Book Review: Crooked House by Agatha Christie

Name:  Crooked House
Agatha Christie
Number of Pages: 
259 (ebook)
February 10th 2010 by William Morrow Paperbacks (first published March 1949)
Genre: Mystery, Crime

The Leonides are one big happy family living in a sprawling, ramshackle mansion. That is until the head of the household, Aristide, is murdered with a fatal barbiturate injection.
Suspicion naturally falls on the old man’s young widow, fifty years his junior. But the murderer has reckoned without the tenacity of Charles Hayward, fiancé of the late millionaire’s granddaughter.

My Rating:


My Thoughts:

Crooked House introduces the Leonides family, and their mansion-like home Three Gables. Charles Hayward hopes to marry Sophia Leonides, but all is thrown into array when the head of the family, Aristide Leonides, is murdered. Sophia’s suspicions lead her to suspect someone other than Aristide’s wife, a woman much younger than him rumoured to be romantically involved with someone else. Sophia believes it may have been someone else within the family group, and she will not rest until she has the answer as to who killed her grandfather. And so Charles ventures to Three Gables to try and help her find the resolution she needs.

Three Gables itself, the way it’s described, is a marvellous setting for this murder mystery. It’s a unique, vast estate, described as a looking like a distorted cottage, swollen out of all proportion, built the size of a castle, a crooked house like a mushroom grown in the night. Three Gables houses several branches of the Leonides family under it’s massive roof, and they all have their own portions, so it’s almost like several separate homes all in one place. A house divided? It certainly seems like that.

There are so many people to suspect, even though the cast of characters is for the most part limited to the one family, because each of these branches has something going on – expensive theatre productions to stage, a business falling into trouble, people who want more, people who want less, and Charles, as an associate of the police but also as Sophia’s potential suitor, meets them all and tries to weigh up just who could have committed the crime.
Any of these people could theoretically have done it, the opportunity and means were certainly there, whilst on the surface it seems they have no reason to commit such a crime. They all live reasonably comfortable lives and had the support of Aristide in their many endeavours. There’s certainly a lot to speculate about as Charles encounters each member of the family.

The tension builds slowly as the story progresses, offering up an array of potential suspects before each is eliminated and some new revelation comes to light. When it becomes apparent there may be more danger in the future, that the murderer may not be done, the tension mounts towards a conclusion that I didn’t anticipate. I always enjoy it when the final reveal takes me by surprise, and I enjoyed Crooked House with it’s great setting and a cast of characters to keep you guessing throughout.

Top Ten Tuesday: Books on My Autumn 2021 TBR List

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.  Click on the link for more info and to find out about future topics.

This week’s theme is:  Books on My Autumn 2021 TBR List

It’s time to talk all things TBR for Top Ten Tuesday. Readers Imbibing Peril is this month, and ongoing throughout October, so I picked out a number of books I can possibly read for the event. Here are some potential autumn reads…

The Shape of Darkness by Laura Purcell – The books I’ve read already by Laura Purcell are perfect for autumn reading when the nights are drawing in and you want to settle in with something slightly spooky. I still remember how much I enjoyed The Silent Companions and I’ve saved this latest book to read at this time of year.

The Last House on Needless Street by Catriona Ward – I’m intrigued by this book. I’ve seen so many good reviews that manage to give nothing away. I feel like I’m seeing the book around more and more at the moment so I wonder if I should read it soon to make sure I manage to avoid spoilers.

Piranesi by Susanna Clarke – Recent winner of the Women’s Prize for Fiction. I already owned a copy of Piranesi and hope to read it over the autumn months. Perhaps sooner rather than later.

A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik – Another author whose works I’ve previously enjoyed. I’m looking forward to this, especially as the next book will be out very soon, and I like the sound of the school setting.

The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow – I’ve mentioned this one a few times already, so hopefully autumn will be the time I finally give it a try.

The Ladies of the Secret Circus by Constance Sayers – Here’s a tiny piece from the blurb for this one – ‘a story of a dark circus and ill-fated love, secrets about Lara’s family history come to light and reveal a curse that has been claiming payment from the women in her family for generations. A curse that might be tied to her fiancé’s mysterious fate . . .’.

Fingersmith by Sarah Waters – The only reread on my list this week. It’s a long time since I read this one and my newfound enjoyment of rereading makes me want to revisit it as I’m sure it was pre-blogging days when I read it the first time.

The House on the Strand by Daphne du Maurier – When Dick Young’s friend, Professor Magnus Lane, offers him an escape from his troubles in the form of a new drug, Dick finds himself transported to fourteenth-century Cornwall. There, in the manor of Tywardreath, the domain of Sir Henry Champerhoune, he witnesses intrigue, adultery and murder.

It Will Just Be Us by Jo Kaplan – A decaying mansion on the edge of a swamp, labyrinthine halls, echoes of the past, a locked and forgotten room.  I might save this one for late October, it sounds perfectly spooky. As does…

Home Before Dark by Riley Sager – Maggie returns to a rambling Victorian estate where she spent three weeks with her family before they ended up fleeing in the night. The house later became the focus of her father’s memoir, House of Horrors. Another spooky-sounding read, perfect for this time of year.

So, what did you write about this week?
See you again next time for another Top Ten Tuesday.

Top Ten Tuesday: Books With Numbers In the Title

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.  Click on the link for more info and to find out about future topics.

This week’s theme is:  Books With Numbers In the Title

For this week’s Top Ten Tuesday we’re looking for books with numbers in the title.
I’ve read all but the last two on my list and if I’ve reviewed (some of these were probably pre-blogging days), I’ll add a link in case anything catches your eye.

The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

The Drawing of the Three (The Dark Tower #2) by Stephen King

The Ninth Rain by Jen Williams

11/22/63 by Stephen King

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

So, what did you write about this week?
See you again next time for another Top Ten Tuesday.

Book Review: This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone

Name:  This Is How You Lose the Time War
Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone
Number of Pages: 
209 (ebook)
July 16th 2019 by Saga Press
Genre: Science Fiction

Among the ashes of a dying world, an agent of the Commandant finds a letter. It reads: Burn before reading. Thus begins an unlikely correspondence between two rival agents hellbent on securing the best possible future for their warring factions. Now, what began as a taunt, a battlefield boast, grows into something more. Something epic. Something romantic. Something that could change the past and the future.
Except the discovery of their bond would mean death for each of them. There’s still a war going on, after all. And someone has to win that war.

My Rating:


My Thoughts:

I was in the mood for something completely different when I picked up This Is How You Lose the Time War. I hardly know where to begin with this one. I was totally engrossed in this story of two agents on different sides of a long and complex war through time and space who take up a correspondence that spans years and sees them go from rivals to friends to falling for each other despite all the things that should keep them apart. So romantic, and the writing was lovely, lyrical, and inventive. I need more books like this.

Red and Blue take up a correspondence, and the novel proceeds in epistolary format, which is something I usually enjoy. This style of storytelling seems to flow well, and it works particularly well here as we fly through times, landscapes and space, each changing so quickly that these letters allow you to just go along with it.
Each new letter is a wonderful work of imagination, from the way it is written (in seeds to be consumed, or tea leaves, or water to be boiled), to the way it’s read (one has an instruction to burn before reading, another is read through a sting, another by the consuming of the previously mentioned seeds).

It becomes clear early on that Red and Blue are obviously fascinated by each other even as their respective sides, Red’s Agency and Blue’s Garden, demand that they hunt and destroy each other across all manner of times and landscapes, and the way the whole thing comes together is well done.
I wondered if I might have trouble following something that jumps around so freely through all manner of times and settings, doubling back on itself, going through vast swathes of time into futures unknown, but in the end it all made sense and I was swept up in the story of these two time travellers.

This Is How You Lose The Time War is probably one of the most unique tales I’ve read this year and I really enjoyed it. It was a book that I found myself wanting more of, and once I’d finished I felt tempted to go back and start all over again. At 209 pages it’s definitely one you could read more than once and probably pick up things you may have missed first time around.
And what of Red and Blue? Can they become more than adversaries on opposing sides of an endless conflict. Will their ending be happy, or will their roles on opposing sides keep them apart forever? Finding out was definitely a memorable reading experience.

Series Review: House of Crows (All My Darkest Impulses, Fog Descending, Circling the Drain, Love the Way You Lie) by Lisa Unger

AllMyDarkestImpulses FogDescending
CirclingTheDrain LoveTheWayYouLie

That long-ago summer, four friends came face-to-face with strange, dark events they couldn’t explain away. As they grew up and left town, they all tried to forget. Instead, their secrets shaped their lives, haunting each of them in their own way. Now, in this chilling four-part serial by New York Times bestselling author Lisa Unger, it’s time to come home.

My Rating:


My Thoughts:

All My Darkest Impulses – 56 pages
Fog Descending – 60 pages
Circling the Drain – 60 pages
Love the Way You Lie – 76 pages

All books were published on May 27th 2021 by Amazon Original Stories

AllMyDarkestImpulsesAll My Darkest Impulses is the first in a four part collection of short stories that make up House of Crows. I read The Sleep Tight Motel by Lisa Unger last year, another short story, and enjoyed it so much that as soon as I saw this series of four connected stories, I knew I’d have to give it a try. Apparently the series is loosely inspired by The Haunting of Hill House and that’s just one more reason it found it’s way onto my endless list of books to read as autumn approaches.

In this first instalment we’re introduced to the house at the centre of it all. Merle House – massive, decrepit, an unwanted inheritance to Matthew Merle, who goes there with his family with the view to making it saleable and being free of the place, for of course, there’s a history attached, one that is teased at in this opening tale, and it involves Matthew and a group of friends during their younger days.
We also meet Claire, one of Matthew’s childhood friends who knows something of the history of Merle House. Years later it still seems to haunt her, and a traumatic experience during work starts Claire thinking that it may be time to return.

Creaky old house, strange noises in the night, visions that may be dreams, things that can’t be possible and yet in the moment they are, all courtesy of Merle House. There’s an air of mystery and menace about the place, and All My Darkest Impulses is a great introduction to what I hope is going to be en entertaining series. After something of a swift conclusion I think I’m going to read the rest of the series right away as they’re all already available, so, on to book 2…

FogDescending Fog Descending is the second volume of the story, and focuses on another of Matthew’s friends, Ian, a man working as a ‘spiritual cleanser‘, ridding homes of negative energy. Ian shared that summer with Matthew and his group of friends, when a girl went missing, and strange things happened.
The narrative goes between Ian, his memories of the past, and continues the thread set up in the first book, resolving that cliffhanger and continuing the tale of Merle House and introducing the Dark Man – a myth, or something inexplicable but real? Who knows?
There are some wonderfully creepy moments in this short tale, all adding to the overall mystery of Merle House and a past that draws this varying group of people back together. It also reveals more about the mysterious Havenwood, briefly mentioned in the previous story, now brought to atmospheric and eerie life as Ian recalls the abandoned place in the woods that he and his friends stumbled across all those years ago. As with the previous story, this one concludes with Ian’s realisation that he must return home, that things from the past need dealing with.
And so, with one remaining member of the childhood friendship group to meet, I’m moving on to…

CirclingTheDrainCircling The Drain, the third in the House of Crows series, and our introduction to Mason. I moved straight on to this volume without reading the blurb, it’s the continuation of one larger story after all, so I had no idea we would meet the adult Mason working with troubled teens suffering from anxiety. He’s doing his best, grateful for the opportunity he’s been given, and trying to make the most of it, so when the past comes calling via one of the group members looking him up online and finding out about a missing girl from years ago, it’s not great news.

The story switches between Mason and the Merle family, back at Merle House, where Matthew’s daughter Jewel is experiencing things that cannot possibly be real, and getting involved with an online friendship with someone called Eldon, apparently a boy she met in an online game, to whom she confides some of her worries and fears.
I enjoyed the ongoing mystery and general air of the supernatural around Merle House, from the weird noises, to Matthew’s late-night wanderings, to the realtor in search of answers about her family’s past.
Mason’s willingness to assist someone asking for help gets him into all manner of trouble and leads to the inevitable return to face the past of Merle House. And so we proceed to…

LoveTheWayYouLie Love The Way You Lie, the fourth and final volume in this enjoyable series. The final book blends past and present, truth and revelations, and things long hidden finally come to light. The myth and legend of the Dark Man is finally revealed as Matthew and his friends reunite once more to try and find Matthew’s daughter Jewel, missing and presumed to have ventured out to Havenwood, and put to rest their shared and troubled past.
It made for exciting reading as the conclusion drew closer. It’s fraught and I couldn’t put the book down, needing to know whether Jewel would be safe and what had really happened to this groups of friends years ago.

I really enjoyed reading this series. The narrative switching between the present and past, the way the group came back together, the darkness at the heart of Merle House, bleak, tragic and awful. I don’t want to say too much more and risk spoilers, but this series is well worth a read.

Book Review: The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton

Name:  The Devil and the Dark Water
Stuart Turton
Number of Pages: 
498 (ebook)
  October 6th 2020 by Sourcebooks Landmark
Genre: Mystery

It’s 1634 and Samuel Pipps, the world’s greatest detective, is being transported to Amsterdam to be executed for a crime he may, or may not, have committed. Travelling with him is his loyal bodyguard, Arent Hayes, who is determined to prove his friend innocent.But no sooner are they out to sea than devilry begins to blight the voyage. A twice-dead leper stalks the decks. Strange symbols appear on the sails. Livestock is slaughtered. Anyone could be to blame. Even a demon.And then three passengers are marked for death, including Samuel.With Pipps imprisoned, only Arent can solve a mystery that connects every passenger. A mystery that stretches back into their past and now threatens to sink the ship, killing everybody on board.

My Rating:


My Thoughts:

There’s trouble at sea in the latest novel from Stuart Turton. After enjoying The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle so much I had high hopes for this book and it certainly didn’t disappoint with a marvellous blend of murder mystery, eerie and possible supernatural goings-on, and intrigue amongst a varied group of people drawn together within the confines of a ship bound for a long voyage back to Amsterdam. When the ship is threatened before the journey even begins, it sets the tone for what is the come…

I’m not quite sure where to begin as there are many things that made this a gripping read.
It is a great mystery with a slightly claustrophobic air as all those people board the ship bound for Amsterdam. It’s wonderfully eerie as rumours abound that some kind of demon going by the name of Old Tom is actually what threatens the voyage. The air of malevolence and threat from this apparent demon – the presence of a shadowy figure glimpsed at portholes and in darkened corridors, whispers that it may be able to possess people and therefore walk undetected – all adds to the air of suspense and paranoia among the passengers and crew, many of whom are convinced that something evil is onboard the Saardam.

Amongst a memorable cast of characters are Samuel Pipps, Arent Hayes and Sara Wessel.
Pipps is a famous detective, perfect to get to the bottom of the strange happenings, but on this occasion he’s also a prisoner, confined to a darkened hole of a cell within the depths of the Saardam, awaiting his fate as he’s transported back to Amsterdam to face trial for an alleged crime.

Arent is a famous solider, and protector and companion to Sammy Pipps. He reluctantly comes to the fore to pursue leads that Pipps himself is unable to, having previously worked on cases with the great detective. He searches for the truth whilst seeking out his friend and mentor for advice whenever he can, doubting his own abilities after past experiences.

Sara is the wife of the Governer General. Having witnessed the initial threat to the voyage she’s reluctant to endure the journey and put her daughter at risk, but unable to convince her husband not to travel she immerses herself fully in the mystery, trying to find answers whilst exploring parts of the ship she really shouldn’t be venturing to. She’s driven by an urge to protect her daughter and never shies away from potential danger. Sara and Arent Hayes are drawn together despite being very different.

There are some wonderfully written moments which I was going to describe but it’s better to discover them in the reading of the story, a story that really keeps you guessing. Is there anything to this talk of Old Tom, or is it being magnified by a group of scared and superstitious people adrift and under threat from some unknown source?
I found myself trying to anticipate whether there was a human element, someone with a vendetta or reason to cause all this trouble, or whether it’s all so extraordinary that there’s no other explanation than something supernatural, and if that’s the case then how on earth will the passengers of the Saardam survive their journey?
I tried to guess for a while before the narrative just grabbed me and I sat back and went along for the ride. The final third of the novel was all action, as the situation gradually became clear, and I couldn’t tear myself away from needing just one more chapter to discover what would happen next.

I loved The Devil and the Dark Water. A group of people stranded at sea, confined together, the crew awash with colourful characters, from the rich and powerful to the roughest sailors, all at the mercy of someone or something, the ambiguity of the threat, the eeriness, the fact that there is such a mix of people to suspect of the various crimes and many possible reasons for someone to want vengeance, the potential that it’s something supernatural after all, it all made for an exciting read.

Book Review: Later by Stephen King

Name:  Later
Stephen King
Number of Pages: 
248 (ebook)
March 2nd 2021 by Hard Case Crime
Genre: Thriller, Mystery


The son of a struggling single mother, Jamie Conklin just wants an ordinary childhood. But Jamie is no ordinary child. Born with an unnatural ability his mom urges him to keep secret, Jamie can see what no one else can see and learn what no one else can learn. But the cost of using this ability is higher than Jamie can imagine – as he discovers when an NYPD detective draws him into the pursuit of a killer who has threatened to strike from beyond the grave.
Later is Stephen King at his finest, a terrifying and touching story of innocence lost and the trials that test our sense of right and wrong. With echoes of King’s classic novel IT, Later is a powerful, haunting, unforgettable exploration of what it takes to stand up to evil in all the faces it wears.

My Rating:


My Thoughts:

Later is the story of Jamie Conklin, who discovers as a young boy that he can see dead people. Not only that, for the brief time that the dead linger, he can converse with them, and they are bound to tell the truth if asked questions. At first this unique skill is used to harmless ends, bringing small comfort to a recently bereaved neighbour, but it’s a skill that can also be used for less well-intended means should the wrong sort of person become aware that it’s possible.
And of course, that’s what happens, leading Jamie into all manner of trouble as he grows up and he’s dragged into danger in the real world whilst also somehow managing to attract the attention of something entirely other, something that he’s not sure he’ll never be rid of.
So, for the most part Later is a thriller, but there’s a supernatural twist to the tale which I enjoyed. 

I always enjoy one of King’s epic-length novels, and am currently working my way slowly through the Dark Tower series for the second time, but this novel, at less than 300 pages was a really nice change. There are a lot going on in a short space of time – great characters, awful characters, and an engaging narrative from Jamie as he tells of his unique talent and the things he encountered because of it.

I liked the family relationship between Jamie and his mother, trying her best to support herself and her son, her knowing about his talent and accepting that it’s real whilst trying to make sure it stays a secret, and the friendship between Jamie and Professor Burkett, who becomes convinced that the things Jamie confides to him aren’t just tall tales spun from a vivid imagination.
There’s also Liz Dutton, former partner of Jamie’s mother Tia, who wants to use Jamie for her own career salvaging prospects, regardless of his reluctance. She’s more unlikeable than any of the otherworldly things that Jamie sees, and will go to great lengths to get what she wants. Talking of the supernatural, there’s certainly one figure I would have liked to know more about. So much more. I would love another novel featuring Jamie, just to know more about that particular story.

Later is a fast-paced, exciting, slightly creepy read with an good narrator and quite a small but interesting set of characters. Definitely one to pick up if you’re looking for something exciting with a hint of the supernatural.

Book Review: The Naturalist (The Naturalist #1) by Andrew Mayne

Name:  The Naturalist (The Naturalist #1)
Andrew Mayne
Number of Pages: 
382 (ebook)
October 1st 2017 by Thomas & Mercer
Genre: Thriller, Mystery


Professor Theo Cray is trained to see patterns where others see chaos. So when mutilated bodies found deep in the Montana woods leave the cops searching blindly for clues, Theo sees something they missed. Something unnatural. Something only he can stop.As a computational biologist, Theo is more familiar with digital code and microbes than the dark arts of forensic sleuthing. But a field trip to Montana suddenly lands him in the middle of an investigation into the bloody killing of one of his former students. As more details, and bodies, come to light, the local cops determine that the killer is either a grizzly gone rogue… or Theo himself. Racing to stay one step ahead of the police, Theo must use his scientific acumen to uncover the killer. Will he be able to become as cunning as the predator he hunts—before he becomes its prey?

My Rating:


My Thoughts:

The Naturalist is a page-turning thriller and proved to be addictive reading for me. The story follows Professor Theo Cray, an academic working in bioinformatics who finds himself suspected of murder when one of his former students is found dead. So begins a hunt for a serial killer who most of the police are not convinced even exists.

Theo is an intriguing central character. He knows how to analyse information and data in ways that others may not see, to look for patterns and use his knowledge and skills to make discoveries and connections that are not initially obvious. This comes in useful when he finds himself initially at the centre of a murder inquiry. A former student turns up dead and Theo is brought in for questioning.
That would be alarming enough for most, but when the death is declared the result of a bear attack Theo isn’t happy. The evidence and the signs point to human involvement and instead of getting out and back to his usual life, Theo immerses himself in tracking the data and following where it leads, despite this putting him back under the eye of the police.

The plots drives on at a rapid pace that left me wanting just one more chapter before I had to put the book down as Theo follows the patterns and becomes increasingly convinced there is a serial killer operating in the area and that it’s been going on for many years. There are some wonderfully creepy moments throughout as Theo narrows down the options as to who this killer might be and where they might be.
Alongside all the action the story includes all kinds of science information and it’s delivered in a fascinating way without being overwhelming.

Some of the actions Theo takes as he discovers more evidence seems likely to raise suspicions against him again and yet he doesn’t stop, he’s so convinced there is more going on that random animal attacks. He puts himself in danger more than once and the lengths he goes to to convince the police become more and more extreme.
Following a trail that becomes more grisly with each revelation leads inevitably to an exciting final showdown.

I really enjoyed The Naturalist, and as it drew to an exciting and tense conclusion I was almost sorry I’d reached the end of the tale, but it’s the first book in a series and I would certainly like to check out more of Theo Cray’s adventures.

Book Review: Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Name:  Gods of Jade and Shadow
Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Number of Pages: 
367 (ebook)
July 23rd 2019 by Del Rey
Genre: Fantasy


The Jazz Age is in full swing, but Casiopea Tun is too busy cleaning the floors of her wealthy grandfather’s house to listen to any fast tunes. Nevertheless, she dreams of a life far from her dusty, small town in southern Mexico. A life she can call her own.Yet this new life seems as distant as the stars, until the day she finds a curious wooden box in her grandfather’s room. She opens it–and accidentally frees the spirit of the Mayan God of Death, who requests her help in recovering his throne from his treacherous brother. Failure will mean Casiopea’s demise, but success could make her dreams come true.In the company of the strangely alluring god and armed with her wits, Casiopea begins an adventure that will take her on a cross-country odyssey, from the jungles of Yucatán to the bright lights of Mexico City–and deep into the darkness of the Mayan underworld.Mixing the excitement of the Roaring Twenties with Prehispanic mythology, Gods of Jade and Shadow is a vivid, wildly imaginative historical fantasy.

My Rating:


My Thoughts:

Gods of Jade and Shadow is a magical tale from Silvia Moreno-Garcia. Last year I read Mexican Gothic, and I enjoyed that so much I wanted to check out more by this author. The strikingly colourful cover and the tale of a quest undertaken by a young woman and a Mayan god was intriguing and so I began.
An adventure, a quest, a strong-willed young woman kept in a place she has no desire to be in by an overbearing family, and an immortal being in search of items that will restore him as the rightful ruler of a vast and varied underworld. How could I resist such a tale?

There’s a lot to enjoy here, so let’s begin with the main characters. Casiopea Tun is a young woman longing to escape, to dance, to swim in the sea, to drive an automobile, to experience life. Her family may have other ideas, mainly around Casiopea keeping house and doing chores. Little does Casiopea realise that someone is about to enter her relatively small world with the potential to make all her daydreams and more possible…

Hun-Kamé is the God of Death lured into a trap by his own brother and imprisoned with some help from those in the human world. I liked him just as much as Casiopea, from his remoteness to begin with, him being a god and all, to the way he slowly began to change as the pair travelled across the country, taking in many places and experiences as they moved closer to finding the items that would restore his power and give him his position back in the underworld.

The story evolves as Hun-Kamé becomes more human and as Casiopea takes on small bits of power in the face of all manner of wondrous beings, most of whom are set against them, having allied with Hun-Kamé’s brother.

There are many exotic settings – big cities and towns, the likes of which Casiopea has never seen before, places where there is dancing, colour, and music. The striking contrast to this is the otherworldliness of Xiabalba, a vast and elaborate kingdom where all is dark and grey.

As Casiopea begins to realise that in the end Hun-Kamé is still a god, that it’s unlikely there will be a time ‘after’ their shared adventure, I started to wonder how it could all end, and whether there really would be any future for these two, so different yet so tied together through their adventure.

Gods of Jade and Shadow is a great read – a tale of love, adventure and forgiveness. I’ve enjoyed both of the books I’ve read so far by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, and I would love to read more. I like the sound of Certain Dark Things, so perhaps that will be my next choice.

Book Review: The Waste Lands (The Dark Tower #3) by Stephen King

Name:  The Waste Lands (The Dark Tower #3)
Stephen King
Number of Pages: 
612 (ebook)
March 11th 2010 by Hodder & Stoughton (first published August 1991)
Genre: Fantasy


Roland, the Last Gunslinger, is moving ever closer to the Dark Tower, which haunts his dreams and nightmares. Pursued by the Ageless Stranger, he and his friends follow the perilous path to Lud, an urban wasteland. And crossing a desert of damnation in this macabre new world, revelations begin to unfold about who – and what – is driving him forward. A blend of riveting action and powerful drama, “The Waste Lands” leaves readers breathlessly awaiting the next chapter. And the Tower is closer…

My Rating:


My Thoughts:

The Waste Lands is the third volume in the Dark Tower series by Stephen King and throws us straight back into the action as new threats in this strange world reveal themselves.
Events from the recent past are starting to catch up with Roland. His previous actions affect his state of mind as he attempts to make sense of the truth of a boy called Jake, whom he is convinced is real but also never existed.
There’s a good recap of The Gunslinger in a conversation between the trio as Roland tries to reason out the mystery of Jake. I’ve gone from one book to the next so far with no break so it’s fresh in my mind still, but worth noting if it’s been a while since you picked up previous volumes.

The Waste Lands reveals more about this world, about the way it is formed, and the idea of the Dark Tower being the centre around which everything else is built. There’s talk of the Tower, and the Beams which hold the world together, the fact at the world is getting bigger, but also starting to decay; things are failing, becoming weaker, and Roland thinks that may impact other worlds too. The sheer scope of what may be at stake if the quest fails becomes clearer.

There are still hints of something very similar to our own world, little details such as the name Shardik reminding Eddie of rabbits, and previous mentions of familiar songs. These things, and the descriptions of the technology of the Great Old Ones almost makes it feel as though Roland’s world is possibly somewhere way in the future.

The group grows closer as they learn more about each other, and how to work as a team. Eddie and Susannah learn how to be gunslingers in this dangerous world where a mistake could mean death. As the travels continue Roland opens up, becomes more human somehow, less remote and closed off, especially as the group encounters other people. He’s a fascinating character and the way his history is teased out makes you want to know more.
The lengths these characters go to for each other and the risks they take show their bonds are strengthening. One particular reunion made for wonderful reading, and again showed Roland’s humanity. There’s also the introduction of a unique animal companion in Oy, the billy-bumbler, a stray who becomes part of the group and joins them on their adventures.

Aside from Roland’s world and all it’s mysteries, there are some great settings within our own world, including The Manhattan Restaurant of the Mind, a bookstore that Jake visits on the day he goes truant, and where he finds something that may become very important as time goes on.
The Mansion in Dutch Hill is a fantastic setting for a final ‘drawing’. It is a house with so much atmosphere it’s almost, and literally, a character for the too brief duration of its appearance. That section of the story reminded me of reading about the House of Usher, a tale I hadn’t read the first time I read this book.

Other things to discover in this story include a visit to River Crossing, a place where people try their best to survive in a harsh landscape. There‘s also the intriguing history of the city of Lud with it’s ongoing battles and the way the world moved on.
And, of course, there’s Blaine the Mono, built up from the moment that Jake first picked up a child’s story book about an apparently different train. More on Blaine later.

The build up to Lud and Blaine still somehow doesn’t prepare you for the sheer scale of what happens when our group arrive in the city. They encounter a wild place inhabited by different factions, and discover the way they live, their rivalries, and the perceived threat from the ‘ghosts in the machine’ that fuels their fears. It’s intense, and the last third of the book is a real rollercoaster. There’s so much going on, so much danger, so much threat, and times when it looks like the end for various members of the group.

And then there’s Blaine. How can a monorail train, and one that hasn’t been in use for many many years, possibly centuries, become such a dominant character? I mean, it’s a train! It’s also much more than that. That’s the Dark Tower series for you. And it’s a series that I am very glad I decided to read again, because it’s just as entertaining the second time around, and I cannot wait to venture on to the next volume, Wizard and Glass. I’m really glad the series is complete, because The Waste Lands ends on a bit of a cliff-hanger, and even having read the books before, I need to get back into the adventures of Roland and his ka-tet.