Octavia E. Butler – Wild Seed

This year’s Women of Genre Fiction Challenge has led me down many new paths. At first, I was only looking for female SFF writers that I hadn’t read before. One name kept coming up: Octavia Butler. Later, especially with events like A More Diverse Universe happening, I looked into SFF writers of color. Again, Octavia Butler was mentioned probably more than anyone else. So, once again, I have the internet hivemind to thank for discovering an amazing writer.

wild seedWILD SEED
By Octavia E. Butler

Published by: Open Road, 2012 (1980)
Ebook: 320 pages
Series: Patternist #1
My rating: 8,5/10

First sentence: Doro discovered the woman by accident when he went to see what was left of his seed villages.

When two immortals meet in the long-ago past, the destiny of mankind is changed forever
For a thousand years, Doro has cultivated a small African village, carefully breeding its people in search of seemingly unattainable perfection. He survives through the centuries by stealing the bodies of others, a technique he has so thoroughly mastered that nothing on Earth can kill him. But when a gang of New World slavers destroys his village, ruining his grand experiment, Doro is forced to go west and begin anew.
He meets Anyanwu, a centuries-old woman whose means of immortality are as kind as his are cruel. She is a shapeshifter, capable of healing with a kiss, and she recognizes Doro as a tyrant. Though many humans have tried to kill them, these two demi-gods have never before met a rival. Now they begin a struggle that will last centuries and permanently alter the nature of humanity.

When I picked up this book, all I knew was that it was going to be the first Octavia E. Butler book I would read and that I liked the cover (my entire basis for choosing this one over her other novels). I didn’t know I would come out at the other end full of emotions and wanting more.

It’s hard to sum up what I thought about this book, but I believe it is, at its core, the story about a war between two people – and a love story. And how close the two can be related. Anyanwu and Doro’s conflicts are amazing in how they change over time. Doro starts out as a tyrant, using people like cattle, to breed and dispose of at his pleasure. Anyanwu is the human counterpart to his cold planning. She cares about people, she wants her children safe, and wishes to be master of her own life. Through all of this, there is one thing I kept reminding myself of: That these are the only two people (that they know of) who are immortal and thus the only constants in each others lives. Children grow old and die, yet Anyanwu and Doro remain. Their power struggles were vivid and engaging to read, and sometimes made me want to rip my hair out.

Doro’s first act as Anyanwu’s “owner” (that’s what he thinks at least) is taking her across the ocean to the New World. The culture shock of being brought to America is nothing compared to what Anyanwu gets herself into with Doro once they’ve arrived at his village. Inbreeding at Doro’s command, losing children and grand-children to the whims of the very man who made her have them, sometimes even fathered them, and coming to terms with a new culture, new clothes and foods, a new language and people treating her like dirt because of her skin color. The way Anyanwu takes on these challenges – in addition to the pain of her outliving any of her children, even if they are not killed by Doro – makes her one of the toughest, most interesting characters I’ve come across in SF.

On another level, the clash between Anyanwu and Doro’s respective immortality, was brilliantly done. Anyanwu is a healer and can simply take care of the most minute part of her body that seems to be ailing or getting older. She controls every cell, can change her appearance, even shapeshift to take animals’ forms. Doro’s way of staying alive – and this is revealed in the very first chapter – is much more cruel, yet I cannot hate him for it either. He needs a human body to inhabit, and whenever that one is spent, he must find another one. The fact that he takes pleasure from this necessary killing makes it easy to hate him in the beginning. But over time, his side of the story grants him depth and some humanity.

Whether it is Anyanwu’s method or Doro’s, their ways of staying alive offer fantastic opportunities to explore race and gender. Anyanwu does have one true form, the way she actually looked after her transition (when her powers came under her total control), but she frequently changes herself into men, even marries a woman at one point. She could be black, she could be white, male or female, but she would always remain herself on the inside. Doro takes a much more practical approach and mostly chooses white male bodies because it makes life a whole lot easier for him. But obviously gender, for these two creatures, is a ridiculous and malleable thing – they even have sex once with Anyanwu in a male body and Doro in a female one.

seed to harvest1

Once I got over my shock and wonder at Doro’s cruel breeding of humans with complete disregard of their feelings, his character became more and more interesting. As I understand it, the Patternist series (also known as Seed to Harvest or Patternmaster Series) was not published in the order I’m reading it. Wild Seed is the first book chronologically speaking, but was the fourth in the series to be published. But even had I read the three previous novels, I couldn’t get over the fact that in this story nobody ever asks Doro why he tries to breed people with special abilities. Or what his ultimate goal is. He says he wants to create children that will live, like him and Anyanwu, forever, so they won’t have to watch them die, but I somehow don’t believe that’s the whole truth.

On the other hand, the book was so gripping that I really didn’t care much about the Why. With characters this absorbing and small lives ripped apart so heartbreakingly, who needs to see the bigger picture? That doesn’t mean I don’t want to find out more. What I mean is that this book, the way it is, without having everything resolved and every question answered, is stunning. I wouldn’t change a bit. For hungry minds, there are three more volumes in the series.
I’ll see you again after I’m done with Mind of my Mind.

RATING: 8,5/10  –  Excellent!


The Patternist Series:seed to harvest

  1. Wild Seed
  2. Mind of my Mind
  3. Clay’s Ark
  4. Patternmaster

Terry Pratchett – Nation

So… the blog is a bit Pratchett-heavy lately. The simple explanation is that I have finally discovered the man’s genius and my mood demands his particular mix of hilarious humor, social satire, and seriously clever, thought-provoking themes. There you have it! At this point, I’d read Pratchett’s shopping list, but because it is summer and I have a lot of his novels here (and unread), I went for the one with the prettiest and summeriest cover.

by Terry Pratchett

Published by: Doubleday, 2008
ISBN: 9780385613712
Hardcover: 410 pages

My rating: 9/10

First sentence: Imo set out one day to catch some fish, but there was no sea.

