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review 2017-04-01 11:09
The Haunted Grange of Goresthorpe
The Haunted Grange Of Goresthorpe - Arthur Conan Doyle

The Haunted Grange of Goresthorpe is a previously unknown short story written by a young Arthur Conan Doyle, and was only discovered when Blackwood's archives were donated to The National Library of Scotland in 1942.

 

In 2000, the Arthur Conan Doyle Society received the necessary permissions to publish the story for the first time.  I found a copy of it in a used-book sales list and snapped it up because A. it's Doyle and B. it's a ghost story.

 

As with any kind of previously unknown story posthumously published, this slim volume has a preface, an introduction and an afterword.  But in this case, the result is so presumptuous it's hilarious.  We start with a reasonable 2 paragraph statement from the copyright holders and a 1.5 page preface by the Librarian of the National Library of Scotland.  This is followed by a 38 page introduction by the head of the Arthur Conan Doyle Society, broken into chapters.

 

Lots of introductions are long, although I've never actually seen one split into chapters before.  But here's the kicker:

 

The Haunted Grange of Goresthorpe is only 9 pages long.

 

So we have an introduction that is fully 4 times longer than the story itself; to add insult to injury, Owen Dudley Edwards spends much of that 38 pages talking about how juvenile an effort this story is on Doyle's part (in fairness, he argues this is understandable, as it's believed to be his first effort).  

 

I realise I'm not a lettered, learned, literary expert (although I can alliterate with the best of 'em!), but I must respectfully (or not) disagree with Mr. Dudley Edwards:  I thought this was a ripping good ghost story!  Conan Doyle is an undisputed master of the short story form, and in 9 measly pages he sets the scene, the atmosphere, the backstory, the dare, and finally a delightfully hair-raising climax and ghostly encounters.  I didn't find the writing juvenile in any way; indeed the writing never got in the way of the story; unlike Dudley Edwards' attempts.

 

If you have the chance to read this, do.  Just skip the introduction, and enjoy the story; it may not be his best, but it's still better than most writers at their best.

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review 2017-03-23 23:08
Etched in Bone (The Others, #5)
Etched in Bone - Anne Bishop

Every book in this series have been marathon reads for me, and Etched in Bone was no exception.  I picked it up yesterday morning and pretty much did absolutely nothing else until I read the last page about midnight last night (although I did stop, in the name of marital harmony, to shovel some dinner down; luckily, there was a footy game on last night, so the shovelling went largely unnoticed).

 

I have loved every moment of this series; been sucked into this world so thoroughly that interruptions leave me hazy about reality and I have been as attached to these characters as much as, or more, than any others.  Possibly more than real people I know. 

 

But... this one; this final book concerning Meg and Simon, was not as great as the first 4.  Because this book deviated from the rules the author created for The Others.  In any of the other books, Jimmy would have been a stain on the sidewalk before chapter 3.  I get what she was trying to do here, I get what she wanted to explore, but it was not done as gracefully, and the effect felt forced; its execution more heavy handed.  In short, Jimmy got on my nerves; I stopped being horrified and started getting irritated and mumbling 'why isn't this man dead yet???'.

 

Still, I'd recommend this to anyone who likes urban fantasy and/or parables.  Because this whole series is one giant parable about the human race: our capacity for grace, our capacity for vice, and our wholesale destruction of everything in our path as long as we remain unchecked.  As horrifying as The Others are, I can't look around at what's going on today and not sort of wish our Earth had Naimid's teeth and claws to protect her.

 

I'm attached so thoroughly to these characters in the Courtyard, I'm not sure I'll read the next book; which is apparently in the same universe but with a different setting and characters.  I want more Tess!  But I'll definitely be re-reading these.

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review 2017-03-21 09:49
Silence Fallen (Mercy Thompson, #10)
Silence Fallen - Patricia Briggs

Mercy is kidnapped by vampires and is taken to Europe, where she escapes, but has no clothes, no money and no passport and must stay on the run until Adam can find her and neutralise the threat to herself and her pack.

 

I'll admit I was less enthusiastic about this one that I normally am about the books in this series, because my first thoughts ran along the lines of 'oh, yay.  Woman in peril who must fight to survive and over come obstacles over and over again.'

 

I could not have been more wrong.  Yes, there are perils and obstacles, but they are more than balanced out by moments of control and action and intelligence.  This book was also far more about political negotiations and intelligence analysis, if you'll excuse the out-of-place term here, and I loved that.  This felt like a far more intelligent novel that the previous books.

 

And for the first time in I can't even remember how long, I was totally blown away by the twist.  Never. saw. that. coming.  I actually exclaimed 'holy sh*t!' out loud.  Well played, Briggs.  Absolutely brilliant.

 

There wasn't anything I didn't thoroughly enjoy in this book; I had no complaints at all.

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review 2017-03-10 07:15
The Revenant of Thraxton Hall
The Revenant of Thraxton Hall - Vaughn Entwistle

I'm going to use one of my dad's favourite sayings and call this one fair to middling. 

 

On the surface it should have been a guaranteed-to-please-me read: I'm intrigued by Wilde, Conan Doyle is one of only a couple of people I'd go back in time to meet, and the it's a ghost story set on the moors.  In spite of all of this, I remained nothing but an indifferent observer from start to finish; I failed to connect with Wilde or Doyle, and the ghosts failed to thrill.  Additionally, the twisty part of the plot was something I saw coming from the start, although how Doyle got there at the end was so twisty and convoluted, I'm still not sure I get how he did it.

 

He did totally pull one over on me regarding the Count though; did not see that one coming.

 

This is the first of a series, but I doubt I'll be searching out the second one.  

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review 2017-03-03 05:23
Phantom Kiss (Chicagoland Vampires, #12.5)
Phantom Kiss - Chloe Neill

After realising my last read was a DNF, this is what I grabbed from my iBooks app.  I love the Chicagoland vampire series; its books are always fun and the snark factor is high.  It's my love for the characters that got this short novella the third star.  Otherwise, the editing was non-existent; at one point the MC tries to share the important (to the plot) information that their house had no ghosts, but thanks to the editor that wasn't there, actually says that they did.  There was also zero mystery about who the grave robber was; the plot was transparent from go to woe*.

 

I still enjoyed it though; again, strictly for the characters.  The book coming out in April is the last one; so I'll take all the Ethan, Merit, Catcher and Mallory I can get.  

 

(* go to woe - Aussie slang of the day, meaning 'beginning to end')

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