Something Wicked this Way Comes- Ray Bradbury Review

‘Because, sometimes good has weapons and evil none. Sometimes tricks fail. Sometimes people can’t be picked off, led to dead falls. No divide and conquer tonight.’

This is a long overdue read for me. I’ve been dying to get back to my reading of the works of Ray Bradbury. I’ve been slowly getting into his work and I was highly impressed with this particular book. This was also the first book in a while that I just randomly picked up and read on the basis it was interesting. I also was on a long bus journey.

On an October night, the week before Halloween, the carnival arrives. Welcome to Cooger and Dark’s Pandemonium Shadow Show! A place of outlandish people, rides and a charismatic ring master who seems to know the darkest desire of anyones heart. For in the town of Green Town, there are two boys who answer the call to the carnival. For Will Holloway and Jim Nightshade, the carnival will show them many wonders and what the price is for the wishes within their hearts.

Now I thought Stephen King was the master of small town dramas, adolescent stories and the idea of the evil that killed the neighborhood. It is very clear where he learned this from. This book is wonderfully crafted and truly does manage to explore the horrors of adulthood while examining the wants of every young teen to be older and able to do as they wish.

We don’t generally see much of Green Town. We generally spend a good chunk of the book running through the town trying to keep up with Jim and Will as they run in every and any direction. The world within the carnival is hard not to be emmersed in, between the sound of calliope music, the churn and clunk of the carousel, the smell of sweat as people perform for so many. And under it all, like any circus or carnival, there is a sense of unease that something about this is not quite right.

There is such an anxiety woven into each character and is presented in a way that you can’t not feel it with the characters. Will is worried that he will lose Jim, somehow along the way as he grows up. Jim is scared and desperate to explore the activities and fancies experienced by adults alone, dying to rush towards his inevitable manhood. Will’s father Charles, his pining for his own youth and for Will’s approval. This all coupled with the villanous Mr Dark, the Illustrated Man lurking around every corner leaves for some very genuinely uneasy moments .

There is a constant sense of both dread and melancholy around this town when the carnival first shows up and it really doesn’t let up until the final pages. There is an underlying feeling that something is about to go very wrong and noone but us the readers know and we cannot warn the 2 boys.

The structure of the plot is very much balanced between both sides, the ‘good’ side of the town (Will and his father), the ‘bad’ who have arrived in town (Mr. Dark mainly) and there is to a certain point an unknowing to who will triumph in the end since anything could tip the scales (Jim and his temptation to go to the carnival, the lightning rod salesman etc). That to me was probably one of the best hooks within the plot to keep the reader engaged.

Bradbury’s writing is breathtaking in places and this comes as no shock to me. The way he can conduct a mood like he does relies totally on his descriptive writing. There are many sentences that have stuck with me but this one really has;

“So in sum, what are we? We are the creatures that know and know too much. That leaves us with such a burden again we have a choice, to laugh or cry. No other animal does either. We do, depending on the season and the need.”

I don’t have much else to say about this outside of what has already been said but just that I am so glad I finally read this. It definitely lives up to the hype and is well worth reading since it is not too long and isn’t one of Bradbury’s more fantastical works so its a good place to start.

★★★★★/5

Ninth House- Leigh Bardugo Review

‘ ‘What have I been trying to tell you?’ Darlington said. ‘Nothing is ever just anything.’ And maybe he wanted her to be the kind of girl who dressed as Queen Mab, who loved words and had stars in her blood.’

Now I have made no secret in the past that I have not got on well with Leigh Bardugo’s books. Shadow and Bone irritated me and I have yet to even touch the remaining books in the Grisha trilogy. Granted, I have yet to read Six of Crows, but that was my experience with Bardugo so far. Thank god this book was what it was. Holy shit it’s perfect.

Alex Stern has gotten a second chance, she has been offered a place at Yale after a traumatic incident and a harder life. But there is a catch, Alex most join Lethe, the organisation tasked with monitoring the secret societies of Yale and keeping their rituals in check. When a girl from the inner city is found murdered on campus Alex is tasked with reporting on the homicide and what she discovers is something that could crumble Yale itself.

This book is obviously severely hyped this year and contains some very graphic content but it is honestly a refreshing work of dark fantasy. Bardugo is very much in her element here crafting this grim, disturbing view of New Haven and holding a mirror to the world of college education and the darker underbelly beneath it.

I have never had any interest in visiting Yale, not a single notion. Then as I did this review I discovered that Yale does in fact have 41 secret societies. And one of them in the book is completely real, with more maybe existing. I am literally shook, I know nothing about American colleges and their history and after reading this book I want to know more. I also know for a fact I am going to go down a rabbit hole of researching these societies.

We get a fantastic set of characters but most of all our anti heroic Galaxy Stern. (I too would probably shorten my name to Alex but that is a cool name.) Alex is so incredibly flawed and does things during the plot that even as you come to know her, you are still taken aback by it. I find characters like Alex intensely fascinating. I love anti heroes and morally grey characters so she was always going to be a treat to read. Her development, her very distressing past and her determination to prove herself at Yale all make her so great to read.

Darlington is also super interesting for the simple fact being we get so little time with him since most of the book is Alex’s POV but I loved having him on the page. He contrasts well with Alex and she definitely succeeds in taking this blue-blooded graduate down a peg or two. Darlington also has a cat and loves reading, I can always get behind a man like that. Also credit to Pammie. She is an introvert who makes soup. I love her.

