Men Die. Gods Die. She Lives On: Reviewing The Witch’s Heart by Genevieve Gornichec

Hello everybody! I hope everyone is enjoying this last bit of summer. I’ve been keeping busy but still reading more ravenously than I have in a while. Now, I’m a big mythology nerd so this whole new rise in mythology inspired – novels makes me very happy. In particular, Norse mythology has become more popular and I have become increasingly fascinated with the subject. This book was right on the top of my list for adaptations. So, let’s talk about The Witch’s Heart.

Angrboda began life as a powerful witch who was cast down by Odin after she refused to tell him about the future. This ending, however, was actually a brand new beginning for her. After escaping from her punishment, she meets Loki, the trickster god, and they fall in love. Their marriage produces strange heirs who all have a part to play in the end of the world. Angrboda’s best efforts to protect her children are thwarted once Ragnarok begins. With the help of the hunter goddess Skadi and a powerful she-wolf, Angrboda must decide whether to accept her fate or change the outcome completely.

Gornichec’s debut novel is solid its with fairy tale – esque writing and a focus on character study. Angrboda was a very relatable character as a woman trying to make her way in a world that does not understand her powers. I would be lying if I said I didn’t appreciate the female gaze of this book as it benefited the characters immensely. The novel is also very accurate to the original myths and you do not have to have any previous knowledge before reading this. It was a novel worth savoring as it took its time to introduce such complex characters with complex motivations. I really loved this book and would recommend it if you enjoyed Madeline Miler’s Circe or are a fan of Norse mythology.

The Shape of Things Could Not be Defined: Reviewing Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno – Garcia

Hello everyone! I hope you are all doing well and staying cool this summer. Remember that there is no such thing as bad reading weather. This particular book has been on my radar for a while now and for no real reason other than it sounded intriguing. In case you didn’t know, I am a huge fan of Gothic novels and I love seeing it translated by different authors from different cultures. I find it all so interesting how so many of these tropes and trademarks are almost universal. Before I rewrite my entire thesis, let’s talk about Mexican Gothic.

Noemi Taboada is a socialite who spends her days attending lavish parties and studying anthropology in Mexico City. She is drawn away from her carefree life when she receives a distressing and cryptic letter from her beloved cousin. Suspecting her cousin’s new husband is behind this, Noemi travels to the remote estate of El Triunfo. While there, Noemi is plagued by visions of death. With the help of the youngest son of the family, Noemi must uncover the dark secrets that lie within the manner before she too falls victim to something terrible.

The main reason why I loved this novel was that it gave me similar vibes to Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House and Charlotte Perkins- Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper. Moreno – Garcia does an excellent job creating suspense as the setting is so claustrophobic for the characters and the reader. It is so atmospheric, which is something I always love to see when I’m reading. The novel takes some wild turns and I mean that in the best way possible. Visually speaking, the descriptions are equally gruesome and beautiful. The build up to the end absolutely pays off in the best way possible. I really enjoyed Mexican Gothic as it presented a fresh and interesting take on the horror genre in a way that I never expected when going into the novel

(Content Warning: The novel does contain mentions of assault, attempted assault, body horror, gore, and violence. Just a heads up in case you are not comfortable with the aforementioned topics)

‘…Men are Only Another Kind of Primate…’: Reviewing Devolution by Max Brooks

Hello everyone! I hope you are all enjoying your summer so far. It is still pretty overcast where I live so I’m just waiting to see the sun again. All weather is good reading weather, though, and I have been itching to finish this novel. I did read Brooks’ most notable novel, World War Z, a while ago in the height of the “zombie craze” and did thoroughly enjoy it. I personally love novels that are told through letters, interviews, etc. because I find them to be the most immersive. It has taken me far longer to finish this novel than I care to admit but I am more than happy to talk about Devolution, or its full title: Devolution: A Firsthand Account of the Rainier Sasquatch Massacre.

The unthinkable only leads to the horrifying after Mount Rainier erupts, decimating the newly founded, environmentally friendly community of Greenloop. In the aftermath of the explosion, the journals of resident Kate Holland are discovered and reveal a horrifying encounter with giant, ape-like creatures. Max Brooks inserts himself into this story in order to make sure Kate’s harrowing tale is told, while also confronting the horrifying truth that the creature known as Bigfoot is very real and very dangerous.

Max Brooks has a real talent for making these stories about the ridiculous seem the most realistic. While Bigfoot plays a huge part in this book, the focus of the book is the people and how they react to this situation. We all like to think that we could pull ourselves together during the worst case scenario, but that is rarely the case and Brooks does an excellent job demonstrating the range of ways a person could react to such an extreme situation. It did remind me quite a bit of Jurassic Park in the best way The novel challenges the idea of people thinking that they could truly live in harmony with nature, which is always an interesting topic. I should add that the novel does begin rather slowly but when it gets going, it gets good. Devolution is an interesting read for Bigfoot believers and non-believers alike. If you want a violent tale of survival, then this is the book for you.

