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review 2018-06-13 05:45
The Dark Maidens (book) story by Rikako Akiyoshi, art by Booota, translated by Kristi Fernandez
The Dark Maidens - Rikako Akiyoshi,Booota,Kristi Fernandez

The Dark Maidens is structured like a meeting of the Literature Club at St. Mary's Academy for Girls, a mission school in Japan. It begins with the current club president, Sayuri Sumikawa, opening the meeting by explaining its rules and purpose. This is both one of the club's infamous "mystery stew" meetings and also the first meeting since the club's previous president, Itsumi Shiraishi, either jumped to her death on school grounds or was pushed.

"Mystery stew" meetings are one of the club's traditions. Each member brings an ingredient to add to the stew. At some meetings only edible things are allowed, but at others, such as this one, inedible things may be added, as long as they aren't unsanitary, like bugs or shoes. Each member must eat the stew in darkness until the pot has been completely emptied. While everyone is eating the stew, members take turns telling stories. The theme, this time around, is Itsumi and her death.

I bought this knowing only that it was a mystery and that its author is a woman - my brief check for English-language reviews prior to hitting the "buy" button didn't turn up much. Happily, it turned out to be a quick and interesting read, despite its flaws.

I disliked the format, at first. Sayuri's introductory section was odd and a little awkward, as she described a room the club members she was speaking to should already know and discussed the death of her best and closest friend in what seemed to be a remarkably calm way. Readers were given no sense of what was going on in the room or how Sayuri or the other members were behaving unless Sayuri put those things into words. Fortunately, the stories the club members told were more traditionally written, and I eventually adjusted to Sayuri's parts.

The first character to tell her story was Mirei, one of the school's few scholarship students. After that came Akane, the club member who preferred baking Western-style sweets over reading, then Diana, an international student from a small village in Bulgaria, then Sonoko, a student aiming for medical school who was also Itsumi's academic rival, and then Shiyo, one of the club's first members and the author of an award-winning light novel. The book wrapped up with a story and closing remarks by Sayuri.

The first story, Mirei's, made it crystal clear that this was not going to be a book about female friendship and support. No, these girls were going to verbally tear each other to shreds - apparently in a very neat and orderly manner, since there was never any mention of outbursts and denials in the breaks between stories (I assume there were and it just wasn't included in Sayuri's text, because I cannot imagine a bunch of girls keeping silent as they're each accused of murder).

The second story added an interesting, if not terribly surprising element, as it directly contradicted the first story. From that point on, I started keeping track of details that came up in more than one story, trying to sort the truth from lies. Literally everyone in the room was lying, but what they were lying about and why wasn't always easy to figure out. Also, some stories had more truth to them than I originally assumed.

I can't say whether the translation was very accurate, but it was pretty smooth and readable. I flew through this book like it was nothing, and I appreciated the way the differing styles of some of the stories reflected the characters. For example, Shiyo's story had a very bubbly and conversational style, while Sonoko's was more detached and stiff (at least at the beginning).

As much as I enjoyed attempting to sort out the truth and lies in the girls' stories, this book definitely had a few glaring flaws. The biggest one was the mystery stew. It wasn't believable in the slightest that the club members would willingly eat the stew when they all thought that one of them was a murderer. Heck, one of them even suspected that

another club member had been poisoning Itsumi's snacks! Since the meeting was supposed to be happening in the dark, it would have been easy for the poisoner to refrain from eating, or fake eating, and wait until the soup had done its job.

(spoiler show)

 
I also had trouble believing that the girls would have been as open about some things as they were. For example, one girl shared that she'd been in love with Itsumi, while another girl admitted that she'd lied to Shiyo about having read her book. Several girls said things they had to have known that others in the group would recognize as lies. Why didn't they worry about being called out for it?

Another problem was that Akiyoshi seemed to have trouble keeping certain details straight, or perhaps hadn't thought them through very well. For example, Sayuri said that the usual rule for "mystery stew" meetings was that club members could only bring edible ingredients and that the rule had been changed for this particular meeting, and yet only a few paragraphs later it was clear that inedible items had been allowed in the past. Also, club members were supposed to eat the soup "in total darkness," and yet the room had 1-2 lit candles in it (one by Sayuri, to allow her to put ingredients in the pot, and one by the spot where members were supposed to read their stories). There was enough light for Sayuri to notice that one girl's face had paled, even after she'd left the storytelling spot - hardly "total darkness."

Despite the book's problems, I had a lot of fun with it and could see myself rereading it in the future. Next time, I think I'll start with the final two chapters and then go back to the beginning, just to see if everything really does fit together.

Extras:

Several black-and-white illustrations. One of them shows all the girls at once. When I tried to attach names to faces, I realized that there wasn't enough descriptive information in the text to do that. I know what Sayuri and Itsumi looked like, because they were both introduced with illustrations, but, as far as I can tell, most of the others were never described.

 

Rating Note:

 

I feel like I'm probably giving this too high of a rating, because, oof, some of those flaws. But I really did have a lot of fun, especially during the last couple chapters, and I decided to reflect that in my rating.

 

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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review 2015-08-05 14:06
New Release: Seeing Evil by Jason Parent
Seeing Evil - Jason Parent

If you are a fan of murder mysteries with a psychic twist, Seeing Evil by Jason Parent might just be for you.

 

Jason, you don’t like tether ball? I can see how you would visualize it as a murder weapon. LOL I used to be the queen of our grade school and even had one at home. I love to learn fun, inane things about authors. It gives me some insight into their personality, so be sure and take a look at Jason’s biography for yourself.

