Disclaimer: reviewing unedited digital proof via NetGalley.
Sometime in the 1800s or so in Sparrow, OR, three sisters were drowned for being witches (& seducing all the guys). Two centuries later, they still return every summer to possess three girls in town and drown boys in revenge.
The lighthouse keeper's daughter is still reeling after the disappearance (and presumed death) of her father. When a strange boy comes to town the day before the drowning season, she offers him a place to stay. That night, she dreams of the sea.
This is kind of a hard one to review without spoilers. It does some fascinating things with identity and perspective, and the twists are the kind you anticipate and dread as they creep up on you with slow inevitability. Rich worldbuilding conveys a sense of a smalltown/vacation town on the coast, the uneasy sea, and the tension of belonging and acceptance that becomes especially critical in such a close-knit community. Interesting things happening with sexuality/identity, though this comfortably enjoyable read tends to avoid looking at the ick factor of girls being possessed by the dead and sleeping with the boys in town while under the spell too closely. The story feels fresh, and the style or voice is immediate and engaging. Around midway through, it seemed like it was shaping up to be a romance. Keep in mind that tragedy, horror, and suspense are core to the story and settle in for the ride. As a whole, it feels like a quiet read with strong interiority, rather than a pacy thriller - but on the other hand, I inhaled it in like a day, so it definitely doesn't drag.
Spectacularly atmospheric and creeptastic new read that walks the line between dark fantasy and paranormal. It's a really great tone, more quiet and pensive, with a good helping of horror and historic fic snuck in there. You may or may not see the twists coming, but they carry weight regardless. Feels fresh and familiar at the same time. Definitely an author to watch.
There's a mythology out there surrounding Cleopatra. Whether it's the manner in which she presented herself to Caesar or the intrigue surrounding how she died. *Side note- I can't remember which History Channel show (one of the ones that use to actually discuss history, I imagine) but there was one that proved the whole rug thing, could have never happened. She would have died before she got to Caesar. * Everyone has an opinion of the woman. If you are one of the few people who don't have an opinion, plenty has been written about the woman. An opinion would be easy to come by. This story, however, cares very little for Cleopatra. This is a story about Ptolemy and Arsinoe, Cleopatra's siblings/spouses/pains in her backside.
Actually, this is a story about Ptolemy and what happens when little boys become men. Somewhere among the constant descriptions of wet dreams and the use of the f-word (Which by the way, I need to do some research on. Was that even a word ancient Egyptians would have known?), Ptolemy is fighting to earn the respect he deserves as the rightful king of Egypt. The reader is introduced to an 11 year old Ptolemy who is struggling to mature into the powerful ruler Egypt needs in order to keep Rome at bay. The author would have your believe that the most important aspect of presiding over a dynasty is "conquering" the women around you. I guess that comes with a lot of nocturnal emissions. The fact that Arsinoe (and occasionally Cleopatra) are the focus of his wet dreams doesn't bother me. I am well versed enough in my ancient dynasties to know that if you are a Ptolemy, it means you have to marry your sister, or in some cases, your step-mom. I get that. It doesn't bother me. What drove me bonkers was the constant focus on Ptolemy and his penis. If I wanted to read a book about what goes on when a boy becomes a man, I'd go back to 7th grade health. And to be perfectly honest, as a mother of girls, I'm trying to avoid thinking about the primal urges of teenage boys before I absolutely have to. I'm going to loose enough sleep over that at some point in my life.
When the reader isn't asked to feel bad for Ptolemy and his penis, we are asked to feel sorry for Arsinoe. Apparently Arsinoe has some major choices to make. Should she f*ck her brother or Alexander, her childhood playmate? Or does she just throw herself into being Cleopatra's minion? The last one is kind of an afterthought. Arsinoe feels like an afterthought (which she kind of is in the grand scheme of things). This was one of the biggest let downs for me. In the previous novel, the reader is introduced to this spunky, tough little Arsinoe who literally fights to survive a shattered Egypt. Suddenly, Cleopatra is back! So now, she turns into a mopey teenage girl who only wants Alexander to throw her against the way and have his way with her? Ugh.
Maybe at this point you are starting to wonder how I could possibly give this book as many as three stars. Why would I even continue to read this book after the fifth Ptolemy wet dream? Because I was hoping the author would bring back some of what made the previous novel so good. She did. For about the last 75 pages. The battle at sea between Arsinoe and Caesar? The writing was exceptional. Had that style been on display for the entire novel, this would easily be a 5 star book. It also means, I'm probably going to pick up the third and final novel. I have to see how this ends, right?
I listened to the audio version of this book and really enjoyed the narrator. I was frustrated with the main character because she seemed odd. If you only read the parts she spoke you would think she was mentally disabled. She stammered all the time and did not seem like the professional journalist she was supposed to be. Sure she was having trouble with anxiety but I don´t believe she would have been sent on this trip. She just didn´t seem capable of her job....or speaking. I did enjoy the book though and definitely recommend the audio book.
Lo wakes up one night and realizes something isn´t right. She isn´t sure what woke her up but her bedroom door is shut and she didn´t shut it. She opens it and sees a man standing there. He has a mask on and surgical gloves and in his hands was her purse. She is paralyzed with fear. The man suddenly slams the door in her face and smashes the lock, trapping her in her room. Her face was hit by the door when it was slammed and she is dazed and bleeding. She can´t call for help since her phone was in her purse. When she finally gets out she finds the intruder is gone and so is her purse with wallet and ID. He also took her computer which had her banking into on it. She puts on a brave face but inside she is traumatized. She calls to tell her employer why she didn´t come in but she said she was fine for the cruise she was set to go on. Lo is a travel journalist and excited to finally get a chance to prove herself. The trip was going okay until she woke up suddenly. She thought she scream and then she heard a big splash like someone someone falling into the water. She looks out and thinks she sees a hand below the surface. She called to report it but the chief of security doesn´t believe her... because no one was missing. The person who was going to be in cabin 10 cancelled at the last minute. But Lo talked to a woman that was in there and borrowed a mascara from her. Now she is sure someone killed her and threw her overboard. How could she get them to believe her?
"Tell me, Eirene, to whom do we owe our loyalty: the living or the dead.”
Eirene gave her a curious look. “ The living, my queen. The dead have already abandoned us.”
Lines like this are causing me to have a love/hate relationship. Mainly because these scenes are followed by a chapter about a teenage boy and his wet dreams.