Cover Via Goodreads
*I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review*
An intriguing notion; this is a collection of short stories each relating the macabre and sometimes gruesome origins of the members of a haunted circus.
On the whole this is an enjoyable read. The stories are short making it a good book to dip into when you’ve got a spare five minutes and the unified setting of the haunted circus generally works well. The stories are imaginative and well told; sometimes you find yourself wondering how Catris got so much into so few words!
If I was to be really picky the one slightly discordant note for me was the bearded ladies story which I felt didn’t quite resonate with the theme of the rest of the book. Other readers may, of course, disagree with me on that point and I did, however, enjoy it as a story in its own right.
The book is beautifully illustrated throughout. The only drawback in the book’s combined text and illustrations is that it isn’t a comfortable reading experience on the old Kindle touch; but even if, like me, you own a slightly older Kindle there’s always a kindle for pc app so it’s not a major problem; for the sake of the beautiful illustrations and graphics it’s worth it.
All in all I can definitely recommend this book. It’s a beautiful, well-crafted book and a welcome addition to the genre
Cover Via Goodreads
Technically this is a children’s book but having a long held fascination with mythology I was intrigued to read it. This is a glorious adventure that weaves the mythology of the Antrim coast throughout the story.
The hero of the story is Finn whose quiet summer holiday by the sea with his kindly grandparents is turned on its head when he starts to be drawn into a strange adventure that raises questions about everything he thought he knew and challenges his ingenuity.A lovely book and I imagine it would be a nice way to introduce kids, who weren’t already familiar with them, to some of the Celtic myths and folklore.
The small hand tells the Story of Adam Snow an antiquarian bookseller. One night on his way home from a visit to a client he gets lost on the way home through the country lanes. That’s when he stumbles across a crumbling, decaying old house with overgrown gardens. As he stands contemplating the sight he feels a small hand slip into his own, a child’s hand; but the child is invisible.
Firstly, what did I like about this book. As always with Hill’s books there’s plenty of descriptive writing going on and she does it well. The story provides an element of danger that grows from something so seemingly innocent and threatens to overpower the protagonist; but as it’s written in the first person we could probably guess he was going to come out of it relatively OK. There’s some interesting psychological elements going on and you are left wondering how much of Adams experience was down to ghosts and how much was the result of fear itself.
Which brings me to what didn’t work for me. I have a couple of bugbears with certain elements of the writing. It seemed as though every time Adam had a ghostly encounter he had to stop and tell us that he was sure it was real; he was sure then; he was sure later; he was sure last time. Did I mention he was sure? There also seems to be some slightly heavy foreshadowing. I don’t mind a narrator telling me that they would come to look back fondly on a certain night or afternoon, but once is enough and twice within the space of 9 pages wasn’t really necessary.
I’m not sure what to make of the conclusion. In one respect it was a fairly predictable but tidy explanation but not quite as satisfying as it could have been. I’m all for a little ambiguity in ghost stories but I was left thinking ‘right, I know what happened in the past but I don’t understand why it happened’. I wont say anymore because I’m trying to keep this review as spoiler free as possible. Of course just because it bothers me doesn’t mean it will bother someone else; I am a person who delights in detail.
Ultimately I did like this book; it had a good premise, nice descriptions, spooky houses and thunderstorms. I would just liked to have seen some elements of the story fleshed out a little.
Northanger Abbey is infused with Jane Austen’s usual wit and charm; but unlike her other works Northanger Abbey is also a delightful tongue in cheek satire of the early gothic novels. The book begins by pointing out how unsuited the young heroine Catherine Moreland is for the role by her failing to be possessed of either the appearance or the distressed circumstances required of a literary heroine.
Catherine’s over active imagination fuelled by the reading of gothic novels leads her astray and she eventually begins to understand that fiction and reality can be worlds apart.
Of course there are also the usual Austen themes of romance and marriage market scheming. If I have one criticism of this book it’s that Catherine’s innocent naivety towards certain characters is pushed to the point of disbelief. I found myself wondering how she could be so fooled for so long. Perhaps that’s because I’m viewing the book from a cynical 21st century standpoint but I did find Catherine’s total naivety a little unbelievable; but then some of the male characters are apparently just as foolish.