Book read: Slade House by David Mitchell

Slade House by David MitchellMy first book of the year 2016. And a great read!

Slade House can only be reached through a gate in Slade Alley that is only visible some of the time. The house takes more space up than there is in the area, and people have been known to disappear ‘near Slade Alley’. Mysterious!

Every nine years, someone disappears. The person who investigates such an appearance will find nothing, unless he’s in the right place at the right time. And then he may disappear too.

A real page turner. With, as we are used to with Mitchell, references to other books by this author. Some are rather subtle, and I am bound to have missed a few. But a Dr. Marinus? Ah, yes! The ending was surprising, in a good way.

The publisher says:

“Born out of the short story David Mitchell published on Twitter in 2014 and inhabiting the same universe as his latest bestselling novel The Bone Clocks, this is the perfect book to curl up with on a dark and stormy night.

Turn down Slade Alley – narrow, dank and easy to miss, even when you’re looking for it. Find the small black iron door set into the right-hand wall. No handle, no keyhole, but at your touch it swings open. Enter the sunlit garden of an old house that doesn’t quite make sense; too grand for the shabby neighbourhood, too large for the space it occupies.

A stranger greets you by name and invites you inside. At first, you won’t want to leave. Later, you’ll find that you can’t.

This unnerving, taut and intricately woven tale by one of our most original and bewitching writers begins in 1979 and reaches its turbulent conclusion around Hallowe’en, 2015. Because every nine years, on the last Saturday of October, a ‘guest’ is summoned to Slade House. But why has that person been chosen, by whom and for what purpose? The answers lie waiting in the long attic, at the top of the stairs…”


Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Number of pages: 234

First published: 2015

I got this: bought at local bookshop

Genre: Supernatural thriller

 

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Book Review: Horrorstör by Grady Hendrix

Horrorstör by Grady HendrixHorrorstör: What it is about

From the publishers: “Something strange is happening at the Orsk furniture superstore in Columbus, Ohio. Every morning, employees arrive to find broken Kjerring wardrobes, shattered Brooka glassware, and vandalized Liripip sofa beds—clearly, someone or something is up to no good. To unravel the mystery, five young employees volunteer for a long dusk-till-dawn shift—and they encounter horrors that defy imagination. Along the way, author Grady Hendrix infuses sly social commentary on the nature of work in the new twenty-firstcentury economy.

A traditional haunted house story in a contemporary setting (and full of current fears), Horrorstör comes conveniently packaged in the form of a retail catalog, complete with illustrations of ready-to-assemble furniture and other, more sinister accessories. We promise you’ve never seen anything quite like it!”

Horrorstör: What I thought

From the moment I heard of the book, I was smiling: this sounded like great fun! Like a holiday that is booked in advance, I was very much enjoying the anticipation of reading the book. My I*EA catalog arrived in the same week as this book, and it looks so similar! Well, from the outside, although some of the pages inside include a map of the showroom, pictograms of how to order and assemble the furniture, an order form, and some money-off vouchers.

Each chapter starts with the description of a piece of furniture (with unpronounceable names), its features, the size and color scheme, and product number. After a few chapters, the pieces of furniture become less pleasant pieces of horror equipment. The story starts during the day, but the further we get into the night, the darker it gets and the worse the experience for the brave shop employees that stayed behind to find out what is bothering their store at night.

They’re happy to find that the homeless man staying in the shop at night is the cause of the trouble. Problem solved. Oh wait! There is something strange about him. Wait, things are getting even stranger: there are noises and smells and fluids in the dark and fake doors in the displays leading to non-existing corridors. Oh people, it gets… terrible!

The ordeals are real, but the writing is smooth and fun. The story is seen through the eyes of Amy, who has a tendency to run away from responsibilities and for whom the job is just a job. But during the course of the night, Amy finds out things about herself, and becomes a braver and better person.

I loved this book as much as I hoped I would love it.

 


Rating: 5 out of 5 stars (very good)

Number of pages: 248

First published: 2014

I got this: for review from Quirk Books

Genre: contemporary fiction, supernatural

 

Book Review: Inamorata by Megan Chance

Inamorata by Megan ChanceInamorata: What it is about

From the publishers: “American artist Joseph Hannigan and his alluring sister, Sophie, have arrived in enchanting nineteenth-century Venice with a single-minded goal. The twins, who have fled scandal in New York, are determined to break into Venice’s expatriate set and find a wealthy patron to support Joseph’s work.

But the enigmatic Hannigans are not the only ones with a secret agenda. Joseph’s talent soon attracts the attention of the magnificent Odilé Leon, a celebrated courtesan and muse who has inspired many artists to greatness. But her inspiration comes with a devastatingly steep price.

As Joseph falls under the courtesan’s spell, Sophie joins forces with Nicholas Dane, the one man who knows Odilé’s dark secret, and her sworn enemy. When the seductive muse offers Joseph the path to eternal fame, the twins must decide who to believe—and just how much they are willing to sacrifice for fame.”

