On the Same Page: Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan

10866624Title: Unspoken

Author: Sarah Rees Brennan

Publishing Information: September 11th 2012 by Random House Books for Young Readers

Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Mystery, Romance, Fantasy

Series Information: Book one in The Lynburn Legacy

Format: Hardcover, 370 pages

Source: Bought for my personal library

Recommended For: Those of you who are looking for a novel filled with layered and unforgettable characters, intense relationships, and intriguing mysteries.

Related Reviews: The Lynburn Legacy novellas by Sarah Reese Brennan

Right, first things first…I absolutely loved Unspoken. In fact, I loved it so much that I immediately read the rest of the series upon completing book one. Unspoken is filled with wonderful and intricate characters, fantastic relationships (of all kinds), and some dashes of mystery that kept me guessing. If you haven’t read this series yet, I suggest you do so immediately.

That being said, you know for our On the Same Page feature we usually do something a little different in lieu of a traditional review. Some of you may know that there is a big emphasis on Jared and Kami’s relationship, that is, they have been in each other’s minds for as long as they can remember, never meeting in real life. They put this off as having an “imaginary friend” since there seems to be no other logical explanation. Well, this got me thinking about imaginary friends (I had one named Elvis), and other imaginary friends from my childhood. So, with hopes that this doesn’t diminish anyone’s opinion of the novel, since the novel is so much more than “imaginary friends,” and because Rik Mayall recently passed away, I thought it would be fun to look at my favorite childhood film, Drop Dead Fred. Continue reading

Review: The Lynburn Legacy Novellas by Sarah Rees Brennan

Since the gals and I are reading Unspoken for our On the Same Page feature this month, I thought I would read and review the novellas to see what I am in for! It is safe to say that I am pretty excited for this series after what these novellas contained!

 

Title: The Spring Before I Met You

Author: Sarah Rees Brennan

Publishing Information: September 11, 2012

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance

Series Information: Novella 0.25 in The Lynburn Legacy

Format: ebook, 18 pages

Source: Available for free here

For readers who are looking for a novella that will only add mystery and pique your interest of the series more, read these novellas! This novellas gives the reader more insight into Jared’s character, and even though we haven’t met Kami yet, we are able to see her through is eyes and it is rather beautiful. We are also able to see Jared’s family dynamic, which was really rather sad but still so mysterious. Honestly after finishing this novella all I could think of was how quickly I needed to read this series. I had held off because I heard that the first two books had crazy cliffhangers, but thankfully the end is near so I can pick them up and binge read!

Continue reading

Review: The Hallowed Ones by Laura Bickle

Title: The Hallowed Ones

Author: Laura Bickle

Publishing Information: September 25, 2012 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Vampires, Dystopia

Series information: First in a series

Format: Paperback, 320 pages

Source: Borrowed from Amy (Tripping Over Books)

Recommended For: Fans of a very different kind of vampire tale.

Katie is on the verge of her Rumspringa, the time in Amish life when teenagers can get a taste of the real world. But the real world comes to her in this dystopian tale with a philosophical bent. Rumors of massive unrest on the “Outside” abound. Something murderous is out there. Amish elders make a rule: No one goes outside, and no outsiders come in. But when Katie finds a gravely injured young man, she can’t leave him to die. She smuggles him into her family’s barn—at what cost to her community? The suspense of this vividly told, truly horrific thriller will keep the pages turning (Via Goodreads).

When Amy first told me about this book I was skeptical. Amish…and vampires? I am over the vampire thing and…well, the Amish community doesn’t really do it for me. She ensured that I would love it and that it wasn’t THAT kind of vampire story so I gave it a go, and you guys, she was right. The Hallowed Ones was in a word, surprising. The plot was incredibly engaging and the atmosphere was just perfect. I didn’t really fall into the “horror” of the novel, but I have a very high threshold. I did enjoy seeing the vampires as monsters and not humanized characters, it was really different from the norm and kept me on my toes.

