Review – That Which Should Not Be

That Which Should Not Be

By Brett J. Talley

JournalStone

ISBN: 9781936564149

3.75 stars

Carter Weston, a student at Miskatonic University in New England, is intrigued when his professor, Dr. Thayerson, asks him to retrieve a book from a nearby village. The book, the Incendium Maleficarum, is thought to be able to control inhuman forces, and is supposedly a legend. Carter is amazing to find out its real and now he’s both excited and worried as he sets off to find it. Upon arriving in the small village of Anchorhead, he finds lodging and a tavern to wait out the snow storm that is burying the village. He befriends four men and being interested in folk stories, he listens to their tales and slowly realizes there might be more to this book than he can handle.

The stories of the four men were interesting (and in some ways the best part of the book for me) but for a short while I did wonder how they would tie into the main plot. They set the stage and there isn’t anything wrong with that but it felt like the story started one way, moved slightly sideways, and then came back to the center. Almost as if they were preparing Carter for what he would find. And in fact that is the case.

October is when I want to read creepy, scary books and when this one arrived I looked forward to it with an almost sense of glee. The cover looked promising — its got a cthulhu on the cover; how can it not be creepy. I love stories that have an element of the unknown and by unknown I’m good with the paranormal and in this case I’m going to include otherworldly creatures too. And, yes, there were some creepy elements to this story. I wasn’t so much sold on the ending but the stories along the way are what caught my attention.  As I said above, the men he meets at the bar regale him with tales and encounters of their own, and these stories, short as they were, were more interesting to me than the main story of the book. While it was promising, it didn’t do much for me.

Overall though, it wasn’t a bad read for October and if you enjoy horror, this did entertain.

I won this book from the Librarything Early Reviewers Program.

Teaser Tuesdays

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading.  The idea is to give everyone a look inside the book you’re reading.

Play along: Grab your current read; Open to a random page; Share two teaser sentences from that page; Share the title and author so other participants know what you’re reading.

Today’s teaser comes from That Which Should Not Be by Brett J. Talley. I won this book from the Librarything Early Reviewers program and it seems like a good creepy book for October.

“The day has come, that day I always knew would, and my time is short. But I must protect the Book.” (page 7)

Review – The Hypnotist

The Hypnotist

By MJ Rose

Mira Books

ISBN: 978-1-4268-5469-9

4 stars

Lucian Glass is an FBI agent with the Art Crime Team, a long suffering artist, and a man damaged by not only his past but his job.  Working though a recent head injury, headaches plague him along with dreams of unknown women and the love of his life — a woman murdered at 19 years of age.  Attacked in the same robbery where his girlfriend lost her life, Lucian lives with guilt over not being able to save her and surviving.  That guilt pours over into his job tracking and retrieving stolen art.  When he is pulled into a case involving his dead girlfriend’s family, his life takes one stumble after the other pulling him into a game with too many players all wanting the same thing.

The Hypnotist is the third book in The Reincarnationist series.  I haven’t read the two previous books:  The Reincarnationist and The Memorist.  As a standalone book, The Hypnotist worked but as a person who loves a series, I wished I had read the two earlier ones but was already into this one when I realized that was the case.

Lucian is a tortured person and one who doesn’t seem to want much help either.  As a character, he can be frustrating but it also lends him the sad artist persona, sketching away in his notebook trying to ease headaches that only cease when he’s frantically drawing women he doesn’t know.  A sculpture with a mythical power that no one understands fully is at the center of the story but the focus is on its heist, however, I wanted to know more about what it could do.  It was a part of the story I started to get into when it ended.  In fact, a few of the story lines ended abruptly for me but also left me wondering if another book is in the works.

I liked this book and moved through it fast.  I’m a lover of museums and staring at art for no other reason than to admire its simple beauty and I found myself getting entranced by that aspect of the story.  I haven’t been to the MET in years (much of the story takes places there) and this book made me want to go back.  It also made me want to pick up the other two books to get the back story

I won this book through LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers Program.  The book was downloaded as an ebook from NetGalley.

Review – Don’t Breathe a Word

Don’t Breathe a Word

By Jennifer McMahon

HarperCollins

ISBN: 978-0-06-168937-6

3.85 stars

I want to say this was a fantasy story but I’m held up by reality on this one.  Did I like this book?  Yes and no.  Yes, in that the story was well paced, full of twists, and slightly disturbing in a way that makes you keep reading because you must absolutely know what happens and are afraid to put the book down for fear of not finding out.  No, in that sometimes reality is too disturbing and you want to walk away and forget what you read and imagined and go back to a life happy without disturbing images in your head.

