Reincarnation Blues by Michael Poore – A Review

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Reincarnation Blues by Michael Poore
Magical Realism | Fantasy
Published by Del Rey Books
Released August 22nd, 2017
Goodreads | Amazon
Rating: 5_Star_Rating_System_5_stars

“Perfection is being happy with what you are right now.” 

I apologize in advance for this review, because I have no idea how to even start reviewing this incredible piece of literature. Days after finishing this novel, I’m still thinking about it constantly. I already want to read it again, in fact. It made me want to read everything Michael Poore has ever written. Yes, it’s that good.

My brother, who is also an avid reader, recommended this book to me some time ago, but unfortunately, it took me months to actually get around to reading it. While I wished I had read it a long time ago, I’m just thankful that this story is now in my life.

I hope I’m not building this book up too much for you guys. Actually, I kind of hope I am, because you should read it.

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Michael Poore

Reincarnation Blues is about Milo, a man who has been reincarnated almost 10,000 times. He’s told by his afterlife handlers (I don’t know how else to describe them), Mama and Nan, that he’s only got a few more chances to reach perfection, or he will become nothing. His goal doesn’t become just reaching perfection however; he tries to help his girlfriend, Death (aka. Suzie), to be able to live the life she wants (or, afterlife I suppose).

While I was reading Reincarnation Blues I kept getting strong Salman Rushdie vibes due to the magical realism and the type of dark humor that Poore wove into the story, but this is very much a unique novel that I’ve never encountered before. Poore has a unique writing voice and a story-telling technique that made me fall in love with the book pretty much immediately.

We get to learn the stories of Milo’s last few lives, along with shorter tales of his previous lives. I particularly loved the stories following Milo during the end of life on Earth, as one of the Buddha’s disciples, when he makes a powerful sacrifice on another world, and then his experience as a juggler in the afterlife.

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The Italian edition of Reincarnation Blues

His lives are lived in a non-linear chronology, as time doesn’t matter as much in the afterlife and in choosing his next life. We jump back and forth in time, but no worries if time travel isn’t your thing – you barely even notice it.

The love story between Milo and Suzie (aka Death) was well-done and left my heart breaking at times and smiling at others. Both of their characters were well-developed and had their own goals. Milo needed to find a way to reach perfection, while Suzie wanted to be more than Death.

There’s so much dark humor, along with wisdom about making the most of our own lives. Filled with plenty of joys and tragedies, this book will make you feel so many different emotions as you turn each page, making the experience of reading this novel quite powerful.

I don’t use the term masterpiece often, but Michael Poore’s Reincarnation Blues is a masterpiece. It’s one of the best books I’ve read this year and has easily forced its way into my top ten favorite books of all time. It’s been ages since I’ve read something as unique and imaginative as this, and I recommend that everyone read it.


Have you read Michael Poore’s Reincarnation Blues? What were your thoughts about it? Let me know in the comments!




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Quichotte by Salman Rushdie – A Review

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Quichotte by Salman Rushdie
Fiction | Contemporary | Magical Realism
Published by Random House
Released September 3rd, 2019
Goodreads | Amazon
Rating: 5_Star_Rating_System_4_stars

Note: I received a free ARC of this novel from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affects my opinions.

“Every quest takes place in both the sphere of the actual, which is what maps reveal to us, and in the sphere of the symbolic, for which the only maps are the unseen ones in our heads.”

There’s nobody else in the world who writes quite like Salman Rushdie. No matter what topic he’s writing about or which of his characters the words are coming from, his words are poetic and profound.

My brother was the person who introduced me to Rushdie and inspired me to read The Ground Beneath Her Feet, a book about a famous singer lost after an earthquake. I still consider that novel one of the most beautiful I’ve ever read. I quickly followed that up with what has become my favorite Rushdie novel, Haroun and the Sea of Stories

Salman Rushdie.jpgQuichotte is a story told from the point of view of Sam DuChamp, author of spy thrillers. Within that story, we also meet the characters of the newest book that DuChamp is writing, about a character named Quichotte.

Quichotte is a former salesman obsessed with television, particularly a TV personality named Miss Salma R. Quichotte is in love with her, and in order to meet her and have her reciprocate those feelings, he travels through “seven valleys” to make her more attainable and himself more worthy.

