The Atrocities by Jeremy C. Shipp

Posted On 19 April 2018

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The Atrocities, a haunting gothic fantasy of a young ghost’s education

When Isabella died, her parents were determined to ensure her education wouldn’t suffer.

But Isabella’s parents had not informed her new governess of Isabella’s… condition, and when Ms Valdez arrives at the estate, having forced herself through a surreal nightmare maze of twisted human-like statues, she discovers that there is no girl to tutor.

Or is there…?

the atrocitiesThe Atrocities is only a short story and I don’t want to give too much away so I’m going to keep this rather to the point in terms of focus.

The description above is taken directly off Goodreads and is a pretty good set up for what you can expect from this read- at least in terms of the majority of the book.  This definitely falls into the gothic category.  A dark and foreboding country home, a grotesque maze that acts as a barrier to the outside world, a rather starchy governess and a husband and wife who seem to be in the throes of grief.  The husband seems like a mad eccentric with a penchant for monstrosities and the wife appears to have lost her grip on reality somewhat.  To all intents and purposes this is a ghost story set within the walls of a very unusual, surreal and disturbing mansion but, believe me when I say that this is anything but a straightforward haunting.

For me this book reads almost like a dream sequence.  Anything can happen in your dreams after all and that’s the feeling that pervades this book.  It’s bizarreness is gripping to say the least and that oddity, coupled with the fact that this can be read in little more than an hour or so definitely held me captive.  The story is narrated by Ms Valdez and I must confess that she keeps her cool demeanour even under the most frightening circumstances.  There’s no way I would have been able to sleep in that house, in fact, to be honest, I would have turned back halfway through the creepy maze.  I’m a wimp.  What can I say.

You’re probably thinking I’m not really telling you much here but that’s because it’s difficult.  Put basically, if you fancy a creepy story, a ghost story that is something more than you expected coupled with some downright hideous imagination then this could be just the book for you.

The calmness of Jane Eyre meets the madness of Wonderland except Wonderland has turned into a dark nightmare, and, like nightmares I’m not entirely sure that I understand the ending, In fact, to be honest, I’m not even sure if there’s supposed to be a clear cut ending – it makes me wonder if people will take something different from this book.  It definitely made me reconsider things.

I don’t really have any criticisms.  I guess in some respects I’m a bit of a stickler for wanting more clarity in terms of the ending – it’s a bugbear of mine – but, in this case the ending kind of fits somehow.  Just be aware that this is dark, twisted and unusual.  It’s also shorter than I would have liked which leaves the ending feeling very rushed but, again, I don’t really make a secret that shorter stories are not usually my thing – just every now and again I get grabby hands and in this particular instance my greed paid off with a good story.  Would I have loved this to have been worked into something longer – yes and no.  I’m not sure, it might have been just too much to handle in an expanded version.

On the whole a creepy number, it would fit in well on the darker nights if your constitution can take it and it lives up to its name.

I received a copy, through Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

 

 

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Can’t Wait Wednesday : Darkdawn (The Nevernight Chronicle #3) by Jay Kristoff

Can't Wait Wednesday

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme that was originally created by Breaking the Spine.  Unfortunately Breaking the Spine are no longer hosting so I’m now linking my posts up to Wishful Endings Can’t Wait Wednesday. Don’t forget to stop over, link up and check out what books everyone else is waiting for.  If you want to take part, basically, every Wednesday, we highlight a book that we’re really looking forward to.  This week my book is : Darkdawn (The Nevernight Chronicle #3) by Jay Kristoff.

Darkdawn.jpgThe Nevernight Chronicle is a complex fantasy series about Mia Corvere, a kick-butt, flawed heroine who trains as an assassin as part of her mission for personal revenge. Her tale takes place in the immersive world of Godsgrave which, although based on ancient Rome and Venice, is imaginative with many original details provided by a beloved snarky narrator.

