This book was recommended to me on Twitter. I’d replied to a thread about SciFi and said I thought I didn’t like the genre until I read some SciFi by women, and cited Margaret Atwood, Ursula K LeGuin and Octavia Butler as writers whose work I’d really enjoyed. One person suggested I try this trilogy by Jemisin, and I’m glad I did. Personally I am surprised this is classed as SciFi. Is it the alternate world setting that qualifies it as part of the genre? It felt like fantasy to me but, either way, I loved it.
It’s a tricksy, twisty narrative, but to explain why would be to spoil some of the fun, so I’ll attempt to write a spoiler-free review. The narrative is split between three POVs -Syenite, Damaya, and a second-person narrative Essun. All three are orogenes, people with the ability to manipulate the earth and rock to create or stop earthquakes. Because of this catastrophic power orogenes are feared and shunned by the rest of society known as stills.
It begins with the death of a child and a quest for revenge, but this is woven into a wider story which questions the fundamentals of a society which is constantly threatened by mass extinction. The main characters are beautifully drawn and the world-building is rich and vivid, with brilliant expletives and fascinating customs and politics. It is absolutely not somewhere I would wish to live.
I’ll be ordering the next book in the series with my next paycheck and if you enjoy alternate worlds and (what ostensibly feels like) magic, I would suggest you grab a copy and lose yourself in 449 delightful pages.
‘Still,’ I said, feeling that it was worth trying, ‘it’s part of the great web, what?’
‘One of Marcus Aurelius’s cracks. He said: “Does aught befall you? It is good. It is part of the destiny of the Universe ordained for you from the beginning. All that befalls you is part of the great web.”’
From the brusque manner in which he damned and blasted Marcus Aurelius, I gathered that, just as had happened when Jeeves sprang it on me, the gag had failed to bring balm. I hadn’t had much hope that it would. I doubt, as a matter of fact, if Marcus Aurelius’s material is ever the stuff to give the troops at a moment when they have just stubbed their toe on the brick of Fate. You want to wait till the agony has abated.
This was ridiculously good fun. I love Jeeves and Wooster series but some stories are better than others, and this was one of the best ones. Dare I say, it was on the same level as the one with Aunt Dahlia and the cow creamer? I like that one, too.
Anyway, in this one Bertie is trying to help a couple of his friends to untangle some obstacles in their love lives, and of course, just makes it worse. What stood out from the start in this one, however, is that Bertie is not just having to deal with one of his own aunts, but also no less than five aunts of one of his friends' betrothed...and five aunts is really more than anyone should be expected to deal with.
While there is slapstick galore in this story, we also get to see Bertie from new angles. For example, we learn that he - as many of us do - resorts to reading to calm his nerves:
"I have generally found on these occasions when the heart is heavy that the best thing to do is to curl up with a good goose-flesher and try to forget, and fortunately I had packed among my effects one called Murder At Greystone Grange. I started to turn its pages now, and found that I couldn’t have made a sounder move. It was one of those works in which Baronets are constantly being discovered dead in libraries and the heroine can’t turn in for a night without a Thing popping through a panel in the wall of her bedroom and starting to chuck its weight about, and it was not long before I was so soothed that I was able to switch off the light and fall into a refreshing sleep, which lasted, as my refreshing sleeps always do, till the coming of the morning cup of tea."
I write this review as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team (authors, if you are looking for reviews, check here), and I freely chose to review an ARC copy of this novel.
This is another great find by Rosie and although I wasn’t familiar with the author (who also publishes under her real name, Denise Deegan), I’m convinced this won’t be the last time I read one of her books.
The description of the book does a good job of highlighting the main aspects of the plot: we have Grace, a woman escaping a difficult and dangerous marriage, with her teenage children, Jack and Holly, hopeful that returning back to the village where she grew up will offer them all a second chance. There awaits her father, Des, who is going through a major change in his life (he’s a recently retired family doctor suffering from early stages of Parkinson’s disease) and doesn’t know the ins and outs of Grace’s decision. Moving from Dublin to a small and sleepy village comes as a shock to Grace’s children, and she finds it difficult to confront the gossip and the expectations of having to step into her father’s shoes. But, this novel about second chances builds up slowly and we see that although not everything is ideal and there are misunderstandings and difficulties to be ironed out, Killrowan, the place and its community, is a place worth sticking with.
The novel touches on a variety of themes: abusive marriages and family relationships (and how difficult it is to walk out); starting over in a different place, picking up friendships and relationships, and rebuilding one’s life; the struggles of dealing with a chronic and debilitating illness; how much one’s self-identity can be enmeshed with our profession and our job; the differences between a big city and a small village; being a family doctor in a rural/village location; how teenagers feel when they have to move and be uprooted from school, friends…; the role animals play in helping us fit in a place and feel rooted; small community life, with hits highs and lows; and even a hint of possible romance(s). There are funny moments, plenty of heart-warming episodes, some scary and nasty shocks as well, some sad and touching stories, and even medical emergencies and action scenes thrown in. In her acknowledgements, the author highlights the process of her creation and her research and having read the novel, I can confirm that it has paid off. She manages to weave all the topics into a novel that brings the characters and the village to life, and I was delighted to read that she is thinking about a sequel. I’d love to go back to Killrowan and revisit the places and the characters that have also become my friends.
Alexander creates multi-dimensional characters easy to relate with. Grace doubts herself and is forever questioning her actions and doubting other people’s motive. Her self-confidence has suffered after years of being undermined and abused by her husband, and she feels guilty for uprooting her family, while at the same time experiencing the thrill of freedom. The novel is written in deep third person and allows us to see the action from different points of view. Grace’s point of view dominates the book, although we also see what her father, Des —another fantastic character who treads carefully and whose life suddenly regains a meaning when his daughter and grandchildren come to live with him— thinks and does, how both of Grace’s children, Jack and Holly, feel, faced with a completely different environment (Jack was the popular sporty type, while Holly had a hard time fitting in and had no friends other than her dog). We meet some fantastic characters in the community, like the scary (at least at first) receptionist at the doctor’s surgery; the butcher’s wife (a gossip with a big heart); Grace’s old pals, Alan (with some secrets of his own) and Ivonne; Benji, a wonderful dog that adopts the family; a handsome American writer; the wife of a local magnate (who reminds Grace of herself); Des’s old love; the local policeman; Grace’s partner at the doctor’s surgery and some of her patients, although not everybody is nice, don’t worry. We also get brief snippets of the events from some of the other character’s perspectives, not only the Sullivans, and that gives us access to privileged information at times. Although the different characters’ points of view aren’t separated by chapters, they are clearly differentiated, and I experienced no confusion while reading, quite the opposite. I enjoyed the opportunity to share in the bigger picture.
The writing style is fluid and flows well, without rushing us through the events, allowing us time to reflect upon events, enjoy the wonderful settings (the sea, the beach, the island, the pub…) and become acquainted with the location, the emotions, and the characters. The author knows well the area, and although Killrowan doesn’t exist (or, at least I couldn’t find it), it feels real (and some of the comments and attitudes Grace and her family experience reminded me of similar events I had witnessed in a small village I used to visit when I was younger) and it leaps from the pages. I confess to enjoying the style of the writing and feeling emotionally engaged with the story (I’d recommend having tissues handy). I’ve selected a couple of quotes to share, but as usual, readers might want to check a sample of the book to see if it suits their taste before purchasing it.
Here Grace is thinking about the family dog and how his death gave her the strength to finally leave her husband.
Benji was more than a dog. He was family. And her defender. Tiny little ball of fur rushing to the rescue. Or trying. Tiny little ball of fur that brought so much comfort to all three of them, Holly especially. Benji knew when they needed love and he gave it in spades.
Here Des is thinking about retirement.
What fool started the tradition of watches as retirement presents? Any thinking person would know that the last thing a man would want is to count all the time he now has on his hands.
Holly had just told her brother that their mother wanted to start over, and Grace realises her daughter is right.
Minutes ago, it had been to escape Simon, shake him off. But escaping Simon is still all about Simon. Grace sees that now. What she must do is start over. Because that is about Grace.
The ending is more than satisfying as well. Yes, not everything is settled and sorted in the end, but this is a book about new beginnings, and we leave the Sullivans and Killrowan to carry on merrily, getting to know each other and discovering what new changes and challenges life will bring. As I mentioned above, the author hints at a possible sequel, and I hope it comes to be.