The characters in The Hallowed Ones were all fantastic. I really enjoyed Katie and her rebellious yet not too rebellious ways. I found her to be believable and engaging, she didn’t rebel against the restrictions of her society for anything less than what she believed was right. In other words, she wasn’t the typical teenager who rebelled against limitations because WHY NOT, but she rebelled because she knew that letting someone die for their differences wasn’t right, and following your heart is sometimes just as important as following your head. Katie’s parents were a tad infuriating to me but I especially enjoyed Ginger, the “outsider” who was forced to remain in the Amish community after the “attacks” started. Elijah annoyed me, he was a tool and I didn’t like how he treated Katie, he clearly knew little about her despite spending his entire life by her side. Then there is Alex…wooo boy did I love him. Alex is another “outsider” and boy does he turn Katie’s world upside down. Also, he has mythical tattoos that are yummy in my mind’s eye and also protect him from the bad things. Also, I can’t talk about characters without mentioning the Hexenmeister. That’s right, this book has it’s very own Hexenmeister. How awesome is that?! I loved this guy, I pictured him like an angry hermit who screams at kids to GIT OFF HIS LAWN but then also teaches them life lessons and how to shoot a shotgun. Kind of like Rafiki…but human and maybe kind of magical.

You guys I have to be honest, the blind faith thing? I can’t abide it. It really grinds my gears and makes me want to shake my fist and scream like an Amazonian woman. It is safe to say that I am not in the majority here but going into this book I was prepared to feel the rage over the limitations and blind following of the society presented. You know what though? I wasn’t rage filled (for the most part) and I really enjoyed the way Laura Bickle represented the Amish society. I grew up in a very small town in Pennsylvania, and I have some experience with this sort of lifestyle so it was really fun to read about it and see the connections. The “Elders” pushed my buttons a little bit, but they were supposed to and I found my inner rebel (LOL she isn’t buried too deeply) screaming at them a time or two. The thing that really got to me about this novel though was the idea that hallowed ground is what kept certain people safe. All hallowed ground. That means that the Catholics in their church? SAFE. The Wiccans holed up in their sacred space? SAFE. The Amish in their community? ALSO SAFE. It really made me feel good to see this universal message of “What you believe, you become,” and support of faith and not just ONE FAITH.

The Hallowed Ones was a captivating read, I didn’t expect any of the big reveals, which is always a win for me. Laura Bickle has a knack for character and atmosphere development and I absolutely cannot wait to pick up the sequel;, The Outside, as soon as possible. For those of you looking for something that stands out in the young adult, paranormal genre, pick up The Hallowed Ones immediately. It had everything I needed, all of the best things, shock, mystery, and a delicious splash of romance.

Fortnight of Fright: Guest Post by Vyki from On the Shelf

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Happy Friday, all! What an excellent week we have had for Fortnight of Fright! I’ve had so much time reading everyone’s posts and to end the week we have Vyki from On the Shelf to tell us all about a haunted jail. As you guys know I LOVE “real” horror stories, and this one is no exception! Take it away, Vyki!

The Haunted Jail

Old Jail 3

There are lots of creepy haunted places that come to mind when we think of Halloween, cemeteries, run down factories, old mental hospitals, scary looking old houses, but one of the creepiest I know of in my county is the old jail.  Opened in 1958 right before the original jail was torn down, the metal bars of this jail has seen a lot over the years.  Though it has been updated some though the decades, the cosmetic touch ups can’t hide the creepiness underneath. It is what you think of with a traditional older jail.  Metal bars, clanging doors, dreary cement walls, and graffiti scribbled or etched into every space available.  Those walls have witnessed who knows how many beatings, stabbings, deaths and suicides and it seems like some of those who died still stay within those cells.  Walking down the barred corridors makes you feel like there are several eyes staring at you from the empty cells and you can almost hear the echos of the clang clang clang of inmates running things along the bars.

