Book Reviews by Genre: Paranormal/Supernatural

Smith, Jeff
4 stars = Really Good

Bone is one of those comics I’ve always been aware of but haven’t gotten around to reading until now. It’s interesting how the visual style of the titular characters evokes an older style of comics, while the other characters in the world feel more modern. The storytelling runs at a pretty fast pace that kept me turning the pages to see what happens next. There’s some pretty good humor here, as well as tense situations to keep it from becoming too silly. I can definitely see the appeal and why it’s been a notable comic since its origins in the early 1990s.

My only qualm with this book has to do with the main characters. The three “Bones” feel out of place in the fantasy realm, let alone our world. It also took me a while to distinguish visually between Fone Bone and Phoney Bone, which was only aided because this book mostly follows Fone. These characters are quite expressive for their simple design, which helps. I understand their simple white design would make producing the (originally black and white) comic easier, but they’re so jarring when everything else is so detailed.

It's funny how the Japanese isekai genre has picked up in recent years, only to have been solidly pre-dated by Bone. The concept of a group of people being transported/lost in an unfamiliar fantasy world is a huge genre today. The fantasy world-building Jeff Smith does in this first volume definitely holds to a lot of fantasy tropes while also taking humorous turns that make the world unique. I’m glad I picked up the colorized version of this first volume and I’ll definitely be reading the next volume when I get the chance.

A bold take on the isekai genre in an American style, I give Bone, Vol. 1 4.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin W.
Song of Susannah
King, Stephen
4 stars = Really Good

Six books into the Dark Tower series, and I'm glad that things are wrapping up. I felt Wolves of the Calla was only as good as it was because it was clearly a ripoff of The Magnificent Seven (1960). And with so many of the books in this series focusing on the men of the ka-tet, it was nice to get a book that mostly focused on Susannah's experiences. A lot of weird stuff happened in this book, but at least it laid the groundwork for the last entry in the series.

Perhaps the weirdest part of this book was its meta-narrative with Stephen King. I was a little surprised this fourth-wall-breaking move worked as well as it did. Then again, King clearly hinted that this was a possibility in the previous book in the series. Author self-inserts usually take the form of the main character living out the author's fantasies. However, literal author self-inserts are a little rarer. It also felt like King was trying to remind himself why he started on this Dark Tower series at all, which doesn't instill a lot of confidence in the reader.

I wasn't wild about the somewhat cliffhanger ending, but it didn't matter too much as I knew I could jump into The Dark Tower shortly after finishing this book. It's mostly frustrating because there are a lot of things that are cut short in this book that clearly will be resolved in the next. Song of Susannah gathered King's top ideas from his previous works, making it almost a "greatest hits" from his bibliography. That there's been some good action in books five and six of the series bodes well for the conclusion.

A meta setup for the last book of the Dark Tower series, I give Song of Susannah 4.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin W.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
Rowling, J.K.
3 stars = Pretty Good

I suggest the book to people, who want to enjoy an intriguing, fast paced novel, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's stone is the perfect book for those people.
This novel is the first of the seven famous Harry Potter books by J. K. Rowling. This book is about 11 year old Harry Potter, who receives a letter from Hogwarts, which is a school of witchcraft and wizardry.
This book is full of imagination like at one point, Harry Potter is asked to catch the golden ball, while he is flying on the broomstick. Then he stands up on the broomstick and tries to catch the golden ball unexpectedly he falls off from the broomstick and throws up the golden ball to winning the game for his team.
This book keeps you involved throughout the book.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone is a good book to spark joy and imagination for anyone, regardless of age.

Reviewer's Name: Teja S.
hp sorcerer
Rowling, J.K.
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!

