My Rating: 5 Stars
An incredible book that was worth the time it took to read it. This is probably one of the best books I’ve read this year and also one of the biggest.
In 19th century England magic is remembered as part of a glorious past but no longer used in the present. Even so, there are those that question if magic will return and if it’s possible t bring it back. The reclusive Mr Norrell starts his journey by moving from the quietness of his home and the company of his books to London where he brings a young woman back from the dead and summons an army of ghost ships to give England an advantage on the war with France. The road to fame and glory seemed imminent until a young, handsome, charming, untrained magician makes an appearance. Jonathan Strange is the opposite of Mr Norrell and in time a battle of wits, beliefs and magic puts in motion a series of events that will change the fabric of history and unleash consequences that will remain the in memory of England forever.
A compelling story and an enchanting novel that isn’t meant to be rushed but to take time to savour.
Being a little over 1,000 pages this novel proves that Susanna Clarke not only wrote a story but she also created a unique and mesmerising world. The accurate interpretation and use of historical facts and the typical language of this period bring this novel to a league of its own, bringing characters to life and pulling in the reader until the very last page. There is a perfect balance between fantasy and historical fiction and the deep knowledge of the magic spells and myths which allows the reader to fully understand the story without getting lost in the process. In some parts of the book I thought it grew a bit tedious but then something changes in the storyline and I couldn’t put it down again.
The style of writing is beautiful, subtle and very compelling. I admire the author for the brilliant use of the typical 19th century English with all its smooth phrases and rich vocabulary and how she manages to capture the readers' attention, to engage their imagination but at the same time not losing any of the strings that build the story in a steady pace. The amount of detail is just enough to allow the reader to vividly imagine the setting, the characters and the interactions between characters. Susanna Clarke is a true word magician: she was able to create a solid plot, with no loose ends while bringing together magic, history, warfare, politics, social and domestic life. A genius of literature.
The characters are extraordinary and there is no difference between the amount of characterisation of the main and secondary characters. The depth and solidity they have are incredible, each one with its own story, beliefs, opinions, qualities and flaws. Furthermore, all the characters contribute to the story in one was or the other and it was thrilling to see how their actions, both direct and indirect, are pieces that make the puzzle come together in the end. Jonathan Strange is my favourite character. He has his flaws, like being impulsive and arrogant, but at the same time his passion, his thirst for knowledge, his passion for books and his almost obsessive need to understand the past in order to build something new are some of the features that I highly enjoyed. The relationship between Strange and Norrell was one of my favourite to read and explore throughout the novel. Going between friends and rivals, their confrontations and verbal disputes creates such a chemistry that makes the reader anxious for more direct encounters.
A great book that I recommend for the fans of stead-paced story build-up and a unique tale that will leave a long-lasting impression.
My Rating: 5 Stars
This book includes everything I enjoy in a story: a good, scary Gothic tale set in Victorian times.
The story starts with Elsie Bainbridge, a young woman that is recovering in the hospital, unable to speak about a number of murders that she’s accused of committing. Since she doesn’t speak a word, she’s advised by one of the doctors to write down her story. Elsie is a recently married and recently widowed young woman that moves to her husband’s old estate, The Bridge, in order to bury him and give birth to her child. Surrounded by her husband’s cousin Sarah and three servants, Elsie begins to realize that in the walls of the old estate dark secrets are whispered in its walls. From strange figures of children and maids painted in wooden boards which seem to watch every move and seem to never stay in their designed place, to some old diaries that described the horrific events that took place in the beginning of the Bainbridge family’s downfall, Elsie slowly begins to transform from a confident and bright young woman to a broken shell governed by nightmares of past events she doesn’t fully understand.
A creepy Gothic horror novel that left me afraid to look at the walls and the paintings of my house for too long. It’s a deeply unsettling story that I will remember for a long time as being one of the books that made me be afraid of the dark for a few nights.
