Monday 29 September 2014

RIP reviews - ghost, psychics, murder: lovely RIP books

      I have been reading some very good horror/ghost/mystery murder novels with a hint of superstition about them, for RIP.  It has been a banner month for reading for the challenge.  I am delighted to present to you the following books for your reading pleasure:
I Remember You - Yrsa Sigurdardottir.  Not one of the Thora Gudmundsdottir mystery series, this is a stand-alone ghost story.  And is it ever creepy.  The novel opens with three people going to an isolated fjord to do some house renovations.  At the same time, in another village across the fjord, a classroom is vandalized.  And in Reykavik, a doctor hears his son's name coming out of the mouth of a woman who doesn't know his family.  His dead son's name.   Links go back in time to an incident tied to the first vandalizing of the classroom 60 years ago.  How they are linked makes for a gripping ghost story as the story moves from the three people doing the renovations, who quickly realize they are being followed by someone who can't be there - this is a strictly summertime holiday village they are in - to the doctor who is trying to find out more about the woman who said his son's name, and a series of deaths.  There is a palpable sense of evil to the spirit haunting them all.  A chilling ghost story, highly recommended. 
Rating: To be read with the lights on.

Delia's Shadow - Jamie Lee Moyer.  This is a YA first novel, about a young heiress who has had to flee San Francisco after the 1906 earthquake and fire, because she sees the ghosts of the dead.  After the earthquake there were too many for her to deal with, especially as she didn't know what to do with or for them.  The book opens with her returning because a ghost has turned up by her bed in New York City, where she settled to teach, and she has realized it is insisting she return to San Francisco.  Once there, Delia discovers that the ghost is linked to a series of murders of women that have occurred both recently and in the distant past in San Francisco. 

This is a YA novel, a little bit uneven, though with very well-drawn characters, and decent dialogue.  A very spooky setting, as Delia sees ghosts everywhere she goes in SF, and the ghost appears whenever it wants to, as do other spirits in the novel.  The one ghost who comes to her in NY  she nicknames Shadow because she is always there.  This is the only ghost who desperately tries to communicate with Delia.  How is she linked to the serial killer?  Who is the killer? This was enjoyable and fun to read, and recommended especially for the teen age readers.
Rating:  Can be read with just one light.  Have a blanket handy.

The Raven Boys - Maggie Stiefvater - Really good YA novel about Blue, a girl who can see the spirits of the newly dead, one day a year, a year in advance.  She also enhances the 'gifts' of anyone who has psychic gifts of some sort, as most of her family do.  She also carries a curse - she will kill her true love with a kiss.  And along comes Gansey, son of a wealthy financier, whose ghost she sees in the lineup.  He attends the local rich boy's exclusive boarding school. And he is exploring ley lines in the area, trying to raise the spirit (or body) of the Welsh King Owain Glendower, who disappeared in 13c Wales; some say he sleeping somewhere in the earth until he is awakened, when he will grant the wakener with a wish.  The trouble is, Gansey is not the only one looking for Owain.  And a sacrifice has to be made in order to awaken the Welsh King. 

Most of this story is told through Blue's eyes, and some through Gansey's point of view.  It is well done, a lovely thrilling ghost story, with plenty of psychic gifts to thrill anyone who enjoys the supernatural.  All of Blue's family have psychic gifts, and there is a very fun card reading in Blue's house given by her mother and Blue's two 'aunts' (her mother's friends) for Gansey and his friends, which also turns out creepy and powerful when the other seeker also comes calling. 

I really enjoyed this book.  It had a few shocks I didn't expect, some unexpected twists, very good dialogue, and the story itself is interesting.  It's part of a cycle called The Raven Cycle, of which the second book, The Dream Thieves, is now out.   Raven is one of the creatures associated with Owen Glendower. It is good to see a Welsh legend (Owen Glendower did really exist long ago)  being used in fantasy, instead of Scottish or Irish, which are more commonly used. The psychic abilities are realistic and accurately portrayed, which I enjoyed also.  It is too easy to let psychic ability be the 'star' of a novel, or let it take the place of plot, which in this book it was used to enhance the story, not the focus of it. I enjoyed all the characters too.  All in all, a very good YA novel to read.
Rating:  Can be read with the lights off - though a blanket might be required. 

White Bones - Graham Masterton.  This was an unexpected purchase for me last week.  I knew that Masterton was a horror writer (I have one of his on my shelf to read).  He has just started to write a mystery series, set in Ireland, featuring Katie Maguire.  White Bones is the first one.  It is a stunner of mystery.  Katie is a detective, in charge of investigating serious crime in the Cork Garda.  When a series of bones is uncovered while digging through a foundation, everyone wonders, how could 11 women go missing and no one notice?  Then the forensic report comes through:  they were killed in 1915.  The little dolly attached to each left thigh leg can be dated to then. No one has seen the dollies before.  Katie is warned to ignore the bones, that it happened so long ago that no one is left alive who cares.  "They do, the women who died.  I want to bring them to justice," she says.
    Then, a hitchhiker goes missing. When her body is discovered, it bears the same mysterious dolly pinned to the thigh bone as the bones of the 11 other women killed so many years ago, also bears.  Is there a copycat killer?  Why?  Why were the original 11 killed?  The suspense ratches up when another girl is taken. 
     Katie is an interesting female character.  As one of a few women of rank in the Garda, everyone is watching her carefully.  Her husband has become a wheeler-dealer with the lowlifes of Cork, after a series of setbacks and the economy crashing.  When he makes a tremendously bad deal and gets into serious trouble, Katie faces a choice: reveal what her husband has been doing and risk losing her job, or try to make a deal with the crime lord in Cork to protect her husband.

This would be a good mystery, except Masterton throws in something extra:  the ritual used in killing the women, is part of a ritual used to raise  a supernatural being, so the raisee can be granted a wish. All power, etc.  The women are killed in a terrible manner.  I wasn't sure I would make it through the first one, it's not that it is graphic or horrible so much as what is done to her is awful.  The reason behind it is - well, you will have to read this novel for yourself to decide.  I ended up very much liking this book.  The characters, the setting, the story, it is all very well told.  Highly recommended, with the caveat you might have to skip the bits with the killer. 
Rating:  Can be read with lights off, though make sure all the doors are locked.

Like This, Forever - Sharon Bolton.  #3 in the Lacey Flint series. As you know, I have been a huge fan of Lacey Flint.  She is an astonishing character, likeable despite her many flaws.  Like This Forever, starts off almost where the previous one, Dead Scared, left off.  Except now we see Lacey beginning to fall apart, not yet recovered from her ordeal in Dead Scared.  She is off work, not seeing anyone, avoiding people, until the 11 year old boy next door, Barney, asks her for help one day.  Barney has been following the investigation into the murders of 10 and 11 year old boys in London over several months.  At first he is not concerned, but then the murders come closer together, and closer to home.  And Barney is hiding a secret he knows, a secret about his father. 

I really enjoy Lacey.  I did find in the beginning of this one that I wasn't sure if I still liked her, and then it all came together as she figures out she has a choice in how she is behaving in her life, and the man she loves might just leave if she can't get it together.  The interesting and clever part is that we know more about her than any other character but one in the entire series, and I find this puts me on her side, even when she does things I don't like her to do. A very clever way to involve the reader in the story, to make us invested in Lacey. 

The mystery in this novel is of course, who is killing these boys?  Why are they being drained of blood? When the revelation of the killer's identity comes, it is shocking.  And terribly, terrifically sad.  This is a clever mystery, told from two sets of eyes: Lacey's, as she gets involved in helping Barney, and Barney himself, a very interesting and odd boy.  I really enjoy this series, it is quickly becoming one of my favourites.  In this one we get to see a bit more of Mark's life, Lacey's want-to-be boyfriend, who also has a 10 year old boy that goes to the same school as Barney does.  It was good to meet Mark's son, and ex-wife, as this fleshes him out, and shows Lacey what she could be part of.  All in all, a very well done mystery. Perfect for RIP. 
Rating:  Must read, to be read in one day if possible - almost impossible to put down.  No ghosts, but the real terror of an 11 year old boy trying to plot where the killer will strike next, and watching his life fall apart - edge-of-your-seat suspense.

So, how have you been doing with RIP?  I haven't been able to post as much, as I have been trying to get to bed at a reasonable hour so I can get up with my daughter and get her off to school. She leaves the house early now in the mornings.  Which means, much as I'd love to stay, I have to go or I won't get enough sleep tonight. 

I am loving RIP, really happy with all the books I've read so far for it. Many thrills and scares and delicious moments of chills, ghosts and all the things that make me shiver.......