Monday, 26 March 2012

The whores' asylum - Kate Darby

"Remember, my dear, for a whore there is no asylum"

This was nothing like I had first imagined. Whether that is good or bad I'm not so sure but I really enjoyed this book. At the center of the book we have Edwards Fraser, a theology student and his roommate Stephen Chapman who is a brilliant doctor. They are unlikely friends but quickly become close. When Chapman begins his work at a shelter designed to help whores get back on their feet Fraser strongly objects and this signals the inevitable crumble of their relationship. It is not long before Chapman becomes enamored with Mrs Diana Pelham who runs the shelter. One night at a ball Fraser and Diana come face to face and instantly recognised one another because Fraser knew her long ago.

Is Diana truly wicked? Does everything she touch turn to ash? Fraser fears so.

The cover of this book is gorgeous! LOVED IT. I also loved the Victorian layout of the story. It had beautiful illustrations that just helped to bring the story to life. I just raced through this book. The story was fast-paced and full of pure Gothic goodness. I highly recommend this to any one who enjoys a good Victorian tragedy.

Rating: 4/5

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

The white lie - Andrea Gillies

I don't read many contemporary novels but this one just caught my eye. Not only did it have a series of glowing reviews but had an interesting premise. The book is narrated by Michael who is dead and has been dead for the past 14 years. He is a somewhat unreliable narrator as it is very difficult to distinguish his true memories from the lies that fellow family members spin. The book begins with his aunt Ursula confessing that she has murdered her 19 year old nephew. The family decides to let Michael rest forgotten at the bottom of the loch in order to protect Ursula who is clearly mentally unstable. As the story progresses it becomes apparent that Michael's "disappearance" is not the only secret the family hold. There is the mystery of Michael's father and the circumstances surrounding the dead of Sebastian, Michael's four year old nephew who drowned before he was born.

The story is intense and the reader cannot be certain of anything other than the fact that Michael is dead. The writing was beautiful and dense and thus took me longer than usual to finish. A great psychological thriller.

Rating: 4/5

Monday, 19 March 2012

The Greatcoat - Helen Dunmore

Helen Dunmore wrote a horror? Surely not! I am pleased to say that this is true! Hammer horror has been recruiting well known authors to pen horror stories as part of a new novella series.

This was the first adult book that I have read by Helen so I didn't know what to expect when I started to read but I was pleasantly surprised.

This story is set in the 1950s and Isabel and her husband Philip have just moved into a small flat. They are newly weds and Isabel is finding it hard to adjust to the realities of married life. On a cold night she finds a greatcoat the belonged to a RAF pilot. She spreads it on the bed and falls asleep with its heavy presence on her. Soon a young man wearing the coat begins to knock on the window wanting entrance.

This novella is spooky but it kind of creeps up on you so when you finish the last page you realise only then the chill that has settled in your core. I liked that about this story. The writing was absolutely gorgeous! Loved it! This is a mixture of a love story and a ghost story so I think that readers should read the novel knowing that. You won't find any rot or gore in this novella.

I am hovering between four and five stars so I will give it a solid 4.5/5 purely because of the ending and the gorgeous writing.

The pleasures of men - Kate Williams

As you may well already know Kate Williams is a reasonably well known historian who was a consultant on the movie The Young Victoria starring the fabulous Emily Blunt. So I was naturally interested when she released a novel. Set in the 1840s in London, Catherine Sorgeiul lives with her strange Uncle in a rather bad part of town. She is a woman full of guilt and darkness. When a murderer strikes she begins to fear that it was her own evilness or darkness that draws him near. The murderer is aptly named the Man of crows on account of his vicious slashing which renders the skin to feathers and the stuffing of hair into the victims mouths which resembles beaks. Catherine begins to take risks, walking where the crimes occurred and imagining the deaths of his victims. Soon things begin to get far too real and everything she thought she knew comes crashing down. 

This book is not going to be for everyone but I really enjoyed it. I love anything Gothic, dark and disturbing and that is exactly what this book is. The writing was poetic and lovely and of course the world building was impeccable considering her background. Despite what other reviews are saying, I think it is worth a read if you are into this sort of thing,

Rating: 4/5

Little Bones - Janette Jenkins

Jane is a 15 year old cripple with a intelligent and quick mind that is at odds with her appearance. Jane and Agnes (her beautiful older sister) move into a house owned by Dr Swift and his wife. When Agnes disappears Jane is forced to consider a life begging on the street, however Mrs Swift suggests that she work as an assistant for her husband in exchange for room and board. She readily accepts not knowing that Dr swift is not who he says he is. Soon she is swept up into the dark world of abortions and deception.

 I really enjoyed this book, it had me reading well into the night. Beautiful prose with an interesting and engaging storyline and narrator. 

Rating: 4/5