but towards the end of the novel, a new character was introduced and became one of my favourites. Robson is a masterpiece, and he makes the closing of the investigation totally memorable. (And no, I won’t say anything else about him).

Those readers who dislike head hopping and sudden changes in viewpoint don’t need to worry, as each chapter is told from a single point of view, and it is clearly marked. Oh, and I love the old-style titles of the chapters. They are a joy.

You’ve probably guessed that I enjoyed the ending from my mention of Robson, but apart from the resolution of the case, there are a couple of scenes at the end that I also enjoyed. Especially because Pole and Galbraith share a moment that reminded me of Casablanca’s closing scene when Humphrey Bogart and Claude Rains disappear into the fog. Very understated and very moving.

So, if you enjoy mysteries but are not a stickler for realism, love quirky characters and appreciate a touch of the paranormal, have a sense of humour, and like to look at politics and society from a critical but seemingly light-hearted point of view, you should give this novel a go. The author has written plenty of historical novels and has a talent for highlighting trends, connections, and behaviours that many might not perceive. I have discovered another author whose books I’m eager to learn more about, and I’m sure I won’t be alone in this.

Thanks to Rosie and her team for the support and the suggestions, thanks to the author, and especially, thanks to all of you for visiting, reading, liking, commenting, sharing… Don’t forget to keep cool, safe, and smiling!

Oh, and before you go, I wanted to let you know that from the 20th of August, for a week or so, we’ll be having a local festival (la Festa Major de Sants), and we’ll be doing live coverage at the radio, so I’ll be quite busy. Just in case you don’t see me much around, don’t worry, I’m just busy doing radio-related things. 

Have fun!

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Book review Book reviews Tuesday Book Blog

#TuesdayBookBlog THE DEVIL AND THE DARK WATER by Stuart Turton (@BloomsburyBooks) (@stu_turton) A delightfully elaborate magic trick

Hi, all:

Here comes a book that kept popping up on blogs and articles about new books, and I was intrigued by the author and the title, so…

The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton

The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton

‘If you read one book this year, make sure it’s this one’ Daily Mail

CHOSEN AS A BOOK OF THE YEAR BY THE GUARDIAN, SUNDAY TIMES, DAILY MAIL, FINANCIAL TIMES, DAILY EXPRESS AND i PAPER

WINNER OF THE BOOKS ARE MY BAG READERS AWARD FOR FICTION
SELECTED FOR THE BBC TWO BOOK CLUB BETWEEN THE COVERS AND THE RADIO 2 JO WHILEY BOOK CLUB

An impossible murder

A remarkable detective duo
A demon who may or may not exist

It’s 1634 and Samuel Pipps, the world’s greatest detective, is being transported from the Dutch East Indies to Amsterdam, where he is facing trial and execution for a crime he may, or may not, have committed. Travelling with him is his loyal bodyguard, Arent Hayes, who is determined to prove his friend innocent, while also on board are Sara Wessel, a noble woman with a secret, and her husband, the governor general of Batavia.

But no sooner is their ship out to sea than devilry begins to blight the voyage. A strange symbol appears on the sail. A dead leper stalks the decks. Livestock are slaughtered in the night. And then the passengers hear a terrible voice whispering to them in the darkness, promising them three unholy miracles. First: an impossible pursuit. Second: an impossible theft. Third: an impossible murder. Could a demon be responsible for their misfortunes?

With Pipps imprisoned, only Arent and Sara can solve a mystery that stretches back into their past and now threatens to sink the ship, killing everybody on board…

‘A glorious mash-up of William Golding and Arthur Conan Doyle’ Val McDermid
‘A superb historical mystery: inventive, twisty, addictive and utterly beguiling … A TRIUMPH’ Will Dean

From the author of the dazzling The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, winner of the Costa Best First Novel Award, comes an audacious and original new high concept murder mystery.

https://www.amazon.com/Devil-Dark-Water-Stuart-Turton-ebook/dp/B0843JLDDN/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Devil-Dark-Water-Stuart-Turton-ebook/dp/B0843JLDDN/

https://www.amazon.es/Devil-Dark-Water-Stuart-Turton-ebook/dp/B0843JLDDN/

Author Stuart Turton

About the author:

Stuart Turton is a freelance travel journalist who has previously worked in Shanghai and Dubai. The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is his debut novel. He is the winner of the Brighton and Hove Short Story Prize and was longlisted for the BBC Radio 4 Opening Lines competition. He lives in West London with his wife.
@Stu_Turton

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17160667.Stuart_Turton

My review:

Thanks to Bloomsbury Publishing and to NetGalley for providing me an ARC copy of this book, which I freely chose to review.