Finding himself alone on a desert island when everything and everyone he knows and loved has been washed away in a huge storm, Mau is the last surviving member of his nation. He’s also completely alone – or so he thinks until he finds the ghost girl. She has no toes, wears strange lacy trousers like the grandfather bird and gives him a stick which can make fire.
Daphne, sole survivor of the wreck of the Sweet Judy, almost immediately regrets trying to shoot the native boy. Thank goodness the powder was wet and the gun only produced a spark. She’s certain her father, distant cousin of the Royal family, will come and rescue her but it seems, for now, all she has for company is the boy and the foul-mouthed ship’s parrot.
As it happens, they are not alone for long. Other survivors start to arrive to take refuge on the island they all call the Nation and then raiders accompanied by murderous mutineers from the Sweet Judy. Together, Mau and Daphne discover some remarkable things – including how to milk a pig and why spitting in beer is a good thing – and start to forge a new Nation.
As can be expected from Terry Pratchett, the master story-teller, this new children’s novel is both witty and wise, encompassing themes of death and nationhood, while being extremely funny. Mau’s ancestors have something to teach us all. Mau just wishes they would shut up about it and let him get on with saving everyone’s lives!


When Terry Pratchett says in interviews that he gets better with every book, he is not lying. He seems to pour his heart and soul into his fiction, and while the writing has always been good, it became nothing short of remarkable in these last few books I’ve read. Whatever else you may think of Sir Terry and his sense of humor, nobody can dispute that he is a master storyteller who truly understands people and translates real humans onto the page.

This book starts with a tragedy. Mau is in the middle of his manhood ritual – getting safely back home from the Boy’s Island – when the wave strikes. It is the biggest wave he has ever seen and he only survives because he is in a canoe when it hits him. The Boy’s Island? Gone. Mau returns to his home to find his entire tribe – the Nation – gone. The last survivor of his people, he sends their dead bodies to the sea and grieves. But there is another human on the island. Daphne, whose true name is Ermintrude (but who’d want to be called that?), survived the wave aboard the Sweet Judy, a ship now stranded on the island, and mostly in pieces. Mau and this strange, white ghost girl have to try and build up a new Nation, and new lives for themselves.

The culture clash is expected but deftly handled. Neither Mau’s gods nor Daphne’s prim manners are portrayed in a way that makes them seem superior. They have each grown up in their own culture and now they have to find a way to understand each other and question what they’ve been taught all their lives. For Daphne, it may begin with not wearing 7 layers of clothing and actually showing her naked toes to strangers (gasp), for Mau – ever since the wave wiped out his family – it is the Big Question. Do the gods really exist? And if they do, how could they have let this happen?
As they both struggle to come to terms with their beliefs and their loss, more survivors appear on the island and a new, albeit small, Nation comes alive.

nation pratchett

There is so much beauty on these pages and I am not sure where to begin. Daphne and Mau are wonderful protagonists. Mau’s self-doubt – for he is not a boy but never went through the proper manhood ritual, so he believes himself to have no soul – and Daphne’s keen scientific mind are not really all that different. The themes in this book may be obvious, but the characters are still at the center of the story, and I continued reading as much for Mau and Daphne as I did for the valuable life lessons. Pratchett doesn’t hit you over the head with a hammer of science. In this alternate Pacific Ocean nation (and it is alternate), neither Daphne nor the author find Mau’s culture and belief to be ridiculous or primitive. Yes, Daphne likes proof for the supposed miracles she sees – such as poison turning into beer – but she takes Mau’s gods seriously. This is a wonderful story that shows that different isn’t inferior – and to wrap this message in a wonderful, emotional, and funny story is the best way to deliver it.

The characters are vivid and real, they have gone through something terrible and deal with the aftermath in their own way. Mau thinks about giving himself to the darkness, Daphne tries to act the brave, proper lady. But inside – and the reader knows this – they are hurting and wondering about the future. As they slowly build their lives on the island, ideas start popping up. I loved the protagonists most of all because they enjoy thinking and through that learn more about the world and about themselves.

Someone had to eat the first oyster, you know.
Someone looked at a half shell full of snot and was brave.

Little asides like this may at first strike you as comic relief, a little fun to lighten the serious tone. But the thing that struck me over and over was that, despite being funny, there is so much truth in it as well. That is how people evolve, that is how inventions are made – by somebody doing something seemingly stupid or crazy, being brave, and discovering something new about the world. And in working together, amazing things can be achieved – such as the construction of a new Nation, even if it is different from the one before.

Take one strip of the vine lengthwise and yes, it needs the strength of two men to pull it apart. But weave five strands of it into a rope and a hundred men can’t break it. The more they pull, the more it binds together and the stronger it becomes. That is the Nation

Any book, for me, is carried by its characters and their growth. Both Mau and Daphne go through immense changes, not only because of the wave but out of sheer necessity. Daphne’s courage in the face of tragedy goes to show just how much she has grown. When this young girl with a passion for science performs an amputation, even Mau is surprised.

“[…] Those captives were treated very badly.”
“And you’ve been sawing the bad bits off them?”
“It’s called surgery, thank you so very much! It’s not hard if I can find someone to hold the instruction manual open at the right page.”
“No! No, I don’t think it’s wrong!” said Mau quickly. “It’s just that… it’s you doing it. I thought you hated the sight of blood.”
“That’s why I try to stop it. […]”

I have a fondness for pratical people and maybe that is why Tiffany Aching speaks to me so much. One thing I’ll definitely take away from this is that Terry Pratchett is made of Magic. I hope he will continue to write for many, many years and share his wisdom about humanity with us, in the shape of fantastic stories, peopled by lovable, wonderful characters.

Nation has also been adapted for the stage and while I’ll probably never get to see it, the pictures look beautiful. Of course the actors look much older than I picture the characters but I love how small details have been taken into account. On the right, Daphne – still rather proper in her dress – is wearing the grass skirt the Unknown Woman made for her. And Mau is trying out trousers in order to understand what makes trousermen so excited about them (turns out he’s quite fond of the pockets, if nothing much else).

Terry Pratchett's Nation (stage play)

This is marketed as one of Pratchett’s books for young people and while it definitely can be read by children and young adults, I believe it is even more suited to an adult readership. I remember, as a child, I read books for the pure pleasure of story. I didn’t care about messages, or the exploration of themes, or even world-building. I watched characters I liked do things that were interesting, and on that level, Nation succeeds. But it is the message that form the heart of this novel, it is the encouragement to think for yourself, and to go through the world with open eyes and an open mind.

THE GOOD: Wonderful characters who live through a sad but beautiful story. Brilliant exploration of serious themes with just a pinch of Pratchett’s trademark humor.
THE BAD: Takes a while to get into, some story elements (the Navy plotline) could have been left out.
BONUS: The filthy-mouthed parrot.
THE VERDICT: Highly recommended to Pratchett lovers or newcomers, to scientists and religious people, to those who have suffered through loss and pain, and those who are simply interested in a good story.

