This was not that an enjoyable read to me. I meant to read this when I went on vacation in May, but waited til now to get back to it. Way too long. Way too many POVs to keep straight. I really didn't find it believable when it was all said and done that one man could be this powerful to just straight up murder people and the law would look the other way. Maybe I am naive to have faith in things changing for the better, but I do. The look back at Mississippi at the dawn of the Civil Rights Era to the early 2000s was interesting, but this really needed to be edited.
We follow several characters throughout this 865 page book. Yeah I read some really long books this weekend and my brain is still a bit angry at me about it. The series is called Penn Cage, but we follow Penn's POV, his father Tom's, his fiancee Caitlin, and a reporter named Henry Sexton. Plus all of the bad guys which I refuse to name here.
When Penn is told his father who is the long time doctor of their town is about to be arrested for murder, he and his fiancee Caitlin do what they can to stop it. And when Henry tries to tie the murder with a weird offshoot of the KKK called the Double Eagles (I now hate the word Double and Eagles) things get very convoluted.
I do wish that we managed to get the POV to more of the black characters we are introduced to in this book like Tom's former nurse, Viola Turner. That honestly is the reason why I knocked this book besides length down to two stars. We get everyone and their mother's POV, but only get one black character's POV at the very beginning of the book and he is quickly murdered.
I also was really annoyed how Iles portrayed the character of Viola Turner as some other worldly being that men just had to have. It just smacked too much of the whole exotic African American female trope that runs through movies and literature nowadays. Somehow when men just have to have her (rape her) well it's her own damn fault. I hated reading about how others saw her. I really think the author missed a chance there.
I also didn't care for Caitlin and Penn as a couple. They are terrible together. Caitlin is another reporter and Penn seems to resent her wanting to be good at her job and a few times throws what she's doing under the bus to get to what he wants. I really think they need some couple's therapy to work out their issues.
I full stopped did not like Tom at all. Him refusing to say what was going on that was putting everyone in danger was ridiculous. It was like a bad lifetime movie where the the so called good guy keeps messing up to the extent that everyone he is supposedly keeping safe gets caught and hurt in some way.
I won't lie. I stopped caring a good 50 percent of the way through this book. It was too long by far. Things needed condensed a lot. The flow was awful. I think the repetitiveness and lack of action going on for a good 90 percent of the book was why. I also cannot believe the FBI would not be able to handle a good portion of things introduced to in this book and the state police would be trumping them over matters of jurisdiction.
The ending such as it was is just setting things up for the next book in the series which is called "The Bone Tree." Since the explanation behind what that means was introduced in this book, I can just imagine what that book will be about. Will hard pass it. I dislike books that end on cliffhangers. You had more than 800 pages to tell your story. If you need another book to do it, you failed. And apparently this story is going to take another book after "The Bone Tree" to be completed and that's a definite no from me.
Decided it was time to switch things up a bit and read something a little different. Had this book for awhile now and decided it was time to finally read up on it. As a fan of the 'Avatar: the Last Airbender' and 'The Legend of Korra' as well as enjoying Jim Dresden's 'Codex Alera' series this trilogy that has elemental magic seemed like a good option.
Iolanthe is a young woman who has been living her life doing magic with a drunk guardian when she is plunged into an adventure where she must destroy the Bane, a tyrant who seeks to control all. She meets Prince Titus, the ruler (in name, really) of the land and who needs Iolanthe to defeat the Bane to restore peace to the land as foreseen by his mother's visions.
Admittedly typing that out made it sound like a cliched, well-worn trope-filled story and it is. It's not a story that hasn't been done before and admittedly Thomas' entry isn't exactly a unique take. But all the same I found myself enjoying the story anyway. There are familiar aspects to this (romance between Iolanthe and Titus, training sequences, can the two main characters learn to trust each other) but all the same it was still a pleasant adventure. I enjoyed the sequences where Iolanthe must play Titus's male classmate (he had actually been expecting a young man).