I don’t want to say too much more about the plot because I really think that this is a book that you need to go into not knowing too much about it. I love this part of Random House’s official synopsis for the story because it’s what initially made me want to read this novel:

Just as Cervantes wrote Don Quixote to satirize the culture of his time, Rushdie takes the reader on a wild ride through a country on the verge of moral and spiritual collapse. And with the kind of storytelling magic that is the hallmark of Rushdie’s work, the fully realized lives of DuChamp and Quichotte intertwine in a profoundly human quest for love and a wickedly entertaining portrait of an age in which fact is so often indiscernible from fiction.

A quick note before getting into my thoughts:  You do not need to read Don Quixote in order to read Quichotte. 

The story carried me along, enchanting and baffling me at the same time. Rushdie’s talent for weaving the fantastical with what’s real is easy to see here, just as it is in many of his other novels.

While Quichotte isn’t my favorite novel of Rushdie’s that I’ve read, I enjoyed the story very much and rated it a high four stars. I loved the dual narratives. Sam DuChamp is going through a midlife crisis while telling a story through Quichotte, a semi-autobiographical character on a quest for love.

The story takes on a variety of topics related to familial and romantic relationships, such as that between Quichotte and his imaginary yet real son. Estrangement, sexual abuse, drugs, and more are touched on, in a manner that is well done and serves to make the characters relatable. Their backstories also explain a lot about their personalities when we meet them in the story as well as their motivations. Few of the characters are good, they all have dark sides and make questionable decisions.

There were passages in this book that got a little bit repetitive. It was definitely a stylistic choice made consciously by Rushdie, which I was fine with the first few times I encountered it, but eventually, I started to dread sentences like this one:

“He devoured morning shows, daytime shows, late-night talk shows, soaps, situation comedies, Lifetime Movies, hospital dramas, police series, vampire and zombie serials, the dramas of housewives from Atlanta, New Jersey, Beverly Hills and New York, the romances and quarrels of hotel-fortune princesses and self-styled shahs, the cavortings of individuals made famous by happy nudities, the fifteen minutes of fame accorded to young persons with large social media followings on account of their plastic-surgery acquisition of a third breast or their post-rib-removal figures that mimicked the impossible shape of the Mattel company’s Barbie doll, or even, more simply, their ability to catch giant carp in picturesque settings while wearing only the tiniest of string bikinis; as well as singing competitions, cooking competitions, competitions for business propositions, competitions for business apprenticeships, competitions between remote-controlled monster vehicles, fashion competitions, competitions for the affections of both bachelors and bachelorettes, baseball games, basketball games, football games, wrestling bouts, kickboxing bouts, extreme sports programming and, of course, beauty contests.”

See what I mean?

This novel was very much worth the time it took me to read it. It’s by no means a short book, and due to passages like the one I shared above, at times it can be a bit daunting. It was wonderful, and I was enchanted by the settings, characters, storytelling, and Rushdie’s writing style.

I’m not sure if I would recommend Quichotte to a reader who will be reading Salman Rushdie for the first time. Instead, maybe read The Ground Beneath Her Feet or Midnight’s ChildrenHowever, if you have read any of Rushdie’s other works and found yourself loving his witty, fantastical, surrealist stories, definitely read Quichotte.


Have you read Quichotte? What’s your favorite Salman Rushdie novel? Let me know in the comments!




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Again, but Better by Christine Riccio – A Review

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Again, but Better by Christine Riccio
Contemporary | New Adult | Romance
Published by Wednesday Books
Released May 7th, 2019
Goodreads | Amazon
Rating: 5_Star_Rating_System_2_and_a_half_stars

“So—why didn’t something happen?”

Because of me. Because I let fear make decisions for me. Because I’ve chosen to let the world push me around instead of pushing my way through the world.”

You may recognize Christine Riccio’s name, especially if you’re in the book community. Christine is one of the most popular booktubers on YouTube, where her channel, PolandBananasBooks has over 400,000 subscribers. Again, but Better is Riccio’s debut novel.

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Christine Riccio

While I don’t usually read a great deal of young adult or new adult contemporary fiction, I was intrigued by the concept of this book. The story follows a university student named Shane Primaveri who is traveling to London for a semester of study-abroad classes. Her goal is to essentially have a college do-over; at her American school, she’s quiet and doesn’t have a lot of friends, so in London, she decides to be outgoing and social.

Once in London, she makes friends with her roommates Babe and Sahra, and her male neighbors, Pilot and Atticus. A romantic relationship starts to spark between herself and Pilot, and the story moves on from there.