In Darkdawn, the Republic of Itreya is in chaos. Mia has assassinated Cardinal Duomo and rumors of Consul Scaeva’s death ripple through the street of Godsgrave like wildfire. But buried beneath those same streets, deep in the ancient city’s bones, lies a secret that will change the Republic forever.

Mia and her brother Jonnen must journey through the depths of the ancient metropolis. Their quest will take them through the Godsgrave underdark, back to the library of the Quiet Mountain and the poisoned blades of Mia’s old mentors, and at last the fabled Crown of the Moon. There, Mia will at last discover the origins of the darkin, and learn the destiny that lies in store for her and her world. But with the three suns now in descent, and Truedark on the horizon, will she survive? 

Expected Publication September 2018

Books I read pre-blogging

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Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme where every Tuesday we look at a particular topic for discussion and use various (or more to the point ten) bookish examples to demonstrate that particular topic.  Top Ten Tuesday (created and hosted by  The Broke and Bookish) is now being hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl and future week’s topics can be found here.  This week’s topic is a freebie and so I’ve chosen:

Top 10 favourite authors I read before I was a blogger:

I read a lot of books before I started blogging, in fact it makes me dizzy thinking of the number of books I must have read but the ten authors below were, and still are, firm favourites.  I couldn’t fit everyone on the list but here are the first 10:

Donna Tartt – The Secret History

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Daphne DuMaurier – Rebecca, My Cousin Rachel,  Jamaica Inn Frenchman’s Creek, The Birds

JRRTolkien – The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, The Silmarillion

Arthur Conan Doyle – the Sherlock Holmes stories

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Scott Lynch – The Lies of Locke Lamora

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Patrick Rothfuss – Name of the Wind

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Diana Gabaldon – The Outlander series

Philip Pullman – His Dark Materials series

Joanne Harris – Chocolat, Blackberry Wine, Holy Fools, Sleep Pale Sister, Coastliners, The Evil Seed

Holly Black – Tithe, Valiant, Ironside

The Bitter Twins (The Winnowing Flame Trilogy #2) by Jen Williams

bitterThe Bitter Twins is the second instalment of Jen Williams’ Winnowing Flame Trilogy and is an excellent second in series that demonstrates William’s ability to create a richly woven world, full of history and religion and characters that are a delight to read and fall in love with.

Before reviewing The Bitter Twins I would point out that it is necessary to read the Ninth Rain first.  The story picks up immediately after the conclusion of No.1 and there is no recap of previous events so if you haven’t read the first book then I strongly recommend you stop right here, don’t read this review, simply go and pick up the first book.  The other thing that I would mention is that this is a book that is a little difficult to review without giving away spoilers for the first book or indeed for the content of The Bitter Twins so I’m really going to avoid discussion of the plot and limit my review to the writing, characters and world building.

Once again the story brings our favourite characters to the table.  Lady Vincenza, or Vintage, again plays a key role.  Not to be deterred by her lack of either magic or super strength Vintage isn’t prepared to take a back seat but once again manages to find herself in the thick of things.  Finding herself at the heart of Ebora and with her long missing love interest returning to the scene Vintage has a few harsh truths to face, not least of which is her own mortality and the knowledge that whilst she has physically aged her lover has not.  What I love about Vintage is she brings her own brand of upbeat realism to any situation.  She’s intelligent enough to be able to work things through sensibly and resourceful enough to not panic when faced with danger.  Alongside Vintage we share a few moments when all the characters are briefly reunited before they split into different groups each with important quests.  Noon and Tormalin go in search of ancient knowledge that might assist the war beasts who are suffering from memory loss.  Their adventure leads them to discover an archipelago of small islands some of which are more dangerous than first glance reveals.  They go in search of artifacts but instead find much more uncovering an astonishing revelation regarding Eboran history and finally coming to terms with their feelings for each other.