Old Jail 2

The most chilling areas of the jail, however, are the solitary cells.  These were the cells where the extremely violent and mental people would go; those who couldn’t play nice with others and lost touch with reality.  These were isolated and dark, with tiny fractured windows, and if you listened hard enough, you could hear the screams of the insane still ringing about.  For a very short time, we had to open the old jail to house some inmates while some renovations were being made to the new jail, and during the stay, both inmates and officers talked of the strange incidences that occurred.  Noises, clanging, footsteps, water running, even a figure passing across the camera monitor that was never there.  Night of course was always the worst times and officers dreaded having to work their third shift in the creeptastic building.  I’ve been to the old jail twice and both times were during the day and even in the light, it gave me the willies.  I think if they were allowed to turn it into a haunted tour for Halloween, it would be the most popular and scariest around!  And I’m certainly glad I never had to be someone working or housed in this heeby jeebies building!

Old Jail 5

Wow!! I love the whole atmosphere surround this jail, it sounds so intense! Thank you so much for joining us today, Vyki! Readers, don’t forget to head over to Brittany’s blog to see what she has featured today! Happy haunting!

Fortnight of Fright Guest Post by Dianne Salerni

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I am SO EXCITED to be featuring one of my favorite authors on the blog today!! Dianne Salerni is the author of WE HEAR THE DEAD, THE CAGED GRAVES, and THE EIGHTH DAY (a forthcoming series from HarperCollins) and some of you may remember that I gushed about her earlier this year after devouring THE CAGED GRAVES. Today, Dianne is here to talk about real caged graves, the spiritualist movement, and happenings that stemmed from both of these unique bits of history.

Graves in Cages and Spirits in the Basement

My first two novels, We Hear the Dead and The Caged Graves, are both better categorized as historical novels than paranormal or horror stories. However, each one originated from something creepy – and true.

The Caged Graves was inspired by two real graves in an abandoned cemetery in Catawissa, Pennsylvania. The graves belong to sisters-in-law who died within a couple days of one another in 1852 and whose family – for some reason — chose to enclose their burial plots in iron cages.

Grave of Sarah Ann

Grave of Sarah Ann

The story behind these graves has been lost to history. The most often cited explanation for the cages is protection from grave robbers – especially medical students seeking fresh cadavers for anatomy practice. But one has to wonder why only those two graves needed protection. Why did the family of these women consider them likely targets for grave robbers? And, more importantly, why erect a decorative, permanent structure for a danger that would only last a few days?  The bodies wouldn’t be desirable very long.

There are some other strange things about this cemetery.  On my second visit I noticed that all the graves belonged to women and children. It’s possible some headstones have been lost or broken to pieces, but it seems strange that not a single marker for an adult male survived. Not even the husbands of the two women! (I only discovered this after I wrote my novel, so the book doesn’t include this little mystery. That might have to wait for a future story!)

Grave of Asenath Thomas

Grave of Asenath Thomas

While the historical facts behind The Caged Graves have been lost to time, the inciting incident that inspired We Hear the Dead is well documented by a pamphlet published a few weeks after the events. In May of 1848, in a one-bedroom, rented house in Hydesville, New York, a persistent but unexplainable rapping sound kept the tenants up several nights in a row. The adults, Margaret and John Fox, searched in vain for the source of the noise, while their two daughters, Maggie and Kate, insisted the rapping was caused by a “spirit.” After a few sleepless nights, an exhausted Margaret Fox complained that it must be the Devil himself.

That’s when the youngest girl, Kate, sat up in bed and said, “Here, Mr. Splitfoot*. Do as I do!” She snapped her fingers three times — and was answered by three sharp raps.

Kate and Maggie enticed the mysterious noise to imitate them several times and finally to answer questions by rapping once for yes and twice for no. By this means they determined the raps were caused by the spirit of a man who’d been robbed, murdered, and buried in the basement by a former tenant.

This creepy little incident was the beginning of the spiritualist movement – or rather, when Kate and Maggie’s older sister decided to take the girls on the road as spirit mediums – that was the beginning. The Fox sisters went from entertaining/scaring the neighbors in Hydesville to contacting wealthy patrons’ dead relatives for money all over the country. The younger girl, Kate, became the Lindsay Lohan of the 1850s while her sister Maggie was caught up in a star-crossed celebrity romance with a famous Arctic explorer.

Was it a hoax? There is evidence both for and against that.  One sister admitted to fraud forty years later, but only after she was well paid for the confession. The other sister never recanted.

