Book Review: The Spinner’s Child

Those of you active in the Writing WordPress circle have probably seen the announcements about Crispina Kemp’s quintet of books. The Spinner’s Game quintet begins with The Spinner’s Child and I bring you now (at long last) my review of this first book in the series.

The Book

The Spinner's Child Spinner's game read 2020

The Spinner’s Child
Author: Crispina Kemp
2020
Amazon Link

I pre-ordered The Spinner’s Child because I’d enjoyed Crispina’s build-up posts throughout the phases of editing and getting the book all polished. This book has been highly anticipated on blog world for quite some time now, and I’m thrilled to finally be posting this review on my blog.

Also, I was convinced I wanted to read this book when I found out the main character’s name was Kerrid: what a fantastic fantasy name!

Non-Spoiler Review

Just so it’s out of the way: 100%, definitely worth the read. There aren’t many books set in an ancient world, and I’ve never read a created universe with such a detailed set of religious, spiritual, and cultural nuances. The small bits of world info are delivered at such a pace that it never feels bloated, and the information gained can allow the reader to make their own decisions.

That’s what made the twist so delightful – I could see it looking back, once it was revealed, but I didn’t see it coming. Any book that can pull off such a twist is going to get a 5/5 rating from me.

Also, despite being the first in a 5-book series published at once, this book does wrap up a significant plot element and gives a nice, satisfying ending. It doesn’t leave you hanging, doesn’t make you mad for it being unfinished. There are unfinished elements that need tying up, but they feel like part of a larger story that could not have been finished within just this one book.

Now, for some minimal critiques: this book does have a rather gloomy outlook, and the main character suffers from a rare form of loneliness throughout. Literally everyone hates her (for reasons explained, so don’t worry about that), and it’s so pervasive that at times I found it hard to believe. The logic of when/why the clan(s) would kick her out didn’t always feel right to me. Getting past the twist helped significantly, but for a good portion of the book, it felt like there wasn’t a light at the end of the tunnel.

5/5 Discoball Snowcones

5 Discoball Snowcones

SPOILERS REVIEW

As this book is pretty new, I’m not going to have a big spoilers section. I don’t feel right giving too much away about this book.

However, because the twist showed up about 60% of the way through, I will say things that lead up to that point.

Kerrid’s adventures with Bargli and Sarat were very calming, and I felt like they should have been able to help Kerrid or fight for her more. Kemp did weave in enough honor into the societies to make it reasonable that Kerrid had to leave for Dvar-Usas, but the constant downward trend of Kerrid’s life was very sad. A lot of the feminist messages about the fate of Kerrid depended on her inability to make her own decisions, and this did frustrate me a lot. However, the tone of the book was well-done, and the good messages behind it were clear.

There was a character named Paddlo who I’m sure will show up again later – he’s too terrible not to! I really disliked Paddlo as a person, and I sincerely hope he one day gets his wish to die.

Next week:

I’ll be reading Her Name was Abby, a book I got a review request for! It’s the last indie book of the year for me, too, so make sure to stick around for it!

Book Review: Soul’s Choice

I’ve been on Twitter for a while, and an enterprising woman from Canada caught my eye early on. Funny, nice, and infinitely helpful, Kerri Davidson wrote a words-only novel following three volumes of graphic novels. She doesn’t go through Amazon, either, which was interesting, and also what probably kept me from downloading earlier.

But, seeing as my computer and Kindle are still operable, I can claim I went through her site with zero issues. So, without further adieu…

The Book

52265195._sx318_sy475_Soul’s Choice
Author: Kerri Davidson
2019
Purchase Link

Quick warning before you start: this book can be emotionally intense. If you aren’t in a good place mentally and/or emotionally, you might want to put this off. Kerri is pretty available on twitter, so I’m sure you can get a list of trigger warnings if you want.

I was a little shook, myself.

