Well, this review was meant to be up for Halloween, but my computer decided to kick the bucket. I now have a new one which was a few years overdue anyways. The end result is that I’m back. I read a shorter Ghost Story called Dark Matter by Michelle Paver. When it comes to horror my preference is strong characters in a supernatural setting. I went into this book blind; never heard of it. Let’s get going.
This story takes place in 1937 within a gloomy Britain which at this time is filled with rumors of war coming. Enter the journal of Jack Miller; a specialist wireless operator who works a menial dead end job. As he drops further into poverty and merely going through the motions, he has a chance to join an arctic expedition to Gruhuken on the northeast coast of Svalbard. It wasn’t long ago these lands were unclaimed with people looking for fortunes there. Now Gruhuken is oddly vacant of human life trying to find some way to make wealth there. Jack goes on this journey of course and this book is his journal Jack documents along the way.
This story starts off with so much excitement and hope then slowly gives a feeling of creeping dread. Michelle must have done some research or had experience in how it would be to live in the arctic in 1937. I believed this could be a real journal. It was interesting to get a real feeling of traveling to and surviving in such a cold and eventually dark desolate place. The party starts off with 5 people, but bad luck causes only 3 to actually make it to gruhuken and start the expedition. I’m sure there’s no ill omen in this right? I will say they did bring sled dogs with them so that actually pushed back some of the dread I was feeling. When it comes to ghosts, dogs are a great warning.
The first sign something may be wrong is the Swedish captain tries to talk them out of going to Gruhuken and to land their expedition somewhere else. When this doesn’t work he tries to claim he wasn’t planning on going that far to drop them off. The man is clearly trying to look out for these scholarly Englishmen with no idea of the lands they are going to. Of course eventually they talk him into bringing them to their destination. His uneasy crew helps them set up a cabin then flee from there as fast as possible. The expedition is of course ill fated or else this book would just be a science journal of the arctic.
Journal formats can be quite tricky to write. It needs to feel natural and you need to make the reader believe the writer knows how to wield words to fascinate us. Michelle is quite good at setting up Jack as an educated man of words despite his low standing in life and the prose feel natural. Jack makes the world around him feel wondrous, dangerous, beautiful, and deadly as the story unfolds. I believe this man could be writing like this as it goes from a mission of science to a mystery of what is happening to the expedition. I do not want to spoil too much, but something doesn’t want other people on these lands; not even for science.
I cannot say this book felt like it did anything really new, but it did everything exceptionally well. I was invested in Jack’s journey and what his fate would be. There is definitely a point in the book when you really are not sure how the story will end. It certainly did not go the way I thought. The slow building of dread I thought could use a bit more payoff, but overall I was satisfied with the mystery of this land. Jack could have avoided much of what happens with different decisions, but his decisions made sense in the long run. It was not contrived to keep the story going. In fact it seemed realistic.
Overall I feel like Michelle nailed the gloomy British ghost story in journal form. I was marveled by her attention to detail and making the world around Jack feel alive. The few characters in the story also felt distinct and real from Jack’s PoV. Even the sled dogs felt organic and believable in how Jack viewed their behavior. It would certainly take a lot of guts to go out in the arctic even nowadays not to mention in 1937. Jack definitely was stupidly brave. It was a fascinating shorter read in the world of ghost stories.
Welcome to my first addition to the site. The five people who read my blog may know me already, but if you do not, my name is William, a life long rural New Yorker in the United States. I love Fantasy, but am also a fan of Science Fiction & Horror. For my introduction here I bring you my review of Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir. This is book one of Muir’s Locked Tomb series. I have to say, I’m impressed. Gideon the Ninth is such a unique story. It combines Soft Science Fiction, Necromantic Fantasy, and Punk Rock Insanity. I honestly cannot come up with a more suitable description than that. I had wanted to read this before it was even available. I only put it off so long because it seemed so insane and knew more books were going to follow it. Finally, needing something different to dive into, I give you my review of Gideon the Ninth.
“One flesh, one end, bitch.”
This book aptly follows Gideon Nav, an indentured servant of the Ninth House within a Galactic Empire. She is the young adult ginger warrior of this series, complete with skull face paint, dark cloak, sword, and snarky attitude. Quite the picture painted for you there. Even as an indentured servant of a Necromantic space faring empire with an Immortal God Emperor, she gives zero shits about angering anyone. To say she is confident would be an underrepresentation of an amazing character.
