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review 2018-07-09 23:10
Silent Companions by Laura Purcell
The Silent Companions: A Novel - Laura Purcell

Its hard to get the right vibe for gothic fiction in our modern times. Purcell wisely decides to set her story in the Victorian period and adds a healthy dose of 'Yellow Wall-Paper' paranoia.

Soon after her marriage Elsie Banbridge is made a widow and sent to wait out her pregnancy at her husband's remote family estate, The Bridge. Her only companion is a cousin, her deceased husband's only living family, and a few servants. The estate has something of a dark reputation in the village and Elsie feels isolated. The discovery of a 'silent companion', a trompe l'oeil figure painted on a board, in a locked attic room awakens old rumors and fears. The figure, painted in the late 17th century, looks like Elsie, and soon she discovers it is not alone.

A quick read, and quite chilling. The use of the Companions, or dummy boards, was genius. Good period detail and flawless setting.

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review 2018-01-11 04:09
Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury
Something Wicked This Way Comes - Ray Bradbury

Over fifty years later and people are still trying to match this book. I grew up in a small town in America, and had a childhood very unlike the one Will and Jim were enjoying before it was interrupted, but Bradbury writes in such a way that his nostalgia becomes your own. I felt it. The narration feels like a fairy tale, this is a book that does well aloud.

I meant to re-read this for Halloween, but I didn't get to it until the turkey was gone. <i>Something Wicked This Way Comes</i> is about childhood, and growing up, and what fear can drive people to do to each other and themselves. It is the stuff of a million novels, but Bradbury makes it work with his fantastic elements, the carnival-as-explicit-metaphor, and the acknowledgement that the character's lives cannot go back to the way things were.

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review 2017-11-28 00:41
All's Faire in Middle School by Victoria Jamieson
All's Faire in Middle School - Victoria Jamieson

Preteen angst visits the ren-faire and it was enjoyable.

Imogene has grown up working and playing at the Renaissance Faire where her parents work. This year she's old enough to start training as a squire and she's proud of the responsibility. Too prove her worth she decides to brave public school after a lifetime of homeschooling. She soon runs afoul of cliquey preteen girls who criticize her clothes and she becomes aware that her family and her home are not like everyone else's.

Middle school is just awful. There's no pretending its anything else. Jamieson writes a all-too-typical story with an unusual flair.

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review 2017-11-28 00:28
Edgedancer, Stormlight Archive 2.5, by Brandon Sanderson
Edgedancer: From the Stormlight Archive - Brandon Sanderson

I've loved Sanderson's Stormlight Archive from the beginning, so when I heard there was going to be a bonus novella to the series I was excited. I usually don't appreciate sidebars to my epics, but I felt like I could trust Sanderson not to waste my time.

 

'Edgedancer' is not a waste of time. Surprisingly, it's required. Which has its own problems, but I was planning on reading it anyway so no harm done. A real highlight of 'Words of Radiance' was the introduction of Lift, the cheerfully ignorant 'slick' thief. 'Edgedancer' follows Lift across the continent and on an adventure with has a surprising impact on the rest of the series.

 

Stormlight Archive

 

Next: 'Oathbringer'

 

Previous: 'Words of Radiance'

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review 2017-11-21 03:44
Senlin Ascends (Books of Babel #1) by Josiah Bancroft
Senlin Ascends (The Books of Babel) - Josiah Bancroft

Senlin Ascends is an independently published success on its way to the main market. I had never heard of it, but I should have! This is the first book of a series that could go in any number of directions. Bancroft infuses his novel with a rich history and background that is a perfect counterpoint to Senlin's quest. Senlin is a mild-mannered teacher who takes his new wife Marya to the Tower of Babel for their honeymoon. He has lectured about the history of the tower for years, but is ill-prepared for the reality of the place. Marya is lost in the crowd and Senlin must face impossible challenges to find her again. The only direction for him to go is up.

I could not break away from this book. The society, the civilizations, the infrastructure of the tower were fascinating. There are so many elements of the book that I should have found absurd, but all the little pieces worked. Fans of Neal Stephenson and Frank Herbert will love it.

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