Non-Spoiler Review

Holy mother of God (or of atheism, if that’s your thing) – this book was an absolute whirlwind. Roller coaster. Emotional disastrophe.

And I mean that in a good way.

From the very beginning, Davidson’s book grips you with a family situation that is difficult to watch. With her mother, Amelia, dead and watching from “heaven”, Amy Clarke must find her own path through the world. Her dad, Jason, is a cop who’s trying his best to make it through. But with Amelia’s death, the two are facing down monumental levels of depression, lack of self-confidence, and other health issues.

The side characters in this book are phenomenal. People like Stacey, who only shows up intermittently as a foil, are still so vivid even without much description. The way everything leads down its path to the end just amazed me.

Small spoiler, though: the end was a cliffhanger, but it was actually something I found not-too-bad. I’m not a fan of cliffhanger endings, but the book did wrap up several plot lines and had left off at a point where it was almost complete. The cliffhanger was more one of those little additions to the end where you’re like “Oh snap! There’s got to be another book after this.” So take that into consideration.

But, like I said in the intro, this book is not for the faint of heart. I didn’t quite realize that going in, and not realizing how intense it was is probably my biggest complaint. Perhaps it’s just because I expected something different because Davidson had previously published humorous graphic novels, but I should have known.

5/5 Discoball Snowcones

5 Discoball Snowcones

SPOILERS REVIEW

Oh man. This is a big spoiler, so really hold onto your butts:

This is a bad ending.

Not for the reader – for the characters.

The book is truly a tragedy on the order of Death of a Salesman or some such thing. Just when you think things may be looking up, just when someone picks Amy Clarke up from the depths and it seems things will be ok, they get so, so much worse.

For most of the book, I couldn’t relate with the characters on an experience level. I was never rich growing up, never had rich grandparents, and have very long-lived relatives. At the same time, I’m not used to making such terrible decisions as the characters in this book did. I am familiar, however, with the crippling levels of self-compassion, and I can’t help but feel for Amy as she struggles through things like body image issues and (big spoiler) her dad’s death.

Don’t expect any uppers in this book to last. If you’re like me, you’ll be eagerly awaiting book 2 just to see if these characters get a break.

Next week:

I’ll be reading Crispina Kemp’s The Spinner’s Child!

 

God’s Program

God saved their computer program then recompiled it with some new updates. The opening sequence, light and dark, went as planned. Then came oceans, land, plants, and animals. The computer at last compiled the while loop they’d been working on for quite some time. Mankind popped up, but once again the program’s asinine “people simulations” betrayed God.

They’d spent so long on this program and it never worked. Maybe they would patch it later.

This was written for Sammi Cox’s Weekend Writing Prompt #178, “Asinine“. At first I just thought of computer programming, but then I wrapped it together with a religious context and it worked out this way.

Reading List – October 2020

This is my final indie book month of 2020!

Soul’s Choice – Kerri Davidson

soul's choice reading 2020I’ve followed Kerri Davidson on Twitter for a while – partly because she’s a social media genius, and partly because she’s very, very funny. She’s long had a few graphic novels (about drunken chickens) for sale, but she recently came up with the first novel for a debut series. A paranormal novel about souls? Death and life? It seems really interesting! For better or worse, Davidson’s book is not available through Amazon, but I did buy it myself and have not yet been a victim of credit card fraud.

Bag of Lettuce Books – Have checked, is legit, but prices are in Canadian dollars

The Spinner’s Child – Crispina Kemp

The Spinner's Child Spinner's game read 2020Crispina Kemp has been updating her blog to give snippits and hints about her 5-book series, The Spinner’s Game. I’ve thus been excited about this one for quite some time! Just a few months ago, she announced her series’ debut. Unfortunately, I just have the first volume in the set ready for review, but perhaps more reviews will be in stock later!

Amazon Link 

Her Name was Abby – Peter Martenuac

31nlju7qpylI have a review request form on my page (which you can check out if you’ve published a book), and Martenuac made use of it. I thought a zombie apocalypse book was right up my alley. I’m a little wary that this is the second book in a series, but you know what? I’ll give a ton of respect to any second book that can hold its own.