The main reason I was intrigued by this novel was its unexpected time travel element. I can’t say too much about this part of the book because there would be major spoilers involved, but essentially, Shane has the chance to live a hypothetical question that many of us think about: If you could go back in time with all of the knowledge that you have now, would you do it? I love thinking about that question (and if you’re curious about my answer, I would absolutely go back in time for a do-over), and I haven’t found many books that discuss that question.

Another aspect of the novel that drew me in is that I wanted to live vicariously through a character that did something that I really wanted to do in college. Before I dropped out of my political science program (because it was making me angry and cynical), I really wanted to study abroad in the U.K. Aside from my obsession with British history (which started in high school out of the blue), like Shane, I also wanted a social do-over. I’ve always been the quiet, meek girl, and have always had an irrational desire to move to a new place to become a different person. It’s never worked, of course. As Neil Gaiman wrote in The Graveyard Book, “Wherever you go, you take yourself with you.”

That’s all that I feel comfortable saying about the plot of the novel, so let’s move on to my review.

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While I was entertained by this novel in a guilty-pleasure sort of way, objectively, it wasn’t good. For the first several chapters, I seriously considered DNF-ing it, but I talked myself out of it and read on. It was a fun, light story, but one that I probably wouldn’t read again.

The book itself and its characters were incredibly cringy and overwhelmingly silly. First, we have the characters’ names – Pilot Penn, Babe Lozenge, etc. Second, nearly everything that Shane does made me cringe, from the way she talks to her crush, Pilot, the never-ending Lost, Dan Brown, and Taylor Swift references, to just Shane’s behavior in general. Her character is awkward as hell and, again, super cringy. Shane has a tendency to act much more immature than a college student should have. One out of the many, many examples: On their first day in the dorms, Shane and Pilot walk to a grocery store and the whole time Shane is trying to decide if it’s a date and if he’s going to kiss her. Seriously? She literally just met him and knows nothing about him. It was an annoying part of the book.

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The relationship between Shane and Pilot was mediocre. For one thing, Shane becomes obsessed with a guy she barely knows. It’s very insta-lovey, which is a trope that drives me insane. For the majority of the book, she obsesses over everything he does, in a manner that is borderline stalkerish. Also, Pilot has a girlfriend back in America. Once Shane discovers this information, it doesn’t stop her from swooning over him and pretending that he’ll still choose her. I can never get behind cheating in a relationship, even in a fictional story, so that alone was one of the reasons I gave this novel a lower rating. Shane is way too okay with continuing to flirt with Pilot without ever talking to him about his girlfriend; at least until his girlfriend comes to visit and she is forced to confront the issue. It’s one of Shane’s characteristics that make her an untrustworthy character, along with the fact that she lies to her parents about why she’s in London.

While I knew about the magical aspects of the novel ahead of time, it still caught me a little bit off-guard. The time travel was done pretty well, but it was incredibly predictable. I doubt many people would be able to read this book and not predict its outcome.

One of the positive things about this novel was that it was a pretty decent portrayal of social anxiety. Shane obsesses over how she appears to her new friends and has to force herself to become more social. That’s something that a lot of us can relate to.

The last thing I want to say in this review (which is turning out to be quite a bit longer than I was expecting) is that it’s very clear that Shane is Christine. I feel like she didn’t even try to disguise the similarities. First, Shane is a blogger that writes under the name FrenchWatermelons19. Second, the description of Shane’s character could also describe Christine. Third, there are tons of references to books that Christine talks about frequently on her channel, such as Twilight, Harry Potter, and the Shadowhunter books.

In the end, while I did enjoy reading this book, it wasn’t good. There were so many issues with the writing and characters that I found myself unable to overlook. If you’re a fan of Christine Riccio and want to read this novel, go ahead. However, if you’re looking for great literature, this is most definitely not it.


Have you read Again, but Better? What did you think? Let us know in the comments!


Looking for some more contemporary fiction?

With the Fire on High | The Unhoneymooners | A Very Large Expanse of Sea | The Hate U Give | The Simple Wild




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The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman – A Review

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The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
Magical Realism
Published by William Morrow Books
Released June 18, 2013
Goodreads | Amazon
Rating: 5_Star_Rating_System_4_stars

I re-read Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane during the 2019 Reading Rush as my selection for the “Read a book with five or more words in the title” prompt.

Neil Gaiman has been one of my favorite authors for years, and this was my third re-read of this particular book. It’s quite short (just 181 pages), so I was able to finish it in a single afternoon. It’s a magical realism story that deals with memories, sacrifice, and friendship, and has a very melancholy yet hopeful atmosphere.