It’s a shame Maggie and Kate were never asked to contact the women buried in Catawissa’s caged graves and get the scoop on what happened there!

*Mr. Splitfoot is a 19th century term for the Devil.

Spirit Game poster

I bet that you didn’t know that We Hear the Dead was the inspiration for a short film called The Spirit Game, which premiered at the 2013 Cannes film festival! The trailer to the film can be found below, but also stay tuned for my review of We Hear the Dead, coming soon! Dianne, thank you SO MUCH for joining us on Books Take You Places, I loved reading all about the facts behind your books! Readers, head on over to Brittany’s blog to see what she has in store for you today!

The Spirt Game Trailer from Craig Goodwill on Vimeo.

Review: The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab

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Hello fellow readers! Fortnight of Fright continues with a review of The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab!

Title: The Near Witch

Author: Victoria Schwab

Publishing Information: August 2, 2011 by Hyperion Books

Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Witches, Romance

Series information: Standalone – though a prequel can be read for free here

Format: Hardcover, 282 pages

Source: Obtained an ARC from the author a Book Expo America

Recommended For: Fans of fairy tales and lyrical, imaginative prose

The Near Witch is only an old story told to frighten children. 

If the wind calls at night, you must not listen. The wind is lonely, and always looking for company. 

And there are no strangers in the town of Near.

These are the truths that Lexi has heard all her life.

But when an actual stranger-a boy who seems to fade like smoke-appears outside her home on the moor at night, she knows that at least one of these sayings is no longer true.

The next night, the children of Near start disappearing from their beds, and the mysterious boy falls under suspicion. Still, he insists on helping Lexi search for them. Something tells her she can trust him.

As the hunt for the children intensifies, so does Lexi’s need to know-about the witch that just might be more than a bedtime story, about the wind that seems to speak through the walls at night, and about the history of this nameless boy.

The first thing to talk about when discussing The Near Witch is the way in which Victoria Schwab integrates gorgeous imagery into her prose. The Near Witch is reminiscent of fairy tales of old, invoking images of deep forests, dark moors, and misguided villains. What Schwab excels at is weaving absolutely beautiful descriptions with layered characters, and plot, she teetered on the line between too much and too little throughout the novel and I find that for me, The Near Witch was just right.

I thoroughly enjoyed the strength shown by the characters in The Near Witch, Schwab has an excellent way of showing the reader glimpses into multiple characters without becoming too overwhelming with detail. Lexi is our main character and though she is growing up in a small village ruled by men, she does her best to stand out and follow her own path. This is done in a beautiful way as we are shown the integrity in her character when she is willing to trust a stranger when no one else will. The aforementioned stranger is a rather mysterious young man who has a bit of a shadowy past, though he is doing his best to not let that affect his future. The relationship between the two characters was indeed sweet, if not a little rushed.  The secondary characters of the novel were also layered and interesting, the two “witches” of the village, Dreska and Magda, stole the show on more than one occasion, and I simply adored Lexi’s mother, though in truth I would have liked to see more of her throughout the novel.

What I can say about The Near Witch in terms of plot is that it is an extremely straightforward novel, there are no hidden agendas or surprise elements. In fact, I had a hard time not thinking ahead and making up my own twisty endings for the novel. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, I did find that it made the novel lack some depth. Perhaps my expectations of a reader are too high but upon completion I did feel as if the novel was missing a certain something to place it on my favorites shelf. With that being said, I must mention that despite the lack of depth, The Near Witch was a beautifully detailed fairy tale that spoke to my heart. I recommend it to those of you looking for something less enthralling, but more comfortable, it evokes a feeling of putting on your favorite sweater on the first cool day, after a very long summer.

Fortnight of Fright: Hallow’s Reads

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Welcome, welcome!! It is day one of Fortnight of Fright! For those of you wondering what Fortnight of Fright consists of, head on over to the intro post and take a gander!  I am so excited to have so many excellent blogger and author participation this year, we are going to be bursting at the seams with Halloween happenings! To kick off the event, Brittany and I thought that we would compile a list of some great Halloween recommendations from our fellow bloggers. So here we go, best Halloween reads!!