RATING:  9/10  – Beautiful. Close to perfection.divider1

Second opinions:

Margo Lanagan – The Brides of Rollrock Island

After the incredible Tender Morsels I expected nothing less than brilliance from this novella (which was published under the title Sea Hearts in Australia and New Zealand). Maybe my expectations are at fault here, or maybe I feel a little cheated when I buy a novella that turns out to be a few short stories, strung together by a common setting. Either way, what I thought would be a highlight, left me with the lukewarm feeling of “meh”.

brides of rollock islandTHE BRIDES OF ROLLROCK ISLAND
by Margo Lanagan

Published by: David Fickling Books, 2012
ISBN: 9780857560339
Hardcover: 320 pages

My rating: 6,5/10

First sentence: “The old witch is there,” said Raditch, peering over the top to Six-Mile Beach.

The Blurb: Rollrock island is a lonely rock of gulls and waves, blunt fishermen and their homely wives. Life is hard for the families who must wring a poor living from the stormy seas. But Rollrock is also a place of magic – the scary, salty-real sort of magic that changes lives forever. Down on the windswept beach, where the seals lie in herds, the outcast sea witch Misskaella casts her spells – and brings forth girls from the sea – girls with long, pale limbs and faces of haunting innocence and loveliness – the most enchantingly lovely girls the fishermen of Rollrock have ever seen.
But magic always has its price. A fisherman may have and hold a sea bride, and tell himself that he is her master. But from his first look into those wide, questioning, liquid eyes, he will be just as transformed as she is. He will be equally ensnared. And in the end the witch will always have her payment.

divider1The thing about discovering a new author is that after that fantastic first book, expectations are high and disappointement is almost pre-programmed. I wasn’t worried about my second Lanagan because I loved her style and the synopsis – selkie wives, forced to marry human men and live on land, always yearning for the sea – sounded brilliant. Unfortunately, the novel never rises above the level of its synopsis and I had great trouble with the characters that were the main point of focus.

This novella is split into several parts, each from the perspective of a different person who is somehow connected to, or living on, Rollrock Island. While the prologue left me pretty bored, once Misskaella’s story started, I was hooked. This poor girl, growing up as the only ugly and chubby daughter in a family of conceited, vain girls, struggles enough as it is. As it turns out, she feels magically drawn to the seals on the beach which makes her even more of an outcast. She is the heart of this book because without her, bringing the sea wives out of the ocean wouldn’t have been that easy for the men of Rollrock.

And here was a wonder, that a man so well-conformed himself should be so eager to embrace what I had always been told was a poorly made body, laughable, even disgusting. But I delighted in him; he travelled my curves, weighed me in his hands, pressed me and gasped with me as I yielded. Open-faced he looked into me, his eyes empty of the scorn I was used to seeing, in women’s faces as well as men’s.

The following segments of the book, while well-written, made me lose interest again. I had hoped for a chapter from one of the selkie’s point of view which, alas, never happens. Instead, we focus on the boys and men of the island, first the generation that starts bringing their wives up from the sea instead of doing it the normal way, then the generation of their sons. There are so many great ideas hidden behind really boring plot. For example, none of the Rollrock families – now consisting exclusively of human men with selkie wives – have any daughters. Misskaella is still around and has taken on an apprentice, a relationship that I found most intriguing but that I never got to explore fully because we only know about it from a young boy’s point of view who tries to stay away from them.

sea hartsThe only time where there was any suspense was Daniel Mallett’s chapter, which also brings a sort of conclusion to the dark dealings on this island. However, that conclusion is painfully predictable! The whole book left me with a sense of “so… that’s it?” – where’s all the magic, where is the mythology? Other than knowing there are selkies living as married women on Rollrock Island and wanting to go back to the sea (because they’re selkies, that’s what they do), it was mostly men contemplating their lives, being afraid of Misskaella and wanting to keep their wives/mothers at any cost.

Of course the issues discussed here make up for any lack of action – men who prefer the quiet, cold, but beautiful and compliant sea wives to real women of flesh and blood, that’s just not right, is it? But what about these sea wives’s sons? Is it wrong for them to love their mothers and want to keep them from returning to the sea? The book itself doesn’t give the answers to these questions, it merely shows how different characters feel about the issue and lets the reader decide – a point I cannot praise enough in a YA novel.

The disjointed nature of this book, which may as well be called a collection of short stories set in the same place, made it hard for me to truly connect with any of the characters, most of all the sea wives. I am not saying the book is bad, and numerous awards (and more nominations) will confirm that, I was displeased with it because of personal taste. The jumping perspectives did do a great job of showing Rollrock society from different angles, illuminating one household or one group of friends at a time. I can’t reproach the book for lack of atmosphere either because, repressing as it may be, Rollrock did come to life on these pages. I only wish more, and different, characters had come to life with it.

THE GOOD: A well-written story of a small island town whose men do something atrocious and must come to terms with it. Misskaella is a great character (and would have deserved her own novel, in my opinion), the idea of the sea weed blankets appealed to me, and the very end offered a bittersweet surprise.
THE BAD: Because each protagonist gets only a short segment to tell their story, I had trouble caring about them. If I could choose, the focus would have been on the selkies, the human women on Rollrock, or Misskaella.
THE VERDICT: A good book with great ideas that didn’t appeal to me because I wanted something different. That’s not the book’s or the writer’s fault, of course, and I will continue to read Margo Lanagan. She has a brilliant mind and writes beautiful prose. This one just wasn’t for me.

RATING: 6,5/10 – Quite good

(I feel the need to point out – as I did on my ratings page – that this rating does not reflect the quality of the book (as if that’s possible – even by professional critics) but my own enjoyment of it. I adore Margo Lanagan and wouldn’t want to put anyone off reading her books.)

divider1Other reviews:

Catherynne M. Valente – In the Night Garden

Do you remember how, in The Neverending Story, Michael Ende would start telling us about a side character, only to drop his or her story with the sentence “but that is another story, and shall be told another time”? The Orphan’s Tales is what happens when you don’t stop, when each character gets to tell their story, and when all these stories are intricately and beautifully entwined to form a breathtaking whole.

by Catherynne M. Valente

Illustrated by: Michael Kaluta
Published by: Spectra, 2006
ISBN: 0553384031
Paperback: 483 pages
Series: The Orphan’s Tales #1

My rating: 9,5/10

First sentence: Once there was a child whose face was like the new moon shining on cypress trees and the feathers of waterbirds.

