Adult Book Reviews by Genre: Paranormal/Supernatural

The Clockmaker's Daughter
Morton, Kate
2 stars = Meh
Review:

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
Monster
Peretti, Frank
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

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!
Review:

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.
Twilight
Meyer, Stephanie
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

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
Review:

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
Review:

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
Awards:
White Tiger
Chan, Kylie
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

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
Review:

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
Awards:
Stiletto
O'Malley, Daniel
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

I’ll be the first to admit that I like sequels. Or, more accurately, well-done sequels. While the first book in a series can be great by itself, it carries the burden of exposition and world-building. A good sequel gives a light refresher of the important points and gets right into the action. I would certainly consider Stiletto to be a well-done sequel to the first book in the Checquy Files series, The Rook. Not only does it expand upon the central conflict in the first book, but it throws in the twist of the warring factions of the Checquy and the Grafters coming together to form a truce.

In making enemies into teammates, Daniel O’Malley shows the differences between them are almost superficial. The chess-based supernatural soldiers of the Checquy almost have the same strength of powers that the genetically and surgically enhanced members of the Grafters do. Since the whole plot usually revolves around a pawn of the Checquy and a young woman from the Grafters as they try and maneuver treaty negotiations, the reader gets to see both sides of the argument. Of course, as was the case in The Rook, much of the story is divided into episodic events with an overarching storyline connecting these loosely-related moments together.

Even if the humor is often bodily-related, the style continues to be quintessentially British. It casts a delicate balance between action and humor while also moving the story along to an exciting conclusion. I would almost think such a series would be perfect for a Television show adaptation since its episodic nature lends itself to be easily broken up into smaller pieces. One last thing I would like to mention is that the narration given by Moria Quirk in this book was outstanding. With many different European accents and a variety of unique characters to voice, Quirk made the story understandable and engaging in all the best ways.

A perfect sequel to one of my new favorite series, I give Stiletto 4.5 stars
out of 5.

For more reviews of books and movies like this, please visit
www.benjamin-m-weilert.com

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin
Monstress: Volume 1, Awakening
Liu, Marjorie M., Sana Takeda, and Rus Wooton
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Monstress follows Maika Halfwolf, a hybrid human/monster called an "Arcanic", as she tries to free fellow Arcanics from human cruelty and avenge her mother's death at the hands of a powerful group of human witches. Oh yeah, and Maika herself keeps turning (at least partially) into an old-world style monster that kills almost everything in its sight, regardless of whether they are friend and foe. As we follow Maika in her quest for revenge, we get flashbacks that inform us of her motivations and murky past.

This was definitely one of my favorite graphic novels of the year.

Maika is a layered anti-hero with a disability (she's missing an arm). I liked her more and more the more I learned about her. She's not shy about killing people, though, hence the anti-hero label. In fact, she's probably more of a villain than an anti-hero, but that really only added to the story for me. I mean, this title earns its "M" rating. It's very very bloody. Maika does not do nice things to her enemies.

The art was GORGEOUS. SO PRETTY. I'm fairly new to graphic novels, but this just might be the best art that I've seen. The cover is actually relatively simple compared to the insanely intricate steampunk/art deco panels on the inside. Art lovers, check this book out for the artwork alone (but be prepared for a rather gory experience).

So even though I very obviously loved this title, it was not perfect. Like in many graphic novels, there is little by way of introduction to the characters, and you are just thrown right into the story with background info being filled in later. Because the world-building was so complex, I found myself having to read certain parts several times (or having to revisit prior pages/storylines). This could just be a me thing because I have this problem in a lot of graphic novels, but I also found some of the action scenes to be incomprehensible.

I can't believe I almost forgot this amazing detail, but there are talking cats. You know what makes almost every story better? A talking cat.

This was definitely an excellent read. Graphic novel fantasy lovers, you would be remiss to not check this book out (but stay away if you don't like blood). 4 stars.