“Why was I born so attractive?”
In the beginning of this, depending on your sense of humor, Gideon may overwhelm some readers. Her humor hits me just fine, but others maybe not. Do not fear though dear readers. Gideon has to adjust quite quickly, based on new circumstances that forces her to alter how she interacts with others. You will find much of her over the top attitude is directed toward our other major character, Harrow, the Ninth House’s Heir. While Gideon is a master with the sword. Harrow is a master of Necromancy. Quite the dysfunctional duo. What they do have in common is that they are both amazingly written. A servant and an heir. Completely different statuses. Different personalities. Different viewpoints. A great adventure for us.
“Because everyone would have throttled you within the first five minutes otherwise”
While this is a very character driven story there is much going on in the backdrop. This galactic empire has nine noble houses. The Ninth house guards a locked tomb for the empire and are essentially a death cult. You will get to meet and learn about all the houses in this book though. Muir does this without revealing much about the wider universe. She’s super tricky here. Another thing she is quite good at is there is not much future tech, or weapons in this book…yet you won’t care. The only thing that really lets you know there is space travel, are spaceships. Even then we do not get much of even them. This is a brave choice, but one that works exceptionally well in this book.
“I cannot conceive of a universe without you in it”
This space faring empire relies heavily on Necromancy and swords as their primary fighting tactic. Though how they wage war will be interesting to see. I cannot imagine other civilizations rely on necromancy and swords. We get teased that there is a war against someone out there, we will need to wait on that it seems. This intro book is mostly a complex mystery that takes place in a huge, haunted structure, perfect! All the heirs and their cavaliers (specially trained bodyguards) are invited to this place to seemingly compete to become a Lyctor. Lyctors are powerful immortal Necromancers that work directly with the emperor. This is of course Harrow’s seemingly main goal and as for Gideon, well, she just wants her freedom. Well actually she also wants to be awesome. These characters grow exceptionally well throughout this mysterious place full of death and intrigue. You will be trying to figure out what is happening and every time you think you might know, you’re wrong!
“Yes you can, it’s just less great and less hot”
The fact that Muir combines fantasy and science fiction but doesn’t reveal too much about either while giving you amazing character work shows me that she is an author to watch. The characters in Gideon the Ninth feel extremely unique, special in their own right, they really come alive. You would think a bunch of noble necromancers would be similar, but they’re oddly not. Muir is able to break apart fields in necromancy and types of house personalities exceptionally well. I cannot wait to read book two to see how she expands on this. Of course, I should also warn people as a world of necromancers there will be a lot of gross descriptions of blood, sinew, corpses, bones…well you get the idea.
“Maybe it’s that I find the idea comforting…that thousands of years after you’re gone…is when you really live. That your echo is louder than your voice is.”
Personally, the most important thing I took from this book, is that we are not all so different. As a thirty-nine-year-old heterosexual male, I felt connected to this young gay warrior woman in a futuristic landscape. Representation in media is important for this very reason. We’re all not so different as we believe. I digress though. Gideon and Harrow are two characters that have shot up my favorites list. Not just as individuals, but as a duo. Book two I know will be from Harrow’s perspective and I’m betting it will be quite wild to get the PoV of a necromancer in this world. If you’re looking for something quite different in the SFF genre I highly recommend this book. I will be keeping an eye on Tamsyn Muir as her career grows.
Thank You for choosing to read my first write up for the site. If you wish to connect with me more I’m quite active on Twitter @thatdarkrogue.
Hello Bookish Folks! I’m Sam from The Book in Hand!
It genuinely feels like a really long time since I have said hello, that I felt like I needed to introduce myself again! I have had some huge changes in my personal life with work and other projects recently so fell behind badly on the blog! However, I AM BACK!
I still have a lot do do away from The book in Hand but I’m going to make sure to get back to this!
So today I am partnering with the brilliant and hard working Storytellers On Tour to bring you a beautiful cover reveal for The Stone God by Erin Kellison.
If you have seen the cover already through some of the other amazing bloggers featuring this cover reveal you will see how fabulous it is! It is so beautiful!
This book cover is by cover artist Story Wrappers. My word…they have some INCREDIBLE art on their website, so definitely go and check them out, and if you are an author in need of cover art then save their name!