That said, I understand the criticisms. The world-building isn't great (there's no map!) the elemental magic isn't as well-defined as say it is in Dresden's books or the Avatar universe and I could have really done without the romance.The romance was subtle (it's also limited to looks and thoughts and occasional kisses but as a YA series it doesn't go further than that) but it's never my cup of tea. The book is also quite slow. Having read a few other of Thomas's books (including her historical romances and the first in the Charlotte Holmes series) I could see this book would be somewhat similar--more focus on the characters and not so much on the action.
Still, I liked it. I suppose it's really a 3.5 star book but I decided to round up. I had been put off by some of the negative reviews and experience from her previous work but I think recognizing it's quite different from her other writings in terms of genre (YA, fantasy) helped. This won't be the next great YA trilogy but as a mashup of the Avatar universe with the latter part of the Harry Potter series (where Hogwarts and schooling became less of a focus) I enjoyed it. I bought this first book and will likely buy the next two as they're relatively cheap and in paperback but the library is probably a better option for others.
I received a copy from Netgalley.
I had no idea what to expect with this one, and was pleasantly surprised to find out I completely loved this book. Definitely on my top ten for this year so far. Its premise and characters are so unique and interesting, and it appears to be a stand-alone, which is rare in YA fantasy.
This fantasy novel tells the story of Sorina, an illusion worker at the Gommorah travelling circus. Sorina has no eyes but she can see. She creates illusions. The illusions she creates are so real they have become almost as real as real people, to her, they are her family, and together they perform the carnival freak show. Each illusion has it’s own special ability. Sorina has also the adopted daughter of the festival proprietor. She is the heir and will take over running the whole show one day.
The festival is travelling across their land, they are from Down Mountain and travelling Up Mountain. The Up Mountain people appear to be the rich snobby people. There’s a war brewing between the two factions hinted at throughout the novel. Sorina’s illusions are being murdered. Each stop a different illusion dies and the novel tells the story of Sorina’s investigation into the Murderers and the truth behind the Gommorah Festival.
The writing is incredible, it’s quite a dark fantasy really. Sorina becomes enamoured with another illusion worker – a poison worker, Luca who’s unique talents make him impossible to kill. His show involves festival goers paying to try to kill him. The characters are all so different and well written. The plot is very twisty and impossible to predict. I was very surprised when the truth was revealed. Sorina learns quite a few shocking home truths as her investigation progresses. The family connection was brilliant, how they all came together, not without drama and plenty of emotion wound through as various family members were brutally murdered.
Not a lot to recap as it would be really spoilery. There was hints of a romance but it wasn’t the sole focus of the plot and the characters were all delightfully diverse as well. Really interesting world building as well. A political undercurrent later on as the war brewing takes alarming shape. Morally questionably acts. It was quite violent in parts.
Over all it was excellently written. A fantastic read. I loved it so much I bought a finished hardback.
Thank you to Netgalley and HQ Stories for approving my request to view the title.
I've actually been meaning to read a John Dickson Carr story for quite a while, so I was glad that Halloween Bingo gave me that chance! Is it any wonder that I ended up choosing the one that had a supernatural bent to it though? I'm not as much in love with mysteries as I probably should be normally, but add in some supernatural elements and I'm definitely in!
Unfortunately for John Dickson Carr, that addition actually seemed to throw his story off a bit. Don't mistake me, this book was overall very well done. It's one of the few mysteries that I've read where I had no idea, literally the entire book, who was responsible for the murder. Alas, the supernatural elements kind of just sat in the background though. There, but not fleshed out. Annoyingly vague and, frustratingly enough, only hinted at to keep that thread moving through the book.
Until the end, that is. Although, truth be told, I have no idea what that ending actually wrapped up for me. After reading this, and being completely baffled at the epilogue, I went out and looked for some information on this. As it turns out, that helped! But I wish I would have been able to glean what happened for myself.
Fun note: I stumbled upon a YouTube channel that has all the old radio shows where books like this were turned into a 30 minute play. The Burning Court is great! And it takes out the supernatural elements, to make it more straight mystery and a lot more palatable. I think I'm going to go back and listen to a lot of these. Link is here.