Although I’d heard about Turton’s first novel, I haven’t read The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, but I was sufficiently intrigued by the comments about it, by the description of his second novel and by its setting to request a copy on NetGalley. I’ve seen The Devil and the Dark Water mentioned in many of the 2020’s lists and that was the final push I required to read it. I enjoyed the novel (what a romp!), although I suspect some readers might find it problematic, and I wouldn’t recommend it without a few words of caution. Also, I read a pretty early ARC copy, with formatting issues, and from some of the more detailed reviews I’ve read it’s evident that there are some added elements I had no access to, and there might be other changes, so I won’t go into too many specifics, to avoid confusing readers of the final published version.

The description above gives plenty of clues as to the plot, and I want to avoid spoilers. I’ve read some reviewers comparing it to a cross between a classical mystery (more Sherlock Holmes than Poirot, in my opinion) with a pirate adventure novel, and that is pretty accurate. It did remind me of an old-fashioned adventure/mystery novel (Dumas, Scott, or even Poe), but also what other authors used to call romance (not in the sense of a love story, although that might play a part as well, but a bit more of a supernatural/”magical” touch, not fitting totally in the fantasy realm or what we understand as magical realism either, but not that far from them), like some of Hawthorne’s novellas and short stories. As is sometimes the case in some of those, there are plenty of flights of fancy, detours and small paths visited, and the story is not written completely in keeping with the modern tenets of avoiding any telling and only including information that is necessary to the furthering of the plot. Quite a few of the negative reviews insisted that the book could have been edited and made much shorter, and the plot would not have suffered, and they were right, but I wasn’t too bothered about that, as I was enjoying the ride. As I came to the end of the novel, what it made me think about the most, was one of those very elaborate magic tricks, where a lot of attention is played to the staging, in order to ensure our attention is misdirected, and we are distracted, losing track of the main action, and therefore being taken by surprise at the grand reveal. I think Turton would be a great magician.

I was curious about the setting of the novel and the fact that it all takes place (or almost all of it) inside a big ship makes this the equivalent of a mystery in a grand mansion, with important twists, as they are even more isolated than the inhabitants of an isolated big house. I recently read and reviewed a modern take on that kind of mystery (Banville’s Snow) and although this is completely different, it proves that the genre keeps inspiring authors, at least to find new ways to subvert it. Even though the novel appears to fit into the historical fiction bracket, the author —on a note not included in the ARC copy I read that I’ve seen mentioned by other readers— has explained it has to be considered fiction and not expected to accurately reflect the era, and it is true that he took too many liberties with the period and even the nautical setting for history buffs or seafaring connoisseurs not to be disappointed if they read it expecting precision. Despite that, there were some general reflections about the colonial enterprise, witch-hunting, wars, and the differences in social order that made the novel go beyond a standard uncomplicated entertaining adventure. That is not to say that any of those subjects were treated in depth, but I felt they added to the story.

I won’t dissect all the characters, as there are far too many (some readers complained that it was difficult to tell them apart, the Dutch names didn’t always help matters, and that was the case as well for the many roles, positions, and aristocratic titles of some of the characters), and not all of them play important parts. Samuel Pipps is, if you want, the Sherlock Holmes of the story, brilliant and incredibly gifted, but not always the best at mixing with people or being sympathetic to their feelings or needs. In the novel, he is locked up due to some accusation, and we hear of him more than get to see him in action, and that means that Arent Hayes, the Dr Watson of the story and the one writing their adventures, gets to be the investigator. He is quite a character, and we learn plenty about him during the book, most of it interesting and some quite surprising. He is the most complex character, and I liked him a lot. Apart from him, I also liked most of the main female characters, especially Sarah and her daughter Lia, who seem to fall into the category of women going beyond their historical role of the period that has become quite popular these days. Isabel was another favourite of mine, especially because she is not of aristocratic blood but has managed to rise by virtue of her effort, her smarts, and her thirst of knowledge, and she can see beyond the stories and rumours that scare others. There are many grey and dark characters as well, some we get to know better than others, some pretty ambiguous, but there are a lot that we don’t learn anything about, because they are little more than a part of the cargo, like the animals or the spices they carried, and far less valuable when it came to the company. That felt quite true to life, although it was not one of the aspects of the story that challenged the genre (and I don’t think that was the aim of the author either).

