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review 2018-10-14 20:41
The Witch Elm
The Witch Elm - Tana French

Well first things first, don't go into this expecting the Dublin Murder Squad. This is a standalone by Tana French. We do get detectives in this one, but one wonders if the next book will follow the squad again and if this story will be discussed on the periphery. This not being a Dublin Murder squad book is not why I gave this three stars though. The story told her is disjointed (purposely due to Toby's injuries) but if it was just that it may have worked. I think the biggest issue I had was the way that Toby finds out the truth (during the world's most boring info-dump) and then the ending that made zero sense after a while.

 

 

"The Witch Elm" told in the first person, follows Toby who is a bright eyed and bushy tailed 28 year old guy in PR at a small art gallery. He is in a long-term happy relationship with his girlfriend Melissa and he has two best friends. Deciding to skip going to his girlfriend's house one night after being out with his two best friends causes Toby's life to twist into something new. Going home causes him to fall asleep and then wake to two men burglarizing his apartment. Toby decides to fight back and is beaten almost to death. When he wakes he finds out he is going to need time to recover. However, Toby post burglary is different. He can barely stand to be touched, he picks fights with his mother, he can barely even be around his girlfriend. When his cousin tells him that their Uncle Hugo is dying of an inoperable cancer she asks that Toby go stay with him and help him. Toby and Melissa go and stay with Hugo, and things at times seem to be getting better until a skull is found in Hugo's back garden in a witch elm tree. FYI, they spell witch wych throughout the book and it kept throwing me every time.  

 

Toby reminds me on the surface level of Rob from "Into the Woods." Two male characters who don't recollect huge pockets of their lives. Rob was left scarred by what happened to him in the woods. He never does recall what happened and French gives no hint what fate befell his two friends. Rob doesn't truly recover from his childhood and in the end because he didn't want to face things, he ruined his career and his friendship with his ex-partner Cassie. 


Toby is in PR for an art gallery and things are going okay for him, though he's quite lucky he wasn't fired from his job after his boss caught him in a lie about an artist. Going out drinking with his two friends, Sean and Dec he is giddy with relief about not being fired and getting away with what he has done. There at the beginning we are given glimpses into Toby. A 28 year old guy who doesn't seem to realize that his actions have true consequences. He sees his best friend Dec as being jealous of him and feeling terrible because of his background. He never sees that he should grow up and think about others around him. After the burglary we see Toby change, but often at times while reading this I wondered how much he truly changed. He had physical difficulties, but the same cluelessness that seemed to be in him from the time he was a kid was still there as an adult. I don't think that I liked him much in retrospect. When Toby starts playing detective it really doesn't make a lot of sense to me as a reader. And Toby doesn't find out things by investigating, he just gets people drunk or high and starts asking questions. I don't know, something was missing from this book that I get from the Dublin Murder Squad books.

 

The other characters don't really jibe that well in this one either. Melissa works better than most of the other secondary characters. I just thought Toby dismisses her throughout the story, though he's painted as being very in love with her. 

 

Toby's family felt a bit confusing to me at first. I honestly needed a chart after we do get to meet all of them. I wish that we had more details about Uncle Hugo. Considering what a huge role this character had to play due to Toby staying at this home, his parts that focused on genealogy felt a bit off at times. Susana and Leo are developed a bit more, but in the end what we know of them doesn't work the whole way when you think about the ending. 

 

As I said above we do get detectives in this one, actually two sets. The first we meet due to Toby's attack, and the next due to the police being called after the skull is found in the witch elm tree. The detectives don't work for me throughout this book. The ones investigating Toby's burglary and beating seemed like an after thought and joke The ones investigating the probable murder didn't seem very solid to me.

 

The writing was okay, I just though the story after a while started to get disjointed. Due to Toby's memory issue a lot of times things are just being told to him. I just wish that there was another way besides constant information dumps to have Toby find out something. And then in the end we do have him remember something and it absolutely didn't even make sense why he would remember this one incident after everything else was a black hole. 

 

The flow was up and down throughout the book. 

 

The setting of the book takes place at Toby's paternal family's home called "The Ivy House". Honestly I wonder why the book wasn't just called that. The home sounded very real and about 90 percent of the book takes place at this location.  

 

The ending as I already said doesn't work for me. Maybe if French had changed the ending (cannot get into it without spoilers) it would have worked for me. It just all felt a bit too far fetched to me. And as I said above, it doesn't help that Toby reminded me of Rob. 

