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review 2018-02-09 20:41
A book strong on plot and fast action and full of information about la Santa Muerte.
Freaky Franky - William Blackwell

 

I write this review as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team, and I freely chose to review an ARC copy of this novel.

I have been reading a book called Paperbacks from Hell and when I saw this book, it reminded me so much of many of the covers and topics I had been reading about that I could not resist, although I was not sure about the title (was it horror, humour, or something else entirely?).

The novel begins with quite a bang. A strong scene where we are introduced to la Santa Muerte (Saint Death) a religion/cult (depending on whose point of view you take) that has flourished in Mexico and is spreading to many other places. Although we all have heard about the Mexican Día de los Muertos, this might cover new ground for many of us, but the author is well informed and provides good background into the history and the various opinions on Saint Death, that is an interesting topic in its own right.

But don’t get me wrong. This book is not all tell and not show. We have a number of characters who are linked (unknowingly at first) by their devotion to Saint Death. What in the beginning seem to be separate episodes, which show us the best and the worst consequences of praying to Saint Death, later come together in an accomplished narrative arc. Whilst praying for health and good things can result in miracles, praying for revenge and death carries serious and deadly consequences.

The story, written in the third person, alternates the points of views most of the characters, from the main characters to some of the bit actors, good and bad (although that is pretty relative in this novel) and it moves at good pace. It is dynamic and full of action, and this is a novel where the plot dominates. The characters are not drawn in a lot of detail and I did not find them as cohesive and compelling as the story, in part, perhaps, because they are, at times, under the control of Saint Death (but this is not a standard story of satanic possession). Although none of the characters are morally irreproachable,  Anisa and Dr. Ricardo are more sympathetic and easier to root for. Yes, Anisa might resent her missed opportunities and the fact that she is stuck in Prince Edward Island looking after her son, but she goes out of her way to help her friend Helen and her brother Franklin and warns them not to pray for revenge. Dr. Ricardo threads a fine line between helping others and protecting himself, but he does the best he can. Franklin, the Freaky Franky of the title, is a much more negative character and pretty creepy, especially early in the novel. Although we learn about his past and the tragedies in his life, he is Anisa’s brother, and she’s also gone through the same losses, without behaving like he does. He uses Saint Death’s power mostly for evil, although he seems to change his mind and attitude after Anisa’s intervention (I was not totally convinced by this turn of events). I found Natalie, the American tourist visiting the Dominican Republic with her fiancé, Terry, difficult to fathom as well. Perhaps some of it could be explained by the love/lust spell she is under, but she clearly suspects what Franklin has done to her, and her changed feelings towards a man she has known for five minutes makes no sense, at least to me (sorry, I am trying to avoid spoilers). Much of the action and events require a great deal of suspension of disbelief, but not more than is usual in the genre.

The novel keeps wrong-footing the readers. At first, we might think that everything that is going on can be explained by self-suggestion and that all the evil (and the good) is in the mind of the believer. These are desperate characters holding on to anything that offers them a glint of hope. And later, when bad things start to happen, it seems logical to believe that the characters we are following have acted upon their negative thoughts and impulses (and even they have doubts as to what they might have done). But nothing is quite as straightforward as it seems.

Although there is plenty of explicit violence and some sexual references (those not as explicit), I did not find it frightening or horrific as such. However, it is a disquieting, dark, and eerie book, because of the way it invites readers to look into the limits of morality and right and wrong. Is revenge ever justified? Is it a matter of degrees? Who decides? It seems la Santa Muerte has very specific thoughts about this, so be very careful what you wish (or pray) for.

An eye-opener with regards to the Saint Death cult and a book that will be enjoyed by readers who don’t mind supernatural novels with plenty of violence, and prefer their plots dynamic and action-driven.

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text 2018-02-05 15:40
Reading progress update: I've read 40 out of 453 pages.
Sweet Evil - Wendy Higgins

This girl seems very naive. To the point of her annoying me. I hate when characters ignore the obvious in an attempt to seem innocent.

