A Vestry, Edgar Allan Poe, and a Mischievous Crow…

Wakening the Crow by Stephen Gregory

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Title: Wakening the Crow
Author: Stephen Gregory
Series: N/A
Edition: Paperback, 256 pages
Publication Details: November 11th 2014 by Solaris
Genre(s): Horror; Gothic
Disclosure? Yep! I received a copy from the author/publisher in exchange for an HONEST review.

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With the looming shadow of Edgar Allan Poe falling over one family, Gregory takes the reader into a world of uncertainty and fear.

Oliver Gooch comes across a tooth, in a velvet box, with a handwritten note from 1888 to say it’s a tooth from the boy Edgar Allan Poe. He displays it in his new bookshop, and names the store Poe’s Tooth Books.

Oliver took the money from his small daughter Chloe’s accident insurance and bought a converted church to live in with his altered child and wife. Rosie hopes Chloe will came back to herself but Oliver is secretly relieved to have this new easy-to-manage child, and holds at bay the guilt that the accident was a result of his negligence. On a freezing night he and Chloe come across the crow, a raggedy skeletal wretch of a bird, and it refuses to leave. It infiltrates their lives, it alters Oliver’s relationship with Rosie, it changes Chloe. It’s a dangerous presence in the firelit, shadowy old vestry, in Poe’s Tooth Books.

Inexorably the family, the tooth, the crow, the church and their story will draw to a terrifying climax.

 Review

Everything about this synopsis intrigued me; the bizarreness of basing a story – and indeed a horror bookshop – on the discovery of Poe’s tooth, the idea that a manky crow can have an impact on the character’s relationships, and the gothic setting. Sounds good right?

Well, I’m pleased to say that it was…for the most part.

Oliver Gooch is a very strange protagonist and narrator. From the start it’s evident that he’s not altogether what you would call a loving father and husband, or even a good, decent person. Honest maybe, but loving, no.

He frequently refers to his daughter as fat, disgusting and petulant, and his wife as not much better, but all of this adds to a growing unease.

Previously a mobile library driver, Oliver is now about to open his own horror bookshop in the church they have recently bought to also live in. The money came out of a tragic accident when Chloe got stung by a wasp in the mobile library, ran out into the road and suffered a head injury which changed her completely.

Now mute and compliant, with a constant sweet smile upon her face, Chloe is a different daughter entirely, and Oliver is relieved. So much so that he fears the day that she might actually recover.

Stephen Gregory does a great job of creating suspense here. The more we are led through this story by Oliver, the more disturbing it gets. He sees himself as becoming the Poe-like character he dreams of; he stops washing;  he drinks constantly, and tries to ‘write’. He seems to think that the more dishevelled he becomes, and the more grim the bookshop appears, the better. But all of this is at the expense of his family.

The only problem I had with this book was that I couldn’t understand Oliver as a character. I almost felt sorry for him at times, but it’s hard to empathise with someone who laughed at their daughter when she got stung by a wasp, resulting in her being brain damaged. I always felt like there was a good person trying to get out of him, but it never came.

I also expected more of a climax to the story, but overall this was a great read for a dark and stormy night, filled with gothic imagery and a overriding sense of unease.

unicorn rating 3

Wakening the Crow is available from November 11th, or to pre-order now at Waterstones

*Fangirl Alert* The Heir by Kiera Cass

I know I’m late to the party on this one, but while the online world was going crazy over the announcement that Kiera Cass has expanded on her The Selection series, I was knee-deep in Horror October posts.

But now, let’s celebrate!

I am sooooooooooo excited about this, but also slightly worried that you can have too much of a good thing. Is Cass breaking all her own rules in this role reversal, where a selection of boys compete for the Princess’ (America and Maxon’s daughter, obvs) hand in marriage.

Cass addresses this question and more on her website…but to sum it up…we just have to wait and see. EEEEK! So long to wait.

The Heir, is due for release May 5th 2015. TOO FAR AWAY!

