Featured reader reviews: Page 4

Listed below are the latest featured reader reviews on the site. Some are positive in praise, some are negative in criticism, but the one thing they all have in common is that they are well written and explain their reasoning. We can never have enough reader reviews as they add to the quality of the site, making it ever more useful for visitors.

The 10,000 Doors of January by Alix E Harrow

10 stars

This book is as beautiful as they say. I have added it into my collection. I could not put it down. It so amazingly came to life with each word. I completely escaped into this story. I felt as if I was that small child walking through the Wardrobe into Narnia once more. From the first page the story just pulled me in. It is a must read!

Cyn
USA

Limbo by Thiago DEvecque

8 stars

The author of Limbo, Thiago d’Evecque, approached me after reading about how much I loved Never Die and asked if I would like a copy of his book for an honest review. Thiago’s description of Limbo was very alluring.; ‘The book has a lot of mythology and references to games, RPGs and nerd culture in general, from Lovecraft to Final Fantasy’ So I flew over to Amazon to have check if there was a ‘Look Inside’ which would help me to get a quick feel for the book myself … I’d read just a couple of lines, was absolutely hooked and scurried back to my emails firing off a reply which I tried to make sound more civilised than the ‘SEND BOOK NOW PLEASE’ my heart was screaming. Limbo opens fantastically with the, as yet, unnamed protagonist being restored to consciousness with no knowledge or awareness of their surroundings. -’Some habits returned simply because they were difficult to forget, such as breathing. Thiago does a great job in the first chapter of making a connection between the the reader, the protagonist and the mysterious, baroque environment which is going to be our home for the next 162 pages. It was the language and its structure that really excited me when I read the preview. Short, dramatic sentences roll into one another creating a heavy cadence that pulls you along in the strength of their wake. Taking artistic license, if the sentences are undulating waves then there is a midnight glitter of spray in the form of lyrical and descriptive touches. -’There was only darkness, faint glitters, and shameless flashes, blinking around unbidden in disgusting glimpses.’ Our protagonist is a mysterious and engaging character throughout, tasked with ‘recruiting’ a host of mythological characters who need to return to a pre-apocalyptic Earth. This isn’t, however, a fantasy Earth this is very much our Earth desperately in need of saving. -’I saw political wars using religion as a pretext. I saw religious wars using politics as a pretext. I saw ethnic cleansers disguised as democracy. I saw genocides disguised as military defense. I saw support for genocide aiming profit.’ The protagonist is not quite human, standing a little distant to us but loving us and respecting us in their own way despite the horror we sow. Their other-worldliness and ineffable belief in our redemption definitely gave me Morpheus/Sandman vibes. There are multiple themes layered throughout Limbo, religion and theology prime amongst them and particularly how freedom of choice and freedom of will aren’t quite ‘free’ within certain institutions and structures. This myriad of themes wrap themselves around and suffuse themselves into Limbo’s two main plot devices. The plot initially is quite linear with the protagonist moving from character to character and dispatching them to Earth. This is a thankless task and quite frankly a painful experience for them - literally. They frequently fight suffering painful and un-healable wounds, sure they want to save Earth but what is in it for them? What Thiago has done is very creative, each character who is ‘convinced’ to return to Earth, restores a part of the protagonist’s memory. This creates a hook for both the protagonist and the reader to both care about the journey and to root for their success. Beyond this it also expands Limbo into another two genres, romance and mystery. As much as I enjoyed the forward moving plot I think I enjoyed the backwards revelations more, the eventual reveal of the main character is done so cleverly and with a surprisingly deep, bittersweet back story. Limbo’s crowning glory though, has to be the diverse and inclusive use of mythological characters. It would have been so easy to take the most well-known players of mythology, creating a cast which was very white and very male. Not on Thiago’s watch. Yes we have characters from Greco-Roman, Norse and British history but we also have them from Indonesia, Africa and the Middle East and there’s a healthy mix of male and female. It’s obvious that a lot of respect and care has been afforded each character that we meet. They exist within culturally appropriate environments and all feel unique and different. They speak, and where necessary fight, in a way that feels true to their myth they’re not just cookie-cutter characters. Special mention has to be given to the ‘Cosmic God, the Great Ancient One, the Destroyer of Worlds, the Corruption of the Abyss, the Breath of Death, the Emperor of Madness…’ otherwise known as Chuck. He’s such an awful character in the greatest of ways and I’m a sucker for a talking sword, ever since I first picked up Lilarcor in Baldur’s Gate II. -’I warned you didn’t I? Gormless Bastard.’ Pacing wise I would have to say that Limbo is a slower more meditative read focusing more on thoughts, ideas and dialogue than out-and-out action and with a liberal sprinkle of dark humour that is genuinely funny and never feels forced. The action scenes that there are written well with all of the frenetic force and bloody violence you’d expect. There are some minor issues with Limbo. Inconsistencies with the protagonist such as stating they know how to fight dirty, and doing so, but to then chastise a target for doing likewise in a later chapter. Immersion breaking references to social media and children putting pictures on fridge doors when I don’t think the main character would actually be aware of these things. There were also some minor issues with sentences not reading quite right and the incorrect use of her and him. But I do have to acknowledge the fact that Limbo was translated from Portuguese and they are very minor issues. Errors such as these don’t detract from the story and can be found in every book ever written. Overall Limbo is an exciting and unique read which crams an obscene amount of mythology and entertainment inside its slender form. The cake may be a lie, but to say Limbo is fantastic … isn’t. Who would I recommend this to? The thoughts and concepts in Limbo wouldn’t I think look out of place in a Sandman arc and so I’d certainly recommend it to anyone that enjoys dark, intelligent fantasy. Readers who enjoy history and mythology would also find a lot to love in Limbo’s pages. as most of the characters we meet are from countries whose mythology isn’t quite as well known and so it has the potential to really enrich their knowledge. Referring back to Thiago's comparisons I would also suggest its a good fit for fans of RPG & DnD. The humour, particularly from Chuck, had a very DnD feel while the setting and writing style made me think of Planescape: Torment and Torment: Tides of Numenera.