Amazon Link

The Leftovers: Something from YOU?

Do you have a published book and a method of purchasing it that isn’t sketch as hell? I’m always willing to entertain indie books for review. I’ll leave reviews on Goodreads and Amazon pretty reliably, and you might even see a review on this blog! Go to my request page here for more.

See my old reviews here

5 Tips for Writing About Bathrooms

06092019 Writing Club witty nib

Welcome to the Witty Nib Writing Club, where we study all things writing and look to hone our craft! This week we’re examining something that can be jarring when people read it: bathrooms and lack of bathrooms. I’ve read plenty of bathroom scenes that are pretty sh*tty, so come right in, sit on the throne, and have a read.

5. Consider that Most People Pee and Poop

Believe it or not, most people happen to have bodily functions that end with excretion of undesirable by-products. And, even more unfortunately, most humans experience several instances per lifetime of food to excrement processing time being less than desirable.

Do your characters even think about going to the bathroom? Does no one experience the urge, whether at critical or non-critical moments? Isn’t that unrealistic?

When you read about someone going to the bathroom, it’s often meant to give one of the following feelings:

  1. Added realism
  2. Some kind of sex thing
  3. Give a character an excuse to not be on screen
  4. Get a character somewhere it’s just them and the narrator

Bathroom scenes need to accomplish something, or they’re just a waste of space. If the scene doesn’t add anything to the story, people will notice. People remember poop stories because they’re so jarring; don’t make an empty scene be the thing readers remember.

4. So You Want to Add Grittiness?

If you want to add grittiness to your story, start by taking out the TP and replacing it with sandpaper.

sandpaper tp

More seriously, grittiness of feel is one step away from putting in a scene solely for “realism”. “Realism” The difference between grittiness and an attempt at realism is worldbuilding.

Why is opening your sphincters different in your world? Do you live in Arizona and worry about scorpions in the toilet on the regular? Are you in space where everyone and their mother (even if dear ol’ mom won’t admit it) wonders how you use the poop chute in zero G? Those types of situations are things you could do to reinforce your world.

You may even use the opportunity to reveal the stringency of social norms. Let’s say your characters have to perform a makeup regimen on the regular, and deviation from this protocol will cause major social blowback. That’s worldbuilding. That’s grit, even if it’s not bloody awfulness.

And, then, you can use a bathroom while a character’s bleeding out, adding some grittiness in that there’s no other option or it’s a terrible place. Bathrooms make us automatically feel a little dirty (and by us I mean most people), so adding dirt to a vulnerable situation can often make it feel grittier.

3. Are Your Characters Into Bathroom Sex Things?

Pretty sure this is a thing some people are into, also sure it’s not me.

However, this is something you’ll need to think about if you ever have two characters in the bathroom at the same time. I’ve read several stories where there’s two women in a bathroom, and that (at the moment) doesn’t seem so weird because society has taught us it’s not weird. But when you have two men who do any talking – ANY talking – in the bathroom, there’s a weird feeling that leaves the question of eroticism or sparks open.* A girl and a boy in the same bathroom? Slow down, Nelly, that’s gonna require some ‘splainin.

Enough people appear to have a sex thing/expectation with bathrooms that you may want to consider how to mitigate it (unless, of course, your raunchy characters are fixin’ to bump nasties). Battlestar Galactica (the new version) includes bathroom scenes with teeth brushing and face washing with men and women using the same room, and they do a great job taking their super-sexed-up characters and somehow showing greater-than-real-life equality between men and women with their weird bathroom scenes.

Extermination

So yes: if you want sex clues in a bathroom, go for it. It’s easy. Otherwise, think about it and get Beta Readers to help you figure out if there’s some lascivious feelings laced up in that mess.

