Reviewing the Pages: Devil in the Countryside

34208294

Devil in the Countryside is a story about the most famous werewolf investigation in history, brimming with intrigue and war, love and betrayal, and long-kept vendettas.

It’s 1588, the height of the Reformation, and a killer is terrorizing the German countryside. There are reports that the legendary Werewolf of Bedburg has returned to a once-peaceful land. Heinrich Franz, a cold and calculating investigator, is tasked with finding whomever — or whatever — the killer might be. He’ll need all the help he can get, including that of a strange hunter who’s recently stumbled into town. Though they’re after the same thing, their reasons are worlds apart. And through it all, a priest tries to keep the peace among his frightened townsfolk, while a young woman threatens his most basic beliefs.

In a time when life is cheap and secrets run rampant, these four divergent souls find themselves entwined in a treacherous mystery, navigating the volatile political and religious landscape of 16th century Germany, fighting to keep their sanity — and their lives.

Based on historical events, this book gives us a look into what may have been happening in Bedburg leading up to the events of the trial. I liked the four different points of view in this story, with each of them giving a slightly different point of view to look upon, even if Dieter and Sybil’s become kind of interchangeable towards the end of the book.

Mr. Barclay does a wonderful job of setting up the atmosphere and setting for this story. Keeping true to the religious and political turmoil of the times, he weaves them in wonderfully with the story of trying to catch the Werewolf. There are times where I forgot that it was the late 1500s, and I could see some of these conversations and scenes come up during a read in the modern day.

Be warned fellow reader, there are some heavy themes alluded to in here. While the details are not alluded to within the pages, one only has to read between the lines to figure out what is going on. I highly recommend diving into this read when you get a chance reader. Step back into the past, and chase down the Werewolf yourself.

Well, there’s a lot going on in this book.  Yes, most of this read is fictionalized.  But, the author had to do so with the lack of information on the subject.  It’s not like there is a surviving diary or journal from someone back then.  But, then that would have been too easy.  Cory Barclay does a wonderful job of weaving all of the known factors of the time period for that region into the fictional aspects that he had to create in order to tell this wonderful tale.

The biggest problem that I came across while reading this was at the end, where we got a merging of points of view of sorts between Dieter and Sybil.  I wish that they could have been separated out a bit, by keeping feelings of the event that was happening relegated to that character.  But that’s my only negative criticism of the book.  The characters that I hated, or mistrusted, were written that way for a reason.  Even the motivations of the characters were realistic, and something that wouldn’t be out of place in that time period.

As to the themes that I alluded to in my Goodreads post? They’re there.  While most of the violent acts are brought up after the fact or presented as they are happening, they are there in their gory detail.  There are also some more sensitive topics that get brought to light, including rape and abuse.  I do request that you heed my warning: do not go into this read lightly.  While I highly recommend it, know your limits fellow reader.  Yes, all of those are light, and most of the story is steeped in political and religious turmoil, the underlying darkness is there.  Don’t let the darkness sway you from reading this book, fellow reader.  Enjoy the read and let the mystery suck you in.

Reviewing the Pages: Relic

67035

Just days before a massive exhibition opens at the popular New York Museum of Natural History, visitors are being savagely murdered in the museum’s dark hallways and secret rooms. Autopsies indicate that the killer cannot be human…

But the museum’s directors plan to go ahead with a big bash to celebrate the new exhibition, in spite of the murders.

Museum researcher Margo Green must find out who-or what-is doing the killing. But can she do it in time to stop the massacre?

Oh how I missed Pendergast. I don’t know how I picked up this book to start with, but once I finished it the first time, I really wanted to read more about our mysterious Southern gentlemen with the FBI. But I never picked the series back up. Now, after re-reading the introductory novel to Pendergast, I realized quickly that I really should. Pendergast is an enigma, and I want to know about him.

This story gives us a fascinating look into ideas on evolution, and whether they are working theories or not, is a different story altogether, but I still enjoyed the tale. I’m one for reading books that help expand my brain with wide amounts of knowledge. Usually, it comes in the form of scientific information, like evolution, or paleobiology, or astrobotany. Maybe that’s why I like The Martian so much…it taught me a lot of plausible ideas. Which is where this book comes in…that there are still things that we as human beings have not explored. Things like bridging the gap in the evolutionary record. Science changes and adapts in every way, and I hope that, like this “little” discovery in this book shows, one day just might change the world.

This book is also a really good mystery, because while it gives you some information outright, the bulk of the information; the story that is getting woven here gets slowly revealed with each new revelation that the characters make. And I like that. Even with reading this book again, it gives me great pleasure in following along with the mystery. If you enjoy reading books heavily steeped in mystery with deep tendrils of science fiction, that I urge you to check this book out. And maybe, you’ll just might find yourself wanting to follow along with Agent Pendergast on his next adventure.

Alright.  Big spoilers here.  The ending is a very nice setup to getting us into the next book.  So the creature has been vanquished, and our heroes are celebrating their success, not only in taking down the creature, but their individual successes in life.  Which is good for them.  Bad for the rest of the world.  While they realize that the creature had a humanoid-like facial structure, the latecomer to the party holds the actual key as to what happened.  Which is dangerous.  Especially for someone like Kawakita.  I didn’t like his character.  Not because he’s poorly written or anything like that, but because he’s a character type that I don’t find appealing. The highly-motivated, almost world-conquering personality that won’t stop until he gets exactly what he wants using any means necessary.

There is so much more that I want to learn about Agent Pendergast.  We get that he’s Southern, to the point where he was raised almost in a more traditional Southern manner.  He’s very particular about how he dresses (to the point where he shows disdain for having to use his jacket for a trap).  He also seems to have a problem with people being nasty, especially towards him.  I love how the authors describe D’Agosta after a couple of Pendergast’s verbal lashings.

While I listed above that this is science fiction and mystery, there is also a great deal of horror involved in it as well.  It take you for a wonderful, brain-pleasing ride that, at the very end, will leave you wanting more. Just, keep all body parts and organs inside the ride at all times.

Reviewing the Pages: White Rabbit Society Part One

31129777

Andrew is fifteen years old. He’s been sent to stay with his grandmother for the summer while his parents finish their divorce, but the summer’s up and he’s still stuck up in Wisconsin. And his best and only friend is a monster.

Shadow lives under a gazebo in the park. She has a body made of spare parts, she seems to be omnipotent, and she likes to play chess. Andrew doesn’t tell anybody about Shadow. Nobody listens to him anyway.

Andrew’s Uncle Paul comes to town. Andrew didn’t know he had an Uncle Paul. Paul knows about Shadow. Paul knows lots of things. Some of them are things he shouldn’t know; some of them are things no one should know. And he’s interested in teaching.

Unfortunately, Paul isn’t stopping by just to say hello. He’s being pursued, by people interested in his secrets. People interested in Shadow. And soon, people interested in Andrew.

First off…let me say that I am SO confused. There’s not much of a “society” here that we come to know and understand. It’s a loose organization of people that have fallen down this rabbit hole of very dark magic. There are no real alliances at all; just people who band together for a very short period of time in order to further their own agenda. And in the middle of it all right now; a young teenager named Andrew.

The book does a very good job of not telling what is going on. We go back and forth between flashbacks that I’m not sure who they belong to half the time, and the present day. There are so many unexplained things that I constantly had to stop and go “where did that come from?” However, there are enough things that are explained to not make this story a completely confusing read.

For those of you who like tales with a lot of mystery and intrigue, as well as a fair amount of dark magic, then check this read out.