Harry Potter was an incredibly amusing read, with amiable characters that truly made the story stand out. This novel is a must-read for people of all ages. It has an air of mystery, is captivating, and provides entertainment. The book portrays real-world events in a fantasy world.
The characters, including the main character Harry Potter, are relatable and undergo character development while making mistakes. One of the great features of the novel is how each character has their own unique strengths and weaknesses, and each one has a distinct way of feeling. For instance, Neville Longbottom is a shy boy, but his loyalty to his friends and his house team is unwavering.
Harry Potter is a book that can be enjoyed by all ages, as it accurately portrays the struggles that come with different stages of life. Even though Harry is a wizard, his teenage problems are relatable to those of a typical teenager. As a reader, you can judge the characters in the book based on the tone of the novel. Relationships are also a significant feature of this novel and are portrayed differently depending on the type of relationship. For example, the relationship between a sibling and a friend is distinct but can be differentiated only by the tone or mood portrayed accurately.
This book is an absolutely enchanting experience, overflowing with captivating magical creatures, spells, and enchantments that will undoubtedly keep readers completely engaged. The characters are exceptionally well-crafted and relatable, while the plot moves at a fast pace, leaving the reader on the edge of their seat.
The author's vivid and immersive writing style transports readers into the heart of the story, allowing them to experience it as if it were their own. At Hogwarts, Harry befriends Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger. The trio works together to unravel the mystery surrounding the Sorcerer's Stone. In their quest to counter Voldemort's plan to use the stone to regain his body, Harry and his friends embark on a perilous adventure.
Overall, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is a timeless classic that continues to interest and entertain readers of all ages. It is a must-read for anyone who loves fantasy, adventure, and magic. I highly recommend this book to anyone who hasn’t read it yet.

Reviewer's Name: Sam
Dracula book jacket
Stoker, Bram
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!

Dracula, written by Bram Stoker, is a fictional account of a vampire hunt in Transylvania. Jonathan Harker, a lawyer, is sent by his boss to Castle Dracula to assist in a real estate transaction with a wealthy man named Count Dracula. However, he is soon not allowed out of the castle, and slowly he realizes the the Count is no ordinary man. Harker manages to escape and eventually teams up with a colleague to hunt down Count Dracula. I enjoyed the book, it was full of complex back stories that merged into one beautiful crescendo: the hunt of the Count. I would recommend this book to anyone wanting to expand their vocabulary, as the book is rich with complex words and sentences. I would also recommend this book to avid readers; (as it is a classic) it should be ensured that to be a genuine reader one must read this famous work of art.

Reviewer's Name: Finn
Mexican Gothic
Moreno-Garcia, Silvia
3 stars = Pretty Good

Mexican Gothic follows an interesting take on haunted houses and distant ancestry. The resilient main character, Noemi, travels to a small town to visit her newly-married cousin at a house called High Place out of concern for her cousin's illness. The longer she stays, though, the more she realizes that there is something more sinister going on than an isolated family. Unlike some reviews I saw, the pacing was engaging for me. It was broken into short chapters with a lot of action in the last hundred or so pages, which is how a lot of thrillers are organized. This helped me be motivated to read more when the story line was not quite my taste. It was cool, however, that Noemi was realistic in her thoughts and reactions. It made the story feel more genuine as the plot got crazier. This isn't something I would necessarily recommend, but it was still enjoyable.

Reviewer's Name: Maggie
Hearne, Kevin
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!

Hounded is the first book in the Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne. The series follows Atticus O'Sullivan, the last druid on earth living in Tempe Arizona. Atticus draws his power from the earth and has many encounters with gods, deities, and monsters. The series is in 1st person, and Kevin Hearne's writing style shines through Atticus's wit and intelligence. The story is incredibly gripping, imaginative, and fresh. Every book maintains such a strong story and writing I never found difficulty imagining the scenes with great detail.

Reviewer's Name: Judah
The Ocean at the End of the Lane
Gaiman, Neil
4 stars = Really Good

Neil Gaiman's novel The Ocean at the End of the Lane gives an interesting perspective on the nature of childhood and the truth of reality. A folktalishly fantastical novel, this book follows a man as a he thinks back on his childhood and the magical and sometimes terrifying experiences he had as a kid. I at first found this book a little confusing because I didn't quite understand the time switch and whether or not it was meant to be serious or mystical. However, reading this book is very enjoyable as it gives very homely vibes and contains interesting mysteries to uncover. With an open ending that leaves the reader wanting, this is a great quick read for fans of Neil Gaiman or just general fiction enthusiasts.

