Book review | Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

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rating-4-stars

Three Black Witches are born in a glen,

Sweet little triplets

Will never be friends.

 

Three Black Witches, all fair to be seen.

Two to devour,

And one to be queen (267).

After reading Anna Dressed in Blood, I could not resist trying another book by Kendare Blake. My opinion of Three Dark Crowns does not differ much from that of Anna Dressed in Blood. Both books are fast-paced, action-packed and in terms of reading level quite easy. They might be more suitable for the slightly younger young adults. Still it does not mean that Kendare Blake’s novels are not uncannily addictive for somewhat older readers as well. Also it makes this novel an excellent mother/teen daughter buddy read.

Three Dark Crowns is best described as a grim, original fairy tale (pun intended J). In every generation the reigning queen gives birth to triplets. Three sisters, raised separately and all heirs to the throne, have one year from the night of their sixteenth birthday to battle each other till only one remains. The one left standing will be queen. Each sister is said to have her own magic: Mirabella rules the elements, Katherine can survive the deadliest poisons and Arsinoe can make nature do her bidding.

I was immediately gripped by this dark, bewitching story and finished it in a day. I was almost late for a dinner with friends, because I could not put it down. Though some of the plot twists were predictable, such as Arsinoe’s discovery at the end of the novel, it did not make it a less thrilling read. Kendare Blake makes it hard to pick a side in this brutal world, since the reader gets insight into the thoughts of all three sisters.

Although the story is highly entertaining, Kendare Blake’s writing might lack depth for those who are no longer part of the young adult age group. The sisters are brought up with the notion that they will have to murder their sisters in order to be queen. You would expect the sisters to rebel in some way or at least question their fate. However only one of the sisters tries to escape this gruesome future and even she is quickly guided back to her initial path.

The expected publication date of One Dark Throne, the sequel to Three Dark Crowns, is September 19th 2017. Write it down in your diaries, people! I will. Despite it being a little too easy to read, I can’t wait spending another day in my PJs totally immersed in this book.

Blake, Kendare. Three Dark Crowns. New York: HarperTeen, 2016.

Book review | Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

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rating-3-stars

I often bring a book with me wherever I go. However some time ago when I was at my parents’ place I didn’t have a book in my bag, since I hadn’t planned staying that long. So I asked my youngest brother if he had a cool book lying around. He handed me Anna Dressed in Blood and I am very happy he did. I just really (really!) liked it. I had an awesome afternoon reading this spooky book.

Anna Dressed in Blood is a terrific ghost story. It felt like reading about a younger cousin of the Winchester brothers from the TV show Supernatural. Cas hunts ghosts ever since his ghost hunting father was killed by an incredible nasty one. Cas and his mom move from place to place chasing ghosts. When Cas is tipped about Anna with her white dress soaked in blood, he knows it will be his next gig. However Anna is an incredible powerful ghost and defies a lot of Cas’ knowledge about ghosts. Is she too much for him to handle?

This book is a goose bump read. Not too spooky, but spooky enough to keep you in your seat reading as fast as you can to find out what happens next. It contains Voodoo magic which always scares the hell out of me. Kendare Blake writes fast-paced, action-packed scenes that make you laugh one moment and hold your breath the next. I love Cas’ sarcastic humour and the book’s gory descriptions. My only point of critique: although it is a young adult book, the language and writing style seems to better suit a children’s book. Since I no longer fit in the young adult category, the reading level of this book was way too easy for me.

This does not make Anna Dressed in Blood a less entertaining read though. If you are in for some creepy hours on the couch, I would highly recommend it. Has anyone read the sequel, Girl of Nightmares? I saw this book trailer (caution: contains Anna Dressed in Blood spoilers) and it really makes me want to read it.

Blake, Kendare. Anna Dressed in Blood. Antwerpen: Uitgeverij Manteau, (2011) 2013.

Book review | The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman

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rating-2-stars

“The being chased by hellhounds and blowing things up was a comparatively unimportant part of the job. Getting the books, now that was what really mattered to her. That was the whole point of the Library […] It was about finding unique works of fiction, and saving them in a place out of time and space” (16).

An enthusiastic comment of one of the employees of my local bookstore on a wrapper convinced me to buy this novel about a library that is a world on its own. The Invisible Library contains loads of books, magic and mystery. It sounds fascinating, doesn’t it? Unfortunately this book did not meet my expectations at all.

Irene works for the Library with a capital L. Her job is to collect books from alternate worlds and bring them safely to the Library. She and her assistant Kai go to an alternative London to retrieve a book. Sadly it is stolen before they arrive and their mission only seems to go downhill from there.

The Invisible Library seems to have all the ingredients for a good story: a courageous heroine, a handsome and mysterious man, a dangerous mission set in a Steampunk reality, an evil villain, supernatural creatures and of course magic. Still it somehow doesn’t work. While I did find the plot interesting enough, I was simply not captivated.

More importantly, much in the book puzzled me. I did not feel connected with the main character or any of the other characters for that matter. I had trouble grasping their emotions and thoughts. When the characters gave each other looks, I quite often did not know what it was meant to portray. Furthermore, I felt like I was frequently given explanations about this strange universe three chapters late if I got an explanation at all.

It could be Cogman’s writing style is not my cup of tea. The only reason I finished this book is, because I brought it with me on the train and didn’t have anything better to do. I found this quite a frustrating read. Has anyone of you tried this book?

Cogman, Genevieve. The Invisible Library. London: Tor, 2015.

Book review | The Graces by Laure Eve

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rating-5-stars

“Everyone said they were witches. I desperately wanted to believe it. I’d only been at this school a couple of months, but I saw how it was. They moved through corridors like sleek fish, ripples in their wake, stares following their backs and their hair” (1).

It is simply impossible to put down this book once you start reading. I started it on Christmas Eve and couldn’t tear myself away from it on Christmas Day (much to the annoyance of my family, since we were doing a Harry Potter marathon). I might have missed most of the first and third film, but I did finish this awesome book.

The Graces are said to be witches. What else could they be with their beauty, wealth and carefree lives? The three Grace children, fifteen-year-old Summer and seventeen-year-old Thalia and Fenrin, are the most popular kids in school. Each Grace is unique in their own way and everyone in town is enthralled by them. River, new in town with a past full of dark secrets, is just as obsessed with the Graces as everyone else is and she desperately wants to get noticed by Fenrin Grace. However being friends with a  Grace might not be forever and it is key to keep in mind the higher you climb the harder you may fall.

The big question I had while reading this book was: are the Graces actually witches? Nothing really extraordinary happens in most of the novel. It makes you question if the novel is about the dangers of human obsession instead of witchcraft. The Graces portrays teenage angst and high school social dynamics accurately. It was recognizable and I am relieved I don’t have to go through high school ever again. Although sometimes a work environment can resemble high school quite a lot.

The story is told from a first-person perspective. Still River was a mystery to me. What frightened me was how clearly obsessed she was with wanting to fit in. What boundaries would she dare cross to stay in the Graces inner circle? Although she mentions her past, she does not unfold it until the very end. River’s got one hell of a revelation in store for the reader.

Prepare yourself for a great twist. Prepare yourself to be hooked. This is one wicked read you will enjoy immensely. The sequel will be released in September. That is a long wait…

Eve, Laure. The Graces. London: Faber & Faber, 2016.

Book review | Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

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rating-4-stars

A few weeks ago I wandered around in The American Book Center, my favourite English bookstore in Amsterdam. I quickly found myself drawn to the horror section. Though I am a bit of a scaredy-cat, spooky stories always intrigue me. On that day, one book in particular caught my eye. The strange photos on the dust jacket, the linen cover with gold writing, the old photographs and the decorated pages… I just could not resist picking up a copy of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs. It felt like browsing through an old journal and I could barely wait finding a cosy nook to start reading.

 So what is Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children about? Sixteen-year-old Jacob grew up with his grandpa’s unusual photographs and tall tales about children with special abilities. After his grandfather’s tragic death, he soon finds himself on a remote island off the coast of Wales. Here Jacob discovers an abandoned orphanage, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, and he begins to doubt if his grandfather’s stories were only stories.

 Expecting it to be a ghost story, I obviously did not dare to read it after dark. However after the first creepy chapters, the book swept me up in an exciting story without any real ghosts, I promise. The pictures in the book give the story a strange sense of reality. It also reminds me that all pictures come with a story that, peculiar or not, are often still pretty wonderful. In the photograph above, I included some pictures of my family’s stories. For instance, the horse once saved my then three-year-old father by not wanting its favourite snack. My grandfather found it strange, looked at the ditch behind him and saw that his son was no longer standing there. My grandfather was just in time to fish my father out of the water. Isn’t that one peculiar horse?

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is the first book of a trilogy. I have read them all and I loved every minute spent in this strange, gothic fantasy. I would like to point out it is a Young Adult book. Since I found it in the horror section, I did not realise it until I was already fascinated by the pictures, plot and characters. I do not mind a good YA book once in a while and these books were definitely worth my time.

For more information about these books, the author and photography visit Ransom Riggs’ website: www.ransomriggs.com

Riggs, Ransom. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. Philadelphia: Quirk Books, 2011.