Aldasair and Bern have their own mission which involves a good deal of drama and the discovery of Hestillion aboard the Corpse Moon.  What a storyline this is.  I read it in mounting disbelief.  I wanted to shout at Hestillion and at the same time I just couldn’t believe half of what I was reading.  Hesillion what are you thinking?  I can’t say more other than that this is one of those parts of the story where you can’t but help be riveted to the page and your horror is only matched by your desire for the character in question to snap out of it.

We have the addition of a number of other excellent characters.  Eri, a young Eboran boy who has been living in seclusion and the arrival of a group of characters that seemed to have their own agenda.  Again, I’m amazed at how well developed all of these characters are, they may have secondary roles and in some cases not much page time but I felt myself really caring for them.

What really surprises me again and again with Williams is her ability to make you love her characters.  Even the ones that you only briefly meet or are newly introduced to – they’re just so very well drawn and display all sorts of emotions that make them jump off the page with anger, passion and self doubt.  It’s easy to fall for these characters and it makes the switch between different storylines incredibly easy to to enjoy because each story is equally heart wrenching.

The other thing that totally blows me away about Williams writing is the way she is able to create such an amazing world using both fantasy and science fiction to give it a different twist.  It reminds me a little of Anne McCaffrey who also conjured remarkable worlds by marrying epic fantasy with science fiction to create something incredible.  It gives the world such a wide range of possibilities.

In terms of criticisms.  I would mention that I thought the first half of the story was a little slower in terms of pace, of course this really helps in terms of character development and also in forging relationships that are believable but be aware of this when you start.  I find, and I think I mentioned this when I reviewed the Ninth Rain, that the plot isn’t really the main focus of the story, which isn’t to say the plot isn’t good but just that there’s such a lot of depth, not just to the characters, but to the world itself.

There’s a lot of history explored in this instalment and some of it I think will have a big impact on the final book of the series.  And then of course there’s the conclusion – which is a thrilling, action packed ride that really packs an emotional punch.  I didn’t see some of that coming and it really hit me I must confess.

The Bitter Twins is an excellent second in series, it may have had a measured start but the tension steadily grew and eventually culminated in an explosive finale.  And, of course, no review would be complete without mentioning the war beasts.  Such magnificent creatures, I absolutely love them.

If nothing else, I hope I’ve convinced you to read this series.  This review feels a little light on information but that’s simply a reflection of my desire not to give away spoilers.  Put simply, if you love epic fantasy you simply have to read The Winnowing Flame trilogy.  It’s an absolute must read series.

I received a copy from the publisher, through Netgalley, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

 

 

Weekly Wrap Up : 15/04/18

Posted On 15 April 2018

Filed under Book Reviews
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Hope you’ve all had a good week, the weather is getting better at least.  We’ve finally finished watching Breaking Bad which we never finished the first time round (got up to season 4 and then stopped for some reason).  We watched it all again so that we could watch season 5 and complete the whole thing.  Can’t really say the ending was a surprise and we’ll have to find another series now.  Any suggestions let me know.  I’ve read the two books I intended to this week and also started and read about a third of the way into my SPFBO book – Devil’s Night Dawning – I then only have three books remaining for the competition.

Books read:

  1. School for Psychics by K C Archer
  2. The Beast’s Heart by Leife Shallcross

Next Week’s Reads:

  1. Devil’s Night Dawning by Damien Black
  2. Noir by Christopher Moore
  3. The Poppy War by R F Kuang

Upcoming reviews:

  1. Starborn by Lucy Hounsom
  2. Envy of Angels by Matt Wallace
  3. The Bitter Twins by Jen Williams
  4. Feeder by Patrick Weekes
  5. The Sisters Mederos by Patrice Sarath
  6. Tiger Lily by K Lincoln Bird
  7. The Atrocities by Jeremy C Shipp
  8. The Queen of Blood by Sarah Beth Durst
  9. School for Psychics by K C Archer
  10. The Beast’s Heart by Leife Shallcross

I’d love to know what you’re reading this week.

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