Can’t Wait Wednesday : The Fervor by Alma Katsu


“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: The Fervor by Alma Katsu.  I really like this author.  Here’s the description and the stunning cover:


From the acclaimed and award-winning author of The Hunger and The Deep comes a new psychological and supernatural twist on the horrors of the Japanese American internment camps in World War II.

1944: As World War II rages on, the threat has come to the home front. In a remote corner of Idaho, Meiko Briggs and her daughter, Aiko, are desperate to return home. Following Meiko’s husband’s enlistment as an air force pilot in the Pacific months prior, Meiko and Aiko were taken from their home in Seattle and sent to one of the internment camps in the Midwest. It didn’t matter that Aiko was American-born: They were Japanese, and therefore considered a threat by the American government.

Mother and daughter attempt to hold on to elements of their old life in the camp when a mysterious disease begins to spread among those interned. What starts as a minor cold quickly becomes spontaneous fits of violence and aggression, even death. And when a disconcerting team of doctors arrive, nearly more threatening than the illness itself, Meiko and her daughter team up with a newspaper reporter and widowed missionary to investigate, and it becomes clear to them that something more sinister is afoot, a demon from the stories of Meiko’s childhood, hell-bent on infiltrating their already strange world.

Inspired by the Japanese yokai and the jorogumo spider demon, The Fervor explores a supernatural threat beyond what anyone saw coming; the danger of demonization, a mysterious contagion, and the search to stop its spread before it’s too late.

Expected publication : April 2022


The Deep by Alma Katsu

Posted On 9 March 2020

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TheDeepWell, The Deep is a mixed bag of a book for me. On the one hand I had the lure of a story about the Titanic (which never fails to hook me), the promise of a Twilight zone style story and the gorgeous and evocative writing of Alma Katsu.  On the other hand, this isn’t quite the ghostly or quietly creepy tale of horror that I was expecting.  The thing is, I think I gave myself such high expectations with this book, in my own mind I already knew what I wanted this to be and so it’s no fault of the author if she can’t reproduce on the page what I’ve got swimming around in my head.  The short version, is this is a very well written and interesting reimagining of the short voyage of the Titanic.  It’s a little more on the side of historical fiction although there are some supernatural elements, but they’re not overpowering and the sort of thing that could be explained away as hysteria or wild imagination.

What I really liked about this was the writing and the way those few days aboard the Titanic are so evocatively brought to life here.  We spend time with a number of passengers and most of them have something going on, little secrets, secret fears or just basic insecurities that do draw you in quite well.  This is also set in an era where superstition was a thing of intrigue.  Seances and tarot cards, curses and palm reading were quite the rage with even the well heeled enjoying a good scare or a brush with the occult.

The Deep is a richly detailed, character led story.  The main character is Annie Hebbley, a stewardess on board the Titanic responsible for a number of the more well to do passengers.  Annie develops something of a fixation on an attractive young man named Mark Fletcher.  Mark is recently married and with a young baby, he’s not quite from the high echelons of society, unlike his wife, and frequently feels a little out of his depth and this vulnerability does lead him to befriend Annie and use her as a sounding board for some of his grumbles.  Mark’s wife Caroline also has secrets and fearing her husband is unhappy with his choices finds herself more often than not arguing with him over trivial matters.

These marital struggles are mirrored in some of the other passengers relationships and with the rising tensions nerves are becoming frayed.  Things on board are going missing and one of the young helping hands dies mysteriously causing much distress and scare mongering.

This main thread is counterbalanced by a story set four years ahead that plays out on the Titanic’s sister ship, the Britannic.  The Britannic was used as a hospital during WW1 although ultimately it suffered a similar fate to it’s sister.  As the ship sets sail we once again meet Annie who is serving as a nurse and she encounters another Titanic survivor who she didn’t expect to see again.

I never miss an opportunity to wax lyrical about character driven books.  They are my catnip.  That being said I think that in this particular instance the character led nature of The Deep might be the reason this book suffered a little bit for me.  I’ve struggled to put my finger on why that is and I think it boils down to the nature of this particular disaster.  The characters are all really well fleshed out and there’s no shortage of intrigue but at the end of the day I found it difficult to become invested in any of them because at the back of my mind I was very aware that the ship’s sinking was imminent.  I’m not sure whether it was a combination of impatience on my part and rushing headlong through the story to get to the actual crux of what happened or simply that I didn’t want to really become too attached to anyone because they might soon be resting in a watery grave.  Whatever it was, the imminent disaster itself took a long time to find page time and I couldn’t help feeling that I would have liked a much bigger mystery or sense of something spooky behind the sinking.  I guess that in a nutshell the supernatural elements felt a little too flimsy or not quite what I was anticipating.

