I’ve been a little behind on my blog and writing work lately (I honestly don’t know where these past few months have gone, truthfully) but here’s a little March/April reading wrap-up!
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
My first five-star of the year. I’ve heard about this book for years upon years but never picked it up for myself. There’s little left to be said about this one. Vile subject portrayed with a bizarre sort of eloquence that I found both stunning and incredibly manipulative. The entire thing softened and shaped you. I mentioned this on Goodreads, but I saw a review where a person mentioned how, as a teen, the disgusting Humbert glorified himself as a character in their mind, whereas upon rereading they found him to be repulsive. I honestly think that sort of summaries this entire book. As the narrative draws to a close, it’s easy to forget what, exactly, the character has done, regardless of his crimes being blatant and plastered on every page. This horrified me as much as it captivated me. Depraved, and so brilliantly done, too.
Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
As you might see I’ve been trying to fill the gaps in my reading a little this year. All the stories I’ve so often heard about but never read. This one I knew might flop a bit for me, mainly because I was well aware of the twist before reading it. Overall, it was easy and enjoyable but didn’t strike a chord with me. It’s a book that’s long since sailed the time it needed to be with me. Straight forward, character-driven, and touches on some darker topics, but there’s an element in this that doesn’t quite hold strong for me. Despite it being geared for a younger audience, I wanted a little more from it.
Bits by R.A. Busby
I’ve been hearing a lot about Busby’s work (I also believe I share a TOC with this author, to boot.) Right out the gates–Busby does unsettling fiction beautifully. The entire story hits on a common fear we’ve all had dreams about over the years, the narration was full of life, and some descriptions were strong enough to physically tap into. Despite the length, I felt like I got a lot out of the story with no overbearing info-dumping, too, which kept me invested. For me, what shaved the rating down was this: I have way too many unanswered questions. Overall, I’m itching to just… know more. To see it properly tie together into a complete package. Some readers might be happy enough to guess, but on this occasion, I think the story would have done better in a slightly bigger word count. Overall, though, brilliant piece.
Fanged Dandelion by Eric LaRocca
I was really fond of a lot of the poems in this. A lot of the work seemed to balance between a delicate nature and a fierce, horrific one. The imagery was bright, poignant, and I found it a breeze to feel/experience a lot of the poems. To boot, the entire collection addresses a lot of intrusive thoughts and their isolating nature which I could easily relate to. My criticisms begin with just a need for a bit of variety in the form itself and some personal preferences in taste in collections. A few poems melted away into each other after a while. But, honestly, poetry collections especially are a nightmare to review in any coherent way. All I will say is I’m very interested to read more of LaRocca’s work in the future.
Cinders of a Blind Man Who Could See by Kev Harrison
A great little piece of folk horror. Begins by gently hooking you into a mystery that unravels bit by bit. Characters all felt very vivid, the dialogue helped with that immensely, too. The sense of dread and isolation builds remarkably paced given the length. I will say, whilst overall the whole short piece felt brilliantly well-rounded for the space it had, the conclusion skimmed stars off for me. On one hand, a bit of personal taste came into play with the conclusion, but I also got the inkling that it was a bit too rushed to suit the brilliant pacing we’d seen beforehand. But, overall, it was a well-executed spooky tale with an engaging cast.
Mists And Megaliths by Catherine McCarthy
My second five-star of the year! I’d been waiting for this collection for a while, and it didn’t disappoint one bit. Catherine’s work goes from strength to strength with everything she puts out. The collection was an outstanding example of the range she’s able to work in with dark and supernatural fiction. The positing of the stories proved great in providing a sense of levity and giving the reader some breathing room, to boot. I think my only criticism of the collection is that in a couple of stories; I wanted a bit more payoff in the conclusions. But it wasn’t enough of an issue to knock stars off, honestly. Each story has its own merits, but my favorites sit at Cragen, Jagged Edges, Lure, Coblynau, and Carreg Samson. If you like your horror a bit more subdued, quiet, atmospheric–this is an excellent collection for you.
Hopefully, by the end of May, I’ll have some other great reads to chat about.