Book Review: The Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco

Okiku walks the streets, hunting murderers of children.  She finds these murderers and sees the children they have murdered tied to them, and she feels compelled to act.  It has been this way for hundreds of years.  When she meets a strange boy with even stranger tattoos, she discovers that he is not alone, and he is in very real danger.  But can she save him when it’s not what she’s on earth to do?

Rin Chupeco’s novel is a near perfect blend of contemporary YA and supernatural storytelling.  Billed as a mix of The Grudge and The Ring, this is definitely a perfect novel for fans of J-horror. This is a fresh take on horror for teens (and adults), and it’s a standout of a debut.

Much of the novel’s success lies in the narrator’s unique, haunting voice.  Chupeco makes Okiku’s voice very formal and very detached, and the result is compelling.  Her ghostly telling of the story’s events offer readers just enough to understand what’s happening but also encourages the reader to figure out what lies beneath the surface.  As Okiku becomes more embroiled in the life of Tarquin, her voice becomes stronger.  It’s brilliantly done.

An unsettling story, this novel deftly blends many creepy elements: ghosts, spirits, old legends, and super, super creepy dolls.  Readers interested in legends, ghosts, and the like will eat this one up.  It’s bloody without being overly so, and the novel’s suspense is perfectly paced.  It’s a page-turner, and one that horror fans should eat up.  Highly recommended.

The Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco. Sourcebooks Fire: 2014. Electronic galley accepted for review via Netgalley.

Waiting on Wednesday: Rooms by Lauren Oliver

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.  Its purpose is to spotlight eagerly-anticipated upcoming releases.

This week I’m eagerly awaiting:

Rooms by Lauren Oliver

Expected Release Date: September 23, 2014

Wealthy Richard Walker has just died, leaving behind his country house full of rooms packed with the detritus of a lifetime. His estranged family—bitter ex-wife Caroline, troubled teenage son Trenton, and unforgiving daughter Minna—have arrived for their inheritance.

But the Walkers are not alone. Prim Alice and the cynical Sandra, long dead former residents bound to the house, linger within its claustrophobic walls. Jostling for space, memory, and supremacy, they observe the family, trading barbs and reminiscences about their past lives. Though their voices cannot be heard, Alice and Sandra speak through the house itself—in the hiss of the radiator, a creak in the stairs, the dimming of a light bulb.

The living and dead are each haunted by painful truths that will soon surface with explosive force. When a new ghost appears, and Trenton begins to communicate with her, the spirit and human worlds collide—with cataclysmic results.

Elegantly constructed and brilliantly paced, Rooms is an enticing and imaginative ghost story and a searing family drama that is as haunting as it is resonant.

(summary via Goodreads)

The buzz on this one has been largely positive.  Even though I haven’t exactly loved everything Oliver has written, she’s definitely an author to watch.  This foray into adult fiction has been written about since the book deal was announced.  Since I can’t resist a good buzzed-about book, you know I’m all over this.

I love a good ghost story, too.  So that doesn’t hurt.

What are you waiting on this week?

Book Review: Midnight Crossroad by Charlaine Harris

Midnight, Texas is a tiny little town with very few residents.  The town’s only intersection hosts a diner, a pawn shop, a gas station, and a minuscule chapel.  People pass through, but they don’t tend to stay overly long.  The town’s residents make up an interesting lot, and they have their share of secrets.  But the unspoken rule in Midnight is that you don’t ask questions.  So when a body is found, the tiny town’s world is thrown into an investigation they never asked for.

Charlaine Harris operates firmly within her wheelhouse with this novel, the start of a new trilogy.  Full of vivid, memorable characters Harris is known for creating, this novel clips along at a good pace, full of the minutiae of small-town southern life fans of her work so crave.  Part supernatural tale (the supernatural aspects here are present but much more toned down than in her most popular Sookie Stackhouse series) and part whodunnit mystery, this is likely to gain traction with old fans as well as collect new ones.

The book starts off slightly rocky, with a present-tense narration that doesn’t seem to quite work. However, after a chapter or two, the reader settles into the narrative of the novel.  The chapters are short and alternate from the perspectives of several of Midnight’s residents.  There’s Fiji, the witch who runs a little magic shop and pines for Bobo, the owner of Midnight’s pawn shop.  Manfred is the town’s newest resident, and he operates an online psychic business from his little apartment (hardcore fans of Harris’s work will recognize him from her Harper Connelly mysteries).  All of the characters have their own pasts and their own motivations, and Harris hints at these events without judgment.

Also notable is how diversely Harris has cast her new series.  There are several people of color in Midnight, as well as a gay couple who is very well accepted into the town.  Harris weaves these details in seamlessly, and while characters have these traits, they do not define them.  It’s refreshing to see this kind of diversity without it being the central point of the novel.

Mostly fun and definitely a strong addition to the genre, this is a book that is likely to circulate well at libraries.  Recommended for fans of Harris’s work, and for fans of small-town mysteries in general.

Midnight Crossroad by Charlaine Harris.  Ace Books: 2014. Library copy.

Waiting on Wednesday: The End Or Something Like That by Ann Dee Ellis

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.  Its purpose is to spotlight eagerly-anticipated upcoming releases.

This week I’m eagerly awaiting:

The End or Something Like That by Ann Dee Ellis

Expected Release Date: May 1, 2014

Emmy’s best friend Kim had promised to visit from the afterlife after she died. But so far Kim hasn’t shown up even once. Emmy blames herself for not believing hard enough. Finally, as the one-year anniversary of Kim’s death approaches, Emmy is visited by a ghost—but it’s not Kim. It’s Emmy’s awful dead science teacher.

Emmy can’t help but think that she’s failed at being a true friend. But as more ghosts appear, she starts to realize that she’s not alone in her pain. Kim would have wanted her to move forward—and to do that, Emmy needs to start letting go.

(summary via Goodreads)

There are certainly no shortage of books with characters who see dead people, but this one looks like it’s going to be pretty sweet.  I’m all about  a well-executed novel about moving on from loss and dealing with grief, and if the magical realism is done well, I’ll be a happy camper.

What are you waiting on this week?

Waiting on Wednesday: Insanity by Susan Vaught

 

 

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.  Its purpose is to spotlight eagerly-anticipated upcoming releases.

 

This week I’m eagerly awaiting:

Insanity by Susan Vaught

Expected Release Date: February 18th, 2014

Never, Kentucky is not your average scenic small town. It is a crossways, a place where the dead and the living can find no peace. Not that Forest, an 18-year-old foster kid who works the graveyard shift at Lincoln Hospital, knew this when she applied for the job. Lincoln is a huge state mental institution, a good place for Forest to make some money to pay for college. But along with hundreds of very unstable patients, it also has underground tunnels, bell towers that ring unexpectedly, and a closet that holds more than just donated clothing….When the dead husband of one of Forest’s patients makes an appearance late one night, seemingly accompanied by an agent of the Devil, Forest loses all sense of reality and all sense of time. Terrified, she knows she has a part to play, and when she does so, she finds a heritage that she never expected. 

With her deep knowledge of mental illness and mental institutions, Susan Vaught brings readers a fascinating and completely creepy new book intertwining the stories of three young people who find themselves haunted beyond imagining in the depths of Lincoln Hospital.

(summary via Goodreads)

Is there anything scarier than a mental institution?  I’m pretty sure there’s not.  I don’t know why they’ve always fascinated and terrified me, but they have.  Probably this is leftover scarring from when I watched MTV’s Fear and they had to stay overnight in that abandoned mental institution.  HORRIFYING.  At any rate, this one looks like it might be a lot of scary, good fun.

What are you waiting on this week?

Waiting on Wednesday: Minders by Michele Jaffe

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.  Its purpose is to spotlight eagerly-anticipated upcoming releases.

This week I’m eagerly awaiting:

Minders by Michele Jaffe

Expected Release Date: January 28, 2013

Q: If the boy you love commits a crime, would you turn him in?

Sadie Ames is a type-A teenager from the wealthy suburbs. She’s been accepted to the prestigious Mind Corps Fellowship program, where she’ll spend six weeks as an observer inside the head of Ford, a troubled boy with a passion for the crumbling architecture of the inner city. There’s just one problem: Sadie’s fallen in love with him.

Q: What if the crime is murder?

Ford Winters is haunted by the murder of his older brother, James. As Sadie falls deeper into his world, dazzled by the shimmering pinpricks of color that form images in his mind, she begins to think she knows him. Then Ford does something unthinkable.

Q: What if you saw it happen from inside his mind?

Back in her own body, Sadie is faced with the ultimate dilemma. With Ford’s life in her hands, she must decide what is right and what is wrong. And how well she can really ever know someone, even someone she loves.

(summary via Goodreads)

I mean, it’s an interesting concept, right?  A little ridiculous, but sort of cinematic and interesting, for sure.  If it’s done well, it should be an intriguing read.  It seems like it could be pretty fast-paced, which is appealing to me right now.  At any rate, I’ll definitely be checking this one out when it comes out next January.

 

What are you waiting on this week?

Waiting on Wednesday: Ashes to Ashes by Melissa C. Walker

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.  Its purpose is to spotlight eagerly-anticipated upcoming releases.

This week I’m eagerly awaiting:

Ashes to Ashes by Melissa C. Walker

Expected Release Date: December 23, 2013

If I Stay meets the movie Ghost in this first book in a teen duology about a teenage-girl-turned-ghost who must cling to the echoes of her former life to save the people she left behind.

Ashes to Ashes is author Melissa Walker’s sweeping, romantic, and emotionally rich story about the things that torment and tempt us, even from the Great Beyond. This book is perfect for fans of Die for Me andImaginary Girls, and its breathtaking ending will leave readers anxiously awaiting the series conclusion, Dust to Dust.

When Callie’s life is cut short by a tragic accident, she expects to find nothingness, or maybe some version of heaven.

Instead, her spirit travels to the Prism, an ethereal plane populated by the ghosts she thought were fictional. Here she meets a striking and mysterious ghost named Thatcher, who is meant to guide her as she learns to haunt and bring peace to the loved ones she left behind.

However, Callie uncovers a dark secret about the spirit world: The angry souls who always populate ghost stories are real, dangerous, and willing to do whatever it takes to stay on Earth, threatening the existence of everyone she ever cared about.

As she fights to save them, Callie will learn that while it may no longer beat, her heart can still love-and break.

(summary via Goodreads)

Setting aside the kind of obnoxious comparison to two different pop culture-y things, I like Melissa Walker enough to give her new paranormal novel a chance.  I haven’t read much paranormal this year (and with the Cybils coming up, I probably won’t get to much more until the end of December), but when it’s done well, I like it well enough.

I like the idea of encountering ghosts in the afterlife, and I’m not averse to some scarier stuff, if Walker can pull it off.  It’d be a good read on a cold weekend when all you want to do is stay inside by a fire.

What are you waiting on this week?