The setting is perfect for me, it hold everything for this novel to be a true horror story. It takes place in 1866 in Victorian England and in an old estate that has more history than its inhabitants realize until it’s too late. The story-line is solid and all the historical facts make this novel memorable in many ways. It’s a psychological horror story that develops perfectly from beginning to end, suspenseful until the very last page. The fact that the author started with the end, the reader is fully aware from the first page that this story doesn’t have a happy ending.
The style of writing is brilliant and it creates this atmosphere of suspense within a complex plot. I’m an admirer of the authors that manage to recreate a Victorian novel with all the phrase structure and vocabulary that truly brings the reader closer to the plot and its characters. The way that Laura Purcell writes builds up the horror throughout gets the reader completely addicted to the story even if deep down they're waiting for something scary to take palce.
The characters are amazing and as mesmerizing as the plot itself. Elsie is a great character and it’s impossible for the reader not to get involved in her story and feel for her as she walks down a dark path without realizing. Her transformation from a strong woman to a depressed, hollow, traumatized, mute, full of scars character is both admirable and scary.
A brilliant, creepy novel that will scare any reader out of hers/his wits. I highly recommend this novel for the fans of the genre and of Victorian fiction.
Thank you NetGalley, the publisher Bloomsbury, and the author for allowing me to read and review a digital copy of this book.
My Rating: 4 Stars
Since two weeks ago was Banned Books Week, I finally got around to read this classic a second time and to actually review it. This tale of determination, the cruelty of Man and thirst for freedom is a masterpiece but also difficult to read, in my opinion.
When I wrote before that the novel was difficult to read, it’s the same reason why I can’t give it five stars. Even though Jack London only portrayed the reality of the time of the “Gold Rush”, the cruel acts and treatment those dogs suffered made me feel revolted with Man; and emotional for the impact of Man’s negative actions. In some parts, it was a struggle to keep reading. For me, it was more difficult to read it now as an adult than before as a teenager.
“The Call of the Wild,” tells the story of Buck, a St Bernard that is taken from his home to work in the Alaskan wild. It’s a tale of endurance, determination, courage and self-discovery.
It’s an impressive novel that is full of moral lessons and life teachings: the survival of the strongest, the power of the strong over the weak, man against nature, life is hard and unfair sometimes and that even though we’re bonded to the rules imposed by society, there is a craving for freedom. These are only a few points that I singled out, the ones that marked me the most. One of the best qualities of this book is that every element in it contributes to the design of a bigger picture, but it still gives enough freedom to the reader to interpret them as they will. The violence and brutally expressed in the pages is painful and yet an eye opener for the abuse of power that we’re still confronted within society nowadays. The thirst for progress, the need to have more, to be better than anyone else is the drive of a society that will stop at nothing to have what they judge as necessary but at the same time, it idealizes nature.
The story-line is solid but very harsh and brutal; it got a bit hard to read sometimes. Man proves to be the cruellest of all animals and the most greedy of them all. The reader is taken on a journey of feelings of despair, hopelessness and suffering that ends with the small light of hope at the end of the tunnel.
Though it may seem that this is the story of a simple dog, the reader will walk with him in his journey and harsh life where, with will, strength and determination, he ends up becoming the pack leader of a wolf pack in the wilderness of Alaska. Buck is a brilliant main character that shows qualities that we humans tend to value and respect: he is loyal to a fault, courageous and determinate to life even though he doesn’t know if the pain will ever end. He proves throughout the book that, even though he battled against savage events that scarred him, his spirit remained unbroken.
The picture that Jack London created with this novel is that hope remains even in the hardest of times and sooner or later, things will get better. A truly inspiring tale that I highly recommend to readers of all ages.
My Rating: 5 Stars
A brilliantly written dystopian novel that will remain in the mind of its readers for a long time.
When your parents are deemed enemies of the state, you’re sent to a secret detention school. For Reed Paine meeting new people and making friends isn't something he truly considered until he becomes friends with a girl named Riley and slowly began opening up to other detainees. Together, they discover information and a long forgotten history in hidden tunnels underneath the school. As they begin to question the system and what they thought they knew about their society, the government reveals its intention to sell the school. Reed and his friends will have to make the decision of standing by and do nothing or to do something that might bring them freedom, change the world but also get them killed. Can they make it without losing their lives in the process?
