Brimstone by Cherie Priest. ★★★
I’ve been following Cherie Priest’s work for years, so it was with not a little anticipation I picked up this newest outing from her. Unfortunately, I was expecting and desiring a historical fantasy story, but I found Brimstone to be more horror with a Southern Gothic twist.
Alice Dartle is descended from a long line of witches, but she has no idea how to use her clairvoyant abilities. The town of Cassadaga, Florida, a community of similarly gifted people seems to hold the answer. But as she draws closer to the town, she keeps having dreams of fire and trenches. She knows that these are not her own dreams, and she believes that she can help the dreamer.
Tomas Cordero came back from World War I to find his wife dead of influenza. He continues to operate his tailoring business, but he’s haunted by the memories of his wife. Since his return, inexplicable fires have hounded him. Could they be messages from the beyond?
Clean by Alex Hughes. ★★★
It’s been a while since I’ve read a book that managed to give me so many mixed feelings!
The narrator of Clean is a drug addicted telepath. After getting kicked out of the Telepath’s Guild, he makes a living by working for police, mainly by using his telepathic powers to tease information out of suspects during interviews. But his routine begins to fall to pieces when a new killer starts stalking Atlanta and he’s called upon to help investigate. All signs point to the killer having some form of psychic powers, but otherwise clues are sparse.
Envy of Angels by Matt Wallace. ★★★
Lena and Darren are two down on their luck chefs who’ve been blackballed from most New York establishment. They are contemplating – horror of horrors – moving to Jersey when they get an unexpected job offer from a catering company they’ve never heard of. As they soon discover, Sin du Jour is no ordinary catering company. It’s clientele are the supernatural denizens of New York.
Envy of Angels is the start to a series of novellas. And for better or worse, there’s a lot packed into this little novella. From warring demonic gangs to a heist at an iconic fast food company headquarters, Envy of Angels has it all.
However, the sheer amount of plot lines and the breadth of the cast meant that character development felt scanty. There are so many characters in this novella, but none of them are memorable. It might have worked better for me if it had narrowed the focus and expanded the development of a core cast.
Envy of Angels is one of the more imaginative urban fantasy ideas I’ve encountered. I did enjoy the time I spent reading it, but I don’t think I would ever reread it. I may or may not pick up the sequels. While I liked the central idea, I wished I liked the characters more.
As I Descended by Robin Talley. ★★★1/2
As I Descended is a queer, paranormal, YA retelling of Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Basically I saw that description and thought I had to read this. While I don’t think it’s a novel that I’d revisit in the future, it did make a good spooky read for right around Halloween.
Acheron Academy is a prestigious private boarding school in modern day Virginia, and Delilah Dufrey is the unofficial queen of the senior class. She’s lied, cheated, and manipulated her way to the top, and now she’s the sure winner of the Cawdor Kingsley Prize. But Maria and Lily, roommates and secret girlfriends, have their eye on the prize. If Maria wins, it will lock in her acceptance to Stanford, and guarentee that Maria and Lily will be together for the next two years. Maria and Lily will do whatever’s necessary to make that happen. And the only person in the way of their dreams is Delilah.
A Darkly Beating Heart by Lindsay Smith. ★★★★
Trigger warning: self harm, suicide
Reiko is carving a path of hatred. After a stint in a psychiatric hospital, Reiko’s been sent to stay with relatives in Japan and work on her emotional issues. But Reiko is still consumed with hatred and anger for all those who she perceives as having wronged her – her ex-girlfriend, her brother, and her cousin who’s forcing Reiko and the other employees at her uncle’s graphic design firm to help her build a lifestyle brand.
When Reiko’s cousin Akiko decides the next step in building her brand is a culture festival at a historic village preserved to reflect the Edo period, Reiko is dragged along as a photographer. But she soon finds herself slipping backwards in time, into the life of Miyu, a young woman who shares Reiko’s obsession with vengeance.
The Sudden Appearance of Hope by Claire North. ★★★1/2
What is perfection? Is there such a thing as the perfect person? How do we arrive at our definition of such a thing?
Hope Arden is a young woman with a peculiar condition – no one can remember her. She can hold a conversation with someone, start to befriend them, but the next time they see her, they won’t remember ever having met her. In a world where she subsists on first impressions, Hope makes a living as a thief. If she’s caught by the police, all she has to do is wait for them to forget her. Then, during the course of a diamond heist, Hope manages to anger some powerful people, the ones behind this new hit app called Perfection, which helps you become “your most perfect self.” For the first time in her life, Hope is being chased. Even though those pursuing her can’t recall ever meeting her.
The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich. ★★1/2
This was a let down. I was hoping I’d get something with a creepy atmosphere that would keep me turning the pages. Turns out I got a shambling mess of a book.
Years ago, Elmbridge High School burned to the ground. Three people were killed and one went missing. Told through documents compiled after the incident, The Dead House tells the story of the alleged arsonist, Kaitlyn Johnson, the twin sister of student Carly Johnson. However, Kaitlyn Johnson did not technically exist – she was a separate personality that only came out at night. During the day, Carly. During the night, Kaitlyn.