An English manor home with secrets. A family history mired in murder and mayhem. And a steamy romance just waiting to erupt...
Before I get into anything at all about this book, I'd like to state for the record that I'm still a Kristen Ashley mega fan. Not a single month goes by without me reading a new KA book or rereading an old favorite for comfort. So if this is the first review of mine/others that you're seeing for a book from this author, I encourage you to check out my other reviews. Just because this one didn't become a new 5-star favorite read of mine doesn't reflect on my very high ratings of her other books. Check those out, and try this one for yourself!
Daphne Ryan, American billionaire heiress to her retail tycoon father, is on her way to a remote English manor house with her stepmom, Lou. They're both not looking forward to their destination. But family duty calls....
Portia is Daphne's spoiled younger sister. The one who's a pain in the ass, pouts and acts out to get what she wants, and is constantly at odds with her sister because according to their late father's iron-clad will, it is Daphne and Lou who hold the strings to Portia's inheritance.
Portia's asked Daphne and Lou to come to Duncroft, the English estate of her new boyfriend and his family, to impress the parents and show off how well she's doing in life to get Daphne to loosen the noose on her money. They've been invited for an entire week. No distractions—just Portia, her family, and David's entire family. At Duncroft.
Mhmm, awkward yet?
Add into the mix: Ian Alcott. David's older, sexier brother. Ian hates his role in the aristocracy, he's had enough of David and Portia's bullshit, and he's been invited to stir up further trouble. And he's got his eyes on new prey... Daphne.
But Duncroft isn't just a silent setting for this complex family drama played out over one idyllic week. This manor house has secrets, and it goes bump in the night. And it has some unsolved mysteries that it wants solved.
Daphne and Ian are about to get a whole lot more than they bargained for in this week. And it's going to get steamy...
Too Good to Be True was an entertaining read. Kind of like spending a fun week with characters playing house in those stately estates featured in our favorite British TV shows and movies, I enjoyed the vibes of this story a lot. Who murdered the mistress off of the balcony? Was it the lord of the manor in the Turquoise Room? The younger brother in the Brandy Room? Etc. Etc. As a Clue, Pride and Prejudice, and Agatha Christie fan, I had a very fun time with these fun little details and the engaging mini-mysteries.
In terms of the actual plot and romance—sigh, okay, you've got me. I had a slightly harder time here.
I think it was the fact that this full-length novel was originally written as a Kindle Vella. The mini-episodic story structure—Vellas are produced in short segments, like old newspaper story installments, over time—was definitely still at play here in this longer novel. As a marathon/endurance reader who reads books in as few sessions as possible, this was a hard sell for me as I was very aware of that structure going in and it felt like it repeated its own structure ad nauseum in the middle of the narrative.
However, that being said, I think this a fun read for those who just want to rest their brain a while with these fun characters in a very classic setting. There's a dash of mystery, a dash of historical, a dash of family drama, and a dash of steamy romance. It is a very fun sampler platter of a lot of good tropes!
Thank you to the author for my copy in exchange for an honest review.
This hit all of my buttons—smashed them, really. When Harry Met Sally with some twists, and set in the present day?? Give it to me.
Plot Setup: When Harry Met Sally, literally, just more modern
Emotional damage: ★★★★★
Let me preface this review with an obvious caveat: I'm a huge fan of the 1990s hit movie, When Harry Met Sally. I love it. I've seen it way too many times. So when I received this early reader copy of You, Again and it said the magic words, I was all over it.
And it delivered all the vibes I wanted, plus a whole bunch of other ones that I didn't know I needed.
You, Again is a love letter to the messy ties that bind us to other people, the intricate ways we self-sabotage our needs, the fierce desire that we all have in our hearts for connection and purpose. It felt like a manifesto for the late 20-somethings and an intense mirror held up to our fault lines, our fears, and the worst authentic versions of ourselves.
It's a romance, sure, but it's more so a novel about human connection and enduring bonds. And I loved every minute of it.