The story is told from many different points of view, although more attention seems to be paid to Arent and Sarah, but not exclusively. That does not mean that we are given more clues than they are and, in fact, as I’ve said before, there are plenty of distractions, blind alleys, and there are many twists and red herrings that make it easy to lose sight of what is important and what is not. The author manages to draw some vivid pictures in one’s mind, and some of the scenes seem taken from a movie (and I’m sure it would turn into a spectacular one with the right creative team), although as I’ve said, the style is not exactly what many would expect from a modern book. The language is not historically accurate either, but that does not seem to have been the author’s intention. I won’t share any fragments, as I’ve already mentioned that the ARC copy had some issues that I’m sure have been solved in the published version, but I would advise people interested in reading it to check a sample. I found it easy to read in general, but as is the case with many classic mysteries, it’s necessary to remain attentive and try not to miss any clues. I understand from some reviews that the published version of the novel also contains a map of the ship, and I’m sure that would help follow the action and see how some of the scenes connect more easily than by just reading the text.

Did I guess the guilty party? Well, I worked out some of the mysteries involved, but not all, and although I reached the right conclusion pretty close to the end, I wouldn’t say I had dotted all the “i”s and crossed all the “t”s. We do get the expected big reveal scene at the end, so don’t fret too much about having missed anything. Some of the conventions are adhered to, mystery fans will be relieved to hear. The ending is happy (?) although perhaps morally ambiguous, and I know some readers weren’t too pleased about it. I enjoyed the wrapping up of everything (yes, it is far-fetched, but I’ve already said it reminds me of a high-end magic trick, so that’s not surprising), although I’m not so sure about the implications of the actual ending, if one were to take it seriously. But I don’t.

I recommend it to people who aren’t looking for an accurate historical novel but enjoy old-style adventure novels and mysteries, and appreciate more varied and enterprising female characters than tend to be the rule in that genre. Also, to those who don’t mind a touch of the magical and the unexpected (although I don’t think the classification of metaphysical I’ve seen it under is correct) and aren’t after a hard-hitting modern narrative. I am aware that some readers of Turton’s first novel weren’t impressed by this one, although some enjoyed it as well, so you might want to temper your expectations if you have read him before. I can’t comment on it directly, but after reading this one I’m more intrigued to catch up on his debut novel. In sum, it is great fun, especially if you love adventures and don’t take it too seriously.

Thanks to NetGalley, to the publishers, and of course the author, for this fun adventure, thanks to all of you for reading, and remember to take care, be safe, and keep reading, reviewing and sharing if you find something you like. ♥

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Book review Book reviews

#Bookreview THE OTHER PEOPLE by C.J. Tudor The Other People by C. J. Tudor (@cjtudor) (@penguinrandom) Conspiracy theory, twist and turns, revenge and a touch of the supernatural

Hi all:

I bring you the third book by an author I’ve followed from the beginning of her career.

The Other People by C.J. Tudor

The Other People by C. J. Tudor

The chilling new novel from the Sunday Times bestselling author of The Chalk Man & The Taking of Annie Thorne

‘C. J. Tudor has done it again. A mesmerizingly chilling and atmospheric page-turner’ J.P. Delaney, bestselling author of The Girl Before

She sleeps, a pale girl in a white room . . .

Driving home one night, stuck behind a rusty old car, Gabe sees a little girl’s face appear in the rear window.

She mouths one word: ‘Daddy.’

It’s his five-year-old daughter, Izzy.

He never sees her again.

Three years later, Gabe spends his days and nights travelling up and down the motorway, searching for the car that took his daughter, refusing to give up hope, even though most people believe that Izzy is dead.

Fran and her daughter, Alice, also put in a lot of miles on the motorway. Not searching. But running. Trying to keep one step ahead of the people who want to hurt them.

Because Fran knows the truth. She knows what really happened to Gabe’s daughter. She knows who is responsible. And she knows what they will do if they ever catch up with her and Alice . . .

