Review: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

I found Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus to be an absolutely enchanting read. By this I mean that, while I wasn’t exactly in love with every part of the book, it was still able to carry me far, far away from the mundane bus rides and never-ending emails of my own world! I’ll go ahead and say now what I wish someone had told me going in to reading this book, a sentiment that seems to be cropping up more and more among the bloggers I read: try and not believe the hype that surrounds this book like a big glittery cloud. Yes, this book does have fantastic stripey end papers.  Yes, the descriptions of the circus are magical, and the characters that Morgenstern has created are more than loveable. But, as it always does, the hype machine will let you down. If you go in to this book believing it will be THE BEST BOOK YOU’VE EVER READ AND IT WILL TURN THAT FROWN UPSIDE DOWN AND CURE CANCER AND BRING JOHN LENNON BACK FROM THE GRAVE WITH ITS POWER OF IMAGINATION…well, you’ll be let down. But if you let this book work its magic on you without expecting it to be anything but a great story…well, that’s where the real magic of The Night Circus lies. For those of you who have somehow missed the plot summary of this book, here’s the Goodreads for you:

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway—a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love—a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.

True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus per­formers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead.

But here’s the thing you might find surprising about this book: I really couldn’t give two figs for the romance part of this story. I mean, yes, it’s important because it ultimately ends up driving the entire ending of the book (I’ll give major props to Morgenstern for finding a way to keep the circus going, as for a while there I was as afraid as everyone else that this beautiful creation would have to die!) but, for the most part, these were the parts I was actually the least happy with. When the circus begins, Marco knows that Celia is his competitor, but Celia doesn’t possess this same information. Because of this, we actually get about half way through the book before the two really even get to be in one anothers solitary company, and it’s not until after that that the romance even begins to flourish. The reader is, of course, given that whole line about how it was love at first sight, Marco has known all along, blah blah blah. But honestly? None of that ever works for me if there isn’t the development within the relationship, and this time that part just wasn’t there. I found myself wanting to leave Marco and Celia and get back to the circus, and to Widget and Poppet and Bailey.

Now that I’ve expressed the things that irked me about the book (and I feel like my treatment of this may not have gotten across quite fully enough – I REALLY didn’t care for the relationship part. AT ALL. If it had been removed completely, I wouldn’t have cared at all) I can get to the thing that drove this book for me, and kept me reading to the last page: the circus. The circus, much like it is for all the characters, is the thing that keeps this book together. And it’s pure fracking magic. Let me tell you, Erin Morgenstern just got added to the list of people who’s imagination I would love to play around in for a day (other authors include: Salman Rushdie, Neil Gaiman, and J.K. Rowling). In case the book jacket isn’t enough, here’s a taste. Describing the clock that sits at the main gate:

The face of the clock becomes a darker grey, and then black, with the twinkling stars where the numbers had been previously. The body of the clock, which as been methodically turning itself inside out and expanding, is not entirely subtle shades of white and grey. And it is not just pieces, it is figures and objects, perfectly carved flowers and planets and tiny books with actual paper pages that turn. There is a silver dragon that curls around part of the now visible clockwork, a tiny princess in a carved tower who paces in distress, awaiting an absent prince. Teapots that pour into teacups and minuscule curls of steam that rise from them as the seconds tick. Wrapped presents open. Small cats chase small dogs. An entire game of chess is played (69).

Who wouldn’t want a clock like that to exist, let alone to be able to see it in real life. In the book, the followers of the circus are referred to as rêveurs and I think it goes without saying that, were Le Cirque des Rêves real, I would be one of these followers, going to any lengths possible to track it down and spend all my nights in it’s magic. Not only are the tents and features of the circus itself fantastic (I’ll get to those in a minute) but the characters that possess the circus – truly possess it – are unforgettable.

There is a character here for practically everyone. The ambitious and creative Chandresh Christophe Lefèvre. His close family friend, a genius with theatrics and costumes, Madame Padva. The kind clockmaker Friedrick Thiessen and the mysterious contortionist Tsukiko. Much like the circus, none of Morgenstern’s characters are exactly what they appear to be, and her subtle writing when discussing how each of them is mentally and physically affected by the circus are some of the best bits of writing throughout. However, I think I have to say that hands down the best characters in the book are Bailey, the non-magic boy who, in the end, basically gets adopted by the circus and ends up it’s manager, Poppet, and Widget, the two red-headed twins born as the circus opened it’s doors for the first time.

These three, let me tell you, are the kind of characters you get scenes of, but wish the whole book could revolve around. Not only are the twins red-headed and in love with kittens (their act involves tumbling mini-felines), but they’re fantastic siblings to one another, and are just so endearing. They are attached to the circus as no one else is, as they were born at the exact moment that the circus opened, and to spend time with children who’s whole world has been magic and mystery and imagination…it’s refreshing and endearing and inspiring all at once. When the two meet Bailey, and the fledgling romance between Bailey and Poppet begins to blossom, it’s those two for whom I was cheering, as they were the characters who seemed to love and need the circus more than any of the others.

And, finally, we get to the circus. There would be no reason for me to write about the circus, when Morgenstern did just a great job just writing it to begin with. So, to leave this post, I simply leave you with my personal favorite bits of the circus itself (these labels go in order of the quotes below: the ice room, the rêveurs, Widget’s stories, the enchanted human statues, the tent of bedtime stories, and the pool of tears):

It is exactly what the sign described. But it is so much more than that. There are no stripes visible on the walls, everything is sparking and white. She cannot tell how far it stretches, the size of the tent obscured by cascading willows and twisting vines. The air itself is magical. Crisp and sweet in her lungs as she breathes, sending a shiver down to her