Posted in Krystal Sutherland, Review

House of Hollow by Krystal Sutherland [REVIEW]

It’s been a month since I read this book and I still don’t have a clue what I read but it was wonderful.

On New Year’s Day ten years ago on a quiet street in Edinburgh, the three young Hollow sisters disappear without a trace as their parents turn away for a kiss. One month later, they suddenly reappear on the same street they were taken with no proof they’ve been gone besides an antique hunting knife and matching half moon scars at the base of their throats. The sisters have no memory of their abduction, but their hair turns white and their eyes change to black and they now have the ability to make anyone fall under their spell (literally). Their father is convinced that these suddenly strange girls are not his daughters, but their overprotective mother refuses to acknowledge that anything is wrong. I think that’s as much as I can say before I start getting into the main plot and spoilers.

There are so many things that I loved about this book. Sutherland’s writing is beautiful, something which I had doubts about before I started reading as I had a mixed experience with one of her previous novels. It has an incredibly fairytale-esque rhythm that makes the story alluring and atmospheric and exquisite and eerie. There’s some beautiful descriptions of character appearances, the clothes that Grey designs, and the environments that they explore. I was drawn in from the first page. I think the thing that I love the most about the writing is that it doesn’t shy away from showing the ugly side and the rotting interior beneath all of the beauty.

This story is very plot driven, so extremely complex and intricate and strange that I’m impressed it worked. However, due to such an overpowering plot, I personally did not feel fully connected to all of the characters, but I think that might have been an intentional choice to add to the unnerving mystery surrounding the sisters. A breakdown of the sisters:

  • Grey is a fascinating character. She describes herself as the ‘thing in the dark’ and is the sister who has used her newfound powers for her benefit. She’s beautiful and dangerous and uses the mystery of the sisters’ past to create a mystery for her public persona. In another universe, she would fit in perfectly as a villain.
  • Vivi is the sister that I barely remember anything about – she’s the edgy Rockstar sister – but there’s a line about her that’s one of my favourite lines in the book: “She caught a midnight Megabus to Paris … collecting tattoos and piercings and languages and lovers along the way.” To me, she was more interesting when she was off the page, but she did provide some moments of lightness. She also provided some queer rep (very casual) that added to my love for the story.
  • Iris is the youngest sister and our narrator. She’s the sister that’s had the least exciting life as she’s stayed home and in school and is being the ‘perfect daughter’ for their mother.

Overall, House of Hollow is a captivating read that had me hanging onto every single word, somehow combining a missing person story and subversive fairytales and horror elements that kept me up at night. I’m so in awe of this book and I would love it if Sutherland returned to this genre in the future. I would also not object if she decided to rewrite the book from the day of the disappearance to current day through Grey’s perspective.

There is so much more I want to say about this book, but I want to keep this review as spoiler free as possible.

Rating: ★★★★★ (4.5 stars)

Posted in Emily Lloyd-Jones, Review

The Bone Houses by Emily Lloyd-Jones [REVIEW]

This is another book that I’ve fallen completely in love with due to it hitting so many of my niche interests. A tough gravedigger girl, a soft mapmaker boy who can never find his way, and their undead goat adventure through mountains and folklore to face the curse of risen corpses and long-hidden truths about themselves. It’s a story about folktales and magic and family and undead corpses.

First love: the setting. This book is set in a village within a forest where the people have let history die because they no longer believe in magic. The Welsh influences and folklore was the perfect choice for a horror/influenced novel as I’ve grown up near Wales and hearing about all the ghost hauntings and supernatural sightings and other assorted spooky stuff. It was wonderfully atmospheric: the remains of a once glorious kingdom, a small village haunted by the past, and decades-old curses lingering within the woods.

Second love: the folklore. I’ve had a fixation with local folklore since working on a uni project this year, and this book appealed to that niche interest. And Welsh folklore, too! I loved reading about tales that are already so close to my heart and I love that it’s getting well-done representation. I didn’t expect to love a story that is about (in summary) zombies so much. The author did such a wonderful job of showing them through the perspective of myths and legends, and also removed a lot of the horror element, creating something that felt like it could’ve held a role in a fairytale rather than a nightmare. And it’s exciting to see how well urban tales and folklore mix with the horror genre.

Third love: the characters. Ryn and Ellis complement each other well. Ryn is straightforward and stubborn and confident and so fiercely loyal to her siblings. She’s described as fearless, a girl who will chase death into the mountains with only an axe, and I love her for that. Ellis is sometimes overshadowed in action scenes as he’s not exactly a powerful character, but he has a strong emotional side, and his loneliness and loyalty and suffering do not make him weak. One small thing about this book that meant a lot to me is that Ellis has chronic pain in his shoulder, and it doesn’t disappear by the end of the book as some injuries tend to do in fantasy. The author talks about the toll it has on his body throughout the journey and, as someone with chronic pain, it’s wonderful to see a character who lives with it and can still have adventures.

I originally rated this book a full five stars (mostly due to it hitting my niche interests), but I lowered my rating to four stars after some thought. I found the last hundred pages or so a bit repetitive and predictable and more focused on the romance elements. But I am still very in love with the book. I’m looking forward to Emily Lloyd-Jones’ next book (The Drowned Woods) and I can see her becoming one of my favourite authors.