Lisa is an imaginative child so much so that she not only imagines but believes she has found the fairy king in the woods behind her house.  Woods full of strange tales, horror stories, and dilapidated stone homes.  When she goes missing, there’s more to the story of a girl and a fairy king and it’s so much more disturbing than anyone, especially her brother, may have wanted to imagine.  Her brother, now a man in his twenties happy in his life and relationship with his girlfriend, Phoebe, Sam would rather forget parts of his childhood and move on but it’s not meant to happen.  When a woman claiming to be his sister appears saying she’s returned from the land of the fairies, the simple life Sam and Phoebe have together is ruined.

Sometimes when you’re reading, especially a story about a young girl gone missing, you know it’s going to turn out badly and all that was at work was sad, despicable, human behavior.  But sometimes you also want to believe there is another fantasy world where she could have been taken and McMahon does a good job of making you really wonder about that.  Is it all an elaborate ruse to fool you and hide psychotic behavior?  Why can’t there be a happy ending here?  I can tell you, without ruining anything, there is no happy ending here and yes, at times you will find yourself repulsed by the characters behavior. You’ll be uncomfortable with the lies they yield and live.  You’ll be utterly disgusted and disturbed by what they do.  Sadly, it’s also compelling and I’ll admit I had a hard time reading and putting this book down.

That’s also what’s making me a little wishy-washy on this.  Did I not like it because it made me uncomfortable?  Well written books should do that to a certain extent.  But ultimately, I can’t say I loved it and I don’t honestly know if it was because of the subject matter.  Having a visceral reaction to something I read doesn’t mean it’s not good if my reaction was negative, does it?

Either way this book gets credit for holding me nearly hostage for several hours to finish it before my heart stopped pounding.  If nothing else, McMahon knows how to get hold of a reader.

Don’t Breathe a Word will be released May 2011.

I won this book as part of the Early Reviewers Program on LibraryThing.

Corrag: A Novel

Corrag:  A Novel

By Susan Fletcher

W.W. Norton & Company

978-0-393-08000-1

4 stars

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started this book.  It’s historical fiction (which I adore), set in Scotland, (a favorite setting of mine), features Highlanders as characters, (see previous), and is about a woman accused of witchcraft.  All things I usually enjoy entangled in a story.  What I found was something entirely different and not all bad either.

Corrag is a woman accused of witchcraft and slated to burn for her wanton ways.  It’s 17th Century Scotland and the accusation of witchcraft is common enough for women who have an understanding of medicinal herbs, are outspoken, and in some cases misunderstood.  Corrag is a mixture of all the above.  She’s a very small person, so small that some think of her as a child and in many ways she is childlike.  She was the only daughter of a woman hung for being a witch, has little education, and has been on the run for most of her life in search of a place to feel safe.  She finds that place in the Highlands of Scotland.  The MacDonald clan, which is settled in the area Corrag decides to call home, welcomes her and she feels finally at peace in the world.  When the clan is massacred by English soldiers, she is thrown in jail to await her death.  While there, a man named Charles Leslie comes to hear her story and hopefully find out more about the massacre.  What he finds is a filthy woman with a tale that will astound him.

This story is told by Corrag and is broken up by letters from Charles to his wife.  While Corrag’s story does skip around (She fully admits to being a rambler and in some places I felt inpatient with her telling.), but eventually she weaves a tale that makes your heartbreak.  It’s not only about the massacre but there’s also an interesting love story between Corrag and Alasdair MacDonald.  He’s married and while her heart breaks for him, she refuses to break the vow he has made to his wife.  I almost wish that it was a different story but the way Fletcher chose to tell it made sense from the perspective of Corrag.

It’s also a story about an incredible woman who showed little fear even when facing her own death.  She spent a great deal of her life alone, by choice, and was raised by a mother who told her never to love.  Corrag understood why her mother told her that but lets herself experience it anyway.  Becoming involved with the clan creates a life she never imagined possible.  She stops being this strange figure and starts to see herself in a better light.

I enjoyed this book but it does move slowly.  I’ll admit to taking a few breaks and moving on to another story while in the midst of this one.  I wanted very much to know what happened to the MacDonald clan and Corrag takes her time getting to that part.  Yes, I understand this was about her telling her tale so that someone knew her fully before she died, but some of it was too meandering.  In the end, I was happy to have finished it.  Fletcher is an interesting writer and at times can also be quite lyrical.  Descriptions of places and Corrag’s thoughts added wonderful touches to the story.

Fletcher is a new to me writer but I plan to look up a few of her previous novels and see how this one compares.

I received a copy of this book through the Early Reviewers Program on Librarything.