Now we can’t avoid talking about the controversy of this book. I’m just gonna say that I love dark, adult books. I mostly read books that are written with adults in mind. Did this shock me in places? Yes. Am I going to stop reading Bardugo’s books in future? Hell no, this is way more my thing than anything she has written that is YA. Should you do some research beforehand just in case you are upset by any of the content? Maybe, just if you wanna be cautious. Honestly I don’t see why everyone is losing it, I think the author has been totally honest all along and there is no indication this is in any way suitable for younger readers. But that’s just me.

I really enjoyed the murder mystery style the story took in places but I think the plot came apart a little part at the end. The format it takes at the start with telling the story in reverse worked so well until where it caught up in the timeline. The plot is still fairly solid but this was the main issue I had.

My main favourites of this year have been controversial books and this one is no exception. I think that I have a taste that books like this appeal to, probably from my background in horror reading but honestly if you can handle the more shocking moments in this book I implore you to try it. If like me Bardugo’s YA stuff was not for you, then maybe this is your book too.

Mors vincit omnia.

★★★★/5

Darkdawn by Jay Kirstoff review

‘I am the vengeance of every orphaned daughter, every murdered mother, every bastard son. I am the war you cannot win.’

***Spoliers for both Nevernight and Darkdawn**

Earlier this year before I started this blog I read two little books you may have heard of, Nevernight and Godsgrave. Now that trilogy has come to a conclusion with Darkdawn and I have many feelings. How dare you Jay Kristoff.

Darkdawn is the epic conclusion to the Nevernight Chronicle. Mia Corvere, assassin of the Red Church, gladiatti of the Remus Collegium and outlaw. Mia is on the run from both the Red Church and the Lumiatti after comitting the most epic murder in all of Itreyan history. Mia will have to rely on her wits and trust the power within her is she is to defeat her true nemesis, Julius Scaeva and master the power she has been holding within her all these years to do it.

Spoilers galore for this one since I cannot review this book without discussing the epic plot of previous books or the finale of this so consider this your final warning.

Well now, that was a fucking rollercoaster. Not since I read Morning Star by Pierce Brown have I felt this shook by an ending to a trilogy. Jay Kirstoff really wove in every thread of story that he has been developing since the first book. There is not a single piece of plot that has not been addressed and we finally get to see Mia at her most powerful. We also see the end of Mia Corvere.

The world of Itreya gets bigger and better again. We get to see parts of Godsgrave that should not even exist, for example when Tric brings Mia and Jonnen (yes, both men are alive. While, Tric is debatable) to safety under the city. He brings them to this darkened chamber that has a basin at the centre of it filled with a black liquid. Yeah its a pool of God’s blood. How fucking metal. We take a journey back to the Quiet Mountain in what feels like revisiting the focal points of Mia’s journey from the first and second book. The backwards Hero’s journey really helps to bring the story to a conclusion that feels sad yet satisfactory. We also finally get to see the location at the centre of this famous map that Ashlinn has tattooed on her back and it is worth the payoff.

Mia finally gets to learn about what it is to be Darkin and what the Moon is. Her interactions with her brother felt a bit inconsistent but Jonnen’s reactions were very realistic. I always enjoy Mia’s POV in the books but I was thrilled we got to see some more things from Mercurio’s perspective. Aside from Mia I adore Mercurio and reading him was one of my favourite things about the book. We also get some wonderful new characters like Cloud Corleone, the pirate of too tight pants and fantastic choices of wine. I would happily read a spin off about him alone. Side note, I did not need to see that scene with Adonai (you know what one). Nope. No thanks.

Jay Kirstoff is the master of plot. He is the master of a vicious and entrancing story that will not hold your hand but won’t let you go either. The overall ending to the book and the revelations are nothing short of breathtaking. There comes a point in the plot where we discover the narrator and suddenly the story becomes slightly meta. And being the weirdo I was I loved it. I’m also shook at the narrator. I spoiled that when looking at the ARC at World Con and yeah. I kept it quiet, don’t ask me how.

The ending was wonderful. It was fitting, it wasn’t pretty but it was fitting for the tone of this series. Too many times I have read a book that just won’t go THERE. This is the only way you could have ended this and what Kristoff manages it to add to it without ruining it. That’s a hard thing to do. I cried not gonna lie but I felt like it was the conclusion we deserved.

One of my favourite things we get from Darkdawn is more details about the Gods. Gods and mythology that are unique to a book are my favourite thing and I never get to see enough of it. We get to see more of the Itreyan pantheon and whats really great is they are real Gods. They are selfish, they are violent and do not give a single fuck. Niah, the Lady of Night, is not exactly the motherly patron I imagined her to be. She is a Goddess and more importantly a death Goddess. Mia’s interactions with them is even better. She doesn’t care about their thoughts, their vengeance or anything. She is going to do her and do what she has to do to win her war with Scaeva. It’s a big change up on the whole honoring the Gods and their great plan trope we so often see.

I have never trusted Jay Kristoff from day one. He hurt too many of the people I loved. He is too sneaky with his characters intentions. He looks too much like Dave Grohl. But after reading the entire trilogy within a matter of months I have to admit that I am blown away with his ability to write such a wonderful series and still make me happy it’s ended how it has while also wanting more. Goodnight, gentlefriends. And remember to be the war that noone can win.

★★★★★/5