‘CJ Tudor is terrific. I can’t wait to see what she does next’ Harlan Coben

A creepy, intense novel that drew me right in and never let go’ Samantha Downing, author of My Lovely Wife

‘A darkly compelling tale of justice, revenge and the darkness lurking at the edges of everyday life – with an utterly propulsive plot that makes it very, very hard to put down’ TM Logan, author of The Holiday

‘Hugely enjoyable and deliciously creepy. I was hooked from its gripping opening, all the way through its many twist and turns’ Alex Michaelides, author of The Silent Patient

‘Utterly magnificent. Such a beautifully weaved and satisfyingly complex tale, with just the right level of spookiness’ James Oswald

‘Chilling and utterly gripping. Loved the twists and the well-drawn everyday details. A fantastic new book from the Queen of Creepy’ Will Dean, bestselling author of Red Snow

Praise for C. J. Tudor:

‘Britain’s female Stephen King’ Daily Mail

‘Some writers have it, and C. J. Tudor has it big time. The Taking of Annie Thorne is terrific in every way’ Lee Child

‘If you like my stuff, you’ll like this’ Stephen King

‘A tense gripper with a leave-the-lights-on shock ending’ Sunday Times

‘Utterly magnificent. Such a beautifully weaved and satisfyingly complex tale, with just the right level of spookiness’ James Oswald

https://www.amazon.com/Other-People-C-J-Tudor-ebook/dp/B07NRY6VCL/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Other-People-C-J-Tudor-ebook/dp/B07NRY6VCL/

https://www.amazon.es/Other-People-C-J-Tudor-ebook/dp/B07NRY6VCL/

Author C.J. Tudor
Author C.J. Tudor

About the author:

C.J. Tudor was born in Salisbury and grew up in Nottingham, where she still lives with her partner and young daughter.

She left school at sixteen and has had a variety of jobs over the years, including trainee reporter, radio scriptwriter, shop assistant, ad agency copywriter and voiceover.

In the early nineties, she fell into a job as a television presenter for a show on Channel 4 called Moviewatch. Although a terrible presenter, she got to interview acting legends such as Sigourney Weaver, Michael Douglas, Emma Thompson and Robin Williams. She also annoyed Tim Robbins by asking a question about Susan Sarandon’s breasts and was extremely flattered when Robert Downey Junior showed her his chest.

While writing the Chalk Man she ran a dog-walking business, walking over twenty dogs a week as well as looking after her little girl.

She’s been writing since she was a child but only knuckled down to it properly in her thirties. Her English teacher once told her that if she ‘did not become Prime Minister or a best-selling author’ he would be ‘very disappointed.’

The Chalk Man was inspired by a tub of chalks a friend bought for her daughter’s second birthday. One afternoon they drew chalk figures all over the driveway. Later that night she opened the back door to be confronted by weird stick men everywhere. In the dark, they looked incredibly sinister. She called to her partner: ‘These chalk men look really creepy in the dark . . .’

She is never knowingly over-dressed. She has never owned a handbag and the last time she wore heels (twelve years ago) she broke a tooth.

She loves The Killers, Foo Fighters and Frank Turner. Her favourite venue is Rock City.

Her favourite films are Ghostbusters and The Lost Boys. Her favourite authors are Stephen King, Michael Marshall and Harlan Coben.

She is SO glad she was a teenager in the eighties.

She firmly believes that there are no finer meals than takeaway pizza and champagne, or chips with curry sauce after a night out.

Everyone calls her Caz.

https://www.amazon.com/C.-J.-Tudor/e/B074WBT1GL?

My review:

Thanks to NetGalley and to Penguin UK for providing me an ARC copy of this novel, which I freely chose to review.

I have read and reviewed the two previous novels published by this author (The Chalk Man and The Taking of Annie Thorne) and enjoyed them both, although, personally, I was bowled over by the first, and slightly less so by the second. This one, for me, falls somewhere in between. The premise behind the book is gripping, and it’s impossible not to put yourself in the shoes of the main character, Gabe, and imagine what having such an experience would feel like. The premise is quite intriguing; there are many twists and turns, and although thriller lovers might guess some aspects of the plot, the story is build up in such a way that it’s difficult to get the full picture until you’re quite close to the end. On the other hand, the supernatural element and the way the story is told might not be to everybody’s taste.

