Book Review: The Loney – Andrew Michael Hurley

the-loneyI received this eARC thanks to Netgalley and the publisher and author, providing an honest and unbiased review of this book.

Where do I start with this book… There is this place, a truly strange, somewhat near deserted place, between Wyre and the Lune, that is known only by what the few locals who remain there call it. That place is called The Loney. Every Easter, Mummer, Farther, Mr and Mrs Belderboss and Father Wilfred, the parish priest, would take a pilgrimage here for its mystical Shrine, along with the unnamed boy narrator and his suggested mentally ill and mute brother Andrew, known better as Hanny, in order to help heal Andrew thanks to God. However, this year is different. Father Wilfred is dead, declared accidental, but is there more to the story? So now there is a new priest to take his place, Father Bernard, who has his own ways, but are people willing and ready to accept him and his new ways or do they prefer things how they were?

In all honesty, I’m really in two minds when it comes to this book and about whether I enjoyed it or not. It took me a while to get into the story and when I say a while, I mean at least a third of the way through. If I hadn’t been reading this book for Netgalley at the time, then I don’t think I would have finished reading it, that’s how long it took me to get into this book. It started off with a slow pace and for me it wasn’t until they actually got to the coast or The Lonely, where it started to actually pick up the pace. But that’s when I got into the book and it hooked me. I wanted to find out more and therefore needed to keep reading on! I had questions and wanted answered, or I just simply wanted to read another chapter and another chapter because I didn’t want to stop.

I will admit that I didn’t realise how much this book was going to be centred and based on religion and maybe that’s why it took me so long to get into the storyline, as it was a bit off putting. It was interesting to read a book that did focus so fully on religion in this way, but it did come a bit unexpected. This cover grabbed my attention instantly and has to be one of my favourite covers I’ve seen in a while. I love it, and I knew it was meant to be a horror book, so I barely read the description before requesting to read this book on Netgalley. Maybe that’s my mistake, but descriptions can sometimes give away too much information and then spoil the entire book. Like trailers with movies.

One thing I loved about this book was how it was told. The beginning of the book starts off with the unnamed protagonist narrator beginning his story to us, the readers, at his current age, trying to get his point of view of past events across, before it’s too late. The book then goes back to when he was younger and he then begins that part of his story to us. We get to see everything from his eyes and how he saw and remembers it all, which shamefully took me a while to realise what was happening. Throughout the whole book, we never get to know his name! This does annoy me, but yet I also think that it’s fitting for his character, as he never really gets any of the attention in this book. The character who shows him the most attention is Father Bernard, who subsequently gives him his own little nickname, which is the only name we hear him called throughout the entire book, and that’s Tonto.

I personally believe that there are some very strong characters, with great development behind them, illustrated in this book. Even though I couldn’t connect to several of the characters because of their strong religious beliefs and how much it defined them, how they were presented in the book was strong. There were others I loved. I loved the relationship between the brothers ‘Hanny’ and the main protagonist ‘Tonto’ and how only siblings are and how they have their own special relationship. They are able to communicate in way that no one is able to in the whole entire book. In fact, ‘Tonto’ is maybe to only person who is able to properly communicate with Hanny. Their relationship kind of reminds me of George and Lennie’s relationship in “Of Mice and Men”.

I don’t think that I would class this book as a horror book, as it didn’t frighten or scare me, especially compared to more thrilling and terrifying books. It just wasn’t creepy enough. But maybe that aspect was lost on me as I wasn’t fully engaged enough to be afraid of what I was reading. There are elements of supernatural, I think, mixed in with religion, but it’s hard to identify which is meant to be which.

When it came to the ending, it definitely left me wanting more. In my eyes, it had been building up to this big ending, or big reveal, and it just left me completely unsatisfied, with questions left unanswered. I’d even been expecting some plot twist at the end for some reason, which didn’t occur. For a book that was 367 pages and wasted pages on unnecessary parts, it could have used that time to spend it answering those questions and building towards a better ending.

