Author: Em Bailey
Published: July 18, 2017
Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 4 stars
A mysterious cult leader has complete control over Esther’s life…or does he?
Esther is one of the Special Ones: four young spiritual guides who live under his protection in a remote farmhouse. The Special Ones are not allowed to leave, but why would they want to? They are safe from toxic modern life, safe from a meaningless existence, safe in their endless work. He watches them every moment of every day, ready to punish them if they forget who they are—and all the while, broadcasting their lives to eager followers on the outside.
Esther knows that if she stops being Special, he will “renew” her. That means being replaced with another Esther. Nobody knows what happens to the Special Ones who are taken away from the farm for renewal, but Esther fears the worst. She also knows she’s a fake. She has no ancient wisdom, and is deeply troubled about her life in captivity. But like an actor caught up in an endless play, she must keep up the performance if she wants to survive long enough to escape.
To be 100% honest, this book seemed like a rehash of The Cellar by Natasha Preston. There were a lot of similarities and it really felt like almost exactly the same story. However, there were details that were different and I still enjoyed reading this book very much!
The first half of the book was definitely stronger than the second half. I enjoyed reading about the specifics of the kidnappings and imprisonment of the Special Ones and I liked learning about the nature of the delusion in which he has immersed himself. But, I was left feeling a bit disappointed about the photograph from which he got his inspiration. Who were these people? Why was that photo so important? What kind of research did he do? How did he know their names? We’ve had this discussion before, I’m a historian and you can’t leave me dangling like that! I need more information! Em, I’d like to formally request a book exclusively about those people in the photograph. Thank you.
The ending did get a little slow, but I liked the way the story resolved itself. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good psychological thriller or anyone who loves Criminal Minds. Yes, I did try to do some behavioral analysis on this book . . . it kept me stumped so I think that’s the sign of a stirring story! Definitely worth 4 stars!
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.