When Ari and Josh first meet, the wrong kind of sparks fly. They hate each other. Instantly.
Ari's a hot mess. An aspiring comedian working the roulette wheel of temp jobs, sleeping in spare closets called rooms, and guarding her emotional core with spikes made of steel, Ari's the kind of modern-day female protagonist that we don't often see in novels.... but she's real. Uncomfortably real. (I felt called out, let's be honest.)
Josh is extremely put together on the outside. He's a talented chef, he's got inherited money and is employed well. He's talented, he's austere, he's witty and sharp. He's also a tangled mess of repression and self-loathing and anxiety spiraling and—okay, yeah, he's a mess too.
And fate keeps colliding these two messes together over time. Ari and Josh meeting in an apartment. Ari and Josh running into each other at a drunken New Year's Eve party. Ari and Josh running into each other on the literal streets of New York City.
When they both meet at their rock bottom worsts, the two give in to fate. They become friends.
And then, eventually, they messily collide into versions of themselves that realize that maybe it's time they became more than that.
Y'all.... You, Again gave me emotional damage. In the best way. Heartfelt, devastating, disturbingly real, and grounded in the "now" to the point where I felt like the author was just filming this poor couple in New York in secret—this novel was everything I was hoping to find. I loved it.
Will you love it? I don't know. It's not a stereotypical romance. It also relies too heavily on the When Harry Met Sally structure for the first 25% of the novel, so you've got to acknowledge that and keep going.
But if none of the above turns you off, you've got to try it. Eagerly looking forward to more from this author, who in my head is a messier, not-STEM-focused version of Ali Hazelwood.
Hot billionaire with issues + classy career woman + drama = a good time. Need a say more???
Elsa Cohen is a celebrity journalist in New York City with an up-and-coming news segment and a social media follower base on the rise. She covers the real stories, she steers clear of the drama, and she's determined to succeed to the top.
There's just one small snag in her setup: Hale Wheeler.
Billionaire Hale and his famous family are often on Elsa's radar—it's hard to avoid them as their beautiful family is mired in drama and involved in everything.
But Hale's been burned by Elsa's news before, and he refuses to allow for a repeat. So Hale and Elsa made a deal: Elsa wouldn't report on Hale's family, and Hale would break his reclusive media silence and give Elsa a one-of-a-kind interview.
But like every conflict, there's more than one side to the story...
And when sparks fly between Elsa and Hale during their interview, Hale's promise of eternal bachelorhood and Elsa's need to protect her heart are going to be tested.
AHHHHH this was a lot of fun, y'all. Fighting the Pull had all of those city-vibes, billionaire lover, and family drama ingredients that you could ask for in a contemporary romance. And it delivered in the heat and feels too, like every good Kristen Ashley book.
Now, in full and complete transparency, this was my first dip into the River Rain series. (I know!! This is book five!!) But I couldn't resist reading it when I was given an early copy as a member of the author's ARC team.
So, to my potential fellow new readers, I'll say that this book was a satisfying entry novel to the series. Hale and Elsa's backstories were fully fleshed out in this novel and I didn't feel like the late person to the party like other romances. This vibe did get... harder... as the book reached the 75% mark as the references to past books' relationships/dramas came to the forefront as the drama started to involve Hale's past and the side characters more. But even then, for me as a reader I felt that this book was its own complete story, and the references just made me curious to go back and read the other pairings. This might not be the case for all readers, but I'm game for pretty much anything so it didn't bother me a bit.
Elsa was my queen in this book. I loved her, I loved cheering for her in her dramas, and I loved her complex dynamics with Hale. She was my favorite part of this book.
Hale... was interesting. Would I date him myself? Absolutely not. Not a chance, even if he asked (which he wouldn't). His daddy issues mixed with an ego the size of a small country was kind of a lot to take in for this reader. I know this comes with the territory for billionaire romances in general, so let me just say that I'm also not a frequent reader of this trope... I came here for KA, and found myself warming up to the billionaire thing as the story unfolded.