A few things about the author first…
Erin Kellison is the bestselling author of the Dragons of Bloodfire series, the Reveler series, and the Shadow series.
She writes fantasy, paranormal romance, and science fiction rOmance. She loves other worlds and visits them as often as possible via movies and books and her kids’ imaginations. When not daydreaming or writing, she’s goofing off with her family in sunny Arizona.
Terah Crane knows not to tempt the gods. A happy life—or at least an uncomplicated one—involves no gods at all. And since her loving grandfather bought her an Indulgence that ex-empts her from their service, she can focus on her other problems of being recently di-vorced, broke, and unemployed.
Seeking a fresh start, Terah packs everything she owns into her beat-up car and moves to her family’s empty country cottage—never mind that deadly firedrakes occasionally wan-der into the garden. When an unlikely flood carries a cracked pillar of stone from a nearby shrine right to Terah’s doorstep, it seems the gods demand her service after all.
It is Thursday AGAIN! And that means me very slowly going through my TBR, ten books at a time.
As you can see by the title this is the 11th Keep It or Cut It post and you know what…MY TBR IS BIGGER THAN WHEN I STARTED! No lie. Though I don’t actually mind, I feel like the more recent additions are better suited to my tastes than some of the books in the early levels of my TBR, and you can never have to many books to read.I mean, yes, finding the time is problematic but still…I will die trying!
I have also been adding a few more books of the nonfiction variety lately, and on top of that I want to try a few horrors and more historical fiction so growth is as inevitable as Thanos. I love Thanos he is such a great villain! Just saying.
I was quite close to tossing this on the drop it pile tbh, bu the reviews saved it for me. It sounded interesting but I was thinking is it any different than the others? Well, anyway the reviews show that this is quite a fun feeling book, one where you can easily love the characters and It has asian influences, which I love.
Ohhh, so I actually have this book, and in Hardback form no less. Fugitives, chieftains and a dash of romance. Honestly, reading the blurb for this again I am wondering why I haven’t read it yet! Might have to sneak this in somewhere. I love spirit animals so castes associated with birds works for me.
I think I added this to the TBR when it was being hyped, I actually read a few articles about how this book and a few others had reimagined the genre for a modern reader and writer. I’m not sure if it does or not but I kind of want to find out. Plus, its pirates, romance and mastery of a magic. so we shall see how it goes.
Ok, can I just say how much I love this cover! I think this book could either be incredible or so bad! The characters sounds super interesting, and I am hoping it is an epic character driven fantasy with some great romance in its pages. So…
Another Thursday has approached, out of nowhere too, so that means it is time to look at ten books on my Goodreads TBR pile and decide if I want to keep them! Because it feels good to cleanse the TBR of sorts, even though some weeks I don’t get rid of any, but…
This is a pretty solid sounding book you know! I mean for started the title is fairly cool, Four Dead Queens…I meant that alone has you asking questions. then we move onto the blurb and straight away I see we have a thief, and I love their stories, as many of you do. Then throw in some political intrigue and plots of murder…It sounds pretty good!
Ohh I am doomed! I love wolf shifters, so to see one not in a paranormal setting but more of a high fantasy setting I am so interested! Ok, I’m not going to lie this blurb has sold it to me. I’m reading this!
I’m just not feeling this book, it has so many good reviews and is even more impressive because I’m pretty sure the author wrote it at an incredibly young age! But alas my reader soul is not feeling it unfortunately.
Oh I really love the cover of this book! I also really love the idea of witchdoctors and priestesses but something is bugging me and I don’t know what. I think it could be the whole disappointing child trope, they can be such frustrating reads because they do dumb shit!
Today I am partnering with the brilliant and hard working Storytellers On Tour to bring you a beautiful cover reveal for U. L Harper’s book, Katy of Clay.
Yeah? Good. Let’s go then.
This book cover is by cover artist Daniel Iglesias.
A few things about the author first…
U.L. Harper is a speculative fiction and literary author, influenced by magical realism. A former journalist from Long Beach, California, he now resides in Tacoma, Washington with his wife and daughter. He is an avid Dodgers fan.
U. L Harper started off doing poetry. Every now and again the poetry influence enters his novel writing. His latest work, The Secret Deaths of Arthur Lowe, meshes fantasy and horror with magical realism.
It’s typical to acknowledge how your parents have shaped you. But what if they shaped you out of clay?
