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review 2019-02-08 23:06
Dark, scary, and gripping.
The Nowhere Child - Christian White

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

I’ve read quite a few books by Australian writers recently (Liane Moriarty, Jane Harper, Liza Perrat), and although very different, I enjoyed all of them and could not resist when I saw this novel, especially as it had won an award Harper’s first novel The Dry also won.

Although part of this novel is set in Australia, it is not the largest or the most important part of it. This novel is set in two time frames and in two places, and the distance in time and space seems abysmal at times. The novel starts with a bang. Kim, the main protagonist, an Australian photographer in her late twenties, receives an unexpected visit and some even more unexpected news. This part of the story, the “now”, is narrated in the first person from Kim’s point of view, and that has the effect of putting the readers in her place and making them wonder what they would do and how they would feel if suddenly their lives were turned on their heads, and they discovered everything they thought they knew about themselves, their families, and their identities, was a lie. She is a quiet woman, and although she gets on well with her stepfather and her half-sister, and she badly misses her mother, who died a little while back, she’s always been quite different to the rest of the members of her family, and enjoys her own company more than socialising. There are also strange dreams that bother her from time to time. So, although she does not want to believe it when the stranger tells her she was abducted from a small town in Kentucky as a little girl, she is not as surprised as she should be. At this point, we seem to be in the presence of a domestic drama, one where family secrets are perhaps a bit darker than we are used to, but the plot seems in keeping with the genre. And most of the “now” section of the book is closer in tone and atmosphere to that genre.

But we have the other part. The “then”, written in the third person, from a variety of characters’ points of view. Readers who dislike head-hopping don’t need to worry, though, because each chapter in the “past” section is told from only one character’s point of view, and it is quite clear who that is, avoiding any possible confusion. The story of the background to the kidnapping, and the investigation that followed, is told from the point of view of members of little Sammy’s family, the sheriff (I really liked him), neighbours of the town, and other characters that at first we might not grasp how they are related to the story, but it all ends up making sense eventually. This part of the novel feels much more gripping and dynamic than the other, and although we don’t always follow the characters for very long, the author manages to create credible and sympathetic (or not so sympathetic) individuals, some that we get to feel for and care, and even when they do some pretty horrible things, most of them feel realistic and understandable. And the story of what happened in the past makes for a pretty dark combination of thriller and mystery, well-paced and gripping.

I don’t want to give too much away, but I must say the town of Manson of the novel is a place that seems right out of a dark fairy tale, and I kept thinking of the opening titles of the TV series True Blood (not because of any supernatural thing, but because of some of the images that appear there). While some of the scenes seem typical of a small town in the middle of nowhere, others reminded me of Southern Gothic novels, and, a word of warning: there is violence, and there are scenes that can be terrifying to some readers (although no, this is not a horror novel, the author is not lying when he says he admires and has learned a lot from Stephen King). The story is full of secrets, red-herrings and confusing information, clues that seem clear but are not, and Kim/Sammy is a woman who keeps her emotions to herself, understandably so considering the circumstances. I am not sure many readers will connect with Kim straight away because of her personality, but I understand the author’s choice. If she was an emotional wreck all the time, it would be impossible for her to do what she does and to learn the truth, and the novel would be unbearable to read, more of a melodrama than a thriller or a dark mystery. The part of the story that deals with the present helps reduce the tension somewhat while keeping the intrigue ticking, and although it feels slow and sedate compared to the other part, it does ramp up as they dig into the past and the two stories advance towards their resolution.

Without going into detail, I can say that I enjoyed the ending, and although I suspected what was coming, I only realised what was likely to happen very late in the story. Despite this being the author’s first novel, his screenwriting experience is evident, and he has a knack for creating unforgettable scenes. This is a novel destined to become a movie, for sure, and I’d be surprised if it doesn’t.

This is not a typical mystery or thriller, and although it has elements of the domestic noir, it is perhaps more extreme and darker than others I have read in that genre. We have a very young child being kidnapped; we have murder, extreme religious beliefs, prejudice, postnatal depression, a dysfunctional family, snakes, secrets, lies, child abuse, and more. If you are looking for an intriguing read, don’t mind different timelines and narrators, and are not put off by difficult subjects and scary scenes, you must read this one.

 

 

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review 2019-01-19 17:35
Review: "Bound Gods: Betrayed" (Bound Gods, #3) by Adrienne Wilder
Bound Gods: Betrayed - Adrienne Wilder

This was NOT a romance, not even in the broadest sense, but simply torture porn.

 

75% of this book was just torture scene after torture scene between a sadist, a pain slut and an idiot. None of it was even remotely arousing or sexy, but just cringeworthy and painful to read. I skimmed through most of it.

