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review 2020-05-14 15:43
A totally immersing and wonderful reading experience
The Glass House - Eve Chase

Thanks to Penguin UK - Michael Joseph and NetGalley for providing me an ARC copy of this book that I freely chose to review. This is the first time I’ve read one of Eve Chase’s novels, and I’m sure it won’t be the last one as I found it a totally immersing and wonderful experience.

The plot has something of the fairy tale (or of several fairy tales), as this is a dual-timeline story where we read about some events that took place in the early 1970s —although that part of the action (in fact, the whole book) has something timeless about it— and then others that are taking place in the present. The story is told from three different points of view, those of Rita (told in a deep third person, as readers are privy to her feelings and thoughts), a very tall nanny (they call her ‘Big Rita’) with a tragic past; Hera, one of her charges, an intelligent and troubled child (almost a teen), who is more aware of what is truly going on around her than the adults realise; and Sylvia, a recently separated woman, mother of an eighteen-year-old girl, Annie, and trying to get used to an independent lifestyle again. Both, Hera and Sylvia, tell the story in the first person, and the chapters alternate between the three narrators and the two timelines. Rita and Hera’s narratives start in the 1970s and are intrinsically linked, telling the story of the Harrington family and of a summer holiday in the family home in the Forest of Dean, intended as a therapeutic break for the mother of the family, which turns up to be anything but. Most readers will imagine that Sylvia’s story, set in the present, must be related to that of the other two women, but it is not immediately evident how. There are secrets, mysteries, adultery, murders, lost and found babies, romance, tragedy, accidents, terraria (or terrariums, like the lovely one in the cover of the book), cruelty, fire… The book is classed under Gothic fiction (and in many ways it has many of the elements we’d expect from a Victorian Gothic novel, or a fairy tale, as I said), and also as a domestic thriller, and yes, it also fits in that category, but with a lot more symbolism than is usual in that genre, a house in the forest rather than a suburban or a city home, and some characters that are larger than life.

Loss, grief, identity (how we define ourselves and how we are marked by family tradition and the stories we are told growing up), the relationship between mothers and daughters, and what makes a family a family are among the themes running through the novel, as are memory and the different ways people try to cope with trauma and painful past events.

I’ve mentioned the characters in passing, and although some of them might sound familiar when we start reading about them (Rita, the shy woman, too tall and scarred to be considered attractive, who seeks refuge in other people’s family; Hera, the young girl growing in a wealthy family with a mother who has mental health problems and a largely absent father; and Sylvia, a woman in her forties suddenly confronted with having to truly become an adult when both, her mother and her daughter need her), there is more to them than meets the eye, and they all grow and evolve during the novel, having to confront some painful truths in the process. I liked Rita and Sylvia from the beginning, even though I don’t have much in common with either of them, and felt sorry for Hera. Although the events and the story require a degree of suspension of disbelief greater than in other novels, the characters, their emotions, and their reactions are understandable and feel real within the remit of the story, and it would be difficult to read it and not feel for them.

I loved the style that offers a good mix of descriptive writing (especially vivid when dealing with the setting of the story, the forest, Devon, and the terrarium) and more symbolic and lyrical writing when dealing with the emotions and the state of mind of the characters. At times, we can almost physically share in their experiences, hear the noises in the woods, or smell the sea breeze. This is not a rushed story, and although the action and the plot move along at a reasonable pace, there is enough time to stop to contemplate and marvel at a fern, the feel of a baby’s skin, or the music from a guitar. This is not a frantic thriller but a rather precious story, and it won’t suit people looking for constant action and a fast pace. I’ve read some reviews where readers complained about feeling confused by the dual time lines and the different narrators, although I didn’t find it confusing as each chapter is clearly marked and labelled (both with mention of the time and the character whose point of view we are reading). I recommend anybody thinking about reading the book to check a sample first, to see if it is a good fit for their taste.

The ending… I’m going to avoid spoilers, as usual, but I liked the way everything comes together and fits in. Did I work out what was going on? Some of the revelations happen quite early, but some of the details don’t come to light until much later, and the author is masterful in the way she drops clues that we might miss and obscures/hides information until the right moment. I guessed some of the points, others I only realised quite close to the actual ending, but, in any case, I loved how it all came together, like in a fairy tale, only even better.

This is a novel for readers who don’t mind letting their imagination fly and who are not looking for a totally realistic novel based on fact. With wonderful characters, magnificent settings, many elements that will make readers think of fairy tales, and a Gothic feel, this is a great novel, and an author whose work I look forward to reading again in the near future.

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review 2020-04-29 11:59
Crimson Hunter (Fairy Tale Fatale #1) by N.D. Jones
Crimson Hunter (Fairy Tale Fatale #1) - N.D. Jones

@booksirens, #Dark, #Fantasy, #Paranormal, 5 out of 5 (exceptional)

 

CRIMSON HUNTER is the first book in the Fairy Tale Fatale series. There is a bit of time jumping here - we start in the present, go back to the past, before working back to the present. This gives you a great insight into the background of what has happened and why.

