As the first read of the year, I picked up Mexican Gothic – a book I have been wanting to read for a while now. Read on my book review of Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia to see how it worked for me.
When her father sends Noemí Taboada to High Palace in the Mexican countryside as a response to her newly-wed cousin’s alarming letters about her husband, she is not enthused.
Noemi, a flighty, party loving 23 year old in the 1950s, who wants to get her father’s approval to her dreams of attending university considers this as an opportunity to win him over, as well as to help her dear cousin Catalina.
When she first arrives at the ancient, crumbling mansion, the welcome from her cousin’s husband Virgil Doyle and his family is less than lukewarm. She finds out that Catalina’s health, physically and mentally is fragile and the Doyles’ family doctor doesn’t seem helpful.
With frosty and unhelpful relatives and a house that squeaks and creaks at every turn, Noemi begins to believe that her cousin was correct. And it was up to her to save herself and Catalina.
Was she able to do that? What is it about the house that does not let them escape form the rest of the story in Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Book review of Mexican Gothic
Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia is a well written gothic fantasy thriller, leaning more towards fantasy than the thriller part. I had a huge expectations and I was left with a mixed feeling about it.
I really liked the first few pages of the book, but it took me more than fifty pages to actually get into the story. But until the last fifty pages or so, it moves really slow.
I love reading about dysfunctional families and the Doyles were definitely one of them. An aged patriarch who believes in “natural selection” and eugenics, a creepy, manipulative son, a controlling and matronly aunt and shy young man who is interested in fungus definitely wins the title.
If you like atmospheric horror like the Haunted of hill house, you are in for a treat. But being more of a “The Shining” fan, I was drifting off mentally often. Of course, it is definitely a “me” thing.
Apart from Noemi, Francis is the only other character to catch my attention and has some sort of character arc. But I am definitely not sold on their romance and strongly believe that they would be better of as friends. (I dunno why all stories have to have a romantic angle!)
What worked for me
I liked Noemi and her character development from a socialite who was a brat to a person to a matured young lady was interesting.
It was interesting to read about Marta and her stories about her ancestors and their culture. I wanted hear more from her about the colonialism and its effect on its Mexican subjects.
The whole creepy vibe of the mansion and the family is very well done. I felt sorry for the ladies for having stuck into the mess in the first place, even before realizing what it was about.
What may have been better
Mexican Gothic is definitely a slow burn, it takes about 50% of the book to garner the speed.
The mystery part is thinly veiled. If you paid close attention, you would stumble upon it quite easily and pretty early on.
Sexual assault(s), incest, murder, cannibalism, death of children, stillbirth, miscarriage, death of parent.
Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia is a must read for the fans of The Haunted hill house and other haunted house mysteries. But if you are someone like me, who wants more action than just the eerie atmosphere, you might find your attention wavering.
If you have been reading my reviews for a while you might know that I love jumping into a book without even reading the synopsis of a book. And I solely depend on recommendations and reviews of other bloggers and my mood swings to pick a book.
When I assumed that it was a contemporary murder mystery, I could not have been more wrong about The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton when I picked it up, after three other bookworms suggested it to me. I can’t wait to rave talk about the book to you all. Shall we get on with the review now?
Plot summary of The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle
Our protagonist wakes up with just a name in his mind and no other memory what so ever. He does not know his name or his history, except that he has to save Anna. He finds his name to be Sebastian Bell, a drug peddling doctor who is invited to a party at the Blackheath estate.
Soon he realizes Bell is just one of his hosts and has eight days and eight lives each in a different person’s body tasked to find the murderer of Evelyn Hardcastle, one of the heirs to the Blackheath.
He discovers that he is Aiden Bishop who is stuck in a time rut and until he finds the murderer he has to relive these eight days for eternity. What brings Aiden to Blackheath and does he solve the murder forms the rest of The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle.
Book review of The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle
The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is a perfect blend of mystery novel with time travel fantasy. It took me a few pages to get into the story especially since I was not sure what to expect. But once I did, I just couldn’t put the book down until the end.
I should start with I have not read a book as complicated as The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle in the recent while, or maybe in a long time. And it reads like a puzzle than a typical mystery novel.