*I’ve heard this mostly from my husband and an interesting conversation about the placement of the urinals in the library bathroom during Korean Music Appreciation class in undergrad. You may disagree with my friends from Korean Music Appreciation class.

2. Give a Character an Excuse to be Off Screen

This one’s pretty common.

Spy says “Gotta take a piss,” or a woman says, “I’ve got to go to the powder room.” Next thing you know, they’ve left through the bathroom window and come back with the mafia to kill the hero. Alternatively, tne character in the group leaves and everyone else instantly starts telling secrets the missing individual can’t know.

But be careful: this sort of thing is common enough that it may be noticed. When a character leaves to go to the bathroom, a reader may get this twinge of “Ok, so why are they going to be absent right now?” Taking a piss is rarely the point of a bathroom in a book, and getting a character off screen can provoke a reader to pay attention or start being suspicious. Use this to your advantage by allowing for the hint, but be sure to let the absence pay off. Otherwise, it’s just “realism for the sake of realism” again.

1. Get Your Character ALONE

My favorite instance of this is in The Long, Long Trailer, a 1954 film by Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. It’s not the same characters you know of Lucy and Ricky, but they’re “Tacy” and “Nicky”. They buy a long, long trailer to live in while the travel the country, and it progressively makes them both miserable. 

The Long Long Trailer

In the bathroom scene, however, Nicky (Desi Arnaz) tries to take a shower. He can’t seem to get the shower head to suit him, and everything keeps falling. It’s a wonderful symbol of his growing resentment, of his marriage, and of his life. It’s humorous while at the same time foreboding and telling.

The best “alone in the bathroom scenes” have a definitively literary examination of the story. It adds to the characterization and plot in such a way that nuances enter your mind, even in subtle, sneaky ways. Get your character alone, and let them pour out secrets while they’re in a very secret place.

Have you ever written a sh*tty scene? Remember any that you’ve read or watched? Dump something in the comments for the rest of us to read while we’re taking our own dumps!

5 Tips for Writing About Something Technical

06092019 Writing Club witty nib

Welcome to the Witty Nib Writing Club, where we study all things writing and look to hone our craft! This week we look at something I personally have struggled to get better at: writing about technical things.

Do you want to write a book in which cars take a central role? A fighting style? A complex system of magic? All of those things can get technical, and there’s a fine line between not enough and too much information!

5. Do Some Research

Unless you are already an expert on the subject, you’re going to want to bone up on what you’re writing. Let’s say your main character uses a bow to hunt or, like Katniss from The Hunger Games, kill people. You might, then, want to know words like “fletching” or “nock” and what that means. And there’s two ways to do your research.

One is to experience it yourself. Go to a shooting range and get someone to teach you about bowhunting. Your experience will sharply deepen your ability to understand your characters. It will also help you speak with some authority on your subject.

Unfortunately, gaining real life experience is often expensive, time consuming, or completely unavailable. If that’s the case, it’s a good idea to read as much as you can, look at pictures and – most definitely – watch YouTube. There’s tons of videos of people doing sword fighting, bow hunting, almost anything that ordinary people won’t be experts on. Keep a list of resources, and follow some of the tips in my Research post.

If you’re doing a fantasy or hard science fiction system, of course no one else knows what you’re doing; the difficulty of this research is looking into yourself and establishing the rules of your world’s system. This can be hard because you’re inventing the knowledge yourself!

4. Establish the Limits of Your Knowledge

Unless you’re an expert who can’t be easily questioned or pressed about their knowledge, you want to better understand where you are and how much you know. There are two main reasons you should do this: one, and the most obvious, is to see if you’re ready to write extensively about a technical subject.

Another, and the more devious, is to avoid the Dunning Kreuger effect. This is when a person who doesn’t have any expertise considers themselves to have more knowledge than they really do. Think about the last time you talked with someone about driving, and you’ll realize almost everyone says they’re an above-average driver. That statistically can’t be true. And, what’s worse, I believe I’m an above-average driver and there’s no reason for me to think that.