First up we have April from The Steadfast Reader recommended some of her favorite Halloween reads…and quick side note: I am PETRIFIED of IT (and all clowns, really) so there won’t be any images of him over here!!

– It by Stephen King (blog review): Why I love it: First line: “The terror, which would not end for another twenty-eight years–if it ever did end–began, so far as I can tell, with a boat made from a sheet of newspaper floating down a gutter swollen with rain.”

It’s a deep and intricately woven tale about childhood, love, loss, and imagination. At it’s core it’s about the loss of innocence and the power children and imagination have. King does a masterful job of putting the reader in the shoes of his characters. The Loser’s Club, in all their glory, both as children and adults are what make this novel the fantastic piece of horror literature it is.

Why it’s great for Halloween? It’s the penultimate horror story. Every creepy, scary archetype ever rained down upon mankind is found in this book. What scares you? Clowns? Check. Sewers? Check. Spiders? Check. Dead children? Okay, that’s less of an archetype and more of a tragedy — but that’s in there too. It should be noted depending on your reading speed, if you start on Halloween, this one might take you until Christmas, but that doesn’t mean that the journey isn’t completely worth it.

– Demon Theory by Stephen Graham Jones: Why I like it: It’s a unique piece of work in that it’s written as a treatment for a screenplay. It’s packed with footnotes and so full of pop-culture that it’s practically bursting at the seams! I honestly can’t say that I’ve ever read anything else like it. Between that and the emotions that it pulled from me, I classify it as art.

Why it’s great for Halloween? Well, the screenplay treatment is for three movies that take place on Halloween. This piece pulled some visceral emotional response from me. There’s both camp-horror and really scary horror. This makes it an ideal spooky Halloween read.

Secondly we have Celine from Nyx Book Reviews  and as you can see Celine ALSO recommends IT as one of the scariest books out there…I TOLD YOU!!

– It by Stephen King (Goodreads)

It is by far the scariest book I have ever read. Not only does it deal with the evil inside humans, it also features a monster that is evil itself and that turns into your greatest fears. While reading this Stephen King classic you will find yourself turning on all of your lights and hiding underneath a blanket. It’s even more terrifying if you’re afraid of clowns.

 – The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff (Goodreads – my review)

With such a creepy cover, it’s almost impossible to go wrong. The Replacement is a lovely scary young-adult book, which has one of the most unique story lines and setting I have encountered so far. Deliciously weird, The Replacement is a great read for people that love their books atmospheric, but that value getting some nightmare-free sleep at night.

– The Trial by Kafka (Goodreads – my review)

Never has a book made me as uncomfortable as The Trial has. At first glance it sounds like your average thriller – a man gets accused of a crime. Kafka manages to turn this simple premise into an absurd surreal experience that gets under your skin. Reading this book is uncomfortable and confronting, and ultimately scarier than most books about monsters are.

Thanks so much for sharing your recommendations with us, girls!! I will definitely be adding a few of these to the TBR – and steering clear of a certain CLOWN..ahem..Make sure to head over to Brittany’s blog for some other Halloween recommendations!! Happy reading, my friends!

Fortnight of Fright (2)

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Hello my friends!

Two awesome things coming your way…

First, you may remember that last year Brittany from The Book Addict’s Guide and I hosted a two week event called Fortnight of Fright, where we shared different posts on ALL OF THE HALLOWEEN THINGS. This year we are working together again to showcase different creepy books, movies, author interviews, and other excellent autumn and Halloween related goodies! The best part is that we get to work together with some awesome bloggers to make this happen, and the more the merrier, so if you think that you want to assist in ANY way, even if it is just telling us your favorite thing about Halloween, sign up via the Google Doc down at the end, below part two of this post!

Some fun posts from last year included:

The Scary-Funny Sweet Spot by Heidi at Bunbury in the Stacks

Favorite Villains

Favorite Halloween Shows

…and so many more!!