The plot is very well-developed and its depth makes it almost tangible, which both admirable and scary considering the dystopian story-line isn’t that far-fetched; it’s original and refreshing. It's the type of book that can be read in one sitting.
The concepts in which the novel develops around remind the reader of the importance of history, country values, patriotism but also the importance of accepting the hard moments in life and that making mistakes is that makes us human. Furthermore, it serves as a reminder that nothing in life should be taken for granted, and that includes liberty. The style of writing approaches these themes in a subtle way, seducing the reader in going deeper into the story and into the lives of each character. Froelich’s style is impressive and it makes the story memorable.
The novel is fast-paced and packed with action and it keeps that rhythm throughout the story. The characters are very well-developed and it was easy to become a part of their adventure. Their depth is incredible and it’s almost like they’re real people that decided to tell their story. One of the things that I appreciated a lot in this novel is the fact that, yes, there are couples, but romance isn’t highlighted, friendship is. I can’t begin to describe how much I enjoyed reading the character’s interactions, their behaviour with each other and how often physical gestures are used to offer comfort and show that they care. I think the readers can truly relate to these characters and appreciate this view of friendship. The ending was like a door closing but a window opening at the same time: it’s a conclusion but there is enough space for a sequel.
This book got me hooked from page one and I recommend it to anyone interested in a fast-paced YA dystopia with historical references and lessons.
I want to thank the author Jennifer Froelich for sending me a free digital copy of her book in exchange for an honest review.
My Rating: 4 Stars
A great read! A mix between different genres that blend perfectly together and with a style of writing that got me hooked from the beginning.
Arriving in a new school, Annie feels out of place. When she meets Elsie, she is forced to become her best friend. Her new friend soon begins to reveal that her character isn’t at all pleasant: she is controlling, spiteful and demanding, but at the same time, she is violently bullied. When Annie ends her relationship with Elsie and joins the opposition, things take a turn for the worse: Elsie dies of influenza… and she comes back to haunt Annie. How do you release a vengeful ghost when its anger is aimed at you?
This suspenseful novel is a page-turner with brilliant descriptions and amazing characters.
The setting was very well picked; the reader is taken back to 1918 during the World War I where political tension runs high, the talk of war is current and the Germans are considered the enemy. The descriptions allow the reader to live the story instead of just reading it. The storyline is solid and its depth reveals a few brutal events and behaviours that took place during that time. There is a mix of genres that is perfectly balanced and they all come together to create a historical ghost story.
The novel is fast-paced; I couldn’t find a moment it slowed down even for a moment, one of the reasons the book was so hard to put down.
The characters are the best element in the novel for me. They are very well developed and defined not only in behaviour but also in dialogue and their actions. I must admit I found it impressing that the author managed to do this with so many characters and not once lose track or diminish their presence in the story. Elsie is a character that I couldn’t help but sympathise with. In my opinion, her actions and behaviour come from her lack of attention and acceptance and her loneliness. If she never got anything positive out of human interaction, she wouldn’t know how to actually establish contact in a friendly way in the first place. She has a difficult character, but she was also a victim. Annie is a good main character and she struggles to fit in. In the end, she chooses to be part of the bullies group and it becomes her downfall. She does learn from it though, which was a satisfying point personally. Annie and Elsie are the pole opposites of each other both in personality and behaviour, like good and evil. However, I think the point of the author is that none is really good and no one is really evil, at least not without good reason.
A great read, one that I recommend to all the fans of a good ghost story with historical highlights.
Thank you NetGalley, the publisher Clarion Books. and the author for allowing me to read and review a digital copy of this book.
My Rating: 5 Stars
A great historical/mystery novel! It was the first time I read about the story of the Lost Colony of Roanoke and it captivated me from the very beginning.
Andrea Warren is haunted by the suicide of her father while searching for the coffins of Beechland a group of 117 people that went mysteriously missing in 1590. Being a young archaeologist, Andrea takes on her father’s path only to discover that her attention is very much unwanted. Someone is trying to stop her from discovering one of the biggest mysteries of the American culture but with what purpose? Can she finish what she started without losing her life?
