Book Review: Such Pretty Things – Lisa Heathfield

Book Review: Such Pretty Things – Lisa Heathfield


Release Date:
April 13th 2021
Publisher: Titan Books
Pages: 304
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 3.25/5 stars

Synopsis

A terrifying story of ghosts and grief, perfect for fans of Shirley Jackon’s The Haunting of Hill House and Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw, in award-winning author Lisa Heathfield’s first adult novel.

Clara and her younger brother Stephen are taken by their father to stay with their aunt and uncle in a remote house in the hills as their mother recovers from an accident. At first, they see it as a summer to explore. There’s the train set in the basement, the walled garden with its secret graves and beyond it all the silent loch, steady and waiting.

Auntie has wanted them for so long—real children with hair to brush and arms to slip into the clothes made just for them. All those hours washing, polishing, preparing beds and pickling fruit and now Clara and Stephen are here, like a miracle, on her doorstep.

But the reality of two children—their noise, their mess, their casual cruelties–begins to overwhelm Auntie. The children begin to uncover things Auntie had thought left buried, and Clara can feel her brother slipping away from her. This hastily created new family finds itself falling apart, with terrifying consequences for them all.

Such Pretty Things is a deeply chilling and haunting story about the slow shattering nature of grief, displacement, jealousy and an overwhelming desire to love and be loved.

Review

Such Pretty Things is the dark and chilling story of Clara and Stephen, two young children taken to stay with their aunt and uncle following their mother’s accident. Their aunt and uncle stay in a remote house and the children believe this will be a summer of exploration and play. Their Auntie has been hoping for children as long as she can remember, but when the children arrive with all their mess and bad behaviour, Auntie struggles to cope. As the children uncover secrets Auntie had long kept hidden it will rip apart their family forever.

Such Pretty Things caught my eye because of that brilliant, eerie cover and it fits so well with this creepy tale. It’s the sort of story that sends a shiver up your spine, full to the brim with tension and unease. Such Pretty Things will absolutely appeal to fans of Shirley Jackson and the story felt very reminiscent of The Turn of the Screw. I ended up reading the book pretty quickly as the strong sense of atmosphere kept me wanting to know more.

Such Pretty Things is quite a slow-paced tale and in some parts I found the story dragged a little. I kept expecting something more horrifying to occur, but it never really happened. There are plenty of sinister moments and Heathfield has a really vivid writing style, but I found myself waiting for something more to happen. Despite this I still really enjoyed the story, it was well executed and a really inventive read. If you’re in the mood for a sinister, creeping horror tale, Such Pretty Things is one for your wishlist.

Book Review: Across the Green Grass Fields – Seanan McGuire

Book Review: Across the Green Grass Fields – Seanan McGuire


Series:
Wayward Children #6
Release Date: January 12th 2021
Publisher: Tor Books
Pages: 174
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: I listened to the Audiobook on Scribd
Rating: 3.25/5 stars

Synopsis

A young girl discovers a portal to a land filled with centaurs and unicorns in Seanan McGuire’s Across the Green Grass Fields, a standalone tale in the Hugo and Nebula Award-wining Wayward Children series.

“Welcome to the Hooflands. We’re happy to have you, even if you being here means something’s coming.”

Regan loves, and is loved, though her school-friend situation has become complicated, of late.

When she suddenly finds herself thrust through a doorway that asks her to “Be Sure” before swallowing her whole, Regan must learn to live in a world filled with centaurs, kelpies, and other magical equines―a world that expects its human visitors to step up and be heroes.

But after embracing her time with the herd, Regan discovers that not all forms of heroism are equal, and not all quests are as they seem…

Review

Across the Green Grass Fields is the sixth instalment in Seanan McGuire’s Wayward Children series. Each instalment follows a child who has gone to a magical land (think Narnia). When the children return to the real world they end up at Eleanor West’s School for Wayward Children, a place for them to live while they try to find their doors. In this instalment we follow Regan as she enters the hooflands and must venture on a quest to save the herd that takes her in.

I absolutely love this series and each of the books has been really engrossing with fascinating worlds. I’m always really impressed with the amount of world building and character develop McGuire manages to pack into such a small page count and Across the Green Grass Fields is not different. The world Regan enters is full of horse type creatures and on her journey Regan meets centaurs, kelpies and other mythological creatures.

Like the previous books I really enjoyed the story and learning about the world Regan has entered, but for some reason I didn’t love this one as much as the others. I was excited to see all the different creatures but the kelpies don’t really enter the story until near the ending. I think because I wasn’t as interested in the world I wasn’t as invested in Regan’s story. I think perhaps because none of the characters from previous books featured in this story I also wasn’t as desperate to read on.

Despite not being completely hooked, I still really enjoyed this story. It was a solid three star read and I really love the overarching plot and themes of this series. McGuire has created a really spectacular series in Wayward Children and I can’t wait to see where she takes things next. I know they’ve already had two books already but I’d love to return to Jack and Jill sometime soon!