Secreted away in a garden, a lonely girl spins stories to warm a curious prince: peculiar feats and unspeakable fates that loop through each other and back again to meet in the tapestry of her voice. Inked on her eyelids, each twisting, tattooed tale is a piece in the puzzle of the girl’s own hidden history.
And what tales she tells! Tales of shape-shifting witches and wild horsewomen, heron kings and beast princesses, snake gods, dog monks, and living stars each story more strange and fantastic than the one that came before. From ill-tempered mermaid to fastidious Beast, nothing is ever quite what it seems in these ever-shifting tales even, and especially, their teller.

My love for anything penned by Catherynne M. Valente knows no end. After the amazing and hearbreaking Deathless, I needed a recuperation period, if you will, some time to find back into the real world. Entering her books is like diving into a dream that you don’t want to wake up from. It was no different with In the Night Garden, and although Valente’s trademark lyrical style can be found within these pages, they tell stories vastly different from anything I’d read before.

The first thing any reader will notice is the structure of this tale. Nestled within the frame story – a girl telling a boy stories, secretly and at night – are more stories, which, in turn, contain yet more stories told by a wide and diverse range of characters. It is easy to think of it as a matryoshka doll, but the more I read, the more I understood that this complex and intricate structure resembles a tapestry much more than Russian nesting dolls. We follow one, or two, or five strings of story at a time, tie them off at the end, and begin a new set of stories. It becomes apparent to the attentive reader that these seemingly unrelated strings are interwoven, however, and that the very first tale has some connection to the very last. No matter the difference in time or setting, in some way, these stories are just part of one larger tale, and discovering the connections gave me endless amounts of pleasure.

Her voice was a whisper thick as wet wool.

The girl’s stories vary in setting and cast but each paint an incredibly rich environment, peopled by creatures that – no matter how otherworldly – feel utterly vibrant and alive. Among these pages, you meet foxgirls and the Marsh King, Stars and priestesses, a Black Papess and griffin. I would say there are hundreds of side characters but because every single character is given their own voice and gets to tell their own story, they are all protagonists. Some tales are heartbreaking, some end well, most don’t really end at all but leave room for imagination of things to come.

Seeing as there are so many different characters, I am stunned by Valente’s ability to give them each their own voice. While the Prince’s tale follows the tropes of a quest adventure, the Leucrotta’s story is wonderfully humorous and turns these tropes upside down. Depending on whether you are reading a polar bear’s story or that of a magyr (do not call her a mermaid, she will get angry!), their register and vocabulary varies, as does their tone. I find it hard to believe that all of these creatures stem from the mind of one woman.

“[…] mainly I’m King because I said I was, and nobody said any different. But this pier is as good as any throne room, and there are riches in every cage and pot. That’s how kings are made, my brush-tailed girl – they pick a place, shove a stick in it, call themselves King and wait to see if someone gets angry about it.”

And the praise continues. Rarely, if ever, have I read a book with such a diverse cast of characters. They come in all shapes and colors (literally) and from different parts of the world.  We meet characters with alabaster skin and hair like gold, a shipful of monsters, a people with skin like onyx, a seafaring satyr the color of trees, a foxgirl whose feet were bound when she was a child… I developed a particularly soft spot for the monsters. The Leucrotta was introduced in a way that led me to expect what the fantasy genre has taught me. Monsters bad, sword-wielding princes good. But even and especially the monsters get a voice in this story and I couldn’t help but fall in love with the Leucrotta and its sense of humor.

“Didn’t your mother teach you to be kind to monsters who completely fail to gobble you up?”

It must also be mentioned that, other than most modern fantasy books, this is a story celebrating women. Whether it is humans or monsters, women are shown in all their facets. If you Bechdel-test this book, I would pass a hundred times over. What I loved most about the women was probably the fact that there is more to them than being a beautiful princess or a goddess or what have you. Some of them are ugly, some of them are old, some are deformed and outcast, some are just plain lost souls, looking for a home.

No one cares for the likes of us freaks, but a whole stinking heap of us never caused the trouble of one Wizard in an ever-damned tower.

This loveletter to storytelling has enchanted me for the better part of a week. Drawing from folklore and mythology, Valente creates her own universe of myth and magic, mixing recognisable elements with more obscure or completely fabricated ones. Her lush, poetic language never fails to draw pictures brimming with life, and if it were for me, the Greek Gods can pack their bags. I’d rather go back to the night garden.

As you may have guessed, like the boy listening to the girl in the garden, I can’t possibly think of stopping now. As full as I am of stories that I will never forget, this is only the beginning…

THE GOOD: Amazing stories told by diverse characters, full of mythology and magic. A complex structure that will keep you on your toes. A world of wonder!
THE BAD: I suppose the structure is not for everyone. You do have to remind yourself whose head you are in whenever you put the book away and pick it back up.
THE VERDICT: This is what fantasy should be. Original, beautifully told stories, that open the readers’ minds and show just what one can do with ones imagination.

RATING: 9,5/10  – Close to perfection

BONUS: The illustrations by Michael Kaluta are gorgeous and I hope to see more of them in the second volume.

SECOND BONUS: If you are a Cat Valente fan, you have surely heard of S.J. Tucker. I bought her album “For the Girl in the Garden” to listen to while reading the book and I highly recommend it to people who enjoy music with their books. Not only do these songs evoke the atmosphere of the stories brilliantly, S.J. Tucker also reads little snippets of the book, incorporates the plot into her lyrics and overall made my reading experience even better.



The Orphan’s Tales

  1. In the Night Gardenorphans tales
  2. In the Cities of Coin and Spice

Second opinions:

Caitlín R. Kiernan – The Drowning Girl

Why did I read this? The fault lies with three parties. Number one is this post on Tor.com where The Drowning Girl is mentioned by several people as their favorite read of 2012. Number two, and this one convinced me to get the book, was the Writer and the Critic podcast. They offer in-depth discussions of books which means spoilers, so I only listened to a little bit of that episode but it made me want to go and grab this book so badly. Number three is that it is now nominated for a Nebula Award. That gave me the last nudge to pick up the book I had already bought. And here I am, two days later, not quite knowing how to rave sufficiently and still keep some semblance of eloquence…

drowning girlTHE DROWNING GIRL
by Caitlín R. Kiernan

Published by: Roc, 2012
ISBN: 1101577193
ebook: 352 pages

My rating: 9/10

First sentence: “I’m going to write a ghost story now,” she typed.

