Author: Adam Nevill
Published: July 21, 2015
Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 3 stars
Catherine’s last job ended badly. Corporate bullying at a top TV network saw her fired and forced to leave London, but she was determined to get her life back. A new job and a few therapists later, things look much brighter. Especially when a challenging new project presents itself ― to catalogue the late M. H. Mason’s wildly eccentric cache of antique dolls and puppets. Rarest of all, she’ll get to examine his elaborate displays of posed, costumed and preserved animals, depicting bloody scenes from the Great War. Catherine can’t believe her luck when Mason’s elderly niece invites her to stay at Red House itself, where she maintains the collection until his niece exposes her to the dark message behind her uncle’s “Art.” Catherine tries to concentrate on the job, but Mason’s damaged visions begin to raise dark shadows from her own past. Shadows she’d hoped therapy had finally erased. Soon the barriers between reality, sanity and memory start to merge and some truths seem too terrible to be real… in The House of Small Shadows by Adam Nevill.
The description and cover of this book drew me in. I’m all about some historical houses filled with all kinds of old stuff! My inner history nerd got all worked up! But unfortunately, this book was disappointing. I found Catherine to be weak and whiny. I get that people have traumatizing events in their pasts that can cause some problems later in life, but come on. I didn’t get the sense that her problems matched her past “trauma.” Her friend was taken, but she wasn’t, so . . . that doesn’t seem like as big of a problem as she’s making it. The bullying makes a little more sense, but I’ve been laughed at on the playground, I know many people who were abused by their parents and families and we’ve all come out without letting all that shut our lives down completely.
I know I’m not very sympathetic, but I just didn’t get why Catherine let her past keep her from living her life. She uses everything as an excuse for her life instead of getting over it and becoming successful. And she lost her job because she made the choice to attack a coworker, and she never seems to take responsibility for that. The story itself had so much potential, but it just never came together for me. There was no real connection between the taxidermist and the kidnapper, the puppets and the kids. I just didn’t understand all the details. There were some scary parts that had me turning all the lights in the house on, but other than that, I wasn’t really thrilled with this read. I would only recommend this book to certain people, ones who are incredibly detail oriented AND enjoy a good scare.
Author: Matthew J. Kirby
Published: September 27, 2016
Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 4 stars
Fear the living more than the dead.
It’s London 1888, and Jack the Ripper is terrorizing the people of the city. Evelyn, a young woman disfigured by her dangerous work in a matchstick factory, who has nowhere to go, does not know what to make of her new position as a maid to the Elephant Man in the London Hospital. Evelyn wants to be locked away from the world, like he is, shut in from the filth and dangers of the streets. But in Joseph Merrick, the Elephant Man, she finds a gentle kindred who does not recoil from her and who understands her pain.
When the murders begin, however, Joseph and Evelyn are haunted nightly by the ghosts of the Ripper’s dead, setting Evelyn on a path to facing her fears and uncovering humanity’s worst nightmares.
I enjoyed reading this book. It’s a simple and unique story. The story was easy to follow, but a little slow in some places. I liked how I hadn’t read anything like it before, but I found myself disappointed with some situations. Kirby did a great job of building the tension with the spirits of the murdered women coming every night and requiring their unfinished business to be resolved before they can rest in peace. Jack the Ripper is one of history’s most fascinating characters and adding The Elephant Man to the mix was a great idea. However, the ending was a little anticlimactic to me. I was so excited to see how the story would come together and who the murderer was . . . and it was just a letdown.
But the setting was amazing! I loved the London Hospital and Victorian London filled with street bazaars and theaters. I fell in love with Joseph Merrick, The Elephant Man, very quickly. He was a gentleman and someone who just wanted everyone to look past his deformity. He was just so sweet!! Evelyn was a believable and likeable character. This book is classified as YA and Evelyn is only 17, but her maturity level is high. She’s not afraid to work and ends up pushing herself out of her comfort zone when it’s required. She gets a little whiny, but considering her circumstances, it wasn’t bad. Overall, this was a good read and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a different and historical read.
Author: Teri Brown
Published: October 20, 2015
Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 3 stars
Samantha Donaldson’s family has always done its duty for the British Crown. In the midst of World War I, seventeen-year-old Sam follows in their footsteps, serving her country from the home front as a messenger for the intelligence organization MI5. After her father disappears on a diplomatic mission, she continues their studies of languages, mathematics, and complex puzzles, hoping to make him proud. When Sam is asked to join the famed women’s spy group La Dame Blanche, she’s torn—while this could be an unbelievable adventure, how can she abandon her mother, who has already lost a husband? But when her handlers reveal shocking news, Sam realizes she can’t refuse the exciting and dangerous opportunity. Her acceptance leads her straight into the heart of enemy territory on a mission to extract the most valuable British spy embedded in Germany, known only as Velvet. Deep undercover in the court of Kaiser Wilhelm II, Sam must navigate the labyrinthine palace and its many glamorous—and secretive—residents to complete her assignment. To make matters worse she must fight a forbidden attraction to the enemy—a dangerously handsome German guard. In a place where personal politics are treacherously entangled in wartime policy, can Sam find Velvet before it’s too late . . . for them both?
I saw this in a Book Nerd Problems video from EpicReads waaaaay back near the beginning. The cover is gorgeous and the description sounded intriguing so I decided to read it. I did enjoy it. Unfortunately, there were some things in the book that kept me from loving it. The main thing is that it is technically historical fiction, but there was just too much suspension of disbelief. If I’m going to read historical fiction, then I want some realism. During the whole story I kept thinking “why would they send a child into a warzone to spy with almost no training??”
Samantha was a likeable enough character, though like a typical teen who probably shouldn’t be sent out on a secret espionage mission in the middle of a world war, she let her emotions get the better of her at nearly every turn. The first chapters of the book highlight how smart and intelligent and special she is, but then the whole rest of the book seems to contradict that. She’s great at codes and languages . . . because that’s all it takes to be a spy!!!!
I’ll admit that the twist at the end caught me by surprise. I had my suspicions about who Velvet was, and I was pretty excited to find out I was right! The story itself was pretty interesting and I enjoyed reading it and watching it unfold. Overall, it wasn’t a bad book, but I doubt I’ll read it again. I would recommend this book to some teens, but not to many adults.[Top]