When Katy visits her father, she questions why she can no longer remember the face of her mother who died nine years ago.
What’s more is that recently her body has been going through strange changes.
It’s these changes that force her father to reveal an old family secret—she’s made from clay and will be catapulted into another world because of it.
Shortly thereafter, she finds herself in a frightening parallel world where ghosts indefi-nitely relive their deaths, a land where she will discover the secret that cost her the memory of her mother’s face, and it’s a place where she’ll journey to find the insidious truth about what she’s destined to become.
Today I’m happy to be sharing with you my review of Alix E. Harrow’s second book The Once and Future Witches. I would firstly like to thank Orbit for approving an eArc of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
You can order this book through any of the affiliate links attached to this page, in case you don’t know Bookshop.Org is a great store that supports independent book stores from all over.
The most engaging and fascinating trio of sisters you could read about;
Themes of family, sisterhood, love, forgiveness and so much more;
An incredibly immersive and atmospheric setting; and
An amazing story which is winding, wonderful and a pure delight to read.
On to the full review…
I must confess I actually avoided this book like the plague, I read the blurb and was sold, I though yes I want to read this but every time I was choosing my next read I reread the blurb but never chose it. I don’t know why but alas I picked it up and I am so sooo glad I did. I think I enjoyed this as much as I did because it was totally fitting to my mood at the time, though that isn’t to say this book isn’t incredible in its own right. See being a mood reader isn’t always bad because when you do it correctly you find books like this and enjoy the experience of reading it so much.
I always love the idea of a historical setting in a book and get so excited for them, but they are not always done well. This is not the case for The Once and Future Witches at all. Harrow has done incredible work to really give you that feeling you are in New Salem in the 1890’s, you feel the injustice in the air and the fear of witches. Though, that is not all, Harrow has also done exceptionally well to build a solid setting through the factories, the houses and less than lavish accommodations some people were forced to live in, and the mindset of the people at that time.
This book is a tale about gaining the vote for women and what happens when these women stood up and said they wanted change, but it is also empowering, and witchy and ohh so good. Harrow has done such an incredible job in The Once and Future Witches at blending the magical and the historical while infusing it with folklore and a whole lot of witchy. Every page of this books is written superbly, it is a very enchanting read, though not in a whimsical and magical way but in a hypnotic and addictive way. It fully immerses you into its world and its people. It is so vivid and thought provoking too.
The pace of this book, in my opinion was great, Harrow knows how to continually raise the stakes. I loved the way this story was laid out in it entirety. It is by no means a fast paced plot but with such incredible character development and world-building the slower pace is by no means problematic nor lacking in tension, suspense or anticipation. It is a winding and wonderful story.
This book follows three incredible sisters; Beatrice Belladonna Eastwood, Agnes Amaranth Eastwood and James Juniper Eastwood. All of whom are utterly distinctive and have their own voices. Harrow has done an incredible job at making sure you, as a reader, can tell who is talking without mention of a name! They are so distinctive and each is so fun. No one falls beneath the other, there isn’t a boring one or one you like the least, they all stand up in their own rights. The sisters and the people they slowly come to form relationships with go from strength to strength in this book, even the side/support characters are memorable and a joy to be around.
The Once and Futures Witches has themes of family, sisterhood, love, forgiveness and so much more. It is a powerful novel and a wonder to read. Harrow has also written some lovely romantic interests in this book, I won’t say whom because they enters spoiled territory in my eyes but know they are wholesome and you will be rooting for them! It is subtle and well presented.
I really loved the insertion of common fairytales into this book. At the start of each chapter you have a tale, one you may know of or one you may not. Some are reimagined and some stand as we know them but it was so fun to see them as spells.
Also, hats off to the cover art on this one, it is so appropriate to the tale and reminds me of the little herbal grimoire pictures of fresh lavender sprigs and nettle. It is the perfect start of your reading journey and sets the tone of the book brilliantly.
BUY THE HARDBACK | BUY THE PAPERBACK | BUY THE EBOOK | LIBRARY RENTAL OR SALE PURCHASE
I wold most definitely grab this book in HARDBACK and I have even spotted a copy on BookShop.Org(its cheaper than Amazon, so winning). The Once and future Witches is an amazing historical fantasy book that is so much more than the words on its pages. It is a book with big themes and so much to show you.