In my mind are all the tides…: Reviewing Piranesi by Susanna Clarke

Hello everyone! Instead of sleeping, I have decided to write this review because I simply could not wait to talk about this book. One of my favorite things is picking up a book at random and having no real expectations, only to have the book take you aback with its quality. This is exactly how I felt reading Piranesi and I want to share my thoughts with you.

Piranesi lives an an infinite house, filled with gorgeous statues and countless corridors, hallways, and other rooms. Within the house, there is an ocean which Piranesi loves deeply for its power and beauty. He spends his days exploring his house and relaying his information to The Other, a mysterious man who uses Piranesi’s evidence for his pursuit of A Great and Secret Knowledge. Piranesi’s solitary and peaceful existence begins to fall apart when he uncovers evidence to a darker truth that lies within the infinite house.

I am a huge fan of surrealist literature that involves magic and Piranesi fit the bill in every way. The book is written in an almost fairy tale – like way that draws you into the world with each paragraph. Even though the novel is fairly short, it has a rich world that you only want to know more and more about. I love novels that have rich aesthetics, which Clarke creates in her writing. I also loved the mystery element that lies at the heart of the novel. It made it all the more un-put-downable. It was definitely reminiscent of Neil Gaiman and Erin Morgenstern, both of whom I love. This was an absolutely fantastic read I will absolutely be re-reading over and over in order to fully absorb every detail of Piranesi.

Soon, you’ll hear the whispers spoken…” Reviewing The Whisper Man by Alex North

Hi everyone! I hope you are all doing well and feeling better as we move into summer. I have a huge stack of books to read that I am so looking forward to. It’s nice not having to deal with school for the first time in such a long time. In the meanwhile, let’s talk about Alex North’s The Whisper Man.

Tom Kennedy was looking for a fresh start for him and his son, Jake, after his wife dies. He decides to move them to the small town of Featherbank to begin to heal. Their new life is disturbed when a young boy goes missing and rumors begin to spread that the infamous killer known as The Whisper Man has returned. Detectives Amanda Beck and Pete Willis must rush against the clock to find the missing boy. Tom soon finds himself caught up in the case when Jake begins to hear the whispers.

First and foremost, I’m going to issue a warning if you don’t want to read about violence against children. I’m going to start including content warnings if the books I review include sensitive or graphic material. The Whisper Man very much reminded me of an episode of Criminal Minds and I do not mean that in a bad way as I love the show. I went into this book thinking it would be a bit more supernatural but it is very light on those elements. It certainly wasn’t a mind – blowing read as it was fairly predictable but I did genuinely enjoy the writing style as it switched from first to third person with ease. I would say this is a good book to pick up for traveling if you want a solid crime thriller to enjoy on the plane or in the car.

Bloody, Bold, and Resolute: Reviewing If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio

Hello everyone! I have officially survived my final semester of grad school and tomorrow I will have officially have a Masters degree. Needless to say, I am equal parts exhausted and excited. I am mostly looking forward to being able to read what I want for the foreseeable future. In all my excitement, I am going to give you my review of If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio. (Side note: Many of the books I’m reading I found on the book side of Tik Tok or Book Tok).

Oliver Marks is one of seven eager Shakespearean actors attending the prestigious Dellecher Classical Conservatory. Their days are filled with friendly, but fierce competition as they rise above the ranks and get the leading roles. Each member, though, plays their own role in the group that reflects the characters they play on stage. As tensions begin to rise and the competition turns fierce, a mysterious tragedy strike the group. Now, Oliver and his fellow thespians must uncover what happened and use their skills as actors to convince everyone else of their innocence.

As a fan of Shakespeare (and theater in general) and dark academia, this book had my name written all over it. I also loved a good whodunnit mystery. If We Were Villains is a perfect combination of all of those elements. Rio does an excellent job combining the prose and play narrative structures while also emphasizing the richness of theater and the sketchy reality of prestigious university. You all may know that I am a huge fan of Donna Tartt’s The Secret History and this novel is very much in the vein of that genre. Overall, I thoroughly enjoy the way this novel unfolds and I would consider it essential for any fan of dark academia novels.

Most things aren’t. Most events haven’t: Reviewing It Devours! by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor

Hi everyone! We have officially left 2020 in the rearview and 2021 is ahead, uncertain but hopeful. I wasn’t expecting to get a book review out this soon, but I fell into one of those wonderful reading spells where you just don’t want to put down the book. In this case, the book is another one based off of my favorite podcast, Welcome to Night Vale. You can check out my review of the first novel inspired by the podcast, which has the same title. Now, let’s get into It Devours!

As an outsider, Nilanjana navigates her strange new home of Night Vale with logic and reasoning. Working with fellow outsider and Night Vale’s most handsome scientist, Carlos, she is sent to investigate the giant sinkholes appearing around the town. This leads Nilanjana to the Joyous Congregation of the Smiling God, where she meets and develops feelings for one of its members, Darryl. The two must question their beliefs as they realize that there is something darker beneath the surface that could mean the end for Night Vale.

