“Stand up and do better”

oathbringer

Hoo boy! This 1200 page tome is going to be a doozy to try to review without spoiling but I’ll give it the old college try. Brandon Sanderson’s third installment of the Stormlight Archive is full of its share of world building, plot twists and some honest to goodness character development. I’ll try to keep things vague and broad but A LOT happens in this book.

*some spoilers for the first two books ahead*

Oathbringer picks up shortly after the events of Words of Radiance. Dalinar and his allied forces have used the newly discover oathgate to set up camp in the vast fortress of Urithuru. He is attempting to unite all the kingdoms in Roshar and dealing with a past he has largely forgotten. Adolin is living with the secret of having killed Sadeus, his fathers enemy. Shallan is learning to live with what it means to be a Knight Radian. Kaladin is still doing what he always does, being generally humorless and carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders. But most importantly, Jasnah is alive! Everyone’s favorite heretic scholar is back and still has no time for fools. There are some major revelations and a couple of serious battles in this installment. There are also some serious revelations regarding Dalinar’s aforementioned past and the true nature of the dreaded Voidbringers. Kaladin also spends some time with the newly freed Parshmen and sees that their dislike of humanity is quite justified.

Overall I enjoyed the hell out of this book. I had some issues getting through it because it was an EBook from the library and it kept getting auto returned before I could finish it. Then I’d have to wait in line on the hold list until I could get it back. I could have done with a lot less time plodding through Shadesmar (about 3/4 through the book). But otherwise it’s a great addition to the Stormlight Archive.

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Enchanted and Spellbound, In the Silence they Lingered

wylding hall

 

This book had already ticked off so many boxes for me before I’d even opened it: Crumbling and isolated English manor, 1970s acid folk band, possible Wicker Man-like pagan horror. I was intrigued before I even started the book. This short novella by Elizabeth Hand slowly amps up the weirdness and dread and, though it leaves the reader with more questions than answers, it’s a deeply satisfying ending.

The book follows the the story of fictional folk band <i>Windhollow Faire</i> a small folk band who are sent to the titular country manor to record their next album. Though the album will be their greatest work as a group, the lead singer, Julian Blake, disappears in the course of recording it. The book is told in a documentary style as the former band members and associates gather together and recall the events at Wylding Hall that led to Blake’s disappearance. It is broken up into small vignettes as we see some incidents from varying perspectives. The elements that add to the feeling of unease are familiar but no less unsettling. The dimensions of the manor seem somewhat fluid (though it’s nowhere near House of Leaves territory). The townsfolk are standoffish and seem to cling to weird old pagan traditions. And Julian Blake himself has a fascination with the occult. These, and several other elements culminate in the vanishing of Mr. Blake.

I loved this book so much! I literally found myself sneaking off to read just a little bit more on the Kindle app on my phone. The feel of this book invoked the kind of general unease you get while watching old 70s occult movies. Things just seem a little skewed in a way you can’t always put your finger on. If you’re looking to dip your toe into the Folk Horror sub genre, this book is a great recommendation at less than 200 pages.

Same Song; Different Tune

bluebird bluebird

 

This is the first book I’ve read by Attica Locke and it definitely won’t be my last. Bluebird Bluebird is a complex and gripping mystery with social commentary that never feels ham-handed or preachy. I enjoyed it so much I may even check out Empire on Hulu (Ms. Locke writes for the show).

Darren Matthews has a lot going on. He is a black Texas Ranger is East Texas. His career is in jeopardy after sticking his neck out for a family friend. His marriage is in jeopardy for the same reason. He might also be a high functioning alcoholic. As a favor for a friend, he goes to the tiny town of Lark to look into two murders. A black lawyer from Chicago, followed a few days later by a white local girl. The prevailing theory put forth by the local authorities is that the white girl was killed as retaliation for the black man. If the patent ridiculousness of this story wasn’t already apparent, it becomes clear as soon as Darren arrives in town that there is a lot more going on. He must look into secrets that the small town is unwilling to give up to an outsider, along with the generations old ties between the black and white residents of Lark. We also see that, despite the reverence with which the Rangers are held in the state of Texas, they can’t protect Darren from the violent racist elements in town.

If you are a fan of mystery and suspense and you haven’t picked up an Attica Locke book, I highly recommend that you do. If I had the free time I feel like I would love read through her entire scope of work in a week or so, even if it left me a little more cynical about the state of race relations in the U.S. that I already was.