This is a novel full of heart, friendship, a strong sense of community, and also heartache and personal growth. It is inspiring and comforting in these times when we have been obliged to live pretty enclosed lives. I agree with the TV series mentioned in the description (Call the Midwife one of my favourites), and I’m sure fans of any of those will enjoy this novel, which fits perfectly in the feel-good category, although that does not mean it hides from the most unsavoury aspects of life. There are menacing and dark moments, none too explicit, and I’d recommend it to anybody who enjoys stories with a heart, fond of Ireland and stories with an Irish background, and those who want a gentle read full of wonderful characters and a memorable community we’d all be happy to join.
actual rating: 3.5
Inhalt: Die offizielle Vorgeschichte zum großen Serienereignis auf NETFLIX
Nur noch einen Sommer hat Sabrina Spellman bis zu ihrem 16. Geburtstag. Dann wird alles anders werden: Sie wird in den dunklen Hexenzirkel aufgenommen und muss allen normalsterblichen Menschen entsagen; ihren Freundinnen - und ihrer großen Liebe Harvey. Wird sie das schaffen? Und liebt Harvey sie überhaupt so sehr wie sie ihn? Um das herauszufinden, lässt sich Sabrina von ihrem Cousin Ambrose zu einem gefährlichen Plan überreden: Sie wendet bei Harvey einen Zauber an. Etwas, was ihr ihre beiden Tanten, ebenfalls Hexen, absolut verboten haben. Nicht ohne Grund, denn plötzlich ist mehr als nur ein Leben in großer Gefahr...
Meine Bewertung: Besser als ich gedacht hatte!!!
Ich liebe die Serie einfach und da ich alles aufgeholt hab, was es zu gucken gab, habe ich mir vorgenommen mich den Büchern zu widmen. Einfach um erneut in die Welt einzutauchen und mich mit den Charakteren zu beschäftigen.
Der Schreibstil/Erzähler des Hörbuches war auch wirklich gut.
Es gab jetzt keine großen Überraschungen, es gab nichts was mich jetzt irgendwie total begeistert hätte. Trotzdem war es ein wirklich gutes Lesevergnügen, kurz aber gut. Es hat mir die Charaktere nochmal ein bisschen näher gebracht, vor allem Tommy, mit dem ich in der Serie nie was anfangen konnte, der ist mir erst jetzt durch das Buch so wirklich ans herz gewachsen. Damit hatte ich nicht gerechnet.
Ich werde auf jeden fall bei den Büchern bleiben, den zweiten Band habe ich schon.
Summary: From the creator of RIVERDALE comes the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, a new NETFLIX series based on the classic Archie comic series. This prequel YA novel tells an all-new, original story.
It's the summer before her sixteenth birthday, and Sabrina Spellman knows her world is about to change. She's always studied magic and spells with her aunts, Hilda and Zelda. But she's also lived a normal mortal life - attending Baxter High, hanging out with her friends Susie and Roz, and going to the movies with her boyfriend, Harvey Kinkle.
Now time is running out on her every day, normal world, and leaving behind Roz and Susie and Harvey is a lot harder than she thought it would be. Especially because Sabrina isn't sure how Harvey feels about her. Her cousin Ambrose suggests performing a spell to discover Harvey's true feelings. But when a mysterious wood spirit interferes, the spell backfires in a big way.
Sabrina has always been attracted to the power of being a witch. But now she can't help wondering if that power is leading her down the wrong path. Will she choose to forsake the path of lightand follow the path of night?
Our exclusive prequel novel will reveal a side of Sabrina not seen on the new NETFLIX show. What choice will Sabrina make and will it be the right one?
My review: Better than I expected!!!
I love the tv show and because I'm all caught up on everything there is to watch, I decided to dive into the books. I just want to go back into the world and interact with the characters again.
The writing/the narrator of the audiobook was also really good.
There weren't any big surprises, there wasn't anything that rocked my world. I still enjoyed this a lot though, even tho it was a really quick reading adventure. But it managed to make me feel closer to some of the characters, especially Tommy, who I was super indifferent about in the show, the book made me fall in love with him. I didn't expect that at all.
I'm totally going to stick with the books, I already got the second book ready.