As for anything related to Welcome to Night Vale, I really didn’t know what to expect with this novel. I did, however, love the way it expanded on the already bizarre world of Night Vale. It was equals parts profound, bizarre, and romantic as the novel explored complicated topics like religion and science. There was also plenty of tension and action that made this such a compelling read. I love how Fink and Cranor put so much care into their world building. It’s somehow realistic among the trademark weirdness that one would expect. Any Night Vale fan in guaranteed to love this novel and, if you haven’t listened to the podcast, you may still be able to appreciate what the novel is saying.

Poor strangers, they have so much to be afraid of: Reviewing We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

Hello everyone! I’m back at it again with another book review. I have been enjoying my break and needed to ease back into reading. I wanted to read this one for October since it is a horror/mystery novella, but stuff happens. Hopefully, I can get in one more novel before the New Years. Anyways, here’s my review of We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson.

Mary Katherine Blackwood, who is affectionately known as Merricat, lives happily on the edge of town with her sister Constance and Uncle Julian. Merricat’s quaint little world is shattered when their estranged cousin Charles Blackwood comes into town in hopes of gaining his inheritance. Now, Merricat and Constance must come to terms with their gruesome past in order to deal with their uncertain future.

Shirley Jackson uses some great techniques in her writing, as she lures you in with something seemingly ordinary but leaves you questioning who or what the real threat is. There is an interesting element of not knowing who to be afraid of by the time you finish one of Jackson’s stories. We Have Always Live in the Castle left me questioning who I should sympathize with and I loved that aspect of the story. It’s short but complicated in the most interesting way possible. There is a lot of reading in between the lines for this novel. You really have to pay attention, particularly since the story is told through Mary Katherine’s point of view. Jackson’s novellas and short stories are endlessly re-readable and We Have Always Live in the Castle absolutely fits the bill.

Don’t Thank Me. It’s Cool: Reviewing The Tower of Nero (Book Five of The Trials of Apollo) by Rick Riordan

Hi everyone! I’m back with another review sooner than I thought, but I buckled down on this one in between my required novels. For those of you who don’t know, this novel is the last in the Percy Jackson universe so it is sad to let go of this part of my childhood. At least we’re getting the adaptation we truly deserve. Let’s finish up The Trials of Apollo.

It’s been the longest six months for Lester Papadopoulos, formerly known the god Apollo. After fighting emperors, defeating monsters, and freeing the Oracles, it is time for them to face Nero and save New York, then the world. To make matters even worse, Apollo’s nemesis Python is lurking in the shadows, waiting for him. It is time for Lester to defeat Python and regain his godhood or possibly die trying. Hopefully, it’s the latter.

This was a perfectly written ending for this particular series, as well as the Percy Jackson series in general. Again, I was still genuinely surprised by how good this series was as well as how mature it was. Rick Riordan has always done a good job adding some sort of lesson or moral to his story without it being too preach-y. As an adult, I appreciated what Riordan had to say through Apollo/Lester’s trials. This particular book was action packed and heartfelt. I still can’t recommend this series enough. Never grow up, my fellow Greek myth nerds.

When we crash, we intertwine: Reviewing Children of Virtue and Vengeance by Tomi Adeyemi

Hello everyone! It has been a hot minute since I’ve posted. I promise I won’t abandon this blog any time soon. I’ve just been all caught up with university, anxiety, social distancing, and all that other fun stuff (See? Sarcasm). I’ve still found enough time to go out a little and enjoy things. Of course, I wasn’t about to give up on Tomi Adeyemi’s series. Feel free to check out my review for the first novel, Children of Blood and Bone. Now it’s time to talk about the recently released sequel.

Zelie and Amari had finally succeeded in bringing back to Orisha, but they were not prepared for the other consequences it might bring. Now, Zelie must unite all of the maji in order to defeat Inan and put Amari on the throne. When the monarchy launches an attack on the maji, it is up to Zelie to protect her people and avoid the war or else everything she loves will be destroyed.

Even though this book took me a little while to get through, it is actually very fast paced and has tons of action. The magic system in the novel is incredibly well thought out, which helps add to the incredible world building that Adeyemi has done. When it comes to fantasy, though, a lot of authors tend to make their characters either too powerful or neglect any consequences that their characters may have to deal with. Adeyemi completely avoids that pitfall by making her characters understandably, albeit frustratingly, imperfect. I wouldn’t enjoy the book if I couldn’t sympathize with Zelie, Amari, and the rest. That is why I love this series. It harkens back to my love of shows like Avatar: The Last Airbender. Though this is a YA fantasy series, I think adult and teen readers alike can bond over this series with it’s incredible action, high stakes, and emotional beats that will keep you wanting more.