Our main character returns to his hometown for a funeral and ends up at an old house at the end of the lane where he grew up. He sets down at the pond and remembers his childhood, especially his friend Lettie Hempstock, and all of the unusual and magical events that took place when he was a child.

There are monsters, magical lands, an adorable kitten that’s pulled from the ground, and so much more. Lettie, her mother, and her grandmother are all amazing characters, and they’re the real stars of this novel.

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You’re left wondering if these events really happened, and that’s part of the magic of The Ocean at the End of the Lane, along with some of Gaiman’s other books. There are questions that you’ll think of while reading this book that are never explicitly answered, but it does not at all take away from the story. In fact, it makes it more enchanting.

The reason Gaiman is one of my favorite authors is his ability to write fantastical, dark, and whimsical narratives, and this novel is an absolutely perfect example of that.

This book features a child as the main character, but it’s typically found in the adult section of bookstores. I think this is a book that people of all age ranges can enjoy. There are a few scenes that feature suicide and sex, although none of these scenes are particularly graphic, so I feel that it’s definitely okay for the young adult audience.

I’m not going to lie – this is a very difficult book to review, especially when I’m not trying to spoil anything. I really believe that this is a book that you should go into blind. While I understand that Neil Gaiman’s writing isn’t for everyone, if you have enjoyed any of his other novels, please give this one on a shot! I hope you’ll love it as much as I do.


Have you read The Ocean at the End of the Lane? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments!


Want more Neil Gaiman? Here are a few reviews of his other books:

Good Omens The Graveyard Book The Facts in the Case of the Departure of Miss Finch


Check out these other books you might enjoy:

Summer of Salt Furthermore | The Night Circus | White is for Witching | City of Ghosts | The Price Guide to the Occult | The Light Between Worlds




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Summer of Salt by Katrina Leno – A Review

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Summer of Salt by Katrina Leno
YA | Magical Realism | Contemporary
Published by HarperTeen
Released June 5, 2018
Goodreads | Amazon
Rating: 5_Star_Rating_System_5_stars

On By-the-Sea, you and me will go sailing by
On waves of green, softly singing too.
On By-the-Sea, you and me will be forever young
And live together on waves of blue. 

This isn’t a book that was on my radar until I purchased it to participate in Chelsea Palmer’s Facebook book club. I am so thankful that I decided to read it, however. I absolutely adored this book, and it’s the perfect novel to read now that it’s summer.

Summer of Salt takes place on the island of By-the-Sea and follows the Fernwehs family, who are known to have magic. Georgina and Mary Fernweh are twins nearing their 18th birthday, and Georgina is beginning to think that her magical gifts will never come.

The island is known for hosting a rare bird named Annabella that arrives every summer. The island is remote, but every year a whole hoard of bird watchers arrive and take over the island. Annabella is particularly special to the Fernweh family and might have magical qualities of her own.

There are two new bird watchers on the island this summer, Prue and her brother Harrison. While Harrison is obsessed with Annabella, Prue and Georgina strike up an adorable romantic relationship.

This summer, however, Annabella doesn’t show up, and everyone on the island is worried about her. Meanwhile, Mary begins behaving strangely, and Georgina tries to understand why.

As I said before, I really enjoyed this novel. It was a relatively short read (less than 300 pages), and the story moved along at the perfect pace. It was also a very atmospheric book, and actually reminded me a lot of Leslye Walton’s The Price Guide to the Occult, which I read back in February.

I was intrigued by the very first sentence:

On the island of By-the-Sea you could always smell two things: salt and magic.

While the story was a bit predictable at times, I didn’t feel as that took away from my enjoyment of it at all.

The book does deal with rape, which I wasn’t expecting going into the novel, but Katrina Leno handles the topic extremely well. She even deals with victim-blaming, such as when victims are blamed for what they wear or do, rather than placing all of the blame on the rapist.

If you’re looking for the perfect atmospheric summer book to read, pick up Summer of Salt. You won’t be disappointed!


Have you read Summer of Salt? What did you think? Let me know in the comments.




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The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern – A Review

Review of Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus

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The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Goodreads | Amazon
Fantasy | Historical Fiction | Magical Realism
Published by Doubleday
Released September 13, 2011
Rating: 5_Star_Rating_System_4_and_a_half_stars

Note: This is a repost. This review was originally published on February 4, 2019. 

I first heard of Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus through one of the videos of my favorite booktuber, Hannah at A Clockwork Reader. Since I seem to have very similar reading tastes to her, when she described it as the best book she’d ever read, I figured I’d give it a shot.

While it didn’t end up being my favorite book, I still thought it was absolutely amazing. The best word to describe this novel would be whimsical. Erin Morgenstern’s writing was beautiful without being over the top or too flowery. Everything flowed so nicely.

The synopsis I’m going to share might be a little bit vague, but I truly believe this is one of those books you should go into without knowing too much. I also want to avoid spoilers.

The story follows a traveling circus which is only open at night. No one knows ahead of time where the circus is going to be – it just appears mysteriously one day. The circus is filled with amazing tents of all variety, along with acrobats, fortune tellers, illusionists, and so much more.

The circus is much more than it seems, however, since it serves as a sort of playing field for two magicians, Alexander and Prospero. Each magician raises their “player” who are bound to one another in a competition, even though the players aren’t aware of each other at first and they aren’t even sure what they’re supposed to be doing to win this “competition.”

That’s all that I feel comfortable saying about the plot itself without giving too much away, but you can always read the publisher’s synopsis over on Goodreads.

I want to talk about the atmosphere of The Night Circus, as it was definitely my favorite aspect of the novel. The circus itself sounds beautiful, with everything in shades of black, white, and gray. Then you have the individual tents at the circus, my favorite among them being the Ice Garden. Morgenstern is very talented at making you feel as though you’re standing right in the middle of her landscapes. It’s always so easy to imagine, even when the setting itself is full of magic.

The characters were great, and I found myself loving so many of them. Celia and Marco, for sure, but also Bailey, Poppet, Widget, and so many more. I would say the main draw of this book is the setting, but it’s still just as much a character-driven novel, and most of the characters are well-developed.

The only (very tiny) complaint I had with this novel was that there were times when I felt that things were moving a wee bit too slow. It wasn’t so bad that it hurt the story, but I could understand other readers getting a bit annoyed with the pacing.

From what I’ve read on Goodreads, The Night Circus seems to be a very polarizing book, with people either loving it or hating it. I tend to love slow-paced but beautiful books, so I’m not surprised that I was one of the people who ended up loving it.

Ultimately, while I wouldn’t recommend this novel to everyone, I would recommend it to people looking for something fantastical and whimsical.


Have you read The Night Circus? What were your thoughts?




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The Five Best Adult Magical Realism Books

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Magical realism is a genre that creates a bridge between reality and the slightly whimsical.

It differs from genres such as fantasy and science fiction by being firmly planted in our world, our reality. In magical realism, we recognize the world in which the story takes place, but there’s an element that is slightly unusual or magical.

One of the reasons I’m personally so drawn to magical realism is that I’ve always had a deep appreciation of surrealist art, and magical realism is its literary equivalent.

Magical realism is wonderful for people that don’t want to take the plunge into fantasy quite yet. Here are five of the best adult magical realism novels.



The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

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Read My Full Review Here

The Night Circus is a beautifully written novel about a traveling circus and a magic competition. While some people think it’s a story that moves too slowly, I enjoyed the atmospheric setting and the whimsy that Morgenstern created.


One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez

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Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude is considered the first magical realism novel. Released in 1967, it still defines the genre. The story focuses on seven generations of the Buendia family, whose patriarch founded the fictional town of Macondo.


White is for Witching by Helen Oyeyemi

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Read My Full Review Here
(Note: This review was the very first for this blog!)

White is for Witching is a creepy story about a sentient, magical house. Mysterious things happen, and one of the house’s residents, Miri, seems to be falling down a deep hole of discovering the house’s secrets. It’s a beautifully written novel.


Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie

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Salman Rushdie is one of my favorite writers for quality of his prose. When I read The Ground Beneath Her Feet, I felt as though I was reading some of the most lyrically beautiful writing in the world. Midnight’s Children is about a man named Saleem, who was one of 1,001 children born at midnight on the eve of India’s independence. All of the children are endowed with special gifts.


The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

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Similar to One Hundred Years of Solitude, The Time Traveler’s Wife is widely considered a classic of the genre. It’s a story about love lasting throughout time. The couple in the story, Henry and Clare, try to lead a normal life while Henry is pulled back and forth throughout time.


What is your favorite magical realism novel? Let me know in the comments below!