Deborah Dunn did a great work in presenting so much historical details and research throughout the novel. It fits perfectly with the story and it made it believable, especially when put together with her own opinion of what might have happened. The mystery that is built around the legend is solid and it kept me captivated all the way through. The approach the author takes in presenting past events through dreams and visions is brilliant. No questions are left unanswered and no strings are left loose.
The descriptions are amazing. The details are so realistic that I could actually see, feel and smell what Andrea sees in her visions. Furthermore, there are the descriptions of the landscape. North Caroline both in the present and the past were described in a way that made me want to visit. The images of the small towns along the coast are mesmerising.
In the beginning, the reader is given a timeline with the known events and their dates of Roanoke; it gave me a first introduction to the theme of the novel. In the end of the novel, the author gives a clear image to the reader of what is real, what is fictional and a small bibliography if there is further interest, details that truly make the difference for me.
It’s an incredible, captivating and thrilling novel that I highly recommend to the fans of a good historical mystery.
Thank you NetGalley, the publisher Createspace Independent Publishing Platform. and the author for allowing me to read and review a digital copy of this book.
My Rating: 4 Stars
What a read! Unique, imaginative and very dark: what is there not to like?
The story takes place in 1910 where occultist and adventurer Ingrid Redstone travels to the City of Angels in search of the Aztec portal to the afterlife. She didn’t count on meeting Death on the side and get on a ride through the history of the city. As their relationship develops and grows deeper, Ingrid realizes that their worlds' weren’t meant to cross and in the end, she will have to choose between a life with the living or amongst the dead.
I admire the author for the work on the organization of the storyline; in the beginning, it was a bit tricky and complex to understand and follow but then it really drew me into the story. I think it’s the first time I read a novel that manages to mix dark fantasy with historical fiction, vintage times, mystery, supernatural and romance. It is a dangerous attempt but the author managed to successfully create a unique, refreshing and new style entirely. There is an exceptional view of the underworld, how it works, how time passes differently; details that built this dark world. The way the characters explore past times and meet several notables of the old days is a great idea. I wish I had the chance to sit with Alfred Hitchcock! The historical settings of the novel are also very well described and I really do enjoy a good story that takes place in the jazz days.
The characters are solid and their interactions are very human. It’s a love story but it’s not a fairytale either; they have communication problems, misunderstandings. It’s easy to see that Death isn’t used to interact with anyone, especially not with a human woman. I see Ingrid has a more quiet type and more hesitant when it comes to Death. She jumps into the unknown without thinking very much about it and how it actually might end for her but at the same time she lets him take all the initiative, which was a bit frustrating at times.
Overall, a great, unique, thrilling adventure that I recommend to all the fans of a more complex romantic fantasy.
Thank you NetGalley, the publisher Rocket Surgery Books. and the author for allowing me to read and review a digital copy of this book.
My Rating: 5 Stars
An amazing, memorable read! The Book of Whispers was the winner of the Text Prize 2015.
In the 11th century, in the time of the Crusades, the young Luca de Falconi is anything but ordinary. Born with the ability to see demons, Luca hides who he is and what he can do. When his father joins the Prince on the Crusades, Luca finds his way to the holy pilgrimage, not satisfied on staying behind to take care of their estate. Taking only a secret book written in a cryptic language that his father gave him, Luca embarks on a journey that will reveal secrets, corruption and evil lurking in the shadows. When a mysterious girl named Suzan joins him, he realises that he isn’t alone; Suzan has powers of her own. Together, they have to discover the secrets of the book and stop the unknown plan of demons as the crusaders make their way to Jerusalem to free it from the Saracens.
This novel brings everything together perfectly: romance, adventure, loss, magic, change and history. The descriptions are incredibly written. From the vicious, violent confrontations to the harsh conditions of the Crusades through hot sand, burning sun and lack of water, they served as a reminder that even though we don’t talk about them any more, it was still one of the biggest bloody periods in history. The descriptions of the sights and ancient places are mesmerising and the way Jerusalem is portrayed is breathtaking. It’s definitely a place that I would like to visit for its rich history and architecture.