India Morgan Phelps-Imp to her friends-is schizophrenic. Struggling with her perceptions of reality, Imp must uncover the truth about her encounters with creatures out of myth-or from something far, far stranger…

dividerIt is hard to put into words what this book is about. Even the narrator has a difficult time explaining it. India Morgan Phelps, called Imp, comes from a line of insane women. Both her grandmother and her mother ended up killing themselves and Imp herself is taking medication for her schizophrenia. In an attempt to make sense of the events that happened to her over two years ago, she writes down her “ghost story” and lets us in on her very personal haunting.

This book was SO GOOD. You can tell whenever I use all caps that a book really got to me. I dare you to pick this up and put it back down. It’s one of those books that make you forget you should sleep and notice at three in the morning that you are still reading. Imp’s voice, as confused as it is at times, drew me in quickly. I was spellbound and couldn’t tell you what kept me reading more eagerly. Trying to get to the end of Imp’s ghost story? Figuring out what really happened? Seeing all angles and sides of Imp’s flawed memories? Either way, this was better than any thriller I’ve ever read.

quotes greyIf I’m not writing this to be read – which I’m most emphatically not – and if it’s not a book, as such, then why is it that I’m bothering with chapters? Why does anyone bother with chapters? Is it just so the reader knows where to stop and pee, or have a snack, or turn off the light and go to sleep?

(c) Michael Zulli

(c) Michael Zulli

The narration as such was also intriguing. Imp doesn’t do linear. She’s not always clear about things; of some events she has a dual memory. She interrupts herself,  inserts stories she wrote, pieces of poetry, descriptions of paintings and references to artists (both real and fictional). By doing this, the author managed to mix myth with reality, fact with truth (and they are not the same thing, as Imp will be quick to tell you) and give the story other fascinating layers. I’m a sucker for great characters and I love mythology. There are so many things to be discovered here that I couldn’t pick out what I liked best. This book begs to be re-read, because although I regonised some poems, “Gloomy Sunday” and some other tidbits of art, history, and mythology, I am sure I have missed more than I can count. Despite its complexities, Imp’s voice is easy to follow. The hard part is keeping things straight as the ultimate unreliable narrator tells us she doesn’t even know what is fact and what is only truth.

quotes greyI didn’t set out to appease the Tyrrany of Plot. Lives do not unfold in tidy plots, and it’s the worst sort of artifice to insist that the tales we tell – to ourselves and to one another – must be forced to conform to the plot, A-to-Z linear narratives, three acts, the dictates of Aristotle, rising action and climax and falling action and most especially the artifice of resolution.

Imp’s relationship with Abalyn interested me at least as much as did Eva Canning. From simple thoughts – like which first meeting with Eva was the “real” one – I moved on to different theories and ideas. I love being strung along by a crafty author. I do not need to know where a story is going to enjoy it. Guessing and making up theories are more fun to me than being told straight up what happened. Caitlín R. Kiernan seems to be one of those authors who let her readers do part of the work in creating a novel. She serves us enough description and information to fuel our own imagination – and her descriptions of the painting The Drowning Girl or Eva Canning’s eyes were brilliant, to say the least – but it is the parts that are not described, only hinted at, that make this truly terrifying. In reading this, you are creating your own myth, your own personal haunting and it is as terrifying as it is beautiful.

What did I think? This was a gem of a novel! It was scary and disturbing, filled with magic and myth and magnificent prose that rivals any of the classical Gothic ghost stories. Caitlín R. Kiernan takes well-known tropes of speculative fiction, blending horror, fantasy and psychological thriller elements, and creates something entirely new. I have not read any of the other Nebula nominees for 2012 yet, but it’s going to be damn hard to keep up with this one.

The Good: Fantastic prose, the best use of an unreliable narrator I have yet seen, an atmosphere as creepy as it is intriguing.
The Bad: If you need to know where you’re at in a story, if you like to follow a red thread or a clear story arc, then this may not be for you. I urge you to give it a try anyway.
The Verdict: Like a siren song, this book sings you into a trance and won’t let go until you’ve turned that last page.

Rating:  9/10  Close to perfection


Second Opinions

Review: Jaida Jones & Danielle Bennett – Havemercy

What an unexpected pleasure. This book was completely – and I mean completely – different from what I expected. It’s not really steampunk despite that awesome dragon on the cover, it’s not quite epic fantasy, it’s not too heroic, and there’s very little action altogether. However, it turned out to be a brilliant fantasy of manners, a beautiful romance, and a very original take on dragons.


by Jaida Jones & Danielle Bennett

Published by: Spectra, 2008
ISBN: 9780553905250
ebook: 448 pages
Series: Metal Dragons #1

My rating: 8/10

First sentence: That morning, I awaited my arrest in Our Lady of a Thousand Fans.

Thanks to its elite Dragon Corps, the capital city of Volstov has all but won the hundred years’ war with its neighboring enemy, the Ke-Han. The renegade airmen who fly the corps’s mechanical, magic-fueled dragons are Volstov’s greatest weapon. But now one of its members is at the center of a scandal that may turn the tide of victory. To counter the threat, four ill-assorted heroes must converge to save their kingdom: an exiled magician, a naive country boy, a young student – and the unpredictable ace who flies the city’s fiercest dragon, Havemercy. But on the eve of battle, these courageous men will face something that could make the most formidable of warriors hesitate, the most powerful of magicians weak, and the most unlikely of men allies in their quest to rise against it.


Gorgeous as it may be, the clockwork dragon on the cover is severly misleading. This story may feature dragons, but they are very much in the background. Instead, the plot revolves around the fate of four viewpoint characters. The exiled magician Royston and the country boy he meets there, a boy named Hal, were my first favorite characters. The way Hal, a tutor to Royston’s nephews and niece, hungers for knowledge and yearns for Royston’s stories from the bustling city of Volstov was more fascinating than any action scene could have been. Our other two viewpoint characters reside in the capital. Thom is a scholar with the unhappy task of rehabilitating the Dragon Corps. The Corps’ most fearsome rider, Rook, has been involved in a  rather large scandal and is not deemed fit to mingle with society. Thom more than struggles trying to get some manners into the impulsive Rook. In the beginning, Rook was my least favorite character, I almost loathed him. It goes to show the writers’ talent that by the end, I came to think of him as a dear friend. After a while, I couldn’t even decide which storyline was my favorite. But Rook and Thom surely made for the most exciting bantering and psychological warfare. Each character is multi-layered and so intricate that I didn’t even care about the side characters, most of whom were left rather flat.