I will not go into a lot of detail about the plot, because I think the description gives a good indication of what readers might find, and I want to avoid spoilers. Some aspects of the story will seem fairly familiar to followers of the genre (and to those who also watch a lot of thriller, mystery, and action movies); the book itself mentions Hitchcock’s Strangers in a Train, and readers will think about many other films (I also thought about the Lady Vanishes, although more modern versions also exist, and similar movies where somebody goes missing and nobody believes the story of the person trying to find him or her, be it a relative, or a total stranger), but Tudor is very skilled at mixing what appear to be disparate elements and creating something new and fresh. There is also a good dose of conspiracy theory behind the story (a very interesting part of it, dark web and all, although perhaps one that is not explained in as much detail as some readers would like), and, as I have mentioned, a supernatural element as well. I enjoyed the overall story and how it was developed, although I got the sense that this is a novel best read quickly and taken at face value, as it does require a fairly large dose of suspension of disbelief, and if readers stop to analyse every little detail, they’re likely to find fault with it. The supernatural element means that people looking for a totally plausible and convincing thriller will be disappointed, but because that part of the story is not fully explained either, fans of the supernatural might feel cheated as well, although those who prefer the magical/unexplained elements of a story to remain open to interpretation, will be happy.

The story deals in a variety of subjects like grief, loss, revenge, regret, remorse, punishment, family relationships, truth and lies, love, making amends, and it questions our sense of justice. How far would we go to get justice if we lost a loved one due to somebody else’s actions? What would be the right price to pay? Can we truly forgive and forget? What about extenuating circumstances? Is an eye for an eye the only kind of justice we understand? And where does it stop? The three main characters (Gabe, Fran, and Katie) reflect upon very similar topics throughout the book, and there are many quotable and memorable fragments, although some reviewers were not too enamoured with this aspect of the novel, as they felt it detracted from the flow of the book (I enjoyed them, but sometimes the “kill your darlings” advice came to mind, and the reflections by the different characters were not always distinct enough to differentiate between them or help create an image of the characters’ personalities in the mind of the reader).

I’ve mentioned the three characters already, and they are introduced to us through their actions and the story —as we meet them in the thick of things— rather than as individuals with their distinct personalities and belief systems. We slowly learn more about them as the novel progresses, and we discover that although the story is told in the third person, mostly from the points of view of the three protagonists (but not exclusively), that does not mean we get an accurate depiction of their lives and past. While Tudor’s two previous novels where written in the first person, and both narrators were notably unreliable, I wouldn’t say the change in the point of view results in an objective account. In fact, by following the three characters —that we might suspect are linked although we don’t know how at first— we get different aspects and alternating versions of events that eventually fit together (and we also see each character through the eyes and perspective of the others). I am not sure how convincing I found any of the characters. I quite liked Katie, perhaps because I feel she’s the more consistent and well described of the three, and she tries hard to do the right thing. While I empathised with Gabe due to his situation (as most readers are likely to do), this was more at an intellectual level, rather than because of personal affinity, and for me, my sympathy decreased the more I learned about him, although I admit he is an interesting character. Fran… well, we don’t learn as much about her as about the others, and like Gabe, we discover things about her that make us question what we thought we knew (although less so than with Gabe). I did like the girl, but we only briefly get to see things from her point of view, and her reflections seem very grown up for her age, although it’s true that her circumstances are pretty unique. There is also a baddy, although we don’t learn who that is until the end (but I think a lot of readers will have their suspicions before they reach that point), a character that weighs heavily on the story despite not playing too active a role, and some pretty mysterious characters, that are not fully explained, especially one. Yes, I know I sound mysterious, but it’s truly intentional.

I’ve read some reviews complaining of the changes in point of view, saying that it’s confusing. I didn’t find it so, and as I said, I also enjoyed the character’s pseudo-philosophical reflections, although they did not always help advance the plot, but this book combines a variety of genres, and I felt the writing style suited the combination well. It is not purely action-driven, and the narration is not just scene after scene pushing the plot forward, but that also helps give readers time to digest the story and to keep trying to work out how all the parts fit in. In my opinion, Tudor writes very well, and I wonder in which direction her writing will go in the future.

Just a couple of quotes from the book:

People say hate and bitterness will destroy you. They’re wrong. It’s hope. Hope will devour you from the inside like a parasite. It will leave you hanging like bait above a shark. But hope won’t kill you. It’s not that kind.

‘A fresh start.’ Fresh start. Like life was a carton of milk. When one went sour you threw it out and opened another.

