Looking Glass by Christina Henry

If you have been around my page for any length of time you will know my deep deep love for fairytale retellings. Especially, those written by Christina Henry. I had the opportunity to read another. I had finished reading Looking Glass right as things started to ramp up with the virus. It was something fantastical to read. Even though I read it earlier I just couldn’t focus on writing anything about anything.

Thank you ACE for my review copy!! It is out in the world on 04/21/2020!!

Synopsis: Four novellas which continue the Chronicles of Alice.

What I liked: Henry is extremely skilled in reworking fairytales. Her love of the original fairytale is shown through the way she writes a retelling. Her story telling is rich and complex. The characters are fantastical and written with the whimsy that Carrol would be proud of. The stories are a continuation of Alice’s story. What I found truly interesting was the parallels in the stories regarding the other or people who don’t belong. Each of the stories where so well written I didn’t want the adventures to end.

What I didn’t Like: There wasn’t anything that I didn’t like.

Star Rating: 5 Stars

My Thoughts: One of the things I love about fairytales is their ability to transport you to another world. The stories can help you forget everyday worries and cares. They can provide backbones for teaching lessons. These stories from childhood are primed to be rewritten and modernized for the horror and thriller genres. I love the care the Henry takes when she is taking a beloved child’s tale and turns it into something that an adult will read over and over again.

The Dumb House by John Burnside

There has been a question throughout history as to how humans develop language. To my great astonishment there have been “experiments” performed on children to determine when speech is developed and what that language is actually going to be uttered first. This practice was used to try to prove a specific religious set or ethnicity was correct. While in todays world this sounds ridiculous and is abusive. These are things that have actually been done. I didn’t really believe it until I googled it and read about it. Before reading The Dumb House I think you should as well.

Synopsis: A man is fascinated with how language works…and conducts experiments to find out.

What I liked: It is such a bizarre story. But the writing is amazing and the story itself was brilliant. Luke’s story is chilling. The story itself unfolds like piece by piece. It is an amazing piece of psychological terror. The way that Luke is written is chilling. Burnside gives the reader a peek into the mind of a very disturbed individual. Burnside takes you on a trip into Luke’s present and past. In the past excepts there is no real clue as too why Luke decided to do the things that he did. I really enjoyed the fact that Burnsides’s story was passed on historical truth.

What I didn’t like: There wasn’t anything that I didn’t like about the story.

Star Rating: 4.5 stars

My thoughts: I read The Dumb House after an author and book tuber that I like recommended it. Honestly, I am so very very glad that I read it. It was bizarre and I was there for the story. The bizarreness of the story reminded me of Geek Love which is one of my favorite books ever. So if you enjoy really weird stories that have a historical twist I would highly recommend The Dumb House.

Ormeshadow by Priya Sharma

Over the last month, I noticed that I hadn’t really wanted to read. I didn’t want to read or write. I didn’t want to create anything. I wanted to do nothing but binge watch tv and work. Add to the that the stress of trying to homeschool and start a new position at work. I started to allow myself to get lost in my self wallowing. I am adult enough to acknowledge that I was wallowing and doing the best I could with the new normal. The new normal changes on a daily basis. This was the first week things felt normal. Were I was actually able to focus on something long enough to read. It feels like a break through. So I decided to strike while the iron is hot and get some reviews out into the world.

Synopsis: Family drama played out over a few years. With amazing legends thrown in.

What I liked: Sharma just killed me with this story. I loved it so much. It is the book that pulled me out of my life is too much funk. The writing is layered and perfect for the story that is being told. The legend aspect is woven into the narrative perfectly. There was a deep fairytale quality through the entire story. It was beautiful and familiar. It was really a story of resiliency that I really needed to read at this time.

What I didn’t Like: There is nothing that I didn’t like about the story.

Star Rating: 5 Stars

My Thoughts: This is such an amazing story. The book isn’t long but the story feels and reads like an epic fantasy. Like a much longer story. It sucks you right in and keeps you wanting more. It was a fantastic distraction from a world that right now is hard to face. Thank you Priya!!

Blog Tour: Eden By Tim Lebbon

I am very very excited to be part of a blog tour today!! I was very excited to be asked to host a blog post for the amazing Tim Lebbon!!

Building Eden

Tim Lebbon

Landscape has always been an important part of my writing, never more so than in my new novel Eden. Eden itself is almost … sentient. It steers the action. It influences the characters and their decisions and is the backdrop against every part of this novel. For such a wide-open landscape, I hope it provides for a claustrophobic feel. My characters are out in the primeval wild, but from very early on in the novel the sense that they’re under siege begins to grow.

         Whilst building the landscape of Eden I wanted it to feel real and familiar to many readers, and for that I had to make it familiar to me. So there are deep forests, rolling hills, roaring rivers, treacherous ravines … basically an amalgamation of the wilder parts of the UK where I live, and where I love running, biking and swimming in the countryside. It felt important to test my adventure-racing characters while not making the landscape too alien and unbelievable. Although there are some weird, surreal moments. 

         As for the location of Eden on our planet … there’s a challenge for anyone who reads the novel. All the other Virgin Zones in the novel I place quite accurately, but the location of Eden isn’t quite so pinned down. That was a conscious decision on my part, but it’s also a challenge to the reader. Where do you think Eden would be?   

         I did a lot of research whilst writing the novel that pertained to the geography of Eden, and the effects that climate change might have had upon it. This includes effects on flora and fauna as well as landscape, especially to areas our teams sees (briefly) early on in the novel, on their approach into Eden. As for the zone itself, I was able to be more creative. It was fascinating to see and imagine how the world might move on and fix itself without human influence, and a book that was especially useful whilst researching this was The World Without Us, by Alan Weisman. Scary, yet uplifting. The chapter on how New York will change without human occupancy or influence will stay with me for a long time.

         In my research I also ‘built’ a good portion of Eden in my mind’s eye, so much so that there are part of the place I didn’t even use in the novel. The snowcapped mountains were always there, but my characters didn’t quite reach them. It’s world-building in the same manner as researching … always know more than you use, so that what you do use feels part of a greater whole.

         And I was also shocked to discover that the Virgin Zones from this novel aren’t as far-fetched as I believed! In 1927, Tsar Nicholas II officially set aside land for Russia’s first zapovednik, or ‘strict nature reserve’. I was delighted to read about this, and to discover that my fictional Eden actually mirrored reality.

         Not so much running and screaming and blood, though.

         I hope you enjoy the novel. Eden awaits.

If you haven’t read anything by Tim Lebbon you need to correct that. He uses landscape as another character. His books are a study in how landscape can be used as horror element.