Overall, I enjoyed this read and so I don’t want to come across as too negative.  The writing is very good and Alma Katsu continues to be as impressive as ever.  I think my own expectations have a lot to answer for on this occasion.  I had something totally different in mind and so couldn’t help feeling a little deflated.  If you’re looking for  an intriguing, fictional retelling of the last few days of some of the passengers aboard the Titanic then this could be for you.  There is a little of the supernatural involved here but I think it’s not overpowering in fact it’s more of the nature that you could explain away or put down to other causes.

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

Rating 3* out of 5




Can’t Wait Wednesday : The Deep by Alma Katsu

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 : The Deep by Alma Katsu.  I am so excited for this book – this is an author who has never let me down so I’m bouncing up and down with glee to see this.  Take a look and see why:

TheDeep.jpgSomeone, or something, is haunting the Titanic.

This is the only way to explain the series of misfortunes that have plagued the passengers of the ship from the moment they set sail: mysterious disappearances, sudden deaths. Now suspended in an eerie, unsettling twilight zone during the four days of the liner’s illustrious maiden voyage, a number of the passengers – including millionaires Madeleine Astor and Benjamin Guggenheim, the maid Annie Hebbley and Mark Fletcher – are convinced that something sinister is going on . . . And then, as the world knows, disaster strikes.

Years later and the world is at war. And a survivor of that fateful night, Annie, is working as a nurse on the sixth voyage of the Titanic’s sister ship, the Britannic, now refitted as a hospital ship. Plagued by the demons of her doomed first and near fatal journey across the Atlantic, Annie comes across an unconscious soldier she recognises while doing her rounds. It is the young man Mark. And she is convinced that he did not – could not – have survived the sinking of the Titanic . . .
Brilliantly combining fact and fiction, the historical and the horrific, The Deep reveals a chilling truth in an unputdownable narrative full of unnerving moments and with a growing, inexorable sense of foreboding.

Due for publication: March 2020

The Hunger by Alma Katsu

Posted On 1 March 2018

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The Hunger by Alma Katsu is a fascinating story full of darkness and despair.  Using as inspiration a true life horror story and blending it with imaginary scenarios brimming with superstition and fear, the author has created a winning tale that gradually builds into a story packed with emotion, riveting to read and scary in scope.  To be honest, I expected to like this story. I’ve read this author before and loved her style of writing and her ability to recreate something from history in such a perfect and easy to read fashion, but, this story exceeded my (already high) expectations.

I confess that I’d not heard of the Donner Party before and I had no knowledge that this story was based on such a terrible tragedy.  Using this real life disaster Katsu weaves together a tale of fear, superstition and the supernatural.

I’m leaving any further detail about the plot out of this review.  If you’re already familiar with the historic events being recreated here then you probably don’t need me to detail them and if, like me, you are unaware of this particular event then I think it’s best to approach this with no knowledge at all.

So, what did I love about this story.

Firstly, the writing, the attention to detail and the clear research that has been poured into this project is exceptional.  Katsu has a style that flows very well, her dialogue is absolutely spot on and on top of that she seems to easily recreate a sense of time and place that makes the story fascinating and evocative.  I absolutely loved reading about the life on this wagon train and in fact felt like I had a real understanding of what people were experiencing not just in terms of the day to day struggles but also with their emotions.  On top of that there is a tension to the story.  Even in the earlier chapters the tension is palpable.  In frog soup fashion it gradually increases and builds until you’re sat in boiling water with no idea of how you wound up there.

I would mention at this point that although this is a scary read it’s more the author’s ability to create fear that achieves this.  This isn’t a blood thirsty horror fest.  Things happen.  They’re not always nice but the blood and guts are not the main focus.  It’s more a relentless barrage of creepy elements that, when combined with the sense of mounting fear that the travellers experience. becomes almost like a collective hysteria that is simply gripping to read about.  I had an almost overwhelming feeling of being caught in the headlights, a car wreck approaching – I had to read on, I had to know what was going to happen next, I wanted the characters I had become attached to to be okay, yet I knew things were going to spiral out of control.  Compelling indeed.

Secondly the characters.  We have a number of people to keep track of and yet it doesn’t feel arduous.  The author takes her time to allow you to become familiar with them and their way of life but you need that time to familiarise yourself with them all.  Gradually you start to have a real feel for who everyone is and how they all fit in together.  Tamsen, promiscuous or lonely?  Superstitious enough to make tokens that others regard with fear.  She’s not generally liked.  She’s far too pretty for some, a bit too witch-like for others and married to one of the most prosperous men on the trail not without a good deal of spite and envy directed her way.  Mary Graves.  Quiet, aloof and yet although softly spoken with an inner strength.  Charles Stanton.  A loner in a situation that it’s never good to be alone in.  His own standoffishness makes the others suspect him of wrongdoing and he’s a natural target for the fear and hate that gradually grows within the group.  There are plenty of others who you will either like – or seriously not – but what prevents this from becoming overwhelming is the back stories that are provided.  They’re delivered naturally as the story progresses and they’re quite fascinating.  Some of these people are running towards what they hope will be something better and some of them are definitely running away. from things they want to leave far behind  It’s all very curious and even more so when you realise that quite a few of them are already known to each other.  It’s a hotbed of emotions.  Fear, mistrust, jealousy, hatred, anger – when coupled with the hardships being encountered, the harsh weather conditions and the lack of food – well, it’s all a recipe for disaster.  Then throw in something stalking the travellers, children start to go missing, shadows in the dark, people who seem to change character, becoming almost feral.  The fear becomes almost unbearable, often times turning into anger and hate.

