Tag Archives: Act of Vengeance

In the Woods by Tana French

Synopsis: A murder investigation cuts too close to the bone for a detective who was once part of a missing persons case himself. Review: The other Sunday, Superfast Husband had to go to Home Depot after church, and since Superfast Toddler would certainly fall asleep in the car, I needed a book to read while listening to her dulcet snores. We stopped into the murder mystery bookshop nearby, where I asked if they could request anyone who loves Barbara Vine, and likes Ruth Rendell but…

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Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay

Synopsis: Tigana is a country that has been obliterated by magic, down to its very name, yet a small group of rebels who remember decide to spark civil war to reclaim the honor of their homeland. Review: I wanted to love Tigana, I really did. Guy Gavriel Kay is a beautiful writer, excelling in exploring complex emotions and motivations within scenes that are startlingly original. There are scenes in Tigana that are achingly lovely without sacrificing dramatic impact. However, the overall story just never clicked…

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Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill

Synopsis: An aging rock star buys an old suit that brings with it a vengeful spirit with a personal vendetta. Review: Let’s just get it out of the way. Joe Hill is Stephen King’s son. His debut novel, Heart-Shaped Box, is a work of horror. And not only is it damn good, it’s good enough to stand on its own. Hill has crafted a simple, elegant, scary little story that manages to delve deep into the nature of regret and repentance. The spectral figure who…

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The Ghost Writer by John Harwood

Synopsis: Having grown up with a controlling, secret-keeping mother, a young man yearns to know his family’s history and meet his letter-writing lover in person, but his journey takes him face to face with madness and murder. Review: Thank you, thank you, thank you to Eva for recommending this book! The Ghost Writer is a straight up Gothic tale, no revisionism here, thank you very much. It’s a tangled labyrinth of memories, letters, and unfinished stories that builds to a creepy, frightening climax that draws…

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Live Flesh by Ruth Rendell

Synopsis: After his release from prison, a troubled man befriends the man he crippled, and awakens his demons with tragic result. Review: Though strong in characterization (as always), Live Flesh doesn’t hold up as one of Ruth Rendell’s strongest. On its publication in 1986, I’m sure it made much more of an impact, but in today’s serial killer-saturated culture, this story now feels like old hat. Share on Facebook

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Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Synopsis: When Clay receives a box of cassette tapes recorded by a girl who recently committed suicide, he wonders why he was chosen as one of her thirteen reasons. Review: Compelling premise ultimately founders on muddled execution. Asher throws in at least four separate social problems as part of Hannah’s reasons for her suicide, and the construction ends up feeling far too contrived. This has the odd effect of making the story seem small, as though all of the suffering endured by the various characters…

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Lessons from a Dead Girl by Jo Knowles

Synopsis: Leah Greene is dead, and her ex-best friend Laine thinks it’s her fault because she hated Leah so much for what they did in the closet. Review: Lessons from a Dead Girl is definitely the kind of YA that I gravitated to when I was a teen: suggestive premise and hints of illicit activity, all masked in an object lesson about something or other. This is a fair-to-middling entrant in the subgenre. The writing is good with strong characters, but it never really soars…

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The Windsingers by Megan Lindholm

Synopsis: The second in the adventures of gypsy teamster Ki, hired by a wizard to reunite his head with the rest of his body, which have been seized by the menacing Windsingers. Meanwhile, Vandien has contracted himself to a fool’s errand retrieving a treasure of the Windsingers, trapped in a sunken temple. Review: As I mentioned in my post on Harpy’s Flight, it doesn’t seem like Lindholm will be developing an overall mythology, though she is using some recurring characters, and might be continuing some…

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