We tend to over-inflate our skills when we think about things we’re just ok at or even just dabbling in. When we’re talking about our driving skills, it probably won’t affect us much (as it never has). When we’re writing a book, though, it does matter. Establishing how much you know and how much is possible for you to know will help you avoid saying incorrect things, help you establish a path forward, and decide when your research stopping point will be.

3. Figure Out Your Target Audience’s Typical Knowledge

Most fans aren’t going to be like the Game of Thrones superfans who know more about the setting than the author. You really can’t write for those people because you’ll always be wrong. But, if you’re writing any specific genre (which, let’s be honest, you’re inevitably writing some genre), fans of those books have an idea of what to expect. If you’re writing a steampunk story and put your characters in polyester, the fans are going to call you out on that. If you have a medieval fantasy and your character uses a steam engine, your readers won’t stand for it.

One way you can do this is be familiar with your genre. If you’re writing historical fiction, how do other authors handle the information about the time period? How do other people review this author’s book, especially when it comes to analysis of the period pieces? How do people of that time period write about themselves?

Another wonderful thing the internet and modern technology is extreme connectivity. You can look up forums in which people discuss the topic or books relevant to your interests. Connect with people and figure out what other people know.

2. Less > More

If there’s anything I can’t stress enough in this article, it’s this one:

Don’t. Over. Do. It.

Yes, you just gained all this information and have thought critically for untold hours. You’ve just decided exactly why your plot will work given the constraints you’ve researched. You’ve established where your readers’ knowledge ends and yours begins.

And now, I swear to you, you don’t want to go much further than your average readers’ knowledge – if at all.

When one is reading a novel, we’re reading for characters and plot. We’re reading for themes, symbols, metaphors. Technical information gets in the way very easily.

If your reader wanted to know the extra tech, historical, or other info that you’ve gathered, they’d have done the research themselves. And, you know, there will be readers who know that info. You don’t need to tell them about it as long as you’re self consistent. Consistency is what you do your research for, not for your writing.

What I’ve experienced happening with runaway explanations of technical information is that they either bore a reader or they make them feel stupid. Use the most common terms as you can without being incorrect. Don’t talk about numbers if you can avoid it. Even if you’re talking about cars, it’s probably best to avoid things like horsepower or torque unless essential to the plot.

Most of all: don’t brag or act like you’re bragging. There’s nothing worse than feeling debased by reading a book.

1. BETA READERS

You’ve done all of the above. You think you’re spot-on. But it’s not over!

All sorts of guesstimates about your average reader can be off. Once you do enough research, it’s hard to go back to where you were before. For example, I recently wrote a story that includes 19th century cannons, and I used cannon terminology like “caisson” and “limber”. Both these words are common in books about the Civil War or the Napoleonic Wars, but when I tested it with a purely fantasy audience, I got a lot of “wtf” and “this is confusing – I’m going to ignore this word.”

That means I estimated using the wrong standard! I shouldn’t have chosen a Civil War buff as my standard audience. The people willing to read the book showed me that. A test audience will help you figure out just how technical you need to be – and it’s almost never as technical as you believe it should.

What obstacles have you come across when reading or writing technical things? Have any opinions about info dumps? Let me know in the comments!

Book Review: Outlander

Way back in 2018, back when I was young and fresh, I read The Time Traveler’s Wife. I was disappointed because Outlander had been checked out at my library by other people and the wait list was so long that I was convinced I’d never get it.

Well, it finally became available, at long last!

And then it turned into the first book I’ve absolutely refused to finish since Thoreau’s Walden in high school.

The Book

51prw27sxwl-_sy346_Outlander
Author: Diana Gabaldon
1991
Amazon Link

Before you wonder why I even started this novel, I want you to realize that I thought it was about a time traveling WWII nurse who went back to 18th century Scotland and re-invented and produced antibiotics. I was excited for a novel to include details about bioprocessing and medical knowledge.

lol

A Crappy Review

The book started alright. I thought it was a little weird that there was a sex scene with Frank, husband of Claire, but that wasn’t too bad. I knew there was a significant romance portion of this book.