In terms of criticisms.  I think the start will feel maybe a little drawn out for some people – personally, I think the time is necessary to the overall plot, it leads you into a false sense of security whilst at the same time allowing you to develop connections with the characters.  The other thing, this is undoubtedly bleak – if you’re aware of the true story then you’ll already know that.  I couldn’t help at times thinking ‘for goodness sake give these characters (and me) a break’ – but of course that was never going to be a possibility.  This is a tale inspired by brutal reality.  It’s cruel and desperate and Katsu has taken it that extra step by adding something more in the form of the supernatural – it’s not achieved with a heavy hand though but very subtly done.

I’m going to wrap it up there because I’ve already rewritten this three times and frankly I’m never going to be satisfied. This is a powerful book.  It’s full of emotion.  It’s dark and scary and it plays on your innermost fears.  Utterly compelling, a horrifying story that with only a little bit of the supernatural thrown into the mix is quite a remarkable read.

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

The Reckoning by Alma Katsu

Posted On 5 July 2012

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Just finished reading The Reckoning by Alma Katsu which continues the story of unrequited loved started in The Taker.  Once again we are taken into Lanore’s world and given a taste of the immortal life she leads.  I really enjoyed this book.   As with the first book we have a subtle mix of the modern and the historic.   The voice of Lanore is once again compelling and I must admit that I found myself liking her much more in this novel than in the first.  I also really enjoy Katsu’s writing style.  Her writing flows easily and appears to be effortless, which I’m quite sure isn’t the case.

At the start of this novel we immediately pick up with Lanore and Luke as they enjoy an evening out – only to be spoiled as Lanny is suddenly overcome with the absolute conviction that Adair is free!  I’m not giving anything away by that little revellation as it is already mentioned on the jacket.  Unfortunately in writing this review it will of course immediately give away spoilers for book one and to be honest I would advise anybody who wants to read this story to pick up The Taker first.  So, don’t read on if you don’t want spoilers!

In this novel Adair manages to escape his incarceration and is hellbent on revenge.  Revenge on the two people who entombed him after he had given them the gift of immortality, Jonathan and Lanny, but more so Lanny who he had also bestowed his love upon (albeit one of a bit of a twisted variety).  Now we start a dance of sorts as Lanny and Adair try to outwit each other not helped in Adair’s case by having missed over 200 yearsof development which he now has to become familiar with.  We once again come face to face with some of the other immortals who have over the years split apart and spread out in the world to lead lives without the tyranny of their former leader.  As with the first novel we get to look back at past events, which I found really interesting and entertaining.  We spend some more time with Adair and get to take a look at his earlier years and we get to travel back and look at some more of Lanny’s story once she became free of the tyranny of Adair.

I think that this novel definitely added more to the characters involved.  Lanny showed a more compassionate side – putting other’s feelings before her own but the most surprising change is in the form of Adair (nothing more on that though).  He really is quite a despicable character, in fact he’s brilliant in his cruel and arrogant behaviour.  Don’t get me wrong, I can see he’s not very nice but I like reading a well formed bad sort of character.

We get a little bit more insight into the beginnings of the magic that helps to make the immortals.  We explore the early start and we also delve a little bit into life after death.

What I was surprised about is that this is one of the few books about immortals where the grass doesn’t necessarily look greener on the other side of the fence.  It’s not the sort of book that makes you think ‘what if’ or make you want to recreate and drink that sludgy looking portion to give you the secret of longevity.  Things are definitely not as rosy as they seem when you get to live this long.  You don’t have the opportunity to be a real part of a family, to have your own name, to watch your children growing older or to form any really meaningful friendships.  Basically it’s a fairly lonely and secretive existence spent running from place to place to avoid recognition or unanswerable questions.  Also, the characters that Adair chose to embrace, were all damaged in some respect due to their prior history and being immortal doesn’t improve that fact, they have years and years to dwell on their own errors and dream of redemption.

The only criticism I would level would be that although we visit a lot of different places in this story I don’t feel that any of them were particularly well drawn.  If not for the headings at the start of various chapters telling you ‘Paris’ or ‘London’ , etc, I’m not sure that it would have been noticable.  But, having said that I imagine the author was trying not to go into overly lengthy descriptions which would have bulked the book out and also distracted from the tale as it unfolds.

All in all a very enjoyable read.  The only drawback is the long wait for the final instalment!

The Reckoning

The Reckoning

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