Reviewer's Name: Maddie
From Blood and Ash
Armentrout, Jennifer L.
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!

JLA is always a great storyteller, but in this series, she particularly excels in the world-building aspect. So much detail, such rich storylines, such well-developed characters. It is great for fantasy lovers, but still accessible enough for those not accustomed to reading fantasy. I recommend this book to everyone I talk to!

Reviewer's Name: Erin S.
Ghost Story
Butcher, Jim
4 stars = Really Good

After Dresden becomes a ghost, he goes back to Chicago to help his friends. Dresden struggles to acclimate to being a ghost and being unable to directly help his friends. Although this book starts off slowly, it quickly picks up
to a climactic end. This book adds new depth to the supernatural world Jim Butcher has created and continues to tie past character into the story. This book adds a refreshing change to the series by mixing up the style of storytelling through Dresden's more passive role in the story. Although Butcher's style of adding a ticking time clock to every story feels quite repetitive, this book was still entertaining to read.

Reviewer's Name: Mark
Christine book cover
King, Stephen
4 stars = Really Good

I love Stephen King and cars, so when I found out there was a book by Stephen King about a car, I had to read it. The book “Christine” by Stephen King is about a couple of 17-year-olds and a '58 Plymouth Fury named Christine. When I first heard about this book, I thought it would just be about a car that went around and just killed people. However, it's more than that. I mean, yes, people do get run over by Christine, but there’s also ghosts and people getting possessed. Also, there’s a really cool car chase between the Fury and a Camaro, which I thought was awesome. Overall, I would highly recommend this book, and it’s a lot better than the movie plot-wise.

Reviewer's Name: Emani K.
Three Mages and a Margarita
Marie, Annette
3 stars = Pretty Good

Pretty darn good! Light urban fantasy/paranormal with some romance, good pacing & character development, good grammar & proofreading (unlike this review), good action scenes. Really liked the reader for the audiobook. Not the depth of story of Briggs, Butcher, or Huff, but not just fluff waiting for the next romantic scene either. So glad our library is awesome and constantly offering new and interesting things.

Reviewer's Name: LJO
The Clockmaker's Daughter
Morton, Kate
2 stars = Meh

This story centers around an impassioned artist and his dreams, a mysterious murder, an enchanting English manor and all that went on their throughout its many years, a ghost that stands outside of time witness to it all, a vanished girl, an archivist and her discovery of a priceless artifacts, and how what went on there all those years ago effects who she is today.

In the past, the 1860’s to be exact, this story begins with a talented artist Edward Radcliffe and a group of artists that spend a summer at the house of his dreams Birchwood Manor. But shortly after arriving a mysterious murder is committed, a priceless artifact disappears and one of the women vanishes. A hundred years later in the present an archivist, named Elodie, finds a satchel which contains an unrelated photograph and a sketchbook that contains a drawing of Birchwood Manor. As she digs deeper into the mystery she is pulled into a story that has her questioning her past and who she truly is. This beautiful atmospheric mystery spans the length of time, and is told by the many voices and people all living within and around the Manor’s walls.

Before I go any further, first, let me say this. Kate Morton is the master of atmospheric beautiful Gothic mysteries and I am a big fan of hers and have loved every one of her past books. Her intricate and deeply rooted stories her beautiful prose, and her enchanting settings are the reasons why she is simply one of the best in her genre. That being said, this work, was a bit of a disappointment. While all the elements of what I love about Kate Morton’s books were there; an intricate story steeped in history, an old vast English manor with a secret or two to hide within its walls, old families with long pedigrees, a family mystery, an enchanting setting, this book fell short for me mainly because of its intricacy and complexity. I also believe the ending was a bit weak. I really wanted to love it, I just couldn’t.