The blurb implies epic battles and a raging war. The war exists, although when we enter the story, it is almost over. Epic battles will not be found within these pages. Instead, we get character studies, amazing relationships and a surprisingly wonderful romance. Discovering who these people are was enough for me but if you’re looking for Epic epic, you won’t find it here. The plot is slow-moving but never boring. Every page offers new tidbits about what made the characters who they are today. They are each thrown into new situations without knowing how to handle them.

havemercy dragon

With magicians and flying clockwork dragons, this book has one foot firmly set in the realms of fantasy. Same as the characters, the world-building takes time to unfold. But the closer I got to the end of the book, the more I realised that the city of Volstov, its politics and its magicians, were quite well fleshed-out and I had no trouble finding my way around this place, understanding the slang and suspending my disbelief. Everything in this book is subtly done (except maybe Rook, but then he is not meant to be subtle). I read along, quite happy to follow these characters around for no better reason than to get to know them better. Towards the end of the book, a sort of mystery comes up that needs urgent solving and brings us some of the action the blurb promises. It wouldn’t even have been necessary but it added a little extra something to an already thrilling book. This is not your avarage fantasy novel. If I had to compare it, I would say it reminds me a little bit of Ellen Kushner’s At Swordspoint. Except this is better.

The one qualm I have about this – and it’s not really a big problem – is that there isn’t a single important female character. The number of women in the entire book can be counted on my hands. A few of them get to say a line or two but women really don’t seem to feature much in this world. That’s okay, not every book has to have strong female characters, but it seemed strange that the only women mentioned were either prostitutes or an important man’s wife. There are two female magicians that I can mention as somewhat redeeming but altogether, this is very much a man’s world.

An original fantasy of manners that didn’t thrill me right at the beginning. But at some point, and I believe it was when Hal first meets Royston, authors Jones and Bennett set their mechanical dragon’s claws into my brain and I was absolutely hooked. It may not be steampunk but it’s sure worth reading.

THE GOOD: Wonderfully layered characters, relationships and character development. A world that is both subtle and intriguing. Plus, a gay romance that will give you butterflies (no matter your sexual orientation).
THE BAD: The beginning is very confusing and takes some pulling through. There’s an abominable lack of women characters!
THE VERDICT: An original fantasy of manners that manages to be epic without shedding gallons of blood on a fictional battlefield. It focuses on characters and their personal growth. Highly recommended.

RATING:  8/10  – Excellent

dividerThe Metal Dragons/Havemercy Series:

  1. Havemercy
  2. Shadow Magic
  3. Dragon Soul
  4. Steel Hands

Second opinions:

Review: Scott Lynch – Red Seas Under Red Skies

Damnation! Now I have to pray to the Crooked Warden that the next book truly does come out in 2013, or else, I’m afraid, I shall die of suspense. Writing a sequel or a continuation of a story such as The Lies of Locke Lamora is difficult. I fell in love with these characters so much and couldn’t help but fall for the author’s tricks and plot twists. But can one be that awesome twice? One can. If one’s name is Scott Lynch.
I will not spoil the plot of this book but there may be minors spoilers for book 1 that may slip in by necessity.

by Scott Lynch

Published by: Gollancz, 2007
Pages: 584
ISBN: 0575079258
Copy: trade aperback
Series: Gentleman Bastard #2

My rating: 9,5/10

First sentence: Locke Lamora stood on the pier in Tal Verrar with the hot wind of a burning ship at his back and the cold bite of a loaded crossbow’s bolt at his neck.

Thief and con-man extraordinaire, Locke Lamora, and the ever lethal Jean Tannen have fled their home city and the wreckage of their lives. But they can’t run forever and when they stop they decide to head for the richest, and most difficult, target on the horizon. The city state of Tal Verarr. And the Sinspire.The Sinspire is the ultimate gambling house. No-one has stolen so much as a single coin from it and lived. It’s the sort of challenge Locke simply can’t resist . . .
. . . but Locke’s perfect crime is going to have to wait.
someone else in Tal Verarr wants the Gentleman Bastards’ expertise and is quite prepared to kill them to get it. Before long, Locke and Jean find themselves engaged in piracy. Fine work for thieves who don’t know one end of a galley from another.

I was highly critical of this book before I started. One of the reasons I waited until now was the deep impact Scott Lynch’s debut novel had had on me. I didn’t feel like I could continue right away. I still had to wrap my head around certain events, remember who lived and who died, and how brilliantly Scott Lynch has spun me along. But my yearning for these beloved characters prevailed and I dared to pick this one up.

To say I was as blown away as I was by its predecessor would be a lie. There was a certain element of novelty to Locke Lamora that is not present anymore. A fantasy story where the fate of the entire world does not depend on one young (chosen) boy’s actions. Just a bunch of con men who trick rich bastards out of everything they got. Thank you, Scott Lynch, for giving us more of everything you do best. Locke and Jean are in the middle of another elaborate con as we meet them again. Two years have passed – two years which we catch up on in flashback chapters and which I found to me among the most impressive bits of the book. After an adventure like theirs, you don’t just happily run off to the next city and steal from noblemen. Clearly, Locke had to get over the first book, too.

As the blurb promises, our boys take up piracy in this truly swashbuckling adventure. As things go from worse to worst and everything planned goes utterly wrong, Locke and Jean find themselves on a pirate ship – and everything goes wrong yet again. I just loved how these character got into ever more trouble to the point where I thought, they would never get out of all of it, and then slowly, Locke’s mind (or rather Lynch’s mind) comes up with intricate plans to save their hides.

Crooked Warden, give me a golden line of bullshit, and the wisdom to know when to stop spinning it, he thought.

I could fill entire pages with reasons this was another great book by Scott Lynch. Let me just say that the charm’s in the details. Little things he does make the world come to life. All characters are three-dimensional – even if we don’t get to see a lot of them – the places are vibrant and full of believable people. Plus, the humor was totally up my alley and the relationships between the Gentlemen Bastards bring tears to my eyes. What more can you want?

“Mew,” the kitten retorted, locking gazes with him. It had the expression common to all kittens, that of a tyrant in the becoming. I was comfortable, and you dared to move, those jade eyes said. For that you must die.

