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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-09-07 19:33
The Between by Tananarive Due
The Between: Novel, A - Tananarive Due

The Between by Tananarive Due
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When threatening letters soon find their way to his wife, Hilton James becomes seriously afraid for the safety of his family. Being the first African-American judge in Dade County, Florida, it can be any number of individuals that Dede has prosecuted. With tensions running high, and the threats getting worse, Hilton's own picture-perfect life, as well as his own reality, begin to fray at the edges.

(WARNING: This review contains minor spoilers.)

This one wasn’t even remotely on my radar before it was brought to my attention by Mike Thorn, author of Darkest Hours. I decided to pick a random suggested novel, as generally my favourites are books other people have told me to read. That’s the great thing about the community; you never know what you’ll end up with. I found Due’s eerily crafted story to be rather complex, and in all honestly, it was that complexity that intrigued me even further. This wasn’t a typical ghost story, but a breach in one person’s reality. It was emotional, and I oftentimes experienced discomfort in how much Due toyed with the mental states of her characters; their lives truly took a traumatising turn and that downward spiral was dammed scary. I was shocked to find how much I wanted things to work out for the James family, and as events escalated that pesky sense of dread never did subside. You see, when an author can humanise their characters enough for me to regard them like actual living, breathing people, then that’s where my ultimate attachment lies. Much like a family unit they tried desperately to overcome the unexpected, and we all know what that’s like, even if our daily problems aren’t supernatural in origin.

I do have to admit that I found it to have a rocky beginning. Hilton didn’t really leave me with a good first impression, what with secretly lusting after one of his former patients and then complaining about his very busy and stressed out wife. Despite these unappealing actions however, I eventually warmed to him and felt sympathy toward his plight. He had his obvious flaws and whilst some of his mistakes actually disgusted me, I couldn’t help but acknowledge his struggle. The further I progressed into the chapters, the more his life went to ruin - it was akin to watching a trainwreck. Do you ever feel the need to put down a book because it just got too heavy for you? Well, there were moments throughout where I needed a respite. This being my very first encounter with Due's writing, I was thrilled at how captivating her use of prose was. I think, overall, I prefer a less straight-forward structure, and more of an artfully constructed one. Here, it highly benefited the tone of the book.

The plot did well in making me question the legitimacy of Hilton’s bizarre experiences. At times it was left open enough to theorise on if he was actually mentally ill and suffering from some form of schizophrenia, or if he truly was being hunted by reflections of himself. The added aspect of African spirituality also interested me a great deal; I'm always in search of fiction that will prompt me to do research on beliefs I wouldn't otherwise be aware of. As I've already mentioned, the complexity came in the form of certain elements being intentionally vague and left open to interpretation. The dreams, the occurrences that seemed to erase themselves, they all hinted that something very thought provoking was at play.

In conclusion: A heart-wrenching story of one family and the otherworldly forces trying to tear them apart. I found the story-telling to be engaging, endearing, and successful in making my mind whirl. It was however draining at times, to the point I needed time to recover. I definitely want more of Due's works on my shelf though, and here's hoping they're just as emotionally charged.

Notable Scene:

Even with the humidity in the little house and the steam from pots boiling over on top of the stove, their lids bouncing like angry demons, Nana's flesh felt as cold as just-drawn well water. As cold as December. He'd never touched a person who felt that way, and even as a child he knew only dead people turned cold like that.

© Red Lace 2018


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Source: redlace.reviews/2018/09/07/the-between-by-tananarive-due
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review 2017-09-27 00:00
The Good House
The Good House - Tananarive Due The Good House was a damn good book. Tananarive Due delivers a story that will make you have every single feel she can drudge up in you. From hope to horror, from tearing down to buildling up, and everything in between. This is a book that will have you going “Oh, Jesus,” and yet unable to look away. The deaths will haunt you. Angela’s journey will rock you.

I’m not a fan of child death in horror. Pretty much anyone who knows me and has listened to me talk about horror knows that. I consider it to be a weak writing prop, and I’ll even snarl at some of my writer acquaintances for it. (Sorry, Mike!) However, sometimes, just sometimes it’s done right. It has shock value – because, hello, child death – but it makes so much sense in the story that you accept it. That’s how it was in The Good House. It wasn’t a couple trying to get a fresh start after a baby’s death. It didn’t linger on a child’s dead body for giggles. The deaths are there, and they are terrible, but they are not lingered upon. And they play a role.

Angela, the primary character in The Good House, is beautiful, flawed, and strong. She’s a woman I spent the majority of the book feeling with. Yes, feeling ‘with’. I know her struggles. The first time I connected with her was when Due writes about her struggles to sleep, and the thoughts and images that bombard her prior to it. Angela is afraid of falling asleep, but not really afraid of sleeping itself, and I get that. I struggle with it every night. I wanted to reach into the pages and share a beer with her, and just say “I know, honey. I know.”

Words have a powerful magic when used well, and Tananarive Due conjures that magic up effortlessly in The Good House. All the characters leap off the page, even if you only meet them for a few moments. There have been several books lately where I’ve had trouble keeping the characters straight or even just remembering their names. There wasn’t a chance of that happening here. Grandma Marie, Myles, Corey, Sean, even Art and Glenn felt so real you would half expect to run into them on the street. And even though the book is set just a short time after the turn of the millenium, the only thing that really dates it is the mention of the music.