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The Price Guide to the Occult by Leslye Walton – A Review

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The Price Guide to the Occult by Leslye Walton
Paranormal| Magical Realism | Young Adult
Goodreads | Amazon
Published by Candlewick Press
Released March 13, 2018
Rating: 5_Star_Rating_System_3_stars

Leslye Walton’s The Price Guide to the Occult follows the Blackburn women on an island in the Pacific Northwest. Eight generations of this family have lived on Anathema Island, founded by their matriarch Rona Blackburn, a witch who performed a spell which led to each subsequent Blackburn woman being able to perform a single aspect of Rona’s magical abilities.

The story follows the eighth Blackburn daughter, Nor. Nor has all of the normal teenage problems to deal with, on top of the fact that she doesn’t want the rest of her family to know what gifts she has received.

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One day Nor’s estranged mother’s book arrives on the island. Fern Blackburn left the island many years ago, but now, with the arrival of her book of spells people can pay her to perform, she has become an international celebrity. As her mother’s power grows, Anathema Island and it’s inhabitants begin to notice some strange changes to their surroundings. People also start appearing with fern tattoos covering their bodies. Nor attempts to discover what is behind all of these unsettling changes.

I enjoyed this novel, although I was left wanting more. The story was original and I loved Walton’s style of writing. I enjoyed the process of reading it, and it was also a very quick and easy read.

Before I go into further depth about the story itself, I want to mention how beautiful this book is! The colors on the cover you see above are etched right into the book – there’s no dust jacket – and it has red sprayed edges. The publisher and book designer did a fabulous job with this book.

The main point I want to make about this novel is that it’s a perfect example of a plot-based novel, rather than of a character-based on. Nor’s character was great and the reader gets a great understanding of her motivations and personality, but she’s the only character who we get to know that well. The rest of the characters felt flat and we don’t know enough about them to really care about any of them. As a result of these flat characters, Nor’s romantic relationship feels pointless and almost non-sensical. One moment she’s just admiring this guy, and then suddenly they’re a couple, and there’s really nothing in between to explain why they’re together. For people who are a fan of slow-burn romances (such as myself), the romantic aspect of the book will leave you disappointed.

Another thing that bothered me about the book is that it just wasn’t long enough. It’s very fast-paced and the story moves along nicely, but I would have loved more history about the Blackburn women and about some of the other inhabitants of the island. It felt like there were a lot of areas in the book that could have been greatly expanded upon.

In the end, I’m glad I read this book. I enjoyed it, but I probably won’t reread it. I expected so much more and wish it had been longer and more fleshed out. It felt cut too short and rushed in a lot of ways. I still think it’s worth recommending though, so if you’re looking for a quick paranormal/magic realism novel to read, don’t hesitate to pick it up.


Have you read The Price Guide to the Occult? What did you think?

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman – A Review

“It’s like the people who believe they’ll be happy if they go and live somewhere else, but who learn it doesn’t work that way. Wherever you go, you take yourself with you.”

The Book

The Graveyard Book - Neil Gaiman

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
Middle-Grade | Magical Realism | Supernatural | Fantasy
Published by HarperCollins
Released September 30, 2008
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Synopsis

An infant accidentally escapes the murder of his entire family and finds shelter in a nearby graveyard. The ghosts in the graveyard adopt the child and name him Nobody Owens, or Bod for short.

Bod is raised by the ghosts, along with his guardian, Silas, who’s not quite dead and not quite living. Bod is given the freedom of the graveyard and learns many tricks, including how to fade into the background and visit dreams.

Bod is kept from leaving the graveyard because dangers lurk outside of the gates. Namely, Jack, the man who murdered Bod’s original family, is still out to get him.

Growing up in a graveyard certainly isn’t boring though. Bod has a ton of adventures with both the living and dead. Ultimately, he must confront the man who is responsible for his family’s demise.

Review

I’ve mentioned several times on this blog that Neil Gaiman is one of my favorite authors and that The Graveyard Book is one of my favorite books of all time. I have no idea how many times I’ve read this book, but it’s a pretty high number. I’ve also listened to the audiobook, narrated by Neil Gaiman, a couple of times.

There are so many reasons I adore this novel as much as I do. First, it’s a fun adventure story that deals with complicated subjects, such as murder. One of the best things about The Graveyard Book is that Gaiman writes in a concise, casual way, which is striking against the backdrop of violence. The best place to see this is in the opening chapter when Jack is murdering the family.