Paul
United Kingdom

Sword of Destiny by Andrzej Sapkowski

10 stars

I've never really been one for short stories as such, preferring the larger canvas presented by novels. When I do read a short story it's usually a one off and I seldom reach entire collections in one sitting. Saying that, I have read some damn good short stories, but as I say I tend to read one from time to time between novels. However, having become hooked on the Netflix take on The Witcher I decided to familiarise myself with the books and I read the Last Wish from cover to cover before starting this second collection. I enjoyed both collections and although many of the stories seem to be made up of mostly dialogue they do carry the action forward. They are good, very good and do give an understanding of the characters and worlds of the Witcher. I'm eager to start the first proper novel now.

Gary
United Kingdom

The Long Walk by Stephen King

8 stars

I am a long time King fan and I just recently discovered this book. I read it and as usual was mesmerized by King's writing. Only one problem, I spent most of the book asking myself why would a society set up an event like this? Was it a result of overpopulation? Was it a way to keep enemies from rebelling? Was it simply entertainment? I came to no conclusion and wasn't let in on the secret. I may have to read the book again. But then, Stephen King's books are good for that.

Jan
USA

Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton

7 stars

I've read this book first when I was a kid, and I loved it. While the novel was more interesting, I prefer the structure of the film, for me, it was more enjoyable. I've recently read Jurassic Park again, and I still like it, but I can see some problems with it. For my more complete review: https://alkony.enerla.net/english/the-nexus/sf-f-nexus/michael-crichton-jurassic-park-1990-novel-review-from-kadmon I also added this review in the resources section of the article.