It offers more than unexpected twists and suspense that is maintained till the last page. There are quite a number of captivating plot lines and characters that make us question our trust and their perceptions.
Things that worked for me
As a newbie to the time travel genre, The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle blew my mind and I am sure it would be as good even if you are a regular.
I loved the methodical approach in solving the mystery, which is becoming a rarity these days.
Being a vividly plotted novel, many may consider the pace to be slow, especially for a murder mystery.
I felt The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle was a little long winded during the last few chapters.
The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is one of those rare books that I would not mind rereading for the plot itself, just to make sure I had not missed out anything. And I am sure The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle will be worth reading twice. Just pick it up already.
Books similar to The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle
I don’t read that many fantasy books that are not horror based. That is not because I don’t like them but the premises are usually harder for me to get into. When I was approached for the review of YA fantasy fiction ‘Tribal Affairs’, I loved the relaxed narrative style, and I hoped I would like it. Read more to know.
Book Name: Tribal Affairs Author: Matt Dallmann
Genre: Fiction – Paranormal Fantasy
Characters: Liana, Dahlia, Taffi, Jamison, Stefan, Amon
Disclaimer: Thanks to the Author and iRead Book Tours for the Review Copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
Liana is a teenager whose magician father is losing his charm, and she decides to wear her late mother’s anklet. Little does she knows that she is about to set forth a great chaos in the realms of humans as well as genies alike. Dahlia the genie that is trapped in the anklet tries to connect to Liana through her dreams.
Liana suffers from depression and is being treated by Dr Rattner, just as her mother did. She believes she is losing her mind, as she sees and feels things that are not real. How much of what she sees is real and which is not?
As if things were not already complicated, Liana gets herself cursed to disappear, and she is pursued by a strong and powerful, evil genie. Does Liana solve the mystery about Dahlia and the evil genie? What is wrong with her mentally? Read Tribal Affairs to know more.
The story alternates between the tale of Dahlia and Liana, a genie and a teenager in the present. The shift in the story was kinda abrupt and hard to grasp initially, but later on, it becomes better. The conversations and the writing style is easy to follow, given that it is primarily aimed at the YA crowd. But Tribal Affairs might suit to all age group alike.
There are a few moments in the story that you might feel outta place if you had jumped in thinking only of Aladdin’s Genie.The Djinn/genie world seems much more complicated than that. They have even feuds between their tribes (thus the name Tribal Affairs, get it?) and lots of restrictions on their power. So much for the shape-shifting goofy genies! sobsob. But kudos to the strong world building that even a genie noob like me could understand.
If you are a fan of YA fantasy, then you should pick this book Tribal Affairs right away. Even if you are not, try the book you might end up liking it thanks to its interesting narration.
Read more about the book and enter a giveaway here
What happens after you die? Depending on your religious beliefs, it may be afterlife, reincarnation or nothing at all. If you read a lot of YA literature zombie life may not be far from your thoughts. What if you were resurrected and your religious world was all ready to believe in it until you literally are resurrected? Would they understand you are the one that fulfills that prophecies? How would the modern world accept it? Moshe Karlin’s life just would answer those questions in An Unexpected Afterlife.
Book Name: An Unexpected Afterlife
Series: The Dry Bones Society #1
Author: Dan Sofer
Genre: Fiction – Paranormal
Characters: Moshe and Galit Karlin, Avi, Rabbi Yosef Lev
Setting: Jerusalem, Israel
Disclaimer: Thanks to the Author for the Review Copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
Moshe Karlin wakes up naked at a cemetery at the Mount of Olives, Jerusalem the morning after his 40th birthday. He catches a taxi to his house, trying to remember what prank his best friend Avi had pulled on him the previous night, only to find Avi and his wife Gallit in bed together. As if that was not enough to enrage him, Avi throws him off his house, saying Moshe has been dead for two years.
He reaches out to the local Rabbi Yosef, the one who buried Moshe when he was dead and tries to understand his situation. Without an ID, place to live or family to depend upon he stumbles on trying to win his old life, his wife, and his daughter. The Rabbi and Moshe are startled to find more ‘dead’ people are resurrected, and they seek their help. Some remember who they were; many don’t. Some are Jews, and few are not. Didn’t Torah promise that only Jews will be resurrected?