Regarding the ending… Well, I’ve already mentioned that the supernatural element is not fully explained, and some readers were very annoyed by that, either because they felt it was unnecessary to the story and it detracted from the overall credibility of the plot, or because they thought that the supernatural aspect of the story should have been developed further rather than just introduced and left to readers’ imagination. There is a fair amount of telling at the end, and it did remind me of classical mysteries, where one of the characters would piece together the explanation after talking to everybody and getting all the facts, summarising the story to make sure everything was clear. The many twists mean that we get some false endings as well and there is an epilogue that finalises everything, introducing a hopeful note as well and one not as hopeful. As I have mentioned before, the ending makes sense in the context of the story, but this is not a police procedural, and I’m sure sticklers for details and those who are looking for something totally realistic might question it. Considering the many different threads weaved by the novel, I thought the ending was quite successful in bringing it all together, with the caveats mentioned.

In sum, this is a book I’d recommend to those who enjoy thrillers that combine a number of different elements, very twisty, not too focused on strict realism and consistent characters, and who don’t mind a touch of the supernatural. It is not a fast and quick thriller, but rather one that builds up at a slower pace, with detours that allow the reader to reflect upon subjects pertinent to the genre. Many interesting elements, intriguing characters, and good writing. I wonder where the writer will go next, and I wouldn’t mind following her into other genres.

Thanks to NetGalley, the publisher, and the author, for the novel, thanks to all of you for reading, and of course, if you’ve enjoyed it or know anybody who might, feel free to share, comment, click… And always keep reading and smiling! 🙂

 

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

#Bookreview RBRT HELL HOLES: WHAT LURKS BELOW (VOL. 1) by Donald Firesmith (@DonFiresmith) Science,horror, fantasy, paranormal and plenty of action #TuesdayBookBlog

Hi all:

Today I bring you a review of a novel that, depending on how you look at it, either fits in many genres or doesn’t fit in any. It’s set in Alaska, that as you know I want to go and visit in the future, but after reading this… I still want to go, but perhaps I’ll be watchful for holes.

Hell Holes. What Lurks Below (Vol. 1) by Donald Firesmith
Hell Holes. What Lurks Below (Vol. 1) by Donald Firesmith

Hell Holes: What Lurks Below (Volume 1) by Donald Firesmith Science,horror, fantasy, paranormal and plenty of action.

A geologist, his climatologist wife, two graduate students, a local newspaper reporter, an oil company representative, and a field biologist travel to one of dozens of huge holes that have mysteriously appeared in the tundra of the North Slope of Alaska. Their mission is to research these strange craters that threaten financial and environmental catastrophe should they open up under the Trans-Alaska Pipeline or any of the many oil wells and smaller pipelines that feed it. Unfortunately, a far worse danger lurks below, one that threatens to destroy all of humanity when it emerges. Who will survive the demonic invasion to flee south towards the safety of Fairbanks?

Here, my review:

I received a free ARC copy of the book and I voluntarily decided to review it. I am also sharing this review as part of Rosie’s Book Review Team.

Hell Holes is an intriguing book and one difficult to classify. Set in Alaska, the prologue already gives us a hint about what is to come, but once we start reading the account written by Professor Jack Oswald, we get taken in by the mystery of the holes, and by the hypotheses suggested, sending us in the direction of science-fiction. The explanations and the possible scenarios are plausibly rendered and the fact that Oswald’s wife, Angie, studies the effect of climate change, add to the interest, although that line of investigation doesn’t last long.

The plot turns soon when the holes prove to be dangerous in more ways than one, and paranormal and fantastic elements become more important as the plot moves on. There are also horror elements, like the monsters and the destruction and killings, and we do get more than a few hair-raising moments.

As often happens with some of these genres, there is a fair amount of exposition, regarding the set-up of the different pump stations and oil fields, and later about the supernatural elements (as one of the characters is revealed to be completely different to what we thought at first sight). As there is a description of the different Hell inhabitants later on after the end of the story, it might feel somewhat repetitive.

The book is also very short, even more than it looks like when we check the pages, as the end comes at around 80% of the book length, and the rest is taken by a summary/description, a cast of hell characters, a brief biography of the author and a longish sample of the next book, that follows (with a slight overlap) from the first one. From the sample, we see that the second book in the series is narrated by Professor Oswald’s wife.