Kadmon
Hungary

Forge of Darkness by Steven Erikson

10 stars

This is the first Steven Erikson book I have read. It was a gift from my sister and she chose this one instead of the Malazan Book of the Fallen series because she found a suggested reading order somewhere by the the author that put this one as first. So I went into it knowing nothing at all about the world of Malazan. When I began reading it, I was struck by how poetic it is. Much of the style of dialogue reminded me of Shakespeare, though I don't know if others would get this impression, or even think it's a positive characteristic. But I most certainly did. The most powerful aspect of this book for me was the atmosphere, which was created so beautifully by Erikson. It is dark, brooding, and kind of forlorn. There is this weight of the world feeling, as if all of the characters have experienced great pain, or foresee pain in the future. And this is very compelling for me. As the characters are introduced, there is such a vast number of them that I felt I was losing track of them. But after the story circles back to them, that unease faded away. It does take a long time for anything to really happen in the story, and I know some readers wouldn't enjoy that very much. Normally I wouldn't either, but the atmosphere of the writing was so good that it didn't matter. Erikson also gets into some profound philosophizing, which again I know some people don't like - but I love that sort of thing. I will definitely be reading the next book in this series, The Fall of Light, and I've already got my hands on the first four books or The Malazan Book of the Fallen. If they are written with the same depth as Forge of Darkness, I will be very happy. I have been a fantasy reader for a long time, and have heard of Erikson for years. Now I feel like I've been missing out all this time. I would recommend this book to people that like philosophy and a more poetic writing style. And again, it is a rather dark book. It is not easy reading, though, and it requires you to pay attention and to be patient as the story develops. But it is one of those books that stays with you when you are not reading, when you are at work or driving. It was often on my mind in my idle moments. I will probably read this again within the next year. I've never read a book before that I wanted to reread right as I was finishing it.

Alan
USA

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

10 stars

Loved a Christmas Carol. Loved the language and the imagery - took me straight into a poor, impoverished London. The moral of the story was fantastically portrayed by the visions that the ghosts showed to Scrooge. Loved every page.

Marie
Ireland

Rose Madder by Stephen King

10 stars

This is my favourite Stephen King book, and one of my all time favourite books. Being only fourteen, I haven't experienced a world so gritty as Rose's, but I still feel a strong empathy to her suffering and feeling of self doubt, albeit unrelated to my own experiences. I think that King managed to create Rose, a character so three dimensional, who is able to strike a chord with anyone through her unsympathetic self doubt (self pity can be grating) and realistic, but wholly admirable, personality and fears. I also loved the greek-mythological, fairytale aspect which was a beautiful contrast to the terrifying, almost too gruesome Norman horror, though it was still enchantingly scary. While some readers argue that there too many unanswered questions, in regard to the supernatural aspects, I found thses loose ends perfect as it meant that I could invent my own conclusions and symbols (like 'loose ends', representing the fact that not everybody is perfect, and that people are often ragged or without conclusions). Overall, I would give this book a 10/10. Although I know it isn't for everyone, I found this book utterly compelling, with moments that made me swell with pride and joy (Gert's confrontation with Norman), and others filled me with sadness for Rose, or anyone else for that matter.

Lizzie
England

Charlotte's Web by EB White

10 stars

The book left me with a different feeling about spiders and how amazing they could be and it just changed how I see animals now. I have been a vegetarian for 3 years now and my friends told me that after reading this book that they see why I became vegetarian in the 1st place. I feel like people who aren't vegetarian are sick because they enjoy eating animals when they are being taken out of their home and killed for us to enjoy. So if you aren't vegetarian then just remember that means that you enjoy eating suffered and killed animals. So in all you enjoy it when people go and just kill these poor animals and take them away from their families and their home. How would you like it if animals did that to you. Would you like it if animals took us away from our families and friends and home, just for them to enjoy us. So next time you go to eat meat think about what I just asked you.

Isabella
Illinios, US

Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

8 stars

First off let me say that this book is pretty much YA fantasy and I am OA but still enjoyed it. If fantasy stories which open doors between our daily lives and the world of magic are what interests you then this book might be for you. The author sets the story at Yale University and entwines fantasy and New Haven history together nicely...It is that blending of our known reality into the realm of the author's world that intrigues me and I think this author has done a wonderful job! I am very familiar with New Haven/Yale and she has captured the buildings and vibe of this town quite accurately. I enjoyed the plot and the protagonist definitely catches your interest...I am looking forward to the next installment. I hope that the next book in this series continues to use the city of New Haven as a launch pad(it really lends itself to magic) and I hope that she allows her main character to mature a bit (there is a lot of room for growth)!

Amy
USA

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