Now, mind, I didn’t care for everything in The Good House. There was a lot of sexual stuff involved and that just didn’t do it for me. (Mostly because I was reading this on my downtime at work and didn’t want anyone seeing some heated stuff on my screen! But also, in general, I don’t like sex and horror to mix.) And I have to confess I’m still not entirely sure how Tariq came to play the role that he played in the book. In fact if I could ask the author just one question, it would be to please clarify how he got involved in the very beginning. (But I won’t say more so I don’t spoil anything!)
And, it pains me to say this, but the very end felt like a little bit out of a cop-out in The Good House. I can understand why she did it, but it was just like “Nooo! Don’t weaken it now!”

My favorite quote:

“I’m in the film business, remember — and if this were a movie, this is the part where the audience would be screaming for the woman to get out of the house. So that’s exactly what I’m doing.” – The Good House by Tananarive Due

Overall, even though it didn’t quite hit it out of the park for me, I really enjoyed The Good House. It’s so very well written, beautifully imagined, and almost cinematic in its feel. I’m so happy I finally got around to reading Tananarive Due, and I seriously doubt this will be the last book I read from her.
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review 2016-10-11 12:55
The Good House ★★★☆☆
The Good House - Tananarive Due

I originally read this back in 2010 and won't completely re-write my review from that time, but I am revising the rating down to a 3 from my original 4 stars. My feelings about the book a second time around are the same, but this time I felt that there were some serious pacing problems toward the end. The action is ramped up, then comes to a screeching halt with an interlude looking back at previous events, then back to action, then back to previous events. I found myself skipping forward over bits of it to get back to the action, which isn't easy to do on audio. 

 

Still would recommend.

 

I read this for the Diverse Authors Can Be Spooky Fun square for the 2016 Halloween Bingo. 

 

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review 2016-09-25 00:00
My Soul to Keep
My Soul to Keep - Tananarive Due I was going to read and finish this for Halloween Bingo 2016, but since this is a DNF, it doesn't count towards the bingo. I finally just gave up reading this after I realized that I didn't like either main characters, and the book pace was so slow, it was positively glacial.

We find a man (or is he?) visiting an old woman in a retirement home. The man is sad to see that the woman has grown old (by the way this is really stupid when the reveal shows who he is, shocker dude, people get old) and then kills her to put her out of her and his misery.

We then switch to a woman named Jessica who is awoken when she finds her husband is in a panic because their dog seems to be in distress. We find out a lot about Jessica pretty early on, she is selfish as the day is long. Instead of really seeming upset about the dog, she is upset that she was the one who put her husband off of calling the vet when he thought something was going on with their dog. She's upset because her daughter is going to get upset and she doesn't know what she will do about that. And she's upset because she's going to have to get up and go to the work in the morning on very little sleep.

Then the book switches to the man in the beginning called Dawit (you would have to not be paying attention at all to realize who Dawit is) and we get his struggle to be in the world with mere humans.

The book goes back and forth between Jessica and Dawit and you start to see a very sad pattern of both of them being selfish, neither one of them wanting to deal with other people and their problems really.

There is a random murder thrown in and it didn't make any sense to me and all it did was make me dislike the character of Dawit a lot more.

The writing seemed okay, I think the issue for me is that I didn't get a sense of these two characters at all. They were very flat. Even the secondary characters (Jessica's mother and sister) don't come alive. Though we do get Jessica judging her sister for not having a man in her life so she thinks her sister is just upset that Jessica has a husband and daughter.

The flow wasn't great. We jump back and forth between Jessica and Dawit and we find out how Dawit came to become immortal. Just take Jesus Christ, blood, and stir the plot.

I was disappointed because this series has been recommended to me for a long time and I really hope to read this and finish it off since there are three more books. Sadly, I am going to pass on finishing this and starting any of the other books.
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review 2016-09-14 15:54
Diverse Author Square
My Soul to Keep - Tananarive Due

What do you do when you discover the truth of your husband?  Depends on what that truth is, doesn’t it? 

 

                Due’s book is an examination of a relationship that is tested because the man, the husband, is an immortal.  That is the main conflict of the story – what happens when the truth is revealed.

 

                Jessica is a woman with problems.  She is too dependent on her husband, too worried about what he thinks.  She fears and worried that she wouldn’t get married, so perhaps she settled.  At least, this is some of what her sister and mother think.  In some ways, Jessica ties into the question of what makes a complete life, should a women feel that she needs a man to complete her.  This is one current that runs thought the relationship.  This is made more complicated by the fact that David, her husband is hiding more than the fact that David is not is real name.

 

                He’s older than what he owns to, by far.

 

                He’s like Wolverine in some ways without the claws.

 

                The problem with the book, if problem it is, is that Alex, Jessica’s sister is a far more interesting character than Jessica.  Additionally, while parts of the ending make sense, there does seem to be something off about the reaction (everyone seems to have forgotten the uncle).  The book is more of a character study than an actual plot driven novel, though it does capture the struggle of a woman trying to leave a relationship and the struggle she might have with money.

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