Morton, I believe, really attempted to tell a challenging story, but simply had to many voices trying to tell it. While I like a good dual timeline novel, this one, with at least four voices and timelines was simply too much. There were times that, because of how she bounced around among the numerous timelines, when I got completely lost in which timeline I was following. This combined with how many characters and voices there were throughout the novel, made the story overall a whole lot less enjoyable. I’ll admit, this story took me a good while to get through and I do recommend, if reading this, keeping a list of who everyone is and which timeline goes where. It’s definitely a book you have to think through. That being said the story itself was beautiful and it makes me wonder, if it wouldn’t be better as an audio book where each of the voices are sounded out. Overall a 2.5-3 star read for me. However, if you are a Kate Morton fan and if you love atmospheric Gothic mysteries, I couldn’t count this one out, I would still give this one a go, just maybe as an audio book. Place your copy on hold today!

Thank you to Netgalley, Atria books, and Simon and Schuster for a DRC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Reviewer's Name: Tawnie
Peretti, Frank
3 stars = Pretty Good

One of the challenges of the Christian author is being able to craft stories and characters that share their beliefs, but without being too heavy-handed about it. In Frank Peretti’s Monster, the author mostly succeeds, providing characters that can easily be identified as Christian, but also exhibiting the traits of normal humans instead of straight-up caricatures. The main plot of this book was only tangentially related to an argument against evolution, so that was also a plus. Still, the way the book was put together, it was clear where the author’s bias was.

While some people might not appreciate the Christian undertones in this thriller, my qualms with it are more structural. Following a few different characters after a woman is abducted by an unnatural beast, the mystery of the disappearances and killings unravels to reveal a semi-plausible explanation. Unfortunately, the man and wife pair that are introduced at the start of the book are more annoying than likable. Ergo, when I followed the woman’s ordeal in captivity, I could not sympathize with her plight because her actions and reactions were so off-putting at first.

In the end, Monster is still a passable—if perhaps boilerplate—thriller. I did appreciate the realistic explanation for the fantastical elements of the story. I also found it somewhat refreshing to show a character who opposed the common scientific view of evolution just because everyone else thought it was true. For an audiobook, the author’s narration was filled with just the right amount of emphasis, which is to be expected. However, with so many short scenes and quick cuts between them, his reading could have stood to have a little bit longer pauses between sections in order to give the listener a better sense that the scene was changing from one character to another.

A passable thriller with semi-subtle Christian undertones, I give Monster 3.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Rowling, J.K.
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!

Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows was a great book that I loved! In this book Harry, Ron, and Hermione all set of on a mission that Professor Dumbledore left Harry at the end of his 6th year at Hogwarts; to find and destroy the Horcrux's that Lord Voldermort has made to make himself immortal, or as close as he can get to it. As harry and his friends set out they discover that this will not be as easy as they had thought. As they find out how the Ministry of Magic has been infiltrated by he-who-must-not-be-named their mission just becomes more important. Can Harry and his friends do it and restore the magical community to the way it used to be?
7th grade

Reviewer's Name: Anneka S.
Meyer, Stephanie
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!

Twilight Was a great book! This book is about a girl named Bella who moves to the gloomy small town Forks, she just wants to go back to her mom and the sun. She has her first day of school ahead of her and dose not expect to find anything that she likes, but then she meets Edward Cullen. He and his siblings are strange. they seem different, even flawless. The moment Bella walks into her bio class and is forced to sit next tho Edward she knows that he dose not like her, or as she thinks. As Bella and Edward draw closer and she discovers his greatest secrete, a secrete that could kill her. Bella dose not know it but Edward begins to love her. how far will they go for love?
Grade 7 reviewer.

