Mini-Reviews #9: Readathon reviews

With this batch of mini-reviews, I’m once again caught up with my backlog. I read three of the four books during the October 24-hour readathon, hence the title of this post. ūüôā

we-have-always-lived-in-the-castlewhich-witch

Shirley Jackson,¬†We Have Always Lived in the Castle —¬†Merricat Blackwood, her sister Constance, and her Uncle Julian are the last remnant of a once-prominent family. They live in a decrepit, isolated old house, and they don’t associate with any of the people in the nearby town. The novel’s sinister atmosphere is augmented by the suspicion that seven years ago, Constance deliberately poisoned the rest of her family. I’m no fan of horror, but I found this to be a very well-written, creepy but not too scary book. I may even read some more Shirley Jackson in the future.

Eva Ibbotson,¬†Which Witch? — I’ve been a fan of Ibbotson’s YA/adult novels for years now, but this was my first experience reading one of her books for children. It was just as delightful as I expected it to be, telling the story of a dark wizard who holds a competition to determine which witch will be his bride.¬†Beautiful and kind Belladonna would love to be the winner, but her magic is inescapably¬†good. How will she convince Arriman the Awful that she’s his perfect match?

goodnight-tweetheartcrooked-kingdom

Teresa Medeiros,¬†Goodnight Tweetheart — The plot of this romance novel is essentially “Boy meets girl on Twitter.” As such, the book is inescapably dated,¬†but I must admit I enjoyed it anyway! It had some good banter and some sweet moments…overall, a pleasant escapist read. It’s not a new favorite or anything, but it’s definitely a fun way to spend an evening (or, in my case, the middle of the night!).

Leigh Bardugo,¬†Crooked Kingdom — If you loved¬†Six of Crows, which I did,¬†Crooked Kingdom will not disappoint! The twists and turns of the plot kept me hooked, and I loved the fact that Kaz was always one step ahead of his enemies. And as with the previous book, I was completely invested in these characters and rooting for them all to achieve their goals. I especially liked that this book gave more attention to Jesper and Wylan, the two characters who were least fleshed out in¬†Six of Crows. There was also a very welcome appearance by Nikolai, my favorite character in the Grisha trilogy, which leads me to believe that Bardugo isn’t done with this world yet!

Review: Something Wicked This Way Comes

Something Wicked This Way ComesRay Bradbury, Something Wicked This Way Comes

A week before Halloween, Cooger & Dark’s Pandemonium Shadow Show creeps silently into Green Town, Illinois, in the middle of the night. To most of the town’s inhabitants, the show is a carnival like any other, with its sideshows, rides, and circus freaks. But 13-year-old best friends Jim Nightshade and Will Halloway suspect that something more sinister is at work. The carnival seems to lure unwary visitors into its depths, and those who fall under its spell will never be the same again. It’s up to Jim and Will — and Will’s father, an unassuming librarian who worries about his age and his relationship with his son — to uncover the dark secret at the heart of the circus and to prevent it from ensnaring more victims.

I don’t usually read horror novels, but I was interested in this book because of its classic status (and, frankly, because of its Shakespearean title). Unfortunately, this novel really didn’t work for me, but the problem wasn’t the story at all — it was the writing style. The prose is gratingly faux-poetic, overblown, and melodramatic. Words are often used in unconventional ways (nouns being used as verbs and the like), which can be an effective stylistic choice, but in this case I found it incredibly distracting. I also found the dialogue completely unrealistic and stilted. It’s a shame, because I actually do think the basic story is fascinating and could have been very effective in the right hands. I’m definitely not enthusiastic about trying more Bradbury after this — and I’m wondering how well Fahrenheit 451 would stand up to a re-read!