THE GOOD: A fantastically quick-paced, clever adventure, with quippy dialogue, endearing characters and cons within cons within cons. It’s a heist lover’s dream.
THE BAD: I can’t really find anything negative. Other than the evil sort-of-cliffhanger ending.
THE VERDICT: If you liked the first book, you will enjoy this one just as much. Maybe even more, depending on if you have a soft spot in your heart for pirates and the microcosm of a ship. I loved it.
BONUS: Any journey on a ship requires women and cats – for safety and so as not to piss off the gods.

RATING: 9,5/10  Very close to perfection

The Gentleman Bastard Sequence:

  1. The Lies of Locke Lamora
  2. Red Seas under Red Skes
  3. The Republic of Thieves (2013)

Review: Robin Hobb – The Golden Fool

I have been following Fitz and the Fool for many years now and Robin Hobb has become one of my favorite writers ever. It is few others who managed to evoke an emotional response of that magnitude by creating amazing characters and putting them through hell. Robin Hobb does it best. And while I always need breaks after finishing one of her trilogies, I feel drawn back into the world of the Six Duchies and that royal bastard I have grown to love so much.

by Robin Hobb

Published by: Voyager, 2002
ISBN: 0006486029
Pages: 712
Copy: paperback
Series: The Tawny Man #2

My rating: 7/10


I actually didn’t post the first sentence because it contains a huge spoiler for the entire series.

Fitz has succeeded in rescuing Prince Dutiful from the clutches of the Piebald rebels, and has returned with him to Buckkeep castle. With Dutiful safe again, Queen Kettricken can proceed with plans to marry him to the Outislander princess, Elliania. However, with tensions building among the peoples of the Six Duchies over Kettricken’s tolerance of the Wittted, even Buckkeep is no longer safe. A reluctant Fitz is assigned to protect the young prince, and also train him in the Skill, and in doing so he finally makes contact not only with his estranged daughter, Nettle, but with someone in Buckkeep who may possess a greater Skill talent even than Fitz. And who may represent a terrible threat to the Farseers. Meanwhile, Elliania arrives and, before she will accept Prince Dutiful’s betrothal, challenges him to undertake an impossible quest. He must kill a legendary Outislander dragon.

Art by John HoweRobin Hobb’s books start out slowly. In light of the events of Fool’s Errand, I knew this was going to be no exception. Fitz has a great deal of drama to get over and it wasn’t until a third into the book that I felt the plot actually dragged. I saw the threads the author was holding in her hands and there is a lot of setting up later events in this middle volume. However, with the first two trilogies in the Six Duchies universe, I always liked the middle volume best. Not so here.

As plot goes, I’d say that more than half of this book could easily have been cut without the readers missing any essential information. But that is another thing about Robin Hobb – she writes carefully and she explores her character’s emotions and actions to the core. If you don’t enjoy things like that, then this is not a book for you. But if you don’t mind slow passages – sometimes very long slow passages – that favor character development over action, and if you enjoy beautifully wordy prose, Robin Hobb is your girl!

No other author – except maybe Cat Valenet – teaches me so many new words and the use of words (to me, English is a foreign language of course, so most of you may not be as impressed with her writing) as Robin Hobb. When I read her books, I feel like this is a woman who not only goes into the deepest depths of her characters’ lives but who also has a very, very firm grasp on the English language. It is a pleasure to read and another reason I don’t mind long-winded descriptions of inner turmoil and contemplation.

Despite all of that good stuff, this book simply lacked an ending. Now that I’m finished, I feel like it exists solely to set up the events that are going to happen in the final instalment. Sure, Hobb makes us extremely curious (and worry about certain characters) but does that justify an entire book? Political intrigue, injuries, family drama, and true friendship feature in The Golden Fool but the usual culmination of all those events at the end of the novel was simply missing here.

There’s little I can say without spoiling things for you so I’ll stop it here. It is a Robin Hobb novel so I recommend it despite its flaws. What it did manage extremely well is making me want to read the next book – and finish the story of the Fitz and the Fool.

THE GOOD: Beautiful language showing strong, independent characters and their incredible development.
THE BAD: Drags a lot during the beginning and doesn’t really have a well-rounded ending.
THE VERDICT: Any Robin Hobb book is worth reading. If you’ve come this far in the trilogy of trilogies, then you’ll like it.

RATING: 7/10  Very good

The Six Duchies Series:

  • The Farseer

    1. Assassin’s Apprentice
    2. Royal Assassin
    3. Assassin’s Quest



  • The Liveship Traders

    1. Ship of Magic
    2. The Mad Ship
    3. Ship of Destiny



  • The Tawny Man
    1. Fool’s Errand
    2. The Golden Fool
    3. Fool’s Fate


Review: Kristin Cashore – Graceling

I like using re-reads as an excuse to buy audiobooks. When I found out that this particular version was a full cast audiobook – and unabridged! – I was in heaven. Hearing a distinct voice for each character made this audio experience just perfect, and the narrator, with his kind-uncle-storyteller voice, rounded it up very well. My rating may have gone up since I last read this, simply because the audio version deserves some extra credit.

by Kristin Cashore

Published: Full Cast Audio, 2009
ISBN: 1934180890
Pages: 471
Hours: 12,5
Copy: audiobook
Series: The Seven Kingdoms #1

My rating: 7,5/10

First sentence: In these dungeons the darkness was complete, but Katsa had a map in her mind.

Katsa has been able to kill a man with her bare hands since she was eight—she’s a Graceling, one of the rare people in her land born with an extreme skill. As niece of the king, she should be able to live a life of privilege, but Graced as she is with killing, she is forced to work as the king’s thug.
When she first meets Prince Po, Graced with combat skills, Katsa has no hint of how her life is about to change. She never expects to become Po’s friend. She never expects to learn a new truth about her own Grace—or about a terrible secret that lies hidden far away… a secret that could destroy all seven kingdoms with words alone.

I remember first reading this when it came out in paperback and being drawn into the story very quickly. Katsa is a wonderfully independent heroine and she stays true to herself throughout the entire story – despite a scrumptious love interest, she never loses sight of who she is, and she keeps her convictions. This is something I don’t see a lot in YA fiction. Mostly, the appearance of a man makes the female lead change her world view and, in proper Twilight fashion, turns the man into the focal point of the girl’s life. Not so in Graceling.

This is clearly a character-driven book. Kristin Cashore does have a story to be told but the plot is simple and straight-forward and, in and of itself, not very exciting. But she also gives us a small cast of characters that are intriguing enough to stay interested and, at times, glued to the pages. Katsa and Po’s interaction was enough for me to keep reading. Their development is believable and heartbreaking. I said Katsa stayed true to herself but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t change. Po teaches her new things about herself, and falling in love is always a pivotal point in life. All of this, the author brought across in this novel, and it was as thrilling on a re-read as it was the first time around.