Bod is a very well-written character who learns to live despite being surrounded by the dead. He wants to see the world and meet people. Growing up in a graveyard only makes him want to live more, and I love that about Bod. He’s also an immensely likable character.

So many of the side characters in the book are just as enjoyable as Bod; we’ve got Silas, Bod’s mysterious guardian; Liza, who was drowned for witchcraft; Miss Lupescu, Bod’s teacher that has more to her than meets the eye; and a trio of nasty ghouls: the Duke of Westminster, the Honorable Archibald Fitzhugh, and the Bishop of Bath and Wells.

Another reason I enjoy this book so much is that I’ve always been the sort of person who hangs around in graveyards. In fact, when I lived in Asheville, NC, much of my free time was spent at Riverside Cemetary, where I would go to get away from people, read, meditate, have picnics. Graveyards are very peaceful places, and I loved reading a book set in one that wasn’t your standard horror story.

This book will make you smile and you will like Bod so much that you really want him to succeed in life. It’s well-written and just lovely. This book would be a great place to start if you’re new to Neil Gaiman.

Verdict

5_Star_Rating_System_5_stars

This story is perfect. I have zero complaints, and I know I’m going to continue to reread this book frequently.

White is for Witching by Helen Oyeyemi – Book Review

White is for Witching by Helen Oyeyemi

“Dear Miranda Silver,
This house is bigger than you know! There are extra floors, with lots of people in them. They are looking people. They look at you, and they never move. We do not like them. We do not like this house, and we are glad to be going away. This is the end of our letter.”

The Book
White is for Witching – Helen Oyeyemi
Goodreads
Author’s Links: Website

What it is
Miranda Silver, her twin brother Eliot, and their father live in a haunted bed and breakfast across the street from a field of unmarked graves. The Silver House is the ancestral home to the Silver women, who appear to linger in the unseen portions of the house. Outsiders are unwelcome, particularly people of color and immigrants, and the house uses its mysterious supernatural attributes to get those people to flee.

Much of this book deals with Miranda’s mental illness. She suffers from pica, a disorder that causes her to hunger for non-food items, her favorite being chalk. She spent time at a clinic for her disorder while in high school, and we ride back with her to her home after she’s picked up by her father and brother. The scene in the car is a distinctly awkward one, and Eliot seems particularly uncomfortable and quiet.

The family is also grieving the loss of Miranda’s mother, Lily, a photo-journalist who was killed in Haiti when the twins were sixteen. Miranda wears a watch with its time set to “Haiti time,” and feels some guilt about her role in her mother’s death, despite being in Dover, England as it happened.

Miranda is accepted into Cambridge, where she meets Ore, a young woman adopted from Africa, and they find themselves in a romantic relationship. Ore tells Miranda a story about the soucouyant, a monster that leaves its body to consume the blood of the living. The folklore of the soucouyant is reflective of Miranda’s relationship with Ore, as Ore transitions from healthy to nearly anorexic while they’re together. Miranda is literally sucking the life out of Ore.

When Miranda’s father becomes aware of how bad her health has become while away at college, she is brought back home until she can get better. Ore comes to visit her, witnessing some unsettling experiences while there, and confiding in the housekeeper and cook, Sade.

Miranda grows sicker, and we then see the influence the house has on her, culminating in Miranda’s disappearance.

What I Loved
I’ve never read a book like this, and I’m honestly quite unsure how to classify it. Most often I see it listed as a horror novel, but, although it does contain many elements of the supernatural, it feels more like magical realism to me.

So many of the spooky happenings in the house are ambiguous and intentionally left unexplained. I enjoyed that aspect, as it reinforces the overall tone of the book and leads to the reader feeling unsure and a bit spooked.

One of the most unusual aspects of the book that I enjoyed is that the house itself is a narrator of the story at times. To be honest, the house is just as much a character in the story as the Silver family. It has its own personality, although that personality is a very racist and evil one.

What I Disliked
There are side stories in the book that are left hanging, and it was frustrating at times. The best example involves Kosovan immigrants that are being murdered around town, with no suspect in custody. Miranda is confronted by a classmate who accuses her of being involved in the murders, as they believe she’s been seen with the victims prior to their stabbings.

“We saw you,” the second girl said. “You and Amir, you and Farouk, you and Agim, you and whoever. Then they end up getting stabbed.”

Aside from a run-in with Agim, the attacking girl’s cousin and one of the victims who survived, we don’t learn much more about their stories. However, I feel like we’re meant to understand that their murders are related to the Silver house, as we also read in the book that Miranda greatly favors her great-grandmother, Anna Good, whose ghost or spirit is still possessing the house. Referred to as “the Goodlady” throughout the novel,  Anna Good, whose husband died in the war, loathed “outsiders” and blamed them for her husband’s death. Is it possible Anna Good is the cause of those murders?

There are also some awkward allusions to flirtings with an incestuous relationship between Miranda and Eliot. I can only remember two references, but it felt pretty unnecessary to the story.

Verdict (Buy/Borrow/Skip)
Buy. This is definitely a book you’ll want to read more than once.

White is for Witching – Helen Oyeyemi

“Dear Miranda Silver,
This house is bigger than you know! There are extra floors, with lots of people in them. They are looking people. They look at you, and they never move. We do not like them. We do not like this house, and we are glad to be going away. This is the end of our letter.”

The Book
White is for Witching – Helen Oyeyemi
Goodreads
Author’s Links: Website

What it is
Miranda Silver, her twin brother Eliot, and their father live in a haunted bed and breakfast across the street from a field of unmarked graves. The Silver House is the ancestral home to the Silver women, who appear to linger in the unseen portions of the house. Outsiders are unwelcome, particularly people of color and immigrants, and the house uses its mysterious supernatural attributes to get those people to flee.

Much of this book deals with Miranda’s mental illness. She suffers from pica, a disorder that causes her to hunger for non-food items, her favorite being chalk. She spent time at a clinic for her disorder while in high school, and we ride back with her to her home after she’s picked up by her father and brother. The scene in the car is a distinctly awkward one, and Eliot seems particularly uncomfortable and quiet.

The family is also grieving the loss of Miranda’s mother, Lily, a photo-journalist who was killed in Haiti when the twins were sixteen. Miranda wears a watch with its time set to “Haiti time,” and feels some guilt about her role in her mother’s death, despite being in Dover, England as it happened.

Miranda is accepted into Cambridge, where she meets Ore, a young woman adopted from Africa, and they find themselves in a romantic relationship. Ore tells Miranda a story about the soucouyant, a monster that leaves its body to consume the blood of the living. The folklore of the soucouyant is reflective of Miranda’s relationship with Ore, as Ore transitions from healthy to nearly anorexic while they’re together. Miranda is literally sucking the life out of Ore.

When Miranda’s father becomes aware of how bad her health has become while away at college, she is brought back home until she can get better. Ore comes to visit her, witnessing some unsettling experiences while there, and confiding in the housekeeper and cook, Sade.

Miranda grows sicker, and we then see the influence the house has on her, culminating in Miranda’s disappearance.

What I Loved
I’ve never read a book like this, and I’m honestly quite unsure how to classify it. Most often I see it listed as a horror novel, but, although it does contain many elements of the supernatural, it feels more like magical realism to me.

So many of the spooky happenings in the house are ambiguous and intentionally left unexplained. I enjoyed that aspect, as it reinforces the overall tone of the book and leads to the reader feeling unsure and a bit spooked.

One of the most unusual aspects of the book that I enjoyed is that the house itself is a narrator of the story at times. To be honest, the house is just as much a character in the story as the Silver family. It has its own personality, although that personality is a very racist and evil one.

What I Disliked
There are side stories in the book that are left hanging, and it was frustrating at times. The best example involves Kosovan immigrants that are being murdered around town, with no suspect in custody. Miranda is confronted by a classmate who accuses her of being involved in the murders, as they believe she’s been seen with the victims prior to their stabbings.

“We saw you,” the second girl said. “You and Amir, you and Farouk, you and Agim, you and whoever. Then they end up getting stabbed.”

Aside from a run-in with Agim, the attacking girl’s cousin and one of the victims who survived, we don’t learn much more about their stories. However, I feel like we’re meant to understand that their murders are related to the Silver house, as we also read in the book that Miranda greatly favors her great-grandmother, Anna Good, whose ghost or spirit is still possessing the house. Referred to as “the Goodlady” throughout the novel,  Anna Good, whose husband died in the war, loathed “outsiders” and blamed them for her husband’s death. Is it possible Anna Good is the cause of those murders?

There are also some awkward allusions to flirtings with an incestuous relationship between Miranda and Eliot. I can only remember two references, but it felt pretty unnecessary to the story.

Verdict (Buy/Borrow/Skip)
Buy. This is definitely a book you’ll want to read more than once.