The novel (novella) is plot-driven, and once the chase is on, the book moves quickly and never lets off, and we don’t have much chance to notice that we do not know the characters in detail, and there is plenty of room for development. The first person narration would seem to allow for a more in depth knowledge of the main character, but although there are some glimpses of guilty feelings and a strong sense of responsibility that make Oswald come across as a good man, this is after all supposed to be an account written by him for other eyes, to do with facts not feelings, and it does not dwell much on subjective matters. There might be time to get to know the characters more during the series but one suspects that the action will continue taking pride of place in the next novels.

There are series where it doesn’t matter where you start reading (or it matters less and it’s possible to read any novel and enjoy it in its own right without feeling you’re missing the context). This is not the case here, as although the story seems to be told from different points of view in the different books, it is all the same story. And in case you hate cliff-hangers, the book ends up in a worrying twist/hook. But, fear not, because if you read the sample of the next book at the end, at least that hook is solved.

The book is an easy and quick read and an action-filled one that you’ll imagine as a TV series or a movie with no difficulty. If you’re a stickler for specific genres and strong characters it might not suit you, and you might question some of the details, but if you’re looking for an entertaining read that moves easily between genres, and don’t mind investing in a series, give it a try.

hell-holes-what-lurks-card

A few links, both to the author and to the book (and yes, he makes wands!):

Author Websites/Webpages: DonaldFiresmith.comAmazonBookBubBooklifeFacebookGoodreads,ScribdSmashwordsWattpad 

Personal:  About.MeFacebookGoogle+TwitterWebsiteWikipedia

ACM Distinguished Engineer: LinkedInResearch Gate,  SEISlideshare 

Hell Holes: What Lurks Below: AmazonApple iBooksBarnes and NobleCreateSpaceGoodreadsIndigoKoboSmashwords

 Wand Maker: EtsyFacebookWand Shop

Thanks to the author for providing me a copy of the book, thanks to Rosie for her fabulous team of reviewers, thanks to all of you for reading, and you know what to do: like, share, comment, and CLICK!

 

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New books Reviews

#Newbook and #bookreview. Demon Road (The Demon Road Trilogy, Book 1) by Derek Landy (@DerekLandy) and Desolation (The Demon Road Trilogy, Book 2). Are you ready for a road trip?

Hi all:

On Fridays I normally bring you new books and/or authors. As I’ve told you I’m in the middle of a bit of a reading and translation spree, and when checking the books I’d read recently I realised that I hadn’t shared the review for one of them (that I’d had my eye on for a while but had resisted so far…) Demon Road by Derek Landy (YA, fantasy, horror…) and these days, the second book in the trilogy was being released, so I thought that was a bit of a strike in two. Review the first book and share the second (that is already waiting in my kindle)…

So, first things first….

Demon Road (The Demon Road Trilogy, Book 1) by Derek Landy
Demon Road (The Demon Road Trilogy, Book 1) by Derek Landy

Description:

The epic new thriller begins.

The creator of the number one best-selling Skulduggery Pleasant series returns with the story of a girl on the run from everything she loves…and the monsters that await her.

For anyone who ever thought their parents were monster…Amber Lamont is a normal 16-year-old. Smart but insecure, she spends most of her time online, where she can avoid her beautiful, aloof parents and their weird friends.

But when a shocking encounter reveals a horrifying secret, Amber is forced to go on the run. Killer cars, vampires, undead serial killers and red skinned, horned demons – Amber hurtles from one threat to the next, revealing the terror woven into the very fabric of her life. As her parents close in behind her, Amber’s only chance rests with her fellow travellers, who are not at all what they appear to be….

Witty, action-packed and heart stoppingly thrilling, Demon Road will take you on an epic road trip across the supernatural landscape of America.

Demon Road (The Demon Road Trilogy, Book 1) Kindle Edition by Derek Landy  A road trip, a quest and a coming of age story to hell and back

Thanks to Net Galley and to Harper Collins Children’s Books for offering me a free copy of the novel in exchange for an unbiased review.

Demon Road is a coming of age novel of sorts. Amber, the protagonist, is sixteen and discovers that her parents, whom she’s always known weren’t exactly ordinary, are demons and so are their friends, and now she’s started turning too. Worse still, they’re determined to eat her to comply with the terms of a deal they made with the Shining Demon in exchange for power (not that they are particularly sorry about that). With the help of one of her parent’s friends, who’s decided the demonic lifestyle is no longer for her, Amber sets off on a journey to try and save herself by making her own deal. She travels in a car that’s not quite what it seems, with Milo, a bodyguard/chauffer that isn’t what he seems either. The novel follows them in their journey through the different stages of their trip, investigating the many clues, trying to find the one individual who might hold the secret to solving her problem.