All Hallow's Read

Second, you may also remember that I told you all about All Hallow’s Read, which is a lovely new tradition started by Neil Gaiman where people give each other BOOKS instead of CANDY. Doesn’t that sound AMAZING?! Brittany, Amy and I are all participating and we are gifting each other Halloween-y books for us to read and review during the month of October. I can’t tell you how excited we have all been to choose books for each other (and um we are obviously psyched to receive those books as well!!) and you have time before Halloween so I suggest that you get together with some friends, and give each other books, because WE ALL LOVE BOOKS. For more information on All Hallow’s Read, head on over to their website, and I will keep you all in the know as well because last year Neil Gaiman gave away a free short story via Audible and it was PHENOMENAL.

Happy reading, my friends!!

Review: Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke

Title: Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea

Author: April Genevieve Tucholke

Publishing Information: August 15, 2013

Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Gothic, Horror, Romance

Series information: Book 1 in a planned series

Format: Hardcover, 368 pages

Source: Obtained an ARC from the publisher via Edelweiss

Recommended For: Fans of highly atmospheric and gothic novels, such as The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin, and Amber House by Kelly Moore

You stop fearing the devil when you’re holding his hand…

Nothing much exciting rolls through Violet White’s sleepy, seaside town…until River West comes along. River rents the guesthouse behind Violet’s crumbling estate, and as eerie, grim things start to happen, Violet begins to wonder about the boy living in her backyard. Is River just a crooked-smiling liar with pretty eyes and a mysterious past? Or could he be something more? Violet’s grandmother always warned her about the Devil, but she never said he could be a dark-haired boy who takes naps in the sun, who likes coffee, who kisses you in a cemetery…who makes you want to kiss back. Violet’s already so knee-deep in love, she can’t see straight. And that’s just how River likes it.

I am a sucker for any novel described as being a gothic horror; it is one of the few things that make my eyes glaze over when dreaming of the possibilities. A lot of times it is hard for an author to match what the reader wants, especially in terms of writing horror. April Genevieve Tucholke weaves the perfect amount of horror and mystery into this paranormal novel. I was very taken by the way in which the atmosphere of the novel plays into the action of its characters, there was a perfect balance between the two and it made for a much more dramatic reading.

Let’s talk characters, Violet is strong and careful, she is more mature and responsible than a typical 17 year old as she has practically raised herself since her parents have been gone, she also misses her dead grandmother terribly and often talks to her as if she were still alive. Her brother Luke is somewhat reckless and where Violet has matured in their parent’s absence, Luke has developed a more obvious “craves attention” sort of personality. Sunshine is their neighbor, and is described as beautiful with sleepy and seductive brown eyes. If I am being honest, I didn’t like Sunshine at all, and I didn’t like the way that Violet compared herself to Sunshine constantly, though it did give the reader insight to Violet’s lack of confidence in herself. It was perhaps because of this confidence that Violet fell so fast for the gorgeous River West. River is good looking in a “vintage” way, with a gorgeous crooked smile. He is a very manipulative character, which obviously plays into the story, but I have to be honest I was a little frustrated with him and his constant evasiveness. Their relationship was pretty seductive, even though it did read somewhat like the paranormal romances we are used to. You know the kind where the girl “can’t stand” this guy and his ways yet she just can’t stop kissing him? I can’t complain though, because those kissy scenes? Oh, they were worth it.

Lot’s of people have bad stories, and if they wail and sob and tell their story to anyone who’ll listen, it’s crap. Or half crap, at least. The stuff that really hurts people, the stuff that almost breaks them…that they won’t talk about. Ever.

Though overall I adored Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, it wasn’t perfect. I didn’t really appreciate the so often seen “absent parents,” and how Luke and Violet are still in high school yet they somehow manage to learn to live on their own with no guidance or structure. I see how it was necessary to leave the parents out of the main storyline, but I would have felt better about it had Violet and Luke been a year older or perhaps been taken care of by an eccentric family member. This didn’t affect my overall impression of the novel but it was something that bothered me while reading it.

On the whole, the novel was beautiful and atmospheric, the description of Citizen Kane, the large house where Violet and Luke live was absolutely breathtaking, I found myself wanting Violet to explore more so I could learn more about what was hidden in the corners of the attic. I also particularly enjoyed the ending of the novel. Some readers are saying that they felt the ending to be rather rushed, and though I can see that in a way, I also think it was necessary for the novel to progress in this way in order to set it up for the continuation of the series. I also did not see the ending coming, I had musings, to be sure, but the revelation at the end was quite a surprise.