Book Review: The Human Son – Adrian J. Walker

Book Review: The Human Son – Adrian J. Walker

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Release Date:
April 28th 2020
Publisher: Solaris
Pages: 500
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 3.25/5 stars

Synopsis

500 YEARS IN THE FUTURE, EARTH IS A PARADISE… WITHOUT US.

The Earth was dying, and only the Erta could save it. Created to be genetically superior, hyper-intelligent and unburdened by the full range of human emotions, they succeeded by removing the cause: humans.

Now the Erta are faced with a dilemma—if they reintroduce the rebellious and violent Homo sapiens, all of their work could be undone.

They decide to raise one child: a sole human to decide if we should again inherit the Earth.

But the quiet and clinical Ima finds that there is more to raising a human than she had expected; and there is more to humanity’s history than she has been told.

Review

Copy of book cover - 2020-04-15T131539.279The Human Son is a unique and compelling tale that follows a race of people known as the Erta who, 500 years in the future, have saved the Earth from dying. Now they have a decision to make, do they reintroduce humans (who caused all the damage) or allow the human race to become extinct. Ima is tasked with raising a human child as an experiment, to decide to the fate of humanity. But as she watches the child grow, Ima finds a lot more than she expected.

This clever tale is an engaging read, one that gives the reader plenty to think about in terms of human nature and the destruction of the Earth. It was unlike anything I had read before and I thought the premise was completely fascinating. The story really tackles the idea of what it means to be human and I found it quite an engrossing topic.

The story is a very character driven one, focusing on the relationship between Ima and Reed as well as how Ima’s relationships with the other Erta change as Reed grows. We follow the two through all ages of Reed’s development and it was fascinating seeing their relationship change, how Ima changes in her role as parent. Because it was such a character driven read it is on the slower paced side, so I found some parts – particularly in the middle – harder to get through.

The Human Son is a beautifully written book, with a really compelling premise. If you love character driven science fiction, this is definitely a must read.
3 Stars (1)

Book Review: Highfire – Eoin Colfer

Book Review: Highfire – Eoin Colfer

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Release Date:
January 28th 2020
Publisher: Jo Fletcher Books
Pages: 384
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 3.25/5 stars

Synopsis

From the internationally bestselling author of the Artemis Fowl series: Eoin Colfer’s first adult fantasy novel is a hilarious, high-octane adventure about a vodka-drinking, Flashdance-loving dragon who’s been hiding out from the world – and potential torch-carrying mobs – in a Louisiana bayou . . . until his peaceful world’s turned upside down by a well-intentioned but wild Cajun tearaway and the crooked (and heavily armed) law officer who wants him dead.

Squib Moreau may be swamp-wild, but his intentions are (generally) good: he really wants to be a supportive son to his hard-working momma Elodie. But sometimes life gets in the way – like when Fake Daddy walked out on them leaving a ton of debt, or when crooked Constable Regence Hooke got to thinking pretty Elodie Moreau was just the gal for him…

An apprenticeship with the local moonshine runner, servicing the bayou, looks like the only way to pay off the family debts and maybe get Squib and his momma a place in town, far from Constable Hooke’s unwanted courtship and Fake Daddy’s reputation.

Unfortunately for Squib, Hooke has his own eye on that very same stretch of bayou – and neither of them have taken into account the fire-breathing dragon hiding out in the Louisiana swamp…

For Squib Moreau, Regence Hooke and Vern, aka Lord Highfire of Highfire Eyrie, life is never going to be the same again.

Highfire is a genre-bending tour-de-force of comedy and action by the million-copy-selling master storyteller.

Review

Copy of book cover (94)I loved the Artemis Fowl series growing up so when I heard that Eoin Colfer was releasing an adult fantasy novel about a vodka drinking dragon I was desperate to get my hands on it. This action packed tale is full of hi-jinx and humour and is without a doubt one of the most unique tales I’ve read in a long time.

Highfire follows a young boy named Squib Moreau who lives and works in the bayou. He’s often getting into trouble with the law but he tries his best to do right by his mum Elodie. He often has run ins with Constable Hooke, a shady officer who has his sights on his mum, despite her constant rejections. When Squib and Hooke stumble upon an ancient dragon who is spending the rest of the days hiding out in the Lousiana swamp, Squib has to do everything he can to stop Hooke from taking over the bayou.

I loved how brilliant and original this story was. Have you ever read a book about an ancient dragon who drinks Vodka and is obsessed with flashdance? I thought not. This is a very cleverly woven story and I really enjoyed the blend of fantasy, action and thriller. I did find the beginning a little slow to get into but it quickly picked up the pace and the second half of the book is a complete roller coaster ride. The characters are really fascinating and that was probably what I enjoyed most about this one – Vern is grumpy and stubborn, Hooke is the definition of the crooked police officer. Squib was a great protagonist and it was so easy to root for him and Vern to safe the day.

Highfire is an action packed tale that is full of comedic moments. I found the pacing a little off in this one but overall it was a really enjoyable and fun read, full of humour and adventure. If you’ve been curious about this one I’d definitely suggest trying it out.
3 Stars (1)