Archive for October, 2012

23
Oct
12

Scootsa1000’s #CBR4 Review 47: The Rook by Daniel O’Malley

Take a little bit of Jasper Fforde, Joss Whedon, Harry Potter, Doctor Who, The X Files, and Sherlock. Now mix them together.  What you get is The Rook, a delightful — and sometimes disgusting — tale of a kick-ass amnesiac named Myfanwy Thomas, a woman who has no memories of her life and who happens to work for a secret branch of the British government that deals with the supernatural.

I first heard about The Rook a few weeks ago, when I read narfna’s entertaining review (thanks, narfna!).  I started reading, and to be honest, well, I wasn’t too impressed.  The story starts out with a bang — a woman suddenly finds herself in a park, in the rain, surrounded by dead bodies all wearing rubber gloves, and has no idea where she is or WHO she is — but I just wasn’t that into it.  I kept putting it aside, reading a page here and there, but not really into it.

And then.  Well, then we meet Gestalt, Myfanwy’s co-worker.  I’m not going to give any spoilers, but MY GOD.  Gestalt is one of the most interesting and original characters I’ve ever come across.  And suddenly, I was hooked.  I seriously could not put this book down and stayed up way past my bedtime for two nights in a row to finish it.

The plot is crazy.  Amnesiac Myfanwy finds a letter in her pocket from old Myfanwy, who knew she was going to lose her memory and prepared her new self for it.  She gives new Myfanwy a choice:  take all of my money and a new identity and move far, far away, but be aware that whoever did this to you could someday come after you and kill you OR take my place, take my job, take my old life, and find out who did this to us and why.

Its no secret to tell you that Myfanwy chooses option two.  She decides to “become” Myfanwy Thomas, and dives headfirst into a world of monsters (both natural and created) and superpowers.

I really enjoyed this story.  O’Malley is a very witty writer, and its always refreshing to read about such a kick-ass heroine.  I gather that a sequel is in the works, and I’m quite OK with that.

Added bonus: Myfanwy’s sister is named Bronwyn, and that happens to be my oldest daughter’s name.

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09
Oct
12

Scootsa1000’s #CBR4 Review 46: The Wind Through the Keyhole by Stephen King

When I first took on the challenge of last year’s CBR3, I decided that I’d attempt to re-read the massive Dark Tower series.  I finished the first three books in no time at all…and then, well, there was the fourth book.

The fourth book took me so long to finish, that while I was reading it, Stephen King went ahead and wrote a brand new Dark Tower book.  Supposedly, this new book would fit nicely between Wizard and Glass and The Wolves of the Calla.  And while I was eager to get back to the story of Eddie and Jake and the path of the beam (and Oy!), I decided to give the new book a quick read and see how it fits into the DT universe.

The Wind Through the Keyhole is actually three stories in one.  In the first, Roland and his ka-tet have just left the emerald palace where they find themselves at the end of Wizard and Glass.  They come to a huge river that they need to cross, and meet a lovely older man who has a ferry, and is happy to take them across.  And then he warns them about the coming storm…a “starkblast” and tells them to take shelter sooner than later.  Roland and friends find shelter just in time — the wind starts whipping and freezing, killing everything in its path.  As they wait out the storm, Roland tells them another story from his past…

Roland tells them of an adventure he had (not long after the affair of Susan Delgado), where he and his fellow gunslinger Jaime were sent to a nearby town to look into the mystery of what has been killing and terrorizing the locals.  Some report they had seen a bear, and some say a wolf.  Roland’s been told that perhaps it is a “skin man” — a cursed man that can shift shapes at ease.  When the skin man kills dozens at a local ranch, Roland and Jaime find the lone survivor, a young boy who is scared to death.  While waiting for a posse to round up some suspects, Roland tells young Bill his favorite story from when he was Bill’s age: The Wind Through the Keyhole.

This is a fairy tale, a story of a young boy named Tim who has lost his father and is suffering at the hands of his cruel stepfather, and who risks everything to save his mother.  Fans of Stephen King will see many details connecting this simple, yet pleasant tale, to the world of the Dark Tower…North Central Positronics, nineteen, gunslingers, dogans, and our old friend Randall Flagg.  Tim journeys through a dangerous land to find the famous Maerlyn the magician, looking for help for his mother.  He also finds himself stuck in a starkblast, along with a tiger and a bit of magic. And Tim himself grows up to become a brave gunslinger, the stuff of legends.

Not the most exciting Stephen King book out there, but a nice bit of storytelling, and it fits nicely between books four and five of the Dark Tower series.

03
Oct
12

Scootsa1000’s #CBR4 Review 45: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

I’ve read a lot of scary and disturbing books over the years.  Lots of Stephen King, Peter Straub,  Dean Koontz,  Joe Hill, Battle Royale-esque stories, etc.  And I keep going back for more.  I’ve seen — and have enjoyed — tons of horror movies (Eli Roth is one of my brother’s BFFs from childhood, you can see him die brutally in most of Roth’s work. Fun!).  I guess what I’m trying to say is that I guess I’ve become desensitized to the “horror” genre.  And maybe that’s why I think its such a big deal that I found Gone Girl so downright frightening.  I started the book expecting a Dennis Lehane style mystery, and ended up with something much, much different.

Gone Girl has been everywhere for the past few months.  Book clubs.  Online discussions.  Displays at Barnes & Noble.  And before I read it, I knew a little bit about it: a young wife goes missing and her husband becomes the prime suspect in her disappearance.  Told partly in flashback and in journal entries, we get the story of a marriage from both sides.  We also get to see what happens when a news story (like a missing spouse) turns into a media circus, complete with a terrible Nancy Grace-esque talking head, and how the media can sway public opinion regardless of the facts.  I expected and was interested by of it.

What I was not expecting, and ended up being both fascinated and terrified by, was the rest.  This book surprised me more than any other book I can remember reading.  Every 30 or 40 pages, I would completely change my mind about what I think the ending would be and what had happened to Amy (the wife).  Was it handsome husband, Nick?  Or his adorable mistress, Andie?  Or maybe one of the many people who have been accused of stalking Amy over the years?  A jealous neighbor?  A homeless vagrant?  His angry father? Her bizarre parents? Who would want to hurt beautiful, lovely, wealthy, perfect Amy?  And why?

And then, about halfway through, something shifted…and the psychological portrait the story painted of this seemingly normal American couple turned into the scariest thing I can remember reading in ages.  And at that point, I couldn’t put the book down.  I’ll definitely be seeking out other books by Gillian Flynn.  The characters she painted were vibrant and real, and the backstories and details about each of them were fascinating.

I love that this book seems to have fallen into the Sixth Sense/Fight Club/The Crying Game territory, where nobody who has read it is willing to spoil the outcome, leaving interested readers to find out for themselves.




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