However, the two of them were perfect for each other and it obviously sorted itself out—to the point where by the end, I did come around to liking Hale!
Another banger from KA! Don't miss this one if you're a fan of these tropes.
The first book from this author from a male point of view?? And a heavy mystery plot?? Kristen Ashley is really branching out, and I'm here for it.
Enjoyment: ★★★ 1/2
Writing style: It's a KA book, so keep this in mind as her writing style is Very Dramatic and she loves a good one-sentence paragraph (like, REALLY loves it)
The Girl in the Woods is the sequel to The Girl in the Mist. Yes, you could start with this one first as it's a new story arc—but it's a richer reading experience if you read them in order.
Rus is an FBI detective on the hunt for the Crystal Killer. He's tired, he's jaded, and he's pretty sure he's done with FBI work in general. And he's definitely done with murderers.
But when the Crystal Killer strikes in Misted Pines, a small town in the Pacific Northwest that's already seen their fair share of shit, Rus has no choice but to make the trek.
And it's another murdered girl. (Rus is bone-weary of finding cold girls in the dark.)
Unfortunately for Rus, there's a twist to this murder: while it's done in the style of his Crystal Killer, it's not...quite... right. So now Rus has a copycat killer on his hands AND the worrisome wrath of the real murderer to come once he finds out someone's got his calling card.
Suffice to say, things are not going well for Rus.
But things look up when he meets the local burlesque club owner, Lucinda (Cin) Bonner. She's everything Rus could want in a woman, and she's a level of competent that he can't help but want to have at his side.
Misted Pines might have more for Rus than just his ticket out of dodge. It might be what he was looking for all along...
Y'all, this series continues to be unlike any of this author's prior works. It's obviously a KA book—swoony men, drama-drama, and her characteristic writing style that drives me nuts but keeps me coming back--but there were several things in this one that really shook up her canon. And I loved it.
1.) The ENTIRE story was from the male perspective?? Rus is running the show, we don't get Lucinda's POV. This was fresh for KA and honestly fresh for most indie romances I've read. Rus was a very interesting and clearly male gaze for us to have. I liked it, I wouldn't mind seeing more of this.
2.) Of all the Kristen Ashley romances I've read, this pairing was the most mature and lowkey of all of them. Lucinda was an adult who made sound choices, Rus was an adult who made very reasonable choices, and their romance itself was solid. No spoilers, but let's just say there is usually more drama in the romance itself for KA stories. (I love that drama, but this was interesting and I liked it more than I thought I would.)
3.) It completely blurred the line between a mystery/thriller and a romance story. Was it romantic? Yes, as much as I could find a sole-male POV window romantic from my cis-het female perspective. Was it also a gory, descriptive, and pulse-pounding thriller? Also yes. In fact, if I had to pick one shelf for this series to sit, I'd actually place The Girl in the Woods on my thriller shelf, because that's the more natural spot for it to sit. The romance took a backseat to the plot in this one. Which ALSO surprised me, by fact that I loved that too more than I assumed I would.
Overall, another winner in the KA index for me. (I am a very biased audience.) Pick this up if you like male POVs, thrillers, and well-rounded romance leads.
Thank you to the author for my copy in exchange for an honest review.
Yarros had the AUDACITY to put all of my favorite things in one book?? *fans self* Dragons, fights to the death, enemies to lovers, and a perfectly accessible writing style have made this an addictive series to watch.
This book really said, "Let's combine everything that worked in a bunch of fantasy books before and mash them into something awesome." And it worked.
Fourth Wing has been all over the book community this spring. If you've somehow not heard of it yet, you will, and if you haven't broken under the hype train and tried this story out, then you are an insanely strong personality and I fear you.
I had no desire to avoid this hype train—I've been eagerly awaiting it since this book popped up on my Amazon "you might be interested in..." window in late 2022.
Dragon riders. A college segmented into quadrants. A quashed rebellion with lingering consequences. A longstanding war. Magic powers. A girl caught in the middle, tugged on by Fate.
I know, I know. We've heard those things before, right? That's like Eragon + Divergent + Deadly Education + Red Queen + [insert blockbuster series here].
But Y'ALL. When I tell you that I couldn't put this book DOWN, I mean that I literally took it into the bathroom with me so that I could keep reading it. (Outing myself here, but you need to hear me right when I talk about this level of obsession.)
I ignored texts for this book. I ignored meal times. Like I've already said, I took this book with me for calls of nature. Fourth Wing couldn't be stopped, and I was obsessed beyond reason.
Addictive is the only word I can use to describe this reading experience and the subsequent fandom hype that happens after you finish. Unlike some popular reads out there—where let's be honest, once you gain some distance you realize flaws and your passion fades—I don't see this happening with Fourth Wing. I'm days out from my first read and I'm still wishing I could dive back into this world.
This is so clearly a reaction review that I don't think I want to talk about anything specific in this story. The blurb pretty much covers it.
My only caveat for Fourth Wing is related to its fanfiction-like status as a remix of the greatest trope hits: Listen, I know this book isn't a unique snowflake. But I literally don't care.
There's something to be said for the talent required in taking an established set of ingredients and still baking something tasty that feels like a handmade treat tailored to you, you know?
Ride the wave, y'all. It's so much fun.
Thanks to the author for my copy in exchange for an honest review.
This rating is a preliminary one. I think it deserves more from me, but I’m not there yet—I need to boil it down and reread the series later with more context.
Two things are immediately true: 1) this book is not a one-time reading comprehension experience and 2) I continue to be in awe of Jones’ electric-tripwire, running-from-Death (or running to?) writing style that is unlike anything I’ve experienced as a reader.
Horror elements: ★★★★★
Writing style: ★★★★★
Wait, so you thought Jade Daniels was done?? Welcome back to Proofrock.
It's 2019. Jade is back to "Jennifer" and she's just stepped back onto Proofrock soil following the trauma, trials, and incarcerations as a result of the events of My Heart is a Chainsaw. She's ready for whatever could qualify as a "fresh" start for someone who's seen the shit that she's seen. Her days of final girls, horror movies, and niche survivalist trivia are behind her. (Didn't you pick up on that from the "Jennifer" nonsense?)
But let's remember, this is Proofrock. It's like the town was waiting for its bloody princess to step back into the ring, because one Jade's back, things get dicey again.
On one cold, blizzarding night in February, Proofrock welcomes a convicted serial killer into its midst. Indigenous murderer Dark Mill South escaped his heavily armed convoy a few miles outside of Proofrock under the helpful blanket of an avalanche and found his way into town. There's a lot of teenagers who somehow managed to escape the previous massacre. Dark Mill South might not know the town's bloody history, but he's unwittingly about to decimate the surviving playing field anyway.
The players from My Heart is a Chainsaw are older and grudgingly wiser, and, in Letha's case in particular—armed with all of the slasher knowledge that she missed the first time around. Letha Mondragon, the previous final girl, isn't about to be caught unawares again. She's vigilant, she's alive despite the medical odds, and she's ready with every horror play in the book.
On a dark, dark night...
Dark Mill South’s Reunion Tour began on December 12th, 2019, a Thursday. Thirty-six hours and twenty bodies later, on Friday the 13th, it would be over.
Soooooo let's talk about it. Don't Fear the Reaper is, arguably, my most interesting anticipated release for this year. I took My Heart is a Chainsaw as a singular standalone, a titan in the horror genre that stood alone and needed no further explanations, riffs, or sequels. But then this sequel appeared out of the madness of Jones' mind and I knew I needed it.
Reaper was simultaneously exactly what I expected and yet also, wonderfully, different.
Did I fully understand it? Debatable. Do I need to watch the entire canon of classic horror slasher movies in order to fully understand this latest installment? ...Honestly, probably.
Don't Fear the Reaper is a honed blade for the slasher community. As a general horror fan with a particular interest in body horror and speculative horror, I was WAY out of my depth with this story.
It was an almost alienating experience to witness this novel play out via referential dialogue, meta takes on the subniche, and high-level interplay between established slasher canon (and fanon?) all stitched within a narrative that, itself, was a reflected commentary on the events of My Heart is a Chainsaw. It was brutally intelligent. I just didn't have the right playbook.
There were layers on layers here, folks. Forget Shrek's onion—I'm so sorry, horror fans, let me horrify you with that Shrek reference—this was the Meta Onion. I caught just enough of the referencing to make it through my reading experience, but I know I missed most of it.
The dialogue, scene setups, tropes, character developments, and more were all linked to other elements of the genre. And if you didn't get the reference, you lost the momentum. I do think that affected my personal reading enjoyment. But unlike other novels where that lack of understanding repelled me and made me DNF, this version made me curious, and—for the first time in my life, yes, even Chainsaw didn't inspire me—made me want to dive into the world of slasher films.
There's a lot to take away from Reaper. Similar to the interspersed essays within the narrative itself, I'd need a thesis to get into it. I didn't even have time to mention the subplots and subhorrors hiding behind the surface plot (let's just say, it is similar to Chainsaw in more ways than one.)
But suffice to say, this sequel was spectacular, and worth several rereads and discussions. I look forward to Jones pulling it all together into one brilliant dissertation in the final book.
Thank you to Gallery Books for my copy in exchange for an honest review.
Classic K.J. Parker flair and wit! Not my favorite in his canon, but still a fun ride.
I think it's no surprise that I'm a huge fan of K.J. Parker. Both Inside Man and Sixteen Ways to Defend a Walled City are some of my favorite books of all time--I can't seem to get enough of his wit and no-holds-barred sense of "you better keep up, because I'm not slowing down" energy.
Pulling the Wings Off Angels had that classic wit and barreling-freight-train energy.
What would you do if you found yourself caught in a theological paradox? Think chicken and the egg, but instead of farm animals we graduated right to the big guns: the existence and willpower of God.
A clerical student grew up with the truth and lies surrounding his family name. If you believe the myth, he says, then you believe his grandfather trapped an Angel and thwarted the will of God.
Despite being a supposed clerical student, our main character has always assumed that this was the myth, not the fact. Angels and God aren't actually real, right?
Wrong. Said clerical student finds out the hard way that the unbelievable is possible, and the barometer of believability is much more suggestible and fragile than he imagined.
Enter into the vortex with K.J. Parker and find yourself questioning everything and nothing at the same time... No matter what, you're always in for an experience.
Like all of Parker's works, I find his unique writing voice and sharp wit truly one-of-a-kind. There really isn't another narrative voice out there that matches him. It's a dash of Pratchett, a splash of something sharper than Gaiman, and a heavy dose of... Parker.
Pulling the Wings Off Angels was a truly fun ride. I will admit, I think it's one of my least favorites, but that's not saying much as I still enjoyed it. My personal lower rating is more to do with the subject matter and how heavy-handed the religious theme was in this novella more than anything else. (I can only handle so much theology and philosophical whirlpools.)
K.J. Parker fans are already onto this novella, so my pitch here is for the newbies. If you like irreverent takes on religious, smart humor, and quick stories: pick this one up.
Thank you to Tordotcom publishing for my copy in exchange for an honest review.
A miniature mansion, a woman who lovingly crafts its tiny rooms and shares them on the internet for others to see, and a man on the other side of the country who is inexplicably finding photos of a dollhouse on the internet that portrays... his actual home?
Myra Malone lives in her home surrounded by the frozen time warp that is her life. At the age of five, she was in a devastating car accident—it killed her step-grandmother and left Myra traumatized and near death. Her recovery journey went from coping with some altered facial differences as a child to isolating herself inside as a homeschool student to being an adult wholly unable to leave her home.
In this very, very isolated and hermit-like existence, Myra has her Mansion.
Well, it's not a mansion. It's actually a very well-crafted large dollhouse, complete with dozens of furnished rooms, beautiful miniaturized fixtures, and a little extra something that Myra herself never questions. (If the rooms she creates react and adapt on their own, who's to say? Myra knows there's something a bit like magic happening under her nose, but she doesn't mind.)
Across the country, Alex works in his father's furniture store. His family is Virginian old money, and they have an old estate in the woods that his father hates and Alex loves. It's a true mansion in the Virginian woods, and it calls to Alex like some kind of magic. Furniture moves around when he's not looking, and every once in a while he can here music and voices.
Alex and Myra don't know it, but their worlds are about to collide.
Myra made an online blog about her miniature Mansion, and it developed a massive cult following despite her lack of interest—it was all her friend Gwen's idea, after all. But that cult following kept growing, and one day it reached the ears of Alex in Virginia.
Alex is stunned to discover that Myra's "Mansion" is... his house. And the bedroom she just took a photo of is... his bedroom. Done in miniature, of course, but it's his room. And that's his library, and that's his... and on.
Myra and Alex are about to uncover a lot of history and the magical ties that bind them together...
The Miniscule Mansion of Myra Malone was such an enchanting and original read. I was drawn to this story by its very unique title, but the ultimate thing that made me ask for an early reading copy was this concept of a magic dollhouse tied to a real mansion. What a fun twist on the magical house trope!
And, for those who come to this story for that reason, I think you're in for a similarly delightful read. Quaint, soft, yet overwhelmingly filled with heart and healing, this is a story that I think will find broad appeal in the soft fantasy, romance, light historical, and contemporary literature market. There's a dash of this, a dash of that...
At times too drawn out and at others too condensed, I did feel like this story included too much and yet also too little. This was a deceptively large concept hiding behind a small pitch line, and once you pulled on the first thread it all just collapsed into your metaphorical reader lap.
Something about this story that I did not expect were the multiple timelines throughout it. This is a multi-generational epic that spans over 100 years, with chapters of various points in time. Myra and Alex each have their own POV thread with chapters throughout the book, but interspersed continuously through that main story arc is a very dense historical narrative with some other characters. I wasn't expecting that in this story, and frankly I think it led me as reader to feeling too spread out between such a long time period and too many characters. My personal preference would have been to keep this story contemporary, with Myra and Alex, and let the past be the past. But take that with a grain of salt—I am not a historical fiction reader!
However, quibbles aside, I think this story will find its niche audience and bring out some joy and emotional healing to its readers.
Thank you to the publisher for my copy in exchange for an honest review.
A ship traveling from America to England. A deadly game of find-that-magical-item. A fantastic sapphic romance. Oh and also? More of a truly engaging magical world. I love this series!
Maud Blyth is on a mission. She's helping her brother, Robin, with his quest to save the magical community of Great Britain from some truly deadly stakes that we discovered in A Marvellous Light, the first book in the series. She's on her way back to Britain via steamship.
It's not Maud's fault that her charge, an elderly woman holding a secret magical artifact, dies on the first day of their voyage. And it's not Maud's fault that said elderly lady never actually told her what item in her possession was the all-important magical artifact.
Oof. Things aren't going to be so easy, after all.
Good thing Maud Blyth is the best person to have in your corner when you're trapped and in need of assistance.
Enter Violet Debenham from stage right, the beautiful and enigmatic heiress-to-be with a reputation she keeps in purposeful tatters and way too much personality and charm for any one room. She's a gravitational pull, and Maud finds herself helpless to resist—and discovering that even she could, she may not want to escape Violet's embrace.
And from stage left, the broody and constantly irritated Lord Hawthorne enters the scene as well with his anger, lack of magical ability, and tortured past. He's a reluctant player in Maud's play of Christie-like whodunit, but he's present and more helpful than nothing so Maud takes him into her stride too.
With magicians, murder, and mayhem... We're in for a bumpy voyage. All aboard!!
I am so pleased to report that A Restless Truth proved to be just as delightful as its first book, A Marvellous Light.
I was initially bummed to find out that this book abandoned the characters from the first book (Robin and Edwin), but quickly found myself getting over it in the absolutely perfect character in Maud. Maud was everything. I loved her. (Don't get me wrong, I found Violet to be a ton of fun too in different ways, but MAUD!)
There's just something about this quaint historical fantasy series that pushes all of my buttons. It's intriguing, yet not pulse-pounding. It's quaint and quiet, yet grips me. It has a dense and interesting magic structure and yet at no point do I feel lost or overburdened by complexity. It's "just right," and continues to be.
My only quibble with this installment was its limited setting... I am not a fan of boat-centered content. Or any other limited-setting story that traps our characters into a very small geographic range. Outside of certain mystery books with extreme action, this type of limited setting leads to me as the reader feeling trapped and pent-up in the mental reading space. It's hard for the plot to feel like it's moving along when our characters can only go from A to B... and back... and repeat. I wish this story had taken place somewhere else and given Maud, Violet, and the crew more room to breathe and explore. But, that in mind, I still greatly enjoyed this read.
Eagerly awaiting book three!!
Many thanks to Tordotcom for my copy in exchange for an honest review.
I have never read a novel like this before. I have…feelings about it. Can you be repulsed and engrossed at the same time??
Body horror: ★★★★★
My enjoyment: ★
I love body horror books. Or at least, I used to say that. I think Leech broke my brain and has redefined the threshold on which we determine "body horror" in the realm of medical trauma, consent, and what it means to be a person in, essentially, meat suits.
If the phrase "meat suits" makes you uncomfortable, please take that as your cue to stop reading this review here—and to avoid this book.
Leech is very hard to describe. I commend whoever was tasked with writing the blurb for the inside jacket... it couldn't have been easy. How does one describe a novel like this?
Every monster is the hero of its own story... that could be said about this book.
When our society collapses in on itself and future versions of humanity exist in a very bleak, grim, and macabre future... that could be said about this book.
Let's combine the idea of parasites with a gothic, moldering castle and make it mentally insane... that could be said too.
Leech has a LOT going on in its pages. It's dense by every meaning of the word-- paragraph-wise, character-wise, worldbuilding-wise, and horror-wise. It is a LOT. And it makes no apologies for being that way. (It doesn't have to apologize, but it could have done with a stronger warning label! Lol.)
To say "I enjoyed this reading experience" would be a lie. I did not have a good time.
I loved the first bit of the book a lot—it's confusing, but intriguing and interesting at the same time. I thought the middle was a very dense attempt at trying to figure out the setting, worldbuilding, and sense of pacing. It took me ages to get through the middle sections because it was terribly easy to put the book down and simultaneously very hard to reengage with it when I tried to pick it back up. The ending... was both absolutely horrifying to my personal reading tastes and also a wild trip into the ether in terms of character arc upheaval.
If you've made it this far into my review, you might be wondering why I'm giving this novel a generous 4 stars despite being viscerally upset by its contents. I, too, am a bit confused by myself. But at the end of the day, I think the author deserves some very high praise for instilling such a unique concept into such a horrifying package that dealt with literally every single variant of medical body trauma that could possibly exist in our human minds. All of it. It's all here in this book.
If, for some reason, you're not yet turned off from this book by my review, then I do recommend it. Hiron Ennes is an author to watch—they are doing very unique things in the horror space.
Thank you to TOR for my copy in exchange for an honest review.
Amy Imogene Reads
Just someone looking for her own door into Wonderland.