Reviewer's Name: Britt
White is for Witching
Oyeyemi, Helen
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

White Is for Witching is a difficult book to describe. I suppose you could say that it's the story of a young woman, Miranda Silver, who suffers from pica, a condition which compels sufferers to crave and eat inedible foods: chalk, plastic, metal, rubber. The story follows her life -- loosely -- from her mother's death when she was a little girl up until her mysterious disappearance in her late teens/early 20s. The story is told from the perspectives of Miranda, her twin brother, her college girlfriend, and the (possibly evil) house/bed & breakfast she lives in, along with a few brief POV sections from side characters. They're nominally piecing together the events that led up to Miranda's disappearance, but that thread often gets lost in the meandering chapters. Fair warning: the plot is difficult to follow and it wasn't until I reread the opening that the story started to click into place. There's a strange, dream-like atmosphere, none of the narrators are anything close to reliable, and it wasn't always clear to me (read: it was almost never clear to me) what was going on. To give a sample of just a few of the plot threads: There are a string of assaults/murders of refugees happening in Dover, England, where Miranda and her family live. Is she connected to them somehow? Some passages seem to suggest so, but we certainly never find out. The house she lives in seems to hate immigrants and may or may not have eaten her female ancestors to keep them from leaving, but don't expect either of these points to be brought to any sort of conclusion. The closest thing to a central thread was the obsession with the possibility that Miranda was or was controlled by a soucouyant, a sort of vampire/shape-shifter in Caribbean traditions. So race, identity, and immigration are obviously big themes, but it's less clear where Oyeyemi is going with everything.

For me, the actual story-line wasn't very satisfying, but the writing style and atmosphere made it worth it. I've read almost everything Oyeyemi has written, and a lot of her stories fall apart at the end; she's great at creating interesting characters/evoking an eerie, ominous mood, but in my opinion resolving a plot is not her strong point. This might be frustrating for some readers, but if you're interested in something a little more experimental and don't mind that it's a bit rough around the edges, you might like this book. I would recommend Oyeyemi's first book, The Icarus Girl, for anyone interested in reading something a little more accessible by her. If this had been the first thing I read by her I might not have picked anything else up, but I enjoyed it for what it was.

Reviewer's Name: Lauren
Awards:
Midnight Riot
Aaronovitch, Ben
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Peter Grant has just finished training to be a PC (police constable) in London. Right as he's about to get assigned to the paperwork unit (not his first choice) he chats up a ghost witness to a gruesome murder. After that, he discovers that he has some magical ability, and begins training to be a wizard copper whilst trying to solve the murder.

This was so fun! If I were to describe it, I'd say it's like the Dresden Files (both are urban fantasy series about crime solving wizards) but like a billion times better. It's fairly similar in premise, but different in most other ways. It has a lighter tone, a more likable protagonist, diverse characters, and was just a more enjoyable reading experience for me. The author used to write for Doctor Who, so fans of that show may also like this read. My only complaint is that it read like an ARC. Did anyone bother to edit this thing? The grammar was terrible (some of which was probably intentional, but some of it clearly wasn't), and occasionally character names were just wrong. Like, all of a sudden, a character who wasn't in a scene would "say" something and it was clear that her name was just transposed with the other lady main character - this happened at least twice.

Anyway, lack of editing aside, this book was an absolute joy to read. I've already checked out the next in the series and would strongly recommend this to urban fantasy readers. 4 stars.

Reviewer's Name: Britt
Awards:
Mr. Splitfoot
Hunt, Samantha
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

20-something-year-old Cora is dissatisfied with her life. She’s bored of her office job, she still lives with her mother, and she’s just found out that her tumultuous affair with an older, married man has left her pregnant -- and he’s not as enthusiastic about the child as she is (to understate the matter). Then her long-missing Aunt Ruth shows up at her house, mysteriously mute, and draws her into an epic cross-country journey on foot. Chapters alternate between the present, as told by Cora, and the past, as told by Ruth, detailing her childhood with her adopted brother in an orphanage run by an abusive religious cult, their career pretending to channel the dead, and the long road that led her to her niece’s door a decade later. There’s an eerie, supernatural tone throughout the book, but I wouldn’t say that it’s a horror story, and I thought it was a surprisingly tender, thoughtful look at family and finding one’s place in the world. I stumbled across this book by chance and I was glad I picked it up. It’s a quick read with admittedly little in the way of action that nonetheless managed to keep me turning pages like it was a thriller.