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review 2018-02-04 15:28
October by Michael Rowe
October - Michael Rowe

Just look at that gorgeous cover! One would never guess the pain hiding behind it, but it's there. It's there in spades.

 

In a small Canadian town, two awkward teens are just trying to make it through high school. Mikey, a young gay man, and his best friend Wroxy, a loaner and a goth girl, try to support each other as best they can. But Wroxy can't protect Mikey from the jock bullies and it seems no one else can either. After witnessing something in the woods, and then soon after going through the worst experience of his life, Mikey decides he's had enough and takes matters into his own hands. Will he exact his revenge upon the jocks? Can he do it on his own? You'll have to read this novella to find out.

 

As in both ENTER, NIGHT and WILD FELL Michael Rowe's bewitching prose captured my attention and held it tight. His characters are so well developed it's easy to understand their motivations. They are also so human that the reader cannot help but to empathize with them. Then, once Rowe has you in his clutches, he puts those characters through hell and you're just along for the ride.

 

OCTOBER will join Rowe's last two books on my list of favorites. It's beautifully written, evocative, brutal and surprising all at once. I only wish it could have been a little longer.

 

Highly recommended to fans of LGBT and dark , dark fiction!

 

You can find a copy here: October

 

*I bought this e-book with my own hard earned money and this is my honest opinion.*

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review 2018-01-08 19:47
Great Horror elements. Plot could use more polish.
Forsaken: A Novel of Art, Evil and Insanity - Andrew Van Wey

The horror aspects of this book was really good. It was creepy enough to give you the heebie jeebies and anything to do with strange looking paintings and children always make things more creepier than they should be. (The Shining, anyone?)

 

I can’t really say I like Daniel as a character. He had it coming to him. It was an awful cruel thing he did and he deserved every last bit of it. None of the characters really stood out here since Daniel was really the center of the plot, but wow Karina. You’re just some kind of special aren’t you? She played on Daniel’s sympathy until he realized she’s completely bat crazy and well, you walked into that one didn’t you? This is what happens when you want the cake and the cherry on top. Just don’t do it. However tempting that is.

 

Plot wise, it’s pretty entertaining and good stuff for a horror book. It does come off as reading a horror movie in print which is pretty good and frankly, if this ever was a movie, I’d probably watch it and enjoy it better. The ending was great and is everything  you would expect in a horror movie or book. There’s mystery elements into the book which does not affect the story that much and adds more intrigue.

 

Although the horror elements were good, the execution of the story could be better. I thought certain aspects of the plot were just there for convenience. There could have been more to the Mabel plot arc. It was just planted there with no real explanation except it was given about 2-3 pages but no real contribution. I wish there was more to it. It would have helped, and could have made the story much better.

 

Despite some of the shortcomings of the book, it was an enjoyable read. It was creepy enough to give you the chills and the ending was what you would expect in this genre. Recommended to horror lovers!

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review 2018-01-06 10:37
A Necessary Evil - Abir Mukherjee

Calcutta, 1920.India is going trough an agitated period. The Congress Party is having more and more supporters and even non-followers believe that the British Rule is past its use by date.In these confusing times,Prince Adhir,crown prince of Sambalpore is murdered after an official ceremony with the Viceroy. Soon after this,the killer takes his own life. Captain Wyndham and his Indian sergeant Surendranath(a Harrow and Cambridge man no less and a friend of the murdered prince)find that all tracks lead to Sambalpore, a small kingdom with the added benefit of fabulous diamond mines.There is definitely no lack of suspects,reasons or intrigues and the investigation is not as obvious as expected. 

The outcome is surprising and interesting. But what makes this an absolute wonderful book is the atmosphere. The colonial house of the British Resident,of course the palace of the Maharaja,the temples,the religious festivals,the lifestyle of this royal family,eunuchs and the zenana, the monsoon period,a golden locomotive loaded with bottles of champagne that runs the length of the dinner table,the gossip and the decline of both the British Raj and these small kingdoms. A wonderful Indian mystery story!

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