Reviewer's Name: Annek S.
The Gunslinger
King, Stephen
4 stars = Really Good

With the recent release of The Dark Tower (2017), I became interested in the book series that inspired the movie. I already knew the books would likely take a different direction from the film, and I was prepared for them. Up until now, I’ve enjoyed many of King’s other works, including The Shining, On Writing , and The Green Mile. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy The Gunslinger; it’s more that most of his books have not been part of a larger series. I still want to know what happens in the next book of the Dark Tower series, so The Gunslinger certainly succeeded in that aspect.

Stephen King’s talent for description is in high form here as he crafts a world unlike our own but still linked to it via the wandering boy, Jake. Considering King’s background in describing all sorts of evil creatures and villains, the calm and calculating “Man in Black” is more terrifying than any violent antagonist, mostly with how psychological he is in his assaults against the eponymous Gunslinger. I also found following the main character of the Gunslinger led to an exciting journey as he overcomes the hurdles that prevent him from accomplishing his goal.

I understand that the first book in a series has a heavy burden to bear. It must introduce the characters and enough of their backstory to understand their motivation. It must also have a hook and be interesting enough by itself to warrant further reading. I probably could have done without some of the flashbacks and/or hallucination/memories, as they almost distracted from the action. I also felt this book didn’t necessarily cover enough ground, but I suppose that’s what the next books in the series will do: flesh out the conflict between the Gunslinger and the Man in Black.

A good foundation for a series that I hope improves over time; I give The Gunslinger 4.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin
Salem's Lot
King, Stephen
3 stars = Pretty Good

One of King's most famous books, Salem's Lot is a story about vampires that doesn't exactly rival King's other books in terms of plot and suspense. However, it's still a great book that is very enjoyable. The book is about a vampire that eventually turns the entire town into vampires themselves, and a small group consisting of a doctor, a priest, a writer, and a little boy all fight back against the outbreak. The book does a good job of building up the villain and the characters, but the horror is not exactly the preliminary theme here. Instead, it is more focused on the drama and action, which is fine, but for an author who is famous for his horror novels, this book was slightly underwhelming. However, I would still recommend it to Stephen King fans or anyone looking for a good book.

Reviewer's Name: Peter C
White Tiger
Chan, Kylie
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!

Kylie Chan mixes modern life with traditional Chinese mythology in her enthralling tale. The story follows Emma, a nanny for a young girl of a wealthy business man living in Hong Kong. As Emma becomes more and more connected with her charge, she become more entangled with a mystery that surrounds the household. She soon discovers that her employer is an ancient Chinese God, and is pursued by demonic forces. Kylie Chan writes with a faced-pace adventurous quality that keeps readers on their feet.
(Reviewer Grade: 12)

Reviewer's Name: Lynzie M.
The Rook
O'Malley, Daniel
4 stars = Really Good

One of the nice things about listening to audiobooks from my library (via the
Overdrive app), is that I can pick up a book and listen to it without really
knowing what it’s about other than a title and a cover. In this way, I
often have no preconceived notions about the book other than first
impressions. At this point, all I’m giving up to “read” the book is the
time it takes me to listen to it, and I have plenty of that driving to and
from work every day.

Since I had no idea what this book was really about, I was surprised at how
humorous it was. If I were to combine a few, better-known series together,
I’d say this is X-Men mixed with James Bond, with just a dash of Jason
Bourne all blended together in Monty Python’s Flying Circus. An odd
combination, I know. But somehow, it works here. The humor is markedly
British, but the characters and their powers are supernatural, to say the
least. Since this was merely the first in a developing series, I can’t wait
to get to book #2: Stiletto.

All this being said, there were a few structural choices to this book that I
often found confusing, which may just be part of listening to it in audiobook
form instead of reading it. First off, the decision to have the main
character afflicted with amnesia was an interesting way to essentially give
the audience what the character already would have known but had conveniently
forgotten. Secondly, because the letters from her former self were used as
backstory, these “flashbacks” were often confusing because it was easy to
lose track of which Mfwany Thomas (glad I had the audiobook for the
pronunciation of this name) was “speaking” at the moment.

An interesting premise with plenty of potential in future iterations, I give
The Rook 4.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin M. Weilert