The plot is complex, fast-paced and clues to understand the book of whispers are revealed in a good pace; not a single moment of boredom from this historical journey. The romance between the two main characters is beautiful and it complements the story-line perfectly. The way I interpreted it was, even in the darkest moments, there is always something good that should be kept and fought for.
An amazing novel that I highly recommend!
Thank you NetGalley, the publisher Text Publishing, and the author for allowing me to read and review a digital copy of this book.
My Rating: 4 Stars
Memorable, addictive and brilliant! Brilliantly written and incredibly developed, this historical novel was a great read!
"A Dangerous Crossing" takes place in a beautiful ship on a journey to Australia in 1939. Abroad the glamorous The Orontes, Lily Shepherd embarks on a journey for a fresh start. In a time where appearances are everything, Lily will quickly learn the difference between acquaintances and friends and that everyone has one or two skeletons in the closet, including a few secrets about her own past.
First off, the descriptions are amazing. I had a very specific and colourful vision of the interior of the ship and of the amazing sights on the different ports. I felt like I was part of the crew and that I was seeing the surroundings myself.
The story line is solid and enjoyable, even if there are moments of too much drama for me. On the other hand, I loved the tension that builds along the story ending in the ultimate and unexpected climax. The author almost managed to divert my attention from the mystery but not in an unpleasant way. The style of writing is very good. I’m not a fan of big and detailed descriptions but I really enjoyed reading about the atmosphere and the characters.
The characters are built in a smart way and each one has a unique story and all of them represent the diversity of society, both in class and in religion; there is depth in them. Their interactions are brilliantly thought and smartly presented to the reader. I didn’t get lost in their conversations and exchanges, which for me is definitely a plus.
I recommend this book to readers that enjoy a light and sublime historical novel that takes place in the high seas.
Thank you NetGalley, the publisher Transworld Digital, and the author for allowing me to read and review a digital copy of this book.
My Rating: 5 Stars
This book was awesome. No other way to put it. I don’t even know how I only heard about these series now and I will definitely get my hands on a paperback version of both instalments.
The story starts with the main character Evelyn and her search for gifted people who are struggling with their powers or simply hiding them out of fear. At the same time, she needs to make sure that she gets to them before the Society of Aberrations does. It’s not a group one should trust… right? With her parents back, Evelyn has to protect herself in two fronts, from the Society and her parent’s intent to marry her off.
I fell in love with this book even though I didn’t have the fortune of reading the first volume These Vicious Masks. It is fast-paced, pack with action, not a dull moment in sight. Intrigue at every corner, I was sitting at the edge of my seat in anticipation. I really couldn’t guess who to trust or to be suspensions of, even though most of the characters are simply amazing. Twists and unexpected events would make anyone hold their breaths.
The time-period is simply perfect and definitely one of my all-time favourites. The colours, the dash of steampunk, the language and the manners are so beautifully described I got goosebumps. The style of writing is perfect, words feel like silk when I read them in my mind, it’s breathtaking and hypnotic. Oh, and did I mention highly-addictive?
Evelyn is an amazing character and she definitely became one of my all-time favourites. She is one badass lady, with a strong character, spirit and smart mind. She is the picture of independence, the complete opposite of what society requires of a woman in that period. She is the proof that we can break free of society’s rules and how we can break them in style and with grace. Despite everything though, she still feels the need to make her parents proud, and does her best to please them even if she doesn’t agree with their traditional views and beliefs. That’s another thing this character is great: even coming from a family with high social status, Evelyn is kind and treats everybody equally and she truly wants to make a difference in the world, no matter the cost. Her powers are incredible, so, another reason I like her, of course.
Utterly brilliant is the only way to describe this amazing novel. I will be ordering the first volume and the second one for good measure because this is definitely a series worth following and having in the bookshelf!
I want to thank Xpresso Book Tours for allowing me to participate in this book tours in exchange for an honest review.
Hope you find an idea for your next reading here.
Disclaim: All the images used serve for illustration purposes only, I don't own them. All the reviews and opinions are my own.