 

Add me to Goodreads now.

Seeing Evil by Jason Parent

Cover:  Streetlight Graphics

MY REVIEW

 

Jason Parent’s latest novel is a mystery with a psychic twist that had me interested from the moment I read the blurb. It may even be considered as part of the horror genre. Monsters come in all shapes and sizes and the human kind are the worst. Seeing Evil has its share of evil of the two legged kind.

 

Seeing Evil’s blue watery looking cover, with the eyes looking at me, peaked my interest further. A lot of times, I will grab a novel just because of the cover and this is one of those novels. Job well done Jason and Streetlight Graphics.

 

The main cast of characters include Fall River Detective Samantha Reilly, Michael, a foster kid who has a special gift, and Tessa, a young girl haunted by her dreams, or should I say nightmares. And, of course, the killer, but I can’t tell you much about him. You will have to find out for yourself.

 

Samantha has been involved in Michael’s life since his parents were killed when he was three years old. He is the new kid in school and bullied mercilessly. After he was viciously assaulted, he developed a gift, or was it a curse. Why were the visions so horrible? Why didn’t he see wondrous things? He could see bad things coming to people he touched, but was unable to convince those in authority of what was coming. Even Samantha has doubts, until…

 

Samantha and Michael step out of the normal police investigation mode and hunt for the killer, putting themselves in extreme danger.

 

I liked that Jason Parent pointed out how often we come in contact with strangers, a casual touch here or a brush against them as we pass by. It is details like this that give a feeling of reality to a novel.

 

Poor Tessa. She is horribly abused by her father and wonders if he hates her or just takes pleasure in inflicting pain. Evil walks in all forms and doesn’t have to be supernatural. I couldn’t help but feel for her as she searches for a way out of her terror filled life. Isn’t there anyone who can help her?

 

I see how destiny will draw them all together, but who will be left standing and how damaged they will be when they get there, I am very eager to find out.

 

Grotesque mutilations, horrendous torture, is there a serial killer on the loose in Fall River? Is Tessa a victim or a perpetrator? What is Michael’s part? Can a psychic who has visions of the future alter the outcome? I don’t see why not and I am hoping so.

Samantha goes above and beyond the norm for a police officer. She has an inside track in the investigation, but wonders how far can she push her secret weapon. Her role has changed, from trying to solve a murder after it happens, to trying to solve a murder before it happens.

 

Seeing Evil by Jason Parent is a police mystery with a paranormal twist. As the story progresses, the tensions builds and the suspense mounts making me wonder if they will all survive. The killer did not come as a huge surprise, but more than once I was talking to the characters, telling them to not go there, don’t do that, RUN for your life.

 

The flawed and damaged characters add elements to the story that up my investment in the reading. I am into the characters so much, I wonder if we could be hearing more from Samantha and Michael, even Tessa, in the future.

 

I loved Seeing Evil. Jason Parent did a fantastic job of grabbing my interest and holding it throughout. I am looking forward to reading more of his work.

 

I was given a copy of Seeing Evil by Jason Parent in return for an honest and unbiased review.

Animated Animals. Pictures, Images and Photos  4 Stars

 

SYNOPSIS

 

Major Crimes Detective Samantha Reilly prefers to work alone—she’s seen as a maverick, and she still struggles privately with the death of her partner. The only person who ever sees her softer side is Michael Turcotte, a teenager she’s known since she rescued him eleven years ago from the aftermath of his parents’ murder-suicide.

In foster care since his parents’ death, Michael is a loner who tries to fly under the bullies’ radar, but a violent assault triggers a disturbing ability to view people’s dark futures. No one believes his first vision means anything, though—not even Sam Reilly. When reality mimics his prediction, however, Sam isn’t the only one to take notice. A strange girl named Tessa Masterson asks Michael about her future, and what he sees sends him back to Sam—is Tessa victim or perpetrator?

 

Tessa’s tangled secrets draw Michael and Sam inexorably into a deadly conflict. Sam relies on Michael, but his only advantage is the visions he never asked for. As they track a cold and calculating killer, one misstep could turn the hunters into prey.

 

ABOUT JASON PARENT

 

Jason Parent

 

 

In his head, Jason Parent lives in many places, but in the real world, he calls New England his home. The region offers an abundance of settings for his writing and many wonderful places in which to write them. He currently resides in Southeastern Massachusetts with his cuddly corgi named Calypso.

 

In a prior life, Jason spent most of his time in front of a judge . . . as a civil litigator. When he finally tired of Latin phrases no one knew how to pronounce and explaining to people that real lawsuits are not started, tried and finalized within the 60-minute timeframe they see on TV (it’s harassing the witness; no one throws vicious woodland creatures at them), he traded in his cheap suits for flip flops and designer stubble. The flops got repossessed the next day, and he’s back in the legal field . . . sorta. But that’s another story.

 

When he’s not working, Jason likes to kayak, catch a movie, travel any place that will let him enter, and play just about any sport (except that ball tied to the pole thing where you basically just whack the ball until it twists into a knot or takes somebody’s head off – he misses the appeal). And read and write, of course. He does that too sometimes.

Please visit the author on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/AuthorJasonP…, on Twitter at https://twitter.com/AuthorJasParent, or at his website, http://authorjasonparent.com/, for information regarding upcoming events or releases, or if you have any questions or comments for him.

 

seeing evil 

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Source: www.fundinmental.com/seeing-evil-by-jason-parent
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