 

This story deals with the subjugation of both the main parties - witches and wolves. It explains the history and what happens to both sides as they grow up. I honestly can't say which side has it better or worse!

 

The characters themselves are amazing. Some of them are lovely and you are left with a lump in your throat as you try to figure out just what has happened. Others are downright manipulative (you'll figure out who!) although they do have a heart - it's just misguided through their own pasts.

 

This is a rich and intricate world with plenty of rules and traditions in place. I would love to read more about this world and, hopefully, hear more about Oriana and Marrok! Most definitely recommended by me.

 

* A copy of this book was provided to me with no requirements for a review. I voluntarily read this book, and the comments here are my honest opinion. *

 

Merissa
Archaeolibrarian - I Dig Good Books!

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review 2020-04-28 03:07
A Heart so Fierce and Broken
A Heart so Fierce and Broken - Brigid Kemmerer

 

This book is a continuation of the story told in A Curse so Dark and Lonely (an enthralling retelling of Beauty and the Beast). I loved this second book even more than the first one!

 

In this book, we follow Grey as he deals with the fallout of the information he learned at the end of book 1.  NO SPOILERS HERE!!

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review 2020-04-27 02:42
The Enchantress Returns
The Land of Stories: The Enchantress Returns - Chris Colfer

 

This is a great series that twists the fairy tales we know and love and makes them into an amazing story with loads of adventure and excitement. Love it and can't wait to read more.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2020-04-24 06:23
Review: The Sisters Grimm by Menna van Praag
The Sisters Grimm - Menna van Praag

***Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you Netgalley and Harper Voyager!***

 

The first thing that drew me to this book was the cover. I mean, look at it. It is probably one of the most gorgeous book covers that I have ever seen. Then the title. The Sisters Grimm. Immediately my mind is drawn to fairy tales. I love fairy tales. And I love fairy tell re-tellings. But this book is a perfect example of a good idea that got beaten to death with poor writing and poor execution.

 

***SPOILER ALERT: Be aware, this is a spoilery review. The ranty ones typically are.

 

 

The basic idea of this book is that a demon (Wilhelm I think his name was) has fathered thousands of sisters Grimm on earth. I am not sure if this is metaphysical thing or a biological thing, but some of the daughters have mothers who are also Grimm sisters. So, ew, I imagine at some point in the history of this world we had some incest. As children, the Grimm sisters can come and go from “Everywhere”, a magical forest, as they please. But as they age they forget this place until about a month before their 18th birthday, which is when they start to remember and get their powers back. Wilhelm also has soldiers, who are transformed into babies from stars (WTF?), and their life’s mission is to kill Grimm sisters on their 18th birthdays. Then something about the Grimm sisters who survive have to choose good or evil and then their father kills them if they choose good and then….well, the author didn’t both to tell me what happens then.

 

That was my first big problem with this book. Despite being 400 pages long, the author didn’t bother to explain anything to me. I have no idea how the world works, how the magic works, why things are this way, or what the rules are. I am not even clear on what the sisters’ powers are. Scarlet can start fires, Liyana can telepathically listen in on other people’s minds, Bea can transform things with her mind. And I have no idea what Goldie can do except mentally tell people what to do and they sometimes listen. And all of them have other powers that randomly appear and don’t seem to relate to anything else they can do, at all.

 

Since we’re talking about the girls, let’s talk about how utterly devoid of personality all of them are. I honestly could not tell the difference between any of them until someone used their name or until Bea or Liyana would occasionally throw in a non-English word into an otherwise entirely English conversation….seemingly in order to remind me that they were the book’s representation of other ethnicities and cultures.

 

Now let’s talk about the technicals of the writing. It was bad. It was the single most confusing book that I have ever read. There are SO MANY narrators. Everywhere (yes the forest is a narrator), Goldie, Scarlet, Bea, Liyana, Leo, Wilhelm, Liyana’s aunt….and I am pretty sure there were a few others in there that I’m forgetting too. Between these narrators, some of them are told in first person, some in second person, and some in third person. And the narrator changes approximately every page and a half. With me so far? Now let’s throw in some chapters in the past for some extra fun so that we have past tense, present tense, and future tense. It was so difficult to read. It gave me a headache when I actually tried to concentrate on who was speaking and what time period we were in.

 

I also don’t appreciate what the author did to poor Vali. He was a nice guy. And despite the book’s message of empowerment, all Bea did was belittle the poor guy. She called him fat, called him all sorts of other names, made fun of him for being a virgin and then ultimately killed him! Then she has the nerve to get upset about him dying because she didn’t mean to. Way to go Bea, you bullied him to death. The author did him dirty and I am still mad about it.

 

I finally gave up on this book after 245 pages. My brain couldn’t handle it anymore and I found that I really didn’t care how it ends. Leo is not going to kill Goldie, Goldie will probably choose good. Liyana and Scarlet will probably die because they were entirely expendable in the rest of the book so why not? And Bea will probably live and choose evil. Or maybe all four of them survive and choose good in order to challenge their father. But really, who cares? The author hasn’t made me care about their upcoming battle or told me why the outcome matters, so why should I spend any more of my time finding out?

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