Category Archives: Four Stars
The White Hand (a Rutherford Manor novel) by Konn Lavery is a dark historical thriller set in 1890 outside of Chicago, Illinois. The Fleshers and the Savidges live at Rutherford Manor, a house filled with outcasts with a dark past. To provide for their family, Alastor Flesher and Spalding Savidge make a deal with the Irish Mob (The White Hand). They work as resurrectionists, obtaining bodies for anatomists. Alastor and Spalding have a unique process to get the dead bodies, by helping death along, which makes their ‘product’ more desirable. Their position is always precarious due to their methods of body-snatching, but things spiral out of control after Alaster is found dead and the residents of Rutherford Manor suspect he was murdered. Was he killed by The White Hand? Or did someone seek revenge against Alastor for his dark deeds?
I liked the author’s writing style, and the story was filled with intrigue that kept my interest. Even as I was reading about the dark actions of the main characters, I wanted to know what happened to them next. But I had trouble connecting to the characters because the book did not show the struggles the Fleshers and Savidges went through that led them to such desperate acts. Their actions didn’t feel justified. I wanted to know why they didn’t have any other option but to kill, and that compelling motivation was missing.
I liked that several chapters in the book started with philosophical inner narratives that gave additional insight into the minds of the characters. The book was told from the Fleshers and Spalding’s point of view, but they acted more as villains in the story than someone I wanted to root for. While plotting murder, Alastor and his son, Nox, questioned why God let bad things happen to their family. It was a stark juxtaposition seeing them willfully and remorselessly causing bad things to happen to others, yet believing that they themselves were not deserving of the bad things that happened to them.
The demon aspect at the end of the story was surprising and supported the otherwise mild supernatural elements in other parts of the story.
The author is a graphic artist, and I enjoyed the art that was sprinkled throughout the book. The black and white illustrations were able to capture the feel of the novel and gave the overall story some depth. I liked having the visual of what the characters looked like and an image of the scroll that Nox found in his father’s study.
Although the ending of the book left me with as many questions as answers because the story of Spalding and the Fleshers is not finished, I would love to read the next book in the series to learn more. Horror, history, mystery, intrigue… the list goes on. The White Hand is an intriguing page turner.
Pages: 207 | ASIN: B07RGH1KV1
Let conspiracy enthusiast and sci-fi fans rejoice for there is a new series of books launched that engages the reader in an action filled thriller; rich in violence, plot twists, the supernatural and human connections.
Experiment X – Sacrifice is told from the first person narrative of Karen; a regular woman with a regular job with secret abilities she didn’t know about. What starts out as a story about a waitress with a terrible boyfriend and superficial friends spirals into an intricate voyage of family secrets, genetic manipulation and a high death toll.
The heroine’s catalyst arrives early on in the form of Jack, which is a man she has had violent dreams about. Jack makes Karen aware of her part in a hidden and awful government experiment. The breakneck pace of this novel does not let up and the plot is very interesting as are the characters; but I felt that they were underdeveloped and sometimes the plot overwhelmed the narrative. Experiment X still draws the reader into its deeply rooted story lines and paints a vivid picture.
The author is also successful at striking a good balance of action and world building, such as when some of the survivors of the experiment try pizza for the first time. I wanted more depth to Karen’s transformation because I liked her and her relationship with her fellow mutants enriches the story. I also wanted to feel more of the mental and emotional cost of such atrocities because what little is presented is very well executed.
Experiment X sets up some seriously interesting story lines for the heroes to be expanded on in the continuation of the story; such as how the mutation develops differently in each person and family loyalty. There are many layers to this narrative, exploring those while keeping the action oriented style of the book elevates this series. Be ready for betrayal, plot twists, a high body count and a fair amount of emotional turmoil.
Pages: 303 | ASIN: B014880TIW
Schizophrenia is a mental illness that affects thoughts, emotions and even behavior. It’s severity is achieved gradually with symptoms that include hallucinations, altered reality and even disorganized thinking among others. Often when it is believed that the patient will be a danger to his or herself and others, they are institutionalized so the condition can be stabilized.
Max Happiness, written in first person narrative, is a series of thoughts as they run through the character’s mind. This character is schizophrenic and therefore presents many different ideas in quick succession. This presentation of thought provides insight into how people with this condition think and feel if they are misunderstood. As a person looking in from the outside, one would be compelled to quickly dispel any fantasies or notions that do not conform to reality. However, from this text it is clear that the approach used to do this matters quite a bit. The person in this book talks about how his ‘abilities’ albeit imagined have had him committed.
This book by Ali Ismail is enlightening, but not in an informational booklet kind of way. It is enlightening in that it gives the reader first hand experience of a schizophrenic’s train of thought. This is meant as an advocacy exercise for people with this condition. To raise awareness and shine a light on their plight. They really do believe the things they utter so there is need for some sensitivity when interacting with them. From the way the thoughts are structured, it is clear that this character is an otherwise sober individual.
The author has done well to introduce the character first before introducing the condition they suffer from. I think this gives the reader time to endear themselves to the character before they can start to sympathize. The author has also done a good job of making the prose so confusing and discombobulating that one feels like they are reading an anagram. The spontaneity of speech and thought is quite complicated. This provides a truly accurate picture of the patient’s thought process.
This book is a good effort towards advocacy for schizophrenia. However, it does require a bit of an edit. For example, use the right ‘there/their’ and so on. For such a short book, these little mistakes really do stand out.
Otherwise, this is worth taking the twenty minutes or so that you would need to read the contents. It is also worth the one minute it will take to recommend it to someone. It would be nice to expand it a little more to provide a more wholesome picture of the life of the character. This is just one day in the life.
Pages: 6 | ASIN: B07N2RHTW5
MJC Heathcote delivers a story that combines mystery and family history in a chilling way that has you wondering about the dark forces embedded within a seemingly average object. Although Doves and Crows starts slowly, it quickly ramps up and once it captured my attention it rarely let it go. Heathcote does a fantastic job at slowly building up the mystery and drama, drawing you in and making the resolution all the more satisfying. There are moments when the story slows, but the unique writing style and the clear storytelling keeps this book engaging throughout.
Doves and Crows is an intriguing supernatural horror story that reads more like a crime thriller when people start to meet their untimely death, and more like Paranormal Activity when strange things start happening. The the mystery surrounding the necklace, although intriguing, left me wanting more details. Richard is an easy character to follow and is easy to empathize with, but I would have liked more background on his character.
With any mystery novel that relies on subtlety it’s easy to be too subtle and lose the reader along the way, but Heathcote’s writing is exceptionally fluid and effortlessly delivers some odd twists and dramatic scenes in dark an eerie settings. What I really liked about this book was how it combines many different genres to create a thought provoking story about paranormal forces wreaking havoc on one boys life and his ultimate struggle to rid himself of the dark forces his grandparents unknowingly brought into his life.
Pages: 434 | ASIN: B07L5RS1SD