Reviewer's Name: Lauren
Twilight
Meyer, Stephenie
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Bella, a regular girl from Phoenix, decides to live with her dad in Forks, WA for the rest of high-school while her mom and step- dad travel for her step- dad's job. When Bella starts to settle down in Forks a strange boy named Edward catches her attention. Who is Edward? And why does he act so strange around Bella? I'd rate this book a 5 out of 1 to 5 because it was romantic, dramatic, and had some action. I could relate to Bella because we both are terrible at sports.
Reviewer Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: Gabrielle F.
Written in Red
Bishop, Anne
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This book is the first in a series by Anne Bishop focusing on a world where humans and "others" try to live together. The "others" can take on whatever form they feel comfortable with and are trying to understand this "new predator" species (humans). A girl who sees prophesies turns both worlds upside down when she escapes her human "handlers" and takes a job in one of the "others'" courtyards. Excellently written, characters well rounded and "alive". So far there are 4 books in this series and I've read them all - recommend them highly for anyone from young adult to aged and still curious. You'll love the characters in this series and the "world" they live in.

Reviewer's Name: Pauline
Awards:
City of Fallen Angels
Clare, Cassandra
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

With Valentine defeated and Clary's mother finally awake, things seem to be finally working out. Sadly, nothing's ever as it seems. Jace has been having nightmares where he hurts Clary, and it's put a strain on their relationship. Meanwhile, somebody is out to get Simon, but his mark protects him. Sinister forces are lurking, and it's only a matter of time before the world comes crashing down around them again.

This book was okay. I didn't find myself as drawn to it as I was to the first three. Honestly, it felt like a filler book that was just there to get the series moving along. While it was necessary, it was also boring. It took a while for the action to actually kick off.

Reviewer Grade:12

Reviewer's Name: Alex M.
City of Glass
Clare, Cassandra
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

To revive her mother, Clary must travel to the City of Glass to find the warlock who brewed the potion that put her mother to sleep. When she misses the portal there, she decides to find a way there herself, even though that means breaking the law, which is punishable by death.

Things are finally coming to an end as Valentine uses all of his power to destroy the shadowhunters. Fighting alongside the downworlders may be the only way to save them all, but can the shadowhunters let go of their prejudice against them enough to accept their help? The fate of the world depends on it.

This series has not disappointed me. It was fun to watch as Clary grew as a character and learned to handle herself. While love can be powerful, it can also be dangerous, and this book just goes to prove it.

Reviewer Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name: Alex M.
City of Ashes
Clare, Cassandra
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Clary may have succeeded in rescuing her mother, but things will never go back to normal for her. Her mother is in a magically induced coma, and nobody knows how to wake her up. Her father is an evil sociopath who wants to cleanse the world of demons, downworlders, and anyone who gets in his way. Her brother is under suspicion by the Clave, who thinks that he's a spy. Sadly, though, her family troubles are the least of her worries.

Somebody has been murdering downworlder children. On top of that, the second mortal instrument, the soul-sword, has been stolen. Nobody knows why, but one thing's for certain - whoever it is that's doing this must be stopped.

I loved this book. To be honest, I haven't been this enticed by a book series in ages. I've always been a fan of things involving the supernatural, so this book is perfect for me. Also, the "forbidden love" aspect isn't bad. After the reveal in the previous book, it's been played out well. I like how the author handled it.

Reviewer Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name: Alex M.
City of Bones
Clare, Cassandra
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Clary Fray is an ordinary girl with an ordinary life. When she goes out to a club, the last thing she expects is to witness a murder, let alone one that only she can see. The next day, her mother disappears and she finds herself thrust into a world that she didn't even know existed. Now, she must find a way to save her mother without jeopardising the fate of the world as well.

I really enjoyed this book. It has the perfect mix of action, romance, and suspense. I found myself completely absorbed in it from start to finish.

Reviewer Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name: Alex M.
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
Riggs, Ransom
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Actual Rating: 4.5
This book is fun and thrilling from start to end. If you like something with a Tim Burton's feel, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children is for you. We follow the journey through the eyes of a 16 years old boy named Jacob Portman. When Jacob was younger, his grandfather would always tell him stories about these strange children at the home he grew up in. The pictures that come with every story are creepy yet at the same time intriguing. After the mysterious death of his grandfather, Jacob followed the clues that he left behind in order to discover the world his grandfather grew up in. There are lots of mysterious elements that I don't want to spoiler in my review. If you're up for a fun, thrilling and easy read, definitely pick up this book.
Reviewer Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name: Vy D.

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