But then she went back in time and got humped by Frank’s ancestor. There were lots of times when Claire was threatened, nearly killed, imprisoned, etc. because she was a single woman in a terrible situation, but the juxtaposed insistence that she was “strong and independent” and her absolute melting whenever anything she wanted crossed paths with a man just felt so wrong. It made me wonder what the point of the novel was.

Then Claire was forced to suddenly marry the main love interest, Jamie, and it just turned into a massive pile of smut. I kept going, thinking maybe it would be done soon, but then the love interest raped her while they were at a camp with other men. I was like “WAAAT” because I get furious at rape scenes. But I was like, “Well, perhaps this was a one-off thing, and she did start saying she liked it after he went too far. Let’s give it some… fuck, 1990’s slack? It’s just an awful book. Push through it.”

Then the next scene, Jamie punishes Claire for “making him look bad,” when what actually happened was she saved his life. He spanks and rapes her, definitely against her will. At this point I thought, “Maybe he wasn’t the main love interest, and in the next chapter she kills him.”

When the next chapter had Claire melt into thinking it was her fault and she had to do what Jamie and the other men said, I was like, “No. No, if you don’t slice him to pieces and run back to the standing stones, this book is stupid and I refuse to read further.”

And so I quit. I have no idea who this book is written for, and I can’t make any suggestions. I think the messages contained within the book are terrible for anyone, male or female, and it was definitely not about producing sulfa drugs like I’d wanted it to be.

1/5 Discoball Snowcones, But only because 0 isn’t an option

1 Discoball Snowcones

SPOILERS AHOY

I didn’t finish the book, so I can’t really give spoilers. However, I looked up the rest of the plot before I finally decided that I could never finish it.

After the aforementioned rape and beating scene, I looked through the plot and found out there was definitely a male-male rape scene. I was like, “What the eff, this book is straight up erotica and smut the whole way through.”

How didn’t I know this beforehand? How did I get led so astray?

Next week:

First, in about an hour another book review will be popping up on my site: Where the Crawdads Sing. Stay tuned for that – it’s fantastic!

Book Review: From Ashes to Magic

I found this book because a person I follow, Ari Meghlen, is included in this book as an author. It seems like several Twitter-famous people were involved with this sucker, so let’s see if the most vehemently political and nonsense social media platform knows its stuff!

The Book

48430321._sy475_From Ashes to Magic
Author: Various
2019
Amazon Link

This book is a short story compilation about supernatural beings. I don’t know what it will actually contain from the beginning, but there are 10 stories and/or poems by 10 different authors. I follow Ari Meghlen, but I’ve never read her work before and so was excited.

Non-Spoiler Review

This collection was an absolute mixed bag. Some of the stories I found incredibly creative or gorgeous, but with others I was very confused about and didn’t like at all. There were a few I didn’t feel strongly about.

However, the two stories I liked the most made me feel like the purchase was worth it. I really enjoyed the delicious writing and mythological feel of N. Pan’s “Life and Death,” and the creativity of “The Locksmith” was superb. Those two stories alone made me feel like the book was worth reading, but those two stories weren’t all that made up the selection.

Several of the stories felt incomplete, or more like the first chapter of a longer narrative than something created for a short story collection. I think people did things like this back in the Golden Age of sci-fi and short story compilations, but it irks me and I dislike unfinished shorts.

Something else I found odd was that this compilation may just as well have been about witches (or witches with a different title). A full half the stories either had witches or closely involved witches within their storylines, and two of the remaining five involved half-demons/devils. The other three beings were gods, a vampire, and a ghost. The book is billed as an array of magical creatures, but the variety was limited and all were humanoid.