Demon Road is also a road trip. The protagonist and her team (Milo and Glen, another character who’s also made a rather stupid deal and has ended up lumbered with a death mark) travel through the Demon Road of the title, a supernatural route linking strange beings, places and happenings, where everybody knows more than they say and people are never who they seem to be. The adventures Amber and her friends/associates (the relationships are open to interpretation) get into are fascinating and varied, going from towns haunted by supernatural serial killers, others with vampires gone out of control, a witch in love in the depths of a forest, winged creatures in New York, and lots of hiding and fighting. Any of the adventures they get involved in would make a great story in its own right and they ensure the plot keeps moving along at a good pace and never gets boring.

Demon Road is a quest. Amber makes a deal which results in her having to look for the only person who’s ever managed to trick the Shining Demon. Every stage of her quest brings her in contact with people, both human and supernatural beings, which have an impact on her and how she sees the world. She also has to come to terms with her new self and not all she learns is positive. As a hero (or heroine) she’s flawed. She can be compassionate and human, and the next minute act on impulse and hurt somebody. She can be quite clever at times and make stupid mistakes at others. She’s easy to anger and lacking in self-confidence but she can be magnificent. She’s not an immediately likeable character although her sense of humour and her capacity for self-reflection make her interesting. Like in all quests, the main character’s search becomes a search for her true self.

Because of all these things, and although the overall pace of the book is reasonably fast, it can feel uneven. It is composed of a number of set pieces interconnected by the trip resulting in a fair amount of telling rather than showing, as they always come upon places or events that have to be explained and grasped, and things slow down at that point and then accelerate when the action comes. Some of those episodes feel more rushed than others (for me the episode with the witch didn’t seem to quite fit in with the time allocated to it, and the bonding between the women and Amber seemed too fast, considering the amount of time they were together. On the other hand I loved the idea and the concept of that story) as if the clock counting down Amber’s time to complete her mission would speed up and slow down. Although it’s true that time is relative and the story is told from a subjective perspective…

The book is written in the third person although it follows Amber’s character and we get her insights and point of view. The writing is dynamic and easy and despite its length, the novel is a quick read.

We have very little information about most of the characters, although that’s in keeping with Amber’s point of view, and it helps us share her feelings, emotions, confusion and attempts at making sense of what’s going on. Milo and his relationship with his car is very intriguing and, at least for me, one of the big successes of the novel. We get some hints of his story but I get the feeling there’s much more to come. Glen might be a divisive one that some readers might love and others hate. I found him at times annoying but at others endearing.  Although there are some characters that don’t seem to have any redeeming qualities, most of them are grey rather than black or white, and I thought that added to the complexity of the book and gave it a touch of realism.

There isn’t a love story (at least not so far) and although that might put some readers of the genre off, I didn’t mind so much. The ending is both an ending and it sets off the stage for the next chapter in the story.

In sum this is a novel that packs a lot of stories into a single book, with characters that are interesting if not immediately likeable, and although not perfect, it’s a great read. I’m looking forward to the next book.

Links:

http://amzn.to/1qz52We

http://amzn.to/1qz53cw

Here if you want to check a preview:

And now, the second book in the trilogy:

Desolation (The Demon Road Trilogy, Book 2) by Derek Landy
Desolation (The Demon Road Trilogy, Book 2) by Derek Landy

Desolation (The Demon Road Trilogy, Book 2) by Derek Landy

THE EPIC NEW THRILLER CONTINUES.

Book two in the mind-blowing new supernatural thriller from bestselling author DEREK LANDY, creator of international sensation Skulduggery Pleasant.

Reeling from their bloody encounter in New York City at the end of Demon Road, Amber and Milo flee north. On their trail are the Hounds of Hell – five demonic bikers who will stop at nothing to drag their quarries back to their unholy master.

Amber and Milo’s only hope lies within Desolation Hill – a small town with a big secret; a town with a darkness to it, where evil seeps through the very floorboards. Until, on one night every year, it spills over onto the streets and all hell breaks loose.

And that night is coming…

Links:

http://amzn.to/23nZ87Y

http://amzn.to/23nZawT

If you want to have a look:

Thanks to Net Galley, to Harper Collins Children’s Books and to Derek Landy for the books, thanks to you for reading, and you know, if you fancy a trip, like, share, comment and CLICK!

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