I highly recommend Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea to anyone looking for a descriptive and atmospheric novel. It is filled with enough mysterious and creepy elements to keep even the most jaded reader looking over their shoulder, also let’s not forget about the swoony bits as those are aplenty as well!

Review: The Woodcutter by Kate Danley

Title: The Woodcutter

Author: Kate Danley

Publishing Information: November 6, 2012

Genre: Fantasy, Fairy Tale, Mystery, Young Adult, Adult

Series information: Standalone

Format: Kindle, 346 pages

Source: Gifted for my Kindle from Amy (Tripping Over Books)

Recommended For: Fans of Grimm’s Fairy Tales, John Connelly, and intense yet simplistic dark fantasy novels.

Deep within the Wood, a young woman lies dead. Not a mark on her body. No trace of her murderer. Only her chipped glass slippers hint at her identity.

The Woodcutter, keeper of the peace between the Twelve Kingdoms of Man and the Realm of the Faerie, must find the maiden’s killer before others share her fate. Guided by the wind and aided by three charmed axes won from the River God, the Woodcutter begins his hunt, searching for clues in the whispering dominions of the enchanted unknown.

But quickly he finds that one murdered maiden is not the only nefarious mystery afoot: one of Odin’s hellhounds has escaped, a sinister mansion appears where it shouldn’t, a pixie dust drug trade runs rampant, and more young girls go missing. Looming in the shadows is the malevolent, power-hungry queen, and she will stop at nothing to destroy the Twelve Kingdoms and annihilate the Royal Fae…unless the Woodcutter can outmaneuver her and save the gentle souls of the Wood. (Synopsis from Goodreads)

One of the first things I noticed about The Woodcutter was the simplicity yet enthralling nature in which Kate Danley draws in the reader. Those of you familiar with more traditional fairytales will love the language of this novel. In lieu of proper names, the author uses the more ambiguous “Wife,” and “The King,” which set them apart from the named characters in an interesting way. Even The Woodcutter wears his title as his armor, he IS The Woodcutter and that title overpowers all things. In addition to this ambiguity, the novel is also filled with many “moral of the story” moments. The most important of these being that “true love conquers all.” As an avid reader I may have become somewhat jaded in terms of true love and characters who are “meant to be,” but this novel delivers these moments in a different and more subtle way that is reminiscent of the tales of old. 

In terms of plot, The Woodcutter was intense yet at the same time very subtle. I was surprise at how dark the novel was, not horror story dark, but just lacking a bit of light throughout. There is much conflict through The Woodcutter and like any epic hero he is forced to work through many different obstacles in order to succeed. The wonderful thing here is that as I stated above The Woodcutter does all for The Wood, he is the protector of the land and that is his priority, on the inside though, he only wishes to return home to his wife to live out his days by her side. This was interesting as the reader was able to see the internal conflict of The Woodcutter and how he worked to meet his vastly different goals.

One of the best things about this novel is that it isn’t just a fairytale retelling, it bridges genre (and age) gaps as is holds so many different elements. Not only is it filled with fairytale elements, there are also significant nods to mythology and traditional folklore, not to mention the bits of fantasy, mystery and horror throughout. As you read you gain more knowledge of the world and characters within it, and therefore you are able to journey with The Woodcutter as he learns about the land he protects.

If I can tell you anything to sway you to pick this novel up as soon as possible, know that Kate Danley’s writing is beautiful. She is a master at words and I found myself reading and re-reading many lines throughout. I highly recommend The Woodcutter to those of you looking for an enthralling and lovely read. Fans of The Book of Lost Things by John Connelly and traditional fairy tales will find this especially lovely.

Yes, true love’s first kiss
“The spell has been broken,” said the Woodcutter…The hellhound that stalked you will have lost your scent, for you are no longer that which you were and will forever be more than you ever thought possible…”
He knew they no longer needed him, for wild magic does not meddle with the hearts of those who have tamed it with true love.
For true love conquers all.