So when it comes to my recommendation of this book, I will say that it all depends on what your personal preferences are. This book does have some high reviews, so I may be in the minority that didn’t appreciate it to its fullest. I did enjoy it, but was left dissatisfied and it did take me a while to get into it. If you don’t like overly religious books, then maybe pick a different book. I’m only giving this book 3 out of 5 stars because it wasn’t a bad book, but it wasn’t my favourite either, just maybe the wrong book for me.

3-stars

Book Review: Alice (Chronicles of Alice, #1) – Christina Henry

Alice (Chronicles of Alice, #1).pngThis book really caught my eye when I saw a review of it thanks to the wonderful world of Book Blogging! Ever since then I knew I had to have it and read it, IMMEDIATELY!! So that’s what I did. I already had high expectations of this book before going in to reading it, which made me a little dubious before I even started the book, because I didn’t want to be disappointed by my own high build up.

Alice, is the first book in the Chronicles of Alice series, which is an Alice in Wonderland retelling of sorts, but a much darker and disturbing version. I love it! Let me give you the books actual description before I give you my review of this thrilling read;

“In a warren of crumbling buildings and desperate people called the Old City, there stands a hospital with cinderblock walls which echo with the screams of the poor souls inside.
In the hospital, there is a woman. Her hair, once blonde, hangs in tangles down her back. She doesn’t remember why she’s in such a terrible place – just a tea party long ago, and long ears, and blood. . .
Then, one night, a fire at the hospital gives the woman a chance to escape, tumbling out of the hole that imprisoned her, leaving her free to uncover the truth about what happened to her all those years ago.
Only something else has escaped with her. Something dark. Something powerful.
And to find the truth, she will have to track this beast to the very heart of the Old City, where the rabbit waits for his Alice.”

Sound awesome? Because OMG this book was soooo amazing!!! That wasn’t subtle at all, was it? This book begins after Alice has already met the Rabbit, and let me tell you that it’s not the friendly rabbit we’re all used to and maybe would have expected when it comes to any story of Alice in wonderland. She is found after some time, wondering around and covered in blood, mumbling about rabbits and eyes, and if that’s not bad enough, her friend Dor has not returned with her. Her parents, not getting answers about what had happened, about the still missing Dor and with Alice still going on about the Rabbit, they put her into a hospital (I believe a mental hospital), deep in the Old City. Over time she forgets what happened to her, except for the tea party, the long ears, the colour of the eye and the blood. While there she meets somebody in the room next to hers and they start talking. And that is really where the story really starts and Alice’s new adventure to rediscover her lost memories begins. But is it an adventure she wants to undertake, and are they memories she want to have back?.

I can’t remember the last time I got completely engorged in a book like I did with this one. I became so antisocial while reading it, because I just didn’t want to stop reading this book for any reason whatsoever! The storyline was so gripping and I just wanted to keep going and to go on the same adventure as Alice and Hatcher as they went along. It was so good and so captivating, and everything that was written was just so perfectly expressed that I could imagine it all so vividly, that it was like it was all being played out in my head. I don’t even think I took the time to actually eat properly. I definitely didn’t take the time to set the book down and cook a proper home cooked meal that would’ve taking the time to do so, so luckily I was very quick reading this book.

The characters in this book were gripping and so easy to understand. Of course we are going to have to discuss Alice. When reading this book and you are told that it’s an Alice in Wonderland retelling, so you instantly get and bring the Alice from the Lewis Carroll classic to mind, before you even open and read this book. But once you start reading, you get a character all of her own. You see her grow and develop throughout this entire book, which is so seamlessly done, that seemless is the best word to use because of how outstanding it is. You don’t see this sudden jump in character, you see a growth and you get to understand her and see why there’s a growth in her character, which is something you sometimes don’t get to see and is often missed. One of these changes, is thanks to another character, Hatcher. This is the character that Alice meets, or hears, in the room next to her in the hospital at the beginning of the book. I don’t want to give too much away, as I want to keep my reviews spoiler free.