 

The rest consisted of boring dialogues, repetitive explanations, and a plot that hasn't really moved any forward since the last book. I really don't care about any of the characters enough to find out what's gonna happen to them, nor do I want to continue with this series.

 

And that's why I call it quits here.

 

~ 2 stars ~

 

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review 2019-01-16 17:50
Review: "Bound Gods: Chained" (Bound Gods, #2) by Adrienne Wilder
Bound Gods: Chained - Adrienne Wilder

Truly not for the faint of heart, and I really, REALLY hate everything about sounding *cringes and screams internally* and especially reading about it in excruciating detail. SO not my kink. And yet I can't stop reading this series. 

 

~ 4 stars ~

 

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review 2019-01-14 14:34
Review: "Bound Gods: The Chimera" (Bound Gods, #1) by Adrienne Wilder
Bound Gods: The Chimera - Adrienne Wilder

A promising and intense start to this series. I'm intrigued.

 

~ 4 stars ~

 

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review 2018-12-11 22:32
Book Review of The Lore of Prometheus by Graham Austin-King
The Lore of Prometheus - Graham Austin-King

John Carver has three rules: Don't drink in the daytime, don't gamble when the luck has gone, and don't talk to the dead people who come to visit.

 

It has been almost five years since the incident in Kabul. Since the magic stirred within him and the stories began. Fleeing the army, running from the whispers, the guilt, and the fear he was losing his mind, Carver fell into addiction, dragging himself through life one day at a time.

 

Desperation has pulled him back to Afghanistan, back to the heat, the dust, and the truth he worked so hard to avoid. But there are others, obsessed with power and forbidden magics, who will stop at nothing to learn the truth of his gifts. Abducted and chained, Carver must break more than his own rules if he is to harness this power and survive.

 

Review 4.5 rounded up to 5*

 

This story is a fantastic mix of action, danger and magic. I loved it!

 

John Carver is an ex-soldier and war veteran. I liked this man a lot. He's someone you want watching your back, but he's seen and done things most civilians don't experience. He's faced danger and sacrificed much to protect others. When his squad was killed in Kabul five years before, his life changed forever. Some call it PTSD, others call it crazy, but John's also known to some as The Miracle of Kabul. To find out why you'll need to read the book. In dire need of funds, he finds himself headed back to Afghanistan as a security consultant. But things are not so simple, and as danger threatens, he will have to embrace his inner power once more.

 

Mackenzie Cartwright is a nurse working in Kabul, kidnapped while heading home after a shift at the local hospital. I liked her a lot too. She has an inner strength that shines through, even when dealing with her capture and subsequent torture.

 

This story is not for the faint-hearted and told through John's and Mackenzie's point of view. I was riveted to the story from the first page and didn't put it down until I finished it. Having read Faithless in 2017, I was expecting a dark, atmospheric tale, and that's what I got, though it was a little less claustrophobic since its set in a desert rather than an underground mine. I could tell a lot of research had gone into the writing of this book, from the military-speak to the weapons used, and everything in between. None of the violence is gratuitous in any way; it only enhances the realistic feel to the story.

Both John and Mackenzie go through hell, so there's little wonder their psyche becomes fractured. I think it was Lewis Caroll, who's character, The Cheshire Cat, said (and I'm paraphrasing here), "We're all a little insane here." What is reality? What is normal? The author explores this concept and adds a twist to it. We know only a fraction of what the brain is capable of, so who's to say that there's no potential for our minds to evolve to use capabilities such as ESP, telekinesis and other paranormal activity. It would be interesting to find out. But it could be several decades, if not a few hundred years before the human mind is understood enough to know if these powers are latent within everyone. Or if it's our perception of the world around us that creates our reality. I find it intriguing.

 

There is a lot of action, particularly towards the middle and end of the book, that had me sitting on the edge of my seat. By the time I reached the end of the book, I felt breathless and was left wanting more. I don't know if the author intends to turn this into a series, but I would be interested to see what John and Mackenzie are capable of together in the future.

 

Graham Austin-King has written an exciting, dark military fiction novel that kept me turning the pages. This book is superb! I think that this book is a lot stronger than The Riven Wyrde Saga and shows this author's growth in confidence as a writer. I love his fast-paced writing style, and the story flowed wonderfully from beginning to end. The characters came alive on the page and felt remarkably lifelike.

 

Although there is mention of sex, it’s not explicitly shown. Nevertheless, I do not recommend this book to young children or those of a nervous disposition, as there are scenes of violence and gore (battle scenes amongst others) that could be very disturbing to some readers. However, I highly recommend this book to older teens and adults alike if you love dark thrillers, military fiction, and/or paranormal fantasy stories that have an X-Men feel to them. - Lynn Worton

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