HEIR

Twenty years ago, America Singer entered the Selection and won Prince Maxon’s heart. Now the time has come for Princess Eadlyn to hold a Selection of her own. Eadlyn doesn’t expect her Selection to be anything like her parents’ fairy-tale love story. But as the competition begins, she may discover that finding her own happily ever after isn’t as impossible as she always thought.

And if that wasn’t enough, don’t forget about The Queen, the prequel novella which gets a digital release next month (December 2nd). Which is a much nicer wait than MAY is. Ugh.

I’m linking this up to Breaking the Spine’s Waiting on Wednesday.

WWW Wednesday 05.11.2014

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To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…

• What are you currently reading? • What did you recently finish reading? • What do you think you’ll read next?

Welcome to another WWW Wednesday!

I hope you are all having a good week. I’m still trying to catch up after my Horror October frenzy, but I’ll get there. Here are my answers this week:

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Currently Reading:
I’m reading Back to Blackbrick by Sarah Moore Fitzgerald. I’m liking it so far, it’s a little strange, much like her other book The Apple Tart of Hope which I really liked.

Recently Finished:
My last read was Wakening the Crow by Stephen Gregory which I had mixed feeling about. My review will be up tomorrow. I also finished and reviewed Killer Spiders, here.

Up Next:
So many to choose from as always. I have loads of ARCs and review request books to get through before the end of the year! Dying for Christmas by Tammy Cohen is one I’m particularly looking forward to!

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Want to Reread!

toptentuesday Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish (click the image to visit them) who pick a different topic each week.

This week the topic is: Top Ten Books I Want To Reread (or if you don’t reread…would reread in an ideal world).

Well, this one is quite easy for me, as I set myself a Reread challenge this year because I’ve missed rereading my favourites since I started blogging. I used to reread a lot!

So far I’ve only managed two out of the ten, but hey ho…! Here are the 10 I chose:

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  1. Northern Lights (His Dark Materials #1) by Phillip Pullman
  2. Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
  3. Peter Pan by J.M Barrie
  4. Sunshine by Robin Mckinley
  5. The Final Testament of the Holy Bible by James Frey
  6. The Time Traveller’s Wife by Audrey Niffennegger
  7. The Gates by John Connolly
  8. 9. 10. The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins

I’m intrigued to see what’s made your lists!

Killer Spiders by Lex Sinclair

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Title: Killer Spiders
Author: Lex Sinclair
Series: N/A
Edition: Paperback, 302 pages
Publication Details: January 31st 2013 by Austin MacAuley
Genre(s): Horror
Disclosure? Yep! I received a copy from the author/publisher in exchange for an HONEST review.

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Great Britain, 2005. Huge, poisonous spiders are stealthily taking over. One bite is enough to kill a grown man; there is no defense and there is no antidote. They are immune to all pesticides; the only way to kill them is by fire or blunt force.

People find it hard to believe as more reports come in from all over the country. But once the spiders make themselves known, they are in for a fight to the death. With the spiders multiplying and outnumbering the humans, taking over towns, will mankind survive?

Just looking at the cover of this book makes me shudder. I was hoping it would be a skin-crawling read for Horror October, and in parts it was, but unfortunately it was also a struggle to get through.

Britain is being overrun by gigantic, deadly spiders, and at first not many people pay attention – there are worse things happening in the world – and hey, they’re just massive spiders, right? Err no!

As someone who HATES spiders, I found it hard to get on board with this lackadaisical approach, but it’s not long until people come round to my way of thinking and realise that an invasion of killer spiders is totally not cool, and must be stopped. But y’know, easier said than done.

I can certainly see this story being played out in a Syfy channel creature-feature b-movie (which I love by the way), but as a book it didn’t quite work for me.

In the very beginning it reminded me a little of Stephen King because were are introduced to a lot of characters very early on, but none of them stood out and I found it hard to get invested in any of them. And the frequent changing of perspective was a constant annoyance.

However, there were some great action-packed gorey moments in Killer Spiders which kept me reading, and made me glad that I did.

Sinclair did a great job in detailing the spider attacks in a delightfully disgusting and gorey manner, but I think overall characterisation and lack of suspense is what let it down.

unicorn rating 2

Killer Spiders is available now in paperback from Waterstones