What was amazing, for me anyways, was when I would hear words that would connect me to the original Lewis Carroll version of Alice in Wonderland, this would make me smile. When I would here simple things such as, the tea party, the cakes and drinks that affected their size, the Jabberwock, the rabbit, the Cheshire and his grin, I can go on and on. It all just made this book that extra bit perfect for me. I love it all. Yet with all of these little reminders of Carrolls version and the constant reminders of this being a retelling of sorts, you also got this uniqueness from it, which I didn’t expect. You get this book, that is so original on it’s own merits, with so much adventure, excitement and story.

Then how they ended this book!! I so desperately want to quote the ending so badly, but omg what a spoiler that would be, or more like a teaser, maybe? I always said that I never wanted to give away spoilers in my reviews, but this last part of this book, OMG!! I won’t do it. I have fallen in love with this book, that it’s sequel, Red Queen (Chronicles of Alice #2) by Christina Henry, has already been bought with speedy eagerness and will be dived into, read and reviewed with haste. P.s. If you order this book from amazon, don’t look at the amount of pages it says the book has. Before I ordered my copy I was told it was going to have 198 pages, however when my book arrived it had 325 pages, which was better for me. The same for Red Queen, saying 198 but actually having 313 pages.

I can’t recommend this book highly enough. READ IT!! But beware of its dark, violent and possibly disturbing images. Now that you’ve been warned, GO AND READ IT!!! Definitely my biggest recommendation so far this year.

Have you read this book? What did you think?

5-stars

Book Review: This House Is Haunted – John Boyne

this-house-is-hauntedI am a great fan of John Boyne, ever since reading The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas, however, since reading that book, none of his other books have been able to live up to the greatness of that book. The emotions!. But this book may have surpassed that book for me. The emotions, the mystery, none of the guilt of knowing the events are based on real events but you still get hit with emotions, plus with added horror. This may definitely be my favourite John Boyne book.

This House is Haunted is a horror book, that is set in a different time, 1867 to be exact, a time when Charles Dickins is very much still alive and giving readings of pieces of his work. (There showed a great love for Charles Dickins’ work and as a result, it did make me want to pick up and read one of my books that are currently on my TBR list and bookshelf by Mr Dickins, so that I could appreciate it a lot more.) Unfortunately, it is the result of one of these readings that something happens to begins the path of Eliza Caine.

Eliza is in want of a new job, in a new place, to get away recent memories (trying not to give away to many spoilers). A fresh start. However, the job she has taken, may not be exactly what she expected or what it was entirely advertised. From the moment she arrives at the train station weird things start happening, almost instantly and things don’t stop there. From going to the house and discovering the kids alone with no parents in sight, and the people in the village look and act weirdly around her when they discover where she works, each refusing to answer the ever-growing list of questions she’s getting. What will it take for her to discover the truth about what is happening and what has happened? Is she in danger? Will she stay once she finds out the truth, or will it be too late?

As this book is set in an earlier era, this also means that the reader also needs to be aware that the views are also going to be set in the past and, let’s just say a little “old fashioned” in this book, especially towards women. There were certain parts in this book that just took me by surprise when it came to this and made me question whether I should be offended or just laugh. In the end, it made me laugh because I realised just how far we’ve come in society and how views and opinions have changed, plus I think the way they were put into the book were put there in a comedic way, just to hint at what it was like.

I loved this book!. I found myself becoming so engrossed with every word and with every character, who each had their own story to tell. Even the house become a character in its own weird way. The way the story unfolded was really good as it made you really get into the book and emphasize with several of the characters. We discover and learn all the new information in the book through Eliza, as she is discovering and learning everything about what has happened in the story. Also learning everything about the characters, the village, the house and so on, through the eyes of Eliza. But the ending. Oh My God the ending!

This is one of the best horror books that I have read in a while. It kept me gripped throughout the whole book, which is hard to do, making me deny my crying body wanting sleep. I had so many questions and I just wanted, or needed, these answers, which kept me reading up until the very end. I was able to relate to the main character, Eliza, in this way, who had so many questions and nobody would answer them, which made her frustrated and more determined to discover the truth. Lets just say I also felt her frustration at times as well, but in the best possible ways that keep you hooked and reading until 3am because you as a reader need answers.

I defiantly recommend this book highly!

5-stars