Lastly, some editing could have helped. There were several immersion-breaking mistakes that another once-over by the editor should have caught.

3/5 Discoball Snowcones

3 Discoball Snowcones

SPOILERS REVIEW

For compilations and chapbooks, I like to talk about a selection of 3 stories: my favorite, a standout, and my least favorite.

Favorite: Life and Death, N. Pan
Beautifully written poem about the birth, experiences, and strifes between siblings Life and Death. The entire thing flows with a gorgeous cadence, and a sad, longing ballad builds to a religiously-tinged story of two gods’ fall.

Standout: The Locksmith, A. Meghlen
One of the most creative stories in the book, The Locksmith’s magical creature was actually a non-magical person in a highly magical world. Though there were wizards and sorcerers and the like in this story, all the tropes were turned on their heads in a tale with a great plot.

Least Favorite: Broken Promises, E. Chartres
The vast majority of this story was descriptions of running through different scenes and two people saying “You promised,” “I promised.” Then, right at the end, the main character suddenly eats two people, reveals she’s a vampire, and becomes evil. I found the story clunky from a plot perspective, the characters impossible to parse, and the prose difficult to read.

Next week:

I’ll be reviewing another Twitter-found story, The Gate, which is part of a series and published by an indie publisher (I think). Stay tuned!

Book Review: Through the Nethergate

I was eagerly awaiting this novel’s arrival since Cheadle announced it on her blog. Then, one day, I saw the announcement – it was on Amazon, and thus I could get it! So I went and bought it.

The Book

41umochifzlThrough the Nethergate
Author: Roberta Eaton Cheadle
2019
Amazon Link

This novel was billed as a paranormal horror about a young girl – Margaret – who is flung into a horrifying experience with ghosts, monsters, and historical people. By the existence of Heaven and Hell as mentioned in the blurb, I expect there’s some Christian mythology involved, but that doesn’t bother me! Tally ho!

Non-Spoiler Review

Fantastically researched. Spooky as hell. I’ve never had to put a book down because I was too freaked out, but now I have. If you want to know more about some really horrible people and horrible circumstances, this book is full of them.

Something strange about this book that I rather enjoyed but which might not appeal to everyone was the piles of stories about the ghosts and “incarnates”. Many ghosts or groups of ghosts had a story behind them, and Cheadle put together a well-researched summary of their lives and why their souls were trapped on Earth or in Hell. In effect, this book often felt like a compilation of historical stories, but that was right up my alley. There was also not as much dialogue as you might expect in a novel, but a lot of it was tied into this historicity.

That’s not saying that the overall plot wasn’t good – it was definitely good – but it wove more like a thread into and between all these other stories. It held everything else together like a glue. The main premise – that ghosts gained bodies when they were around Margaret – was also a lot of fun. Margaret wasn’t overpowered, so the stress you feel at failures and difficulties was very worthwhile.

5/5 Discoball Snowcones

5 Discoball Snowcones

SPOILERS REVIEW

The main thing I’d like to talk about in the spoilers review is the role of Margaret. Though she was a main character who has things happen to her rather than drive the story on her own, and though I usually rip a book and take off a snowcone for it, Cheadle did a good job with it. Though Margaret was the focal point, other characters’ points of view were used well. The changing protagonists gave a good view of the overall problems and challenges, and it didn’t feel like Margaret had to be the main character. I thought it worked.

I was, however, a little confused why Lucifer became the main villain about halfway through. The ghost Hugh Bigod was a great villain, and I was into it. Though Lucifer was also a good villain and was definitely a more difficult foe, I wasn’t sure I liked that switch. It worked out, but my investment in Bigod’s story felt like it just kind of evaporated.

Still, that opened up to awful, awful (and spooky!) things like the story of Amelia Dyer. That was freaky stuff, and I’ll never forget that part.

Next week:

Next week, I’ll be reading the short story compilation, Ashes to Magic! It’s got a lot of Twitter-Famous people in it, so stay tuned!