Rating: ★★★★☆ (4 stars)

Posted in Alice Oseman, Review

Loveless by Alice Oseman [REVIEW]

It’s taken me so long to write this review as it’s taken me months to put into words how much of a personal attack every single page of this book was. It’s everything I needed in a book and more, everything I’ve wanted since I was thirteen and hearing about asexuality for the first time. This is my second Alice Oseman book – I fell in love with Solitaire soon after it came out and was a prize for a Movellas writing competition – and I think she has the potential to become one of my favourite authors. I unfortunately haven’t had the opportunity to read any of her books in between yet, but it’s been wonderful to see how much her work has grown and improved since Solitaire.

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Posted in Hannah Moskowitz, Review

Salt by Hannah Moskowitz [REVIEW]

I’ve only read one Hannah Moskowitz book before (Teeth – I love it with my entire heart) but I’m starting to recognise what I think could be the key features of her writing: messy characters and bitter humour, with a side of siblings and sea monsters. I love monster books above all else, especially as I’m going through a lighthousecore phase, and sibling books are a close second.

So, the summary: siblings Indi, Beleza, Oscar, and Zulu, are roaming the Mediterranean on their boat, killing sea monsters, and trying to hunt down the one that is rumoured to have killed their missing parents. Indi yearns for a calmer life and hopes that the treasure hinted at in their parents’ journal will provide his family with a means of escape from their dangerous life before it’s too late.

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Posted in Hannah Moskowitz, Review

Teeth by Hannah Moskowitz [REVIEW]

The following review contains untagged spoilers regarding the ending of the book in the final paragraph and brief mentions of specific scenes throughout the book.

I wish I could explain why this book means so much to be but I can’t. I don’t even know where to start. It’s been a month or more since I read the book and it still takes up so much of my headspace. I’m going to tell you about it alongside some of my favourite quotes.

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Posted in Ashley Poston, Review

Among the Beasts & Briars by Ashley Poston [REVIEW]

The following review contains untagged spoilers regarding the entire book. I wish I could be more specific than that. Spoiler tagged version is available on Goodreads.

I was gifted the OwlCrate exclusive hardback edition of this book from a friend and it’s one of the prettiest books I’ve ever owned. The reversible dust jacket is beautiful. (And I think the black cover suits the vibe of the book a lot more than the white.)

This book was wonderful in a very quiet, classic way, yet the worldbuilding was still breath-taking and vivid and whimsical. It opens in a simple and quaint part of the kingdom with Cerys, the gardener’s teenage daughter who has magic literally in her blood that marks her survival from the curse in the woods. She’s best friends with the royal heir and a mischievous and melodramatic fox who quickly became my favourite character. The fox hit all of the character tropes I love and then more, and I think that’s all I can say without giving away too much.

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Posted in Erin A. Craig, Review

House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig [REVIEW]

The following review contains untagged spoilers regarding the ending of the book in the final paragraph and brief mentions of specific scenes throughout the book.

I picked up this book because I was (still am) going through an intense ‘lighthousecore’/Gothic ocean/sea monster phase and I knew I would love it just based off the cover and the description. I didn’t know it was a retelling until I read a handful of reviews so I can’t fully weigh in on the accomplishments of this book as a retelling. I then started to expect a typical YA fairytale retelling – ‘evil’ stepmother and all – and, fortunately, there was nothing typical about this book.

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Posted in Maggie Stiefvater, Review

Call Down the Hawk by Maggie Stiefvater [REVIEW]

This book was once of my most anticipated books of 2019 and it has been a full twelve months since release date, so this review is a bit overdue.

Ronan was always my favourite Raven Boy, so this is the trilogy I’ve been waiting for since I finished reading the original series, even though I wasn’t sure what it could be about as I felt everything between the brothers had already been said.

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Posted in Reading, Review, Tags

Mid Year Book Freak Out Tag 2020

We’re already halfway through the year and I’m slightly behind on my reading challenge, but my TBR pile has also doubled in size. I’ve discovered the joy of Maggie Stiefvater’s audiobooks on Spotify, and some incredible Kindle books for under £1. I’ve also been borrowing eBooks from my local library, and I’m looking forward to a time in the future when it’s safe for me to visit in person. Until then, my TBR will continue to grow and grow and grow.

Today, I’m doing the Mid Year Book Freak Out Tag, which is great because I’m currently looking at my reading challenge to remind myself what I’ve read, and I have no memory of reading any of them.

Let’s begin!

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Posted in Melinda Salisbury, Review

Hold Back the Tide by Melinda Salisbury [REVIEW]

I got this book because the eBook was 83p on Amazon and it has a pretty cover. I went into it blind, also because the blurb does not tell you anything about the story. It turned out to be my favourite book of the year so far, and in my top favourite books of all time. I read it in one day, and it’s been a week or two now, but I still can’t wrap my head around it, or even get it out of my head.

 

‘Hold Back the Tide’ is an incredibly intense novel. It’s my first Salisbury book so I have no previous knowledge of her work to compare it to, but if they’re all this high quality, I’m about to become her biggest supporter. She knows how to craft an atmosphere that grips you by the throat from the first sentence and doesn’t let go until the last word. The narrative itself is quite simple but quick and exciting, basically a perfect YA novel for you to sink your teeth into.

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