Alright.  So, part of the reason why I’m so confused is that we have characters that are constantly dying and getting resurrected, and multiple characters that come in and out so fast that I don’t know what side they are on.  For instance, Jeremiah, a character who pops up in the middle of the book, dies at one point, then pops back in towards the end of the read.  At one point, Paul apparently got shot by Anna, and then pops back up just a page later.  Makes me so confused.  Yes, I know there’s a “nine-lives spell” that requires a sacrifice of a toe every time, but still.

SO

FREAKING

CONFUSED

Anyway.  There’s a brief point at the end where Josh takes off on his own.  Is he going to be another antagonist in the next part? Or is he just going to disappear into the depths of Chicago?

The one clear thing in this world is the magic, and the motivation that some people have to be possess that magic.  It makes things difficult to be sure, to figure out who’s aligned with who…and that includes the creatures.  Except for Shadow.  Shadow is a different sort of creature.  She seems like she had a goal in mind…which ended up her being made into a (imperfect) human.  But, Shadow doesn’t really play that big of a part here.  Just part of the…package deal? that everyone wants a part of.

Again, if you are into a tale of mystery with a fair amount of dark magic, then you should totally check this out.  And yes, this isn’t so mysterious, but it will certainly leave you confused.

Reviewing the Pages: Dark Water

31135723

Friendship doesn’t die, it waits…

A haunting and lyrical novel, “Dark Water” is a psychologically intense portrait of adolescent yearning and obsession.

When Helena returns to her childhood home in Orkney, she is forced to face memories that she has spent half a lifetime running from. Her best friend, the charismatic Anastasia, disappeared after a swimming incident. But what really happened that night by the wrecks?

This read dips you into mystery from the very beginning, and paints you in the hidden hues of the darker waters throughout the entire story. The back and forth between the Helena on the island in the “now” and the Helena we see from the past is woven together very well, and nothing seems out of place or makes the read stop. The anticipation of finding out what happened to Anastasia builds and builds, and roughly about 95% into the Kindle edition, it explodes, and at the VERY end, leaves the reader in shock about what they have read. And that’s a good thing. A very, very good thing. In my mind, that’s the mark of a true twist. To throw a wrench in one’s thoughts and perceptions about the read…to make them think about what they read differently. Almost as if the book wants to be re-read; to pick up on the smaller details. I loved this read, and would recommend it to ANYONE that enjoys reading.

spoilerwarningmine2

First off, say hello to my new spoiler warning!

Anyway, let’s dive right on into the read with this: HOLY MOTHER OF SWEET TWISTING GOODNESS! Ahem.  Sorry.  But, the ending.  The last italicized section, changes the ENTIRE tone of the read.  As I said in my Goodreads review above, this is the kind of twist that I enjoy.  Sure, mid-book twists are good, and they give us something to think upon.  But end-book twists are wonderful.  Want to leave a reader in shock, then drop a bomb on them as they turn the page to the acknowledgements.

Thinking back on it now, there were little things dropped here and there that hinted at…something, but I brushed them aside as I was reading.  I actually had a completely different ending in mind…one where Anastasia was alive and was just hiding out in a very secluded part of the island.  And that had a hold of me until I was nearing the end of the read.  Once that realization that she was actually dead, I was on the quest to figure out what happened.  And man, it did not disappoint.

There are a lot of interesting and complex relationships within this read, both in the present and in the past.  Each and every one of them have their flaws, but that’s how human life goes.  Not all relationships, friendship or otherwise, are perfect.  Our author does great in incorporating the small-town setting into the read as well.  Coming from a very small town myself (roughly a thousand people), I totally understand that there are no hiding secrets from anyone.  I do think that some of the people in town that Helena comes into contact with know have some realization as to what did happen the night Anastasia disappeared, but don’t want to confront Helena about it.  Which can be for the very best.

I highly recommend this read to ANYONE who reads.  Period.  There is a lot of emotions in this read, with a lot of relationships growing in both positive and negative directions.  It’ll make you question things in your own life, as well as make you think on the unexpected details.