Meanwhile, not far from this chaos, the Prophet Elijah himself is stuck in an unforeseen situation. According to the scriptures and the destiny, he was supposed to save the world, but how can he when His world is changing. To make matters worse for the Rabbi the Great Council (of religious wisemen) discards the Rabbi’s theory of resurrection and pronounces the resurrected as ‘ Sitra Achra!’ (other side / unholy world).
What does the Rabbi choose – his free will and understanding of the Torah or the words of the Council that has guided him all through his life and also can change the stability and peace in a teacher’s life? How do Moshe and his clan move ahead? Did they find what they are seeking? The An Unexpected Afterlife and the series will answer your questions.
An Unexpected Afterlife is a steady paced narrative that kept me engrossed until the end, well, end of the first book of the series. Thankfully the book didn’t end in a cliffhanger perse, though the series would answer many questions. The writing is crisp, and the tiny streak of satire kept things interesting. I loved the strong world building, and all the central characters had depth
The one thing that kinda annoyed me at the was that the stories of Moshe and Elijah did not seem to be related all, at least in the first book. Maybe they will merge somewhere down the lane in the following books of the series. I am not a great fan of fantasy and the zombie/undead world and have avoided them for a while. An Unexpected Afterlife made me realize what I have been missing out.
The story is primarily set in Israel, and I loved how the book let me have a glimpse into the world of Jews and their beliefs and culture. It is one of those things that made say yes when the author Dan Sofer approached for a review of his book, and I am glad I chose it. If you are interested in reading a religious take on the resurrection An Unexpected Afterlife is your pick.
I am known to be avoiding the fantasy genre for a while, these days. The number of blood sucking vampires and werewolves and dragons have gone too many on my ARCs shelves that I even have lost count of them. So when I was approached for the review of Harappa – Curse of the Blood River, I took a moment to think over. While I would love to read historical fiction, the blurb explained that the story would be borderline the fantasy, hence the hesitation. But curiosity won over me. Read on to know how it turned out.
Book Name: Harappa – Curse of the Blood River
Author: Vineet Bajpai
Genre: Fiction – Historical, drama
Characters: Vidyut, Damini, Vivasvan Shashtri, Naina, Bala
Disclaimer: This Book Review is a part of The Readers Cosmos Book Review Program and Book Promotions. To know more log on to The Readers Cosmos.
Meet Vidyut, a young and powerful businessman who is a jack of all trades, who lives with the love of his life Damini. His perfect life is disturbed by a call from his great grandfather from Varanasi, who seems to be in his death bed. Vidyut leaves to a place which holds several secrets not only concerning his life but the entire human race. Unbeknownst to him, several events that were set off all over the world once he starts to his journey from Delhi.
We are told of the happenings in the Harappan civilization of the ancient past -the past that sees the effects of treachery and blood thirst. What is the relationship between modern day Vidyut and the fallen civilization? Only one man tell it all, his great grandfather who is running out of time and the strong and treacherous enemies are at bay. Read Harappa – Curse of the Blood River to find out more.
First of the premise is intriguing making us wonder if our school history text books were in fact, nothing but an elaborate ruse? Following the pattern laid by the likes of Dan Brown, Ashwin Sanghi and the new comer Luke Gracias, the story alternates between the past and present and the author does that with quite the flair.
I had known the book was the first of the series of four books, but I had not realized until I came to it, that it ends in a cliffhanger and it doesn’t answer many of the questions. This might be disconcerting to some of the readers, including me. There were few scenes in the middle that were clichéd and could have been very well done without.
The rich history and the strong story line related to Harappan civilization is well executed. The author makes us ponder where does the line between mythology and history lie. The dialogues were kinda off-putting especially the modern day’s, where no one uses that many slangs (yaa, yaar etc) in real life. And the writing gets kinda repetitive after a while. Yet, none of these reduce the pace set by the author until the very last.
The introduction kinda gave away the entire plot, at least the plot of the first book. And then there is a prologue which piqued the interest but again once we have read the introduction there is very little suspense to keep up. There are a few misgivings like how long does it take for a person to narrate a simple tale. But if we do overlook such logical reasoning, I would not be surprised if the Harappa – Curse of the Blood River ends up to be a best seller.