 

 

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review 2018-10-12 19:58
More Dark Comedy Than Horror
Witch Hunter - J.Z. Foster

This would be a killer movie. A spit your popcorn all over the people in front of you movie. Hollywood are you listening ? A cult classic B move just waiting to be found. The characters were off beat, nerdy, jockey, pretty, sneaky, deadly, wickedly fun. The main character is an ultra nerdy fake who desperately wants to impress the girl, with his fake job. The fun part is that it's not fake, it's all real and nerd boy has to fake it till he makes it basically. The unbelievable tries to kill him and it gets real, fast.
If you love dark twisted comedy, where some may die or get eaten, with bumbling heroes, who take unconventional paths, this is a book for you. if not wait for the movie it will be a killer.

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text 2018-10-10 21:28
Reading progress update: I've listened 10 out of 1320 minutes.
The Witch Elm - Tana French

I pretty much plan on bouncing back and forth between this and Carolina Moon. Trying to figure out a square for it. How about Murder Most Foul or Baker Street Irregulars??

 

I am trying very hard to not be disappointed this is not a continuation of the Dublin Murder Squad. And yes I looked up the synopsis so I know I went in knowing that it wasn't. So far just feeling okay towards Toby. I rarely do audiobooks so will get into more on the narration side of things when I get a bit further in. 


 

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review 2018-10-09 03:14
‘Chilling Adventures’ of Sabrina’ is the perfect graphic novel read for Halloween; this is full-on retro HORROR with a capital H
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Vol. 1 - Jack Morelli,Robert Hack,Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa

I fancied some ‘light’ horror and since a whole bunch of my pals on Litsy have been reaching for graphic novels this Halloween season, I thought I’d try this. And don’t be fooled: this version of Sabrina the Teenage Witch’ is most definitely HORROR with a capital H. If you are looking for something along the lines of what you would find on the CW when Sabrina was a sitcom, this is NOT it. Forget PG-spooky, it’s definitely the other end of the horror spectrum: S for Sabrina is now Scary. 

 

Set back in the 1960’s, Sabrina is the illicit lovechild of a warlock called Edward Spellman, and a mortal named Diana, and she is raised by her aunts Zelda and Hilda (no news there). Sabrina is approaching her 16th birthday, which means she can become a fully-fledged witch, and pledge herself to the Dark Lord*. Complicating things are having a mortal boyfriend, and deciding if she can kill living animals on the spot. More fun ensues when Madam Satan shows up in town, and she is none too happy about having been sidelined by Edward for Sabrina’s mom. Enough said.

 

There are all sorts of horror goodies in this jumbo comic edition (it contains comics 1-5 of the ‘Chilling Adventures’, and in the back, has the variants that were printed with the different covers). The fabulous intro by the author Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa lays it all out for the reader, pointing out that the adventures are like ‘Rosemary’s Baby’, plus ‘The Exorcist’, ‘The Omen’, and Arthur Miller’s ‘The Crucible’ all rolled together. It’s ALL in here. As well as Ray Bradbury’s ‘Something Wicked This Way Comes’, zombies, and vengeance against men who have picked up innocent hitchhiking women. 

 

The retro style of illustration harks back to comics of decades ago, and Roberto explains it’s because he wanted them to have the feel of a ‘period piece’, and it all works flawlessly. There’s plenty of dark humor (very dark), a definite feel of classic horror influencing every frame, and it’s actually no wonder that it’s being adapted into a show on Netflix. I hope they keep it just as gory, retro, and bloody though...

I’ll be continuing the series!

 

*To any heathens asking: no, REAL witches do NOT pledge themselves to ‘Satan’ or the ‘Dark Lord’.

 

**You can find this omnibus edition on hoopla!

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review 2018-10-08 02:57
Lulu and the Witch Baby - Bella Sinclair
For more reviews, check out my blog: Craft-Cycle

A humorous and adorable tale about a little witch who does not get along with her baby sister.

I feel like this is such a relatable story, wanting your baby sister/brother to disappear. I personally don't have siblings, but I have read enough books and seen enough movies to know that at some point, most kids feel this way. 

This is a considered an I Can Read! level 2 book for developing readers. Personally, it seems kind of lengthy. The sentences and story are simple, but it is a very long book. From what I can tell, this is an older book that was readapted and given a super cute makeover. This version appears to be much cuter than the original. 

Since this book was already written then given a level rating (as apposed to writing the book with the plan of it being a level 2), it makes sense that the length doesn't quite fit. I think it still works, just be aware that it may be best to read the book in parts instead of all at once. 

Adorable illustrations and a fun story. I actually really enjoyed this witchy tale.
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