Inamorata: What I thought

It’s always so d*mn annoying when one of my careful selected prejudices gets shattered. I hadn’t asked for this book, I just got it sent for review. I’m absolutely sure about that, because I never, ever want to read books that take place in Venice. Yuck-y-de-yuck. I just don’t like that fake-mysterious atmosphere, the rich people, the poor people, the masks, the dirty, stinking water. I’ve never been to Venice, but my unwillingness to visit it equals my unwillingness to visit Las Vegas. No, thank you!

Okay, short story: this book was great! I enjoyed it so much. The setting didn’t bother me. In fact, the traveling about in gondolas was fun! As were the large, old-fashioned houses.

The story was interesting, too. It was told from several perspectives and I especially liked Nicholas Dane, who is on a kind of witch hunt, with varied success. Will he be at the right place at the right time when his help is required? The twins Sophie and Joseph seem so innocent when they get to Venice, although they have just one goal: get someone to finance them, whatever it takes. But I wondered if they had a darker side.

There were a few dead bodies, which added to the mystery. The writing was very fluent and compelling.

So, this novel of Venice was great fun. Of course, I will not revoke my prejudice against all other novels that feature Venice, obviously.

 


Rating: 4 out of 5 stars (good)

Number of pages: 412

First published: 2014

I got this: for review from Lake Union Publishing

Genre: historical fiction, supernatural

 

Book Review: The Snowman by Jo Nesbo

The Snowman by Jo NesboNadine of The Books of Life! read this book at the same time as me, so we decided to post our reviews on the same day and ask each other some questions about the book.

I enjoyed reading this book but for some reason, I couldn’t think of much to write about, so you’re getting a quick review this time. Below the review are the questions that Nadine asked me, and my answers to them.

My Quick Review

This is a thriller in the Inspector Harry Hole series, but it seems they can be read in any order. It was my first book by this writer.

Harry Hole is in charge of a missing woman’s case. She didn’t take anything with her when she left the house, and her mobile phone is found in the head of a snowman in the garden. Harry finds a link with other missing women cases and his team broadens their investigation. He is assisted by a young woman, Katrine Bratt, who has been transferred from Bergen to Oslo and was assigned to Harry’s team.

The murderer (it turns out the missing women are killed) always makes a snowman in the garden of the woman he abducts. It seems very hard to catch the Snowman and Harry gets it wrong a few times, but in the end, he finally catches the murderer in a dramatic turn of events.

It was a good read while I was reading it, but quite soon after reading it, I already failed to remember the plot. I can give you the bottom line (which I won’t, because of spoilers) but I could not summarize the whole book for you. Too many things happened and there were a few too many suspects.

A confession: I’ve had enough of flawed main characters, like Harry Hole. Harry is an alcoholic with an ex-wife and a son. He hasn’t got much to live for besides his work. I don’t need handsome heroes for whom everything they touch turns to gold but I’ve just read too many thrillers where the protagonist is having a non-existent or heavily flawed private life. This is not the fault of this writer or this book, but if you read thrillers regularly, you can get a bit fed-up with it.

Still, the story as such made for a good reading experience.

Questions

Nadine: Had you read any other book(s) in the Harry Hole series?

Judith: No, this was my first book by this author. I won it from Boof at The Book Whisperer who loved the book. I liked it but I didn’t think it was special. It’s just like many other good thrillers.

Nadine: Did you have the impression you missed something because you didn’t read any earlier books in the series?

Judith: No, I don’t think I missed out on anything. Maybe the characters (Harry, his ex-wife, his son, his colleagues) would be more interesting to me if I had read the other books, but I didn’t feel I missed any essential information.

Nadine: Did you have an inkling of who the snowman was before it was revealed in the book?

Judith: Not at all! I was not sure who it could be. I certainly didn’t expect that particular person to be the Snowman, he/she was never suspect (in my mind).

Nadine: Did you enjoy the book and if so, are you going to read any others from the series  or by this author?

Judith: I did enjoy the book and I might read more of the author, but it’s not high on my list. For me, this wasn’t better or worse than many other thrillers that I’ve read.

Nadine: On the cover of my edition of the book, a sticker says: ‘The Next Stieg Larsson’.  I know you have read the Millennium Trilogy and enjoyed it.  What do you think about the comparison between Nesbo and Larsson?

Judith: Nonsense! Any Scandinavian crime writer is the next Stieg Larsson if you’d ask the marketing department at any publisher! Well, no! This book is one in a series, but Larsson’s books formed a trilogy with one story line (that of Salander) taking a large part of the books (Harry Hole’s private life is much less important in The Snowman). Larsson’s books took place in Sweden, The Snowman in Norway. Larsson’s books contain more politics and a conspiracy at government level. Nothing like that in The Snowman.

[I actually read the Millenium Trilogy twice, watched all three (Swedish) films and the new (American) film. I can’t get enough of it!]
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You can find Nadine’s review (and my questions to her) HERE.

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Rating: 4/5

I got this book: From Boof of The Book Whisperer

I read this in: English, the original language is Norwegian

Number of pages: 576

First published: 2010 (English edition, the Norwegian edition Snømannen is from 2007)

Genre: thriller

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