Maybe I have become more critical since I first read this, but the prose didn’t strike me as particularly good. A lot of times, we learn Katsa’s thoughts, then hear them again, repeated in speech. The structure is plain, the narrative straight-forward. It’s not great but it also isn’t terrible. The repetitions got on my nerves every once in a while but not enough to diminish my enjoyment of the story.

What really strikes me about this book is how daring it is. It breaks the clichés of YA fantasy romances while retaining all the elements that make it captivating. A strong, independent heroine, a love story that is subtle and overwhelming at the same time (in a good way), and an ending that’s not all happy, but all the more convincing.

On the audio version:
This was the first time I had an entire book read to me, with an actor for each character. It was a wonderful experience to get the unabridged story told to you. I thought that Katsa and Po’s voices were well-chosen, and I was especially pleased with Bitterblue. She sounds young enough to be believable but the actress brought a dignity to her voice that brought Bitterblue’s character to life. To create even more atmosphere, at the end and beginning of most chapters, there is a little background music – which is totally up my alley. It is a costly audiobook, sure, but it’s worth it. I might actually listen to this again many times.

I wanted to re-read this for a while and the recent publication of Bitterblue gave me the necessary kick in the butt. I will attack the third book set in the Graceling Realm very soon, because I had forgotton how intriguing Bitterblue is as a character and can’t wait to find out how she holds up in her own novel.

THE GOOD: An independent heroine, a beautiful love story, and strong characters all around.
THE BAD: Simple writing, not the most action-packed plot.
THE VERDICT: If you like YA romances set in a fantasy world, pick this up. I just loved to see a truly strong female protagonist who doesn’t lose her head when she falls in love. There should be more heroines like Katsa.

RATING: 7,5/10 Very good

The Seven Kingdoms Trilogy/Graceling Realm Trilogy:

  1. Graceling
  2. Fire
  3. Bitterblue

Related posts:

Yann Martel – Life of Pi

Well, I’ve avoided it for long enough. Despite all the praise and the Booker Prize, the religion-factor was keeping me from reading this book. I didn’t want yet another story trying to convert me to whichever faith. But the movie trailer and the consistently ongoing great reviews changed my mind. And I’m incredibly grateful.

by Yann Martel

Published: Penguin, 2002 (2001)
Pages: 367
Copy: paperback

My rating: 8,5/10
Goodreads: 3,8/5

First sentence: My suffering left me sad and gloomy.

The son of a zookeeper, Pi Patel has an encyclopedic knowledge of animal behavior and a fervent love of stories. When Pi is sixteen, his family emigrates from India to North America aboard a Japanese cargo ship, along with their zoo animals bound for new homes.
The ship sinks. Pi finds himself alone in a lifeboat, his only companions a hyena, an orangutan, a wounded zebra, and Richard Parker, a 450-pound Bengal tiger. Soon the tiger has dispatched all but Pi, whose fear, knowledge, and cunning allow him to coexist with Richard Parker for 227 days while lost at sea…

This book surprised me in many ways. It did not – as the author’s note claims – make me believe in God. But it did make me believe even more in the power of storytelling, of writing, and of creating. We get to know Pi Patel right from the beginning, witch the origin of his name. The first third of the book deals entirely with zoo animals, Pi’s childhood, and his pursuit of all religions available to him. If only all religious people were like Pi… I will make myself very unpopular by saying this, but I – as an atheist – believe that organised religion, the way it exists now in our world, is simply terrible. It accosts for so many wars and evil deeds that I find it hard to believe it all stems from the belief in a God that preaches love and truth and friendship. Something can’t be right there…

I challenge anyone to understand Islam, its spirit, and not to love it. It is a beautiful religion of brotherhood and devotion.

But back to the story. Once Pi and a handful of zoo animals are stranded on a lifeboat and commence their incredible journey on the Pacific, I was drawn into his story and caught myself in a state of tense emotion. I cared about Pi, as I cared about Richard Parker. I loved (and hope Hollywood won’t mess this up) that the friendship between Pi and the tiger wasn’t cheesy or unbelievable. They didn’t cuddle up to sleep at night, the tiger didn’t allow Pi to pet him. It was a carefully balanced act of peace, all set around the rules of animal life. It may not make for as soppy a story as some people might like, but I adored the lack of Coelho-like pseudo-meaningfulness. This is just about a boy, pushed to the limits of survival, dealing with a Bengal tiger the only way you can deal with one – on its own terms. These are terms of territory (read: mark it by peeing), and domination.

Yann Martin has a fresh, youthful writing style that makes the story both easy to read but also hits home when intended. Who would have thought that a lifeboat, a boy, and a tiger in the middle of the Pacific could entertain me so much. And for so long? Pi’s character is lovable throughout the story. His application of logic, of reason, made me like him all the more. So people can believe in god (or gods, whichever you prefer) and not lose sight of how the world around them works. Pi is not a zealot, he is not bitter about other religions, he accepts all gods and all manners of faith, because they serve one simple purpose. They help him to live. His belief doesn’t hurt anyone, it doesn’t even show – happily, the author did not go overboard with spiritual musings and pretend it was god who saved Pi’s life. No, Pi’s accomplishments are his own, and neither author nor fictional character attribute it to any deity.

“We don’t want any invention. We want the “straight facts”, as you say in English.”

“Isn’t telling about something – using words, English or Japanese – already something of an invention? Isn’t just looking upon this world already something of an invention?”


“The world isn’t just the way it is. It is how we understand it, no? And in understanding something, we bring something to it, no? Doesn’t that make life a story?”

This book may have one of the most perfect endings I have read lately (along with N.K. Jemisin’s The Broken Kingdoms). And you see how much it affected me by the way I talk about a fictional character as if he were real. Life of Pi is a book that I didn’t want to read. It will stay with me for a long time and, apart from useful survival tips if caught on the open sea in a lifeboat (with or without the tiger), it showed me once more how powerful a story can be.

THE GOOD: A highly original story with lovable characters, not a boring page, wonderful writing, and a perfect ending.
THE BAD: The blurb is slightly misleading. The story starts quite a while before the lifeboat.
THE VERDICT: Highly recommended. I don’t care who you are, what you believe in, or where you come from. If you like stories (or even if you normally don’t), this book is for you.

RATING: 8,5/10  leaning towards a 9

Related Posts: