Dead Voices by Katherine Arden

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Bestselling author Katherine Arden returns with another creepy, spine-tingling adventure in this follow-up to the critically acclaimed Small Spaces.

Having survived sinister scarecrows and the malevolent smiling man in Small Spaces, newly minted best friends Ollie, Coco, and Brian are ready to spend a relaxing winter break skiing together with their parents at Mount Hemlock Resort. But when a snowstorm sets in, causing the power to flicker out and the cold to creep closer and closer, the three are forced to settle for hot chocolate and board games by the fire.

Ollie, Coco, and Brian are determined to make the best of being snowed in, but odd things keep happening. Coco is convinced she has seen a ghost, and Ollie is having nightmares about frostbitten girls pleading for help. Then Mr. Voland, a mysterious ghost hunter, arrives in the midst of the storm to investigate the hauntings at Hemlock Lodge. Ollie, Coco, and Brian want to trust him, but Ollie’s watch, which once saved them from the smiling man, has a new cautionary message: BEWARE.

With Mr. Voland’s help, Ollie, Coco, and Brian reach out to the dead voices at Mount Hemlock. Maybe the ghosts need their help–or maybe not all ghosts can or should be trusted.

Dead Voices is a terrifying follow-up to Small Spaces with thrills and chills galore and the captive foreboding of a classic ghost story.

I received this book as a gift for my birthday a couple of months ago and this winter season is the perfect time to read it.

This story is like The Shining for middle grade readers. Snowed in at a hotel with ghosts and animals that move but shouldn’t. I really loved it. It was creepy, suspenseful, and smart.

I love the further development of the friendship between Ollie, Coco and Brain. (I do hope though that next time we have more Billy in the story.) It was great that Coco got the opportunity to showcase her abilities by thinking and deducing the tricks.

It was good to see that the story had some backstories for the ghosts but I still want to know more about the Smiling Man.

Favorite Quotes:

Page 91: “Ghosts like it when you’re afraid. It means you acknowledge them.”

Page 98: “A creeping horror started to overtake her: a feeling that, if she stayed there long enough, she would become a reflection instead of a girl.”

5 out of 5 Bones.

Carrie by Stephen King, Narrated by: Sissy Spacek

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Carrie knew she should not use the terrifying power she possessed… But one night at her senior prom, Carrie was scorned and humiliated just one time too many, and in a fit of uncontrollable fury she turned her clandestine game into a weapon of horror and destruction…

I had seen the movie years ago and it’s a classic film.  The adaptation is close to the book, but the book is still better. Since I listened to The Shining and Doctor Sleep last year for my October books I wanted to keep the Stephen King tradition this October with Carrie.

I really liked the way it was told through many points of view, especially through articles and testimonies. The one thing that did annoy me was that there are no chapter breaks.

Even though it is a horror story, and certainly the events that take place are horrific, I was not frightened like I was with The Shining.  I didn’t literally jump out of my seat.

If anything I was more angry.  Angry at the bullies, at the school authorities,  at Carrie’s mother, Margaret. And I was especially angry with Chris Hargensen and Billy Nolan. By the way, I pictured  Billy Hargrove (Dacre Montgomery) from Stranger Things as Billy Nolan because they are both super A-holes characters.

I was sympathizing with Carrie and I just wanted to rescue her from the disgusting and poisonous people in her life.

I read somewhere that the book was banned in school libraries. Interesting, because I think this should be given to high school students as warning to not bully the odd kid because that odd kid will snap and you will be sorry! Instead show compassion and be more inclusive.

It was awesome to hear Sissy Spacek narrate the story. Although I did cringe when she said the word “roof” with her southern accent.

This is my favorite quote from the book and even though it is morbid, it is poetic:

“Kenny’s brother slid between the slats, lifted the pig’s head toward the moon – the glazing eyes regarded the crescent with rapt blankness – and slashed.”

4 out of 5 Proms. 

 

 

 

 

 

House of Salt And Sorrows by Erin A. Craig

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In a manor by the sea, twelve sisters are cursed.

Annaleigh lives a sheltered life at Highmoor, a manor by the sea, with her sisters, their father, and stepmother. Once they were twelve, but loneliness fills the grand halls now that four of the girls’ lives have been cut short. Each death was more tragic than the last—the plague, a plummeting fall, a drowning, a slippery plunge—and there are whispers throughout the surrounding villages that the family is cursed by the gods.

Disturbed by a series of ghostly visions, Annaleigh becomes increasingly suspicious that the deaths were no accidents. Her sisters have been sneaking out every night to attend glittering balls, dancing until dawn in silk gowns and shimmering slippers, and Annaleigh isn’t sure whether to try to stop them or to join their forbidden trysts. Because who—or what—are they really dancing with?

When Annaleigh’s involvement with a mysterious stranger who has secrets of his own intensifies, it’s a race to unravel the darkness that has fallen over her family—before it claims her next.

This is an ARC my sister won at Book Con 2019. I borrowed it from her.

I didn’t know it was a re-telling of the Brother Grimm’s “The Twelves Dancing Princesses” (a.k.a. “The Worn-out Dancing Shoes and “The Shoes That Were Danced to Pieces.”) I never heard of that story. So I can’t compare the two.

I do know I liked this version very much. It had a great atmosphere. I love the sea theme. The cover artwork is just beautiful. I really liked the world building and they way their different devotions to different gods and goddesses were explained.

The supernatural murder mystery was intriguing and kept me wanting to turn the page. The pacing does slow down a bit in the middle, but I still wanted to know the outcome. I had several suspects on my list because a few people come across as untrustworthy and I would change my mind as to who really was the villain.

I enjoyed how the book built up to the ending. I was questioning what was real and what wasn’t as Annaleigh searches for the truth.

I am happy to say that the love triangle was very minimal. It focused more on the sisters, the mystery, and the enchantments.

Also, I am glad that this is a standalone, but if it were to become a series I would like to see a story from one of the other cities that follow a different god or goddess.

Besides the slow pace in the middle I do have one other reason for not giving it a perfect score, but it’s a spoiler. Basically I am a little confused.

SPOILER WARNING

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Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice

This is the story of Louis, as told in his own words, of his journey through mortal and immortal life. Louis recounts how he became a vampire at the hands of the radiant and sinister Lestat and how he became indoctrinated, unwillingly, into the vampire way of life. His story ebbs and flows through the streets of New Orleans, defining crucial moments such as his discovery of the exquisite lost young child Claudia, wanting not to hurt but to comfort her with the last breaths of humanity he has inside. Yet, he makes Claudia a vampire, trapping her womanly passion, will, and intelligence inside the body of a small child. Louis and Claudia form a seemingly unbreakable alliance and even “settle down” for a while in the opulent French Quarter. Louis remembers Claudia’s struggle to understand herself and the hatred they both have for Lestat that sends them halfway across the world to seek others of their kind. Louis and Claudia are desperate to find somewhere they belong, to find others who understand, and someone who knows what and why they are.

Louis and Claudia travel Europe, eventually coming to Paris and the ragingly successful Theatre des Vampires–a theatre of vampires pretending to be mortals pretending to be vampires. Here they meet the magnetic and ethereal Armand, who brings them into a whole society of vampires. But Louis and Claudia find that finding others like themselves provides no easy answers and in fact presents dangers they scarcely imagined.

Originally begun as a short story, the book took off as Anne wrote it, spinning the tragic and triumphant life experiences of a soul. As well as the struggles of its characters, Interview captures the political and social changes of two continents. The novel also introduces Lestat, Anne’s most enduring character, a heady mixture of attraction and revulsion. The book, full of lush description, centers on the themes of immortality, change, loss, sexuality, and power.

 

I did not finish this. I stopped reading at page 288 (out of 340). I tried to push through to the end, but I just got so bored and uninspired. I already wasted too much time on it.

I got this 20th Anniversary Edition for free at Book Con in 2014 and I have been trying to dwindle my Book Con pile. This book put me behind schedule. I need to learn to just give up when I have stalled and have no desire to continue.

The thing is that it started off with promise, and with the exception that I hated that there were no chapter breaks, I thought it was interesting. I liked the twisted dynamic between Lestat, Louis, and Claudia. Claudia was the most interesting character. The mind of a woman trapped inside the body of a child and frustrated that she will forever look like a child and be vulnerable.

It wasn’t until Louis and Claudia got to Paris that I became so bored and really tried of Louis’s depressing contemplations.

Some parts are really poetic and I bookmarked them:

Page 13: “Evil is always possible. And goodness is eternally difficult.”

Page 161: “It seemed at moments, when I sat alone in the dark stateroom, that the sky had come down to meet the sea and that some great secret was to be revealed in that meeting, some great gulf miraculously closed forever.”

…but Louis’s musings became way too much. Like every sentence and sometimes they felt like run on sentences. So when I gave up I just looked up the ending on wikipedia. I barely remember the movie with Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt. I saw it once almost twenty years ago, and besides the movies always differ from the books.

So, yea, I am done with this book. I don’t have to finish every book.

2 out of 5 Bites.

Doctor Sleep by Stephen King, narrated by Will Patton.

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Stephen King returns to the characters and territory of one of his most popular novels ever, The Shining, in this instantly riveting novel about the now middle-aged Dan Torrance (the boy protagonist of The Shining) and the very special 12-year-old girl he must save from a tribe of murderous paranormals.

On highways across America, a tribe of people called The True Knot travel in search of sustenance. They look harmless – mostly old, lots of polyester, and married to their RVs. But as Dan Torrance knows, and spunky 12-year-old Abra Stone learns, The True Knot are quasi-immortal, living off the “steam” that children with the “shining” produce when they are slowly tortured to death.

Haunted by the inhabitants of the Overlook Hotel where he spent one horrific childhood year, Dan has been drifting for decades, desperate to shed his father’s legacy of despair, alcoholism, and violence. Finally, he settles in a New Hampshire town, an AA community that sustains him, and a job at a nursing home where his remnant “shining” power provides the crucial final comfort to the dying. Aided by a prescient cat, he becomes “Doctor Sleep.”

Then Dan meets the evanescent Abra Stone, and it is her spectacular gift, the brightest shining ever seen, that reignites Dan’s own demons and summons him to a battle for Abra’s soul and survival. This is an epic war between good and evil, a gory, glorious story that will thrill the millions of hyper-devoted fans of The Shining and wildly satisfy anyone new to the territory of this icon in the King canon.

I listened to the audiobook narrated by Will Patton. At first I really didn’t like his voice at all and missed Campbell Scott’s voice. But as I started getting into it I got used to his gruffness and thought it actually worked really well with some of the members of the True Knot and with Billy Freeman.

I thought Dan’s character as an adult was spot on for what would become of his life in the aftermath of the traumatic events of the Overlook Hotel. Also, the way he wrote his recovery from alcoholism was so well written and so believable that (besides King saying it himself in the Author’s Note) I looked it up and King knows from experience! I did not know that Stephen King was a recovering alcoholic.

WARNING: NOW THE REVIEW WILL HAVE SPOILERS BELOW.

THIS IS YOUR FINAL WARNING!

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The Shining by Stephen King, Narrated by Campbell Scott

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Listening Length: 15 hours and 56 minutes

Jack Torrance’s new job at the Overlook Hotel is the perfect chance for a fresh start. As the off-season caretaker at the atmospheric old hotel, he’ll have plenty of time to spend reconnecting with his family and working on his writing. But as the harsh winter weather sets in, the idyllic location feels ever more remote . . . and more sinister. And the only one to notice the strange and terrible forces gathering around the Overlook is Danny Torrance, a uniquely gifted five-year-old.

The Shining certainly lived up to the hype. I became afraid of the dark, and I even jumped in my seat on the bus when the passenger next to me adjusted his position in his seat.

This is the first King novel I have ever read/listen to. I have read/listened to a couple of novels by his son Joe Hill, and I can see their similarities with their prose. I liked the way King describes the settings and actions. I bookmarked a few favorite parts.

The pacing and character development was just right and so engaging. It is very hard to put it down. I jumped, gasped and groaned in reaction.

Campbell Scott’s narration was excellent. Without overly changing his voice too much he made it easy to distinguish the characters and when Jack is possessed at the end, the insanity in his voice is chilling.

Some Favorite Quotes:
Chapter 8: The mountains did not forgive many mistakes.

Chapter 33: (about the woman in 217) Like some malevolent clockwork toy she had been wound up and set in motion by Danny’s own mind… and his own.

Chapter 43: All the hotel’s era were together tonight now, all but the current one, the Torrance era.

5 out of 5 Roque Mallets.

I think most people have seen the movie by Kubrick, but that does not do the story justice. It missed the point and changed the essence of the characters. Danny is an intelligent boy and the movie dumbs him down, especially with his imaginary friend, Tony.

Jack Torrance being played by Jack Nicholson makes him seem like he was always a sinister, crazy man when he is more of a tragic character that gets manipulated by the Hotel.

The movie is great on it’s own and I will still watch it when I see it on TV. However, it is not a great adaptation of the book.

 

Small Spaces by Katherine Arden

Bestselling adult author of The Bear and the Nightingale makes her middle grade debut with a creepy, spellbinding ghost story destined to become a classic

After suffering a tragic loss, eleven-year-old Ollie only finds solace in books. So when she happens upon a crazed woman at the river threatening to throw a book into the water, Ollie doesn’t think–she just acts, stealing the book and running away. As she begins to read the slender volume, Ollie discovers a chilling story about a girl named Beth, the two brothers who both loved her, and a peculiar deal made with “the smiling man,” a sinister specter who grants your most tightly held wish, but only for the ultimate price.

Ollie is captivated by the tale until her school trip the next day to Smoke Hollow, a local farm with a haunting history all its own. There she stumbles upon the graves of the very people she’s been reading about. Could it be the story about the smiling man is true? Ollie doesn’t have too long to think about the answer to that. On the way home, the school bus breaks down, sending their teacher back to the farm for help. But the strange bus driver has some advice for the kids left behind in his care: “Best get moving. At nightfall they’ll come for the rest of you.” Nightfall is, indeed, fast descending when Ollie’s previously broken digital wristwatch, a keepsake reminder of better times, begins a startling countdown and delivers a terrifying message: RUN.

Only Ollie and two of her classmates heed the bus driver’s warning. As the trio head out into the woods–bordered by a field of scarecrows that seem to be watching them–the bus driver has just one final piece of advice for Ollie and her friends: “Avoid large places. Keep to small.”

And with that, a deliciously creepy and hair-raising adventure begins.

I bought this book at NYCC 2018 because I am a fan of Katherine Arden’s The Winternight Trilogy.

Although I am way older than the target audience of this story I found it suspenseful and creepy. A very good, and fast, Halloween read. I had to keep going to see how it would turn out.

I doesn’t go too in depth about the history, or the details about the curse, but it explained enough to set up the stakes if the main protagonists should fail.

I really liked the character development and relationships between the main characters: Olivia, Brian and Coco. I also liked that for a change instead of the trio being two boys and a girl, it was two girls and a boy. I never see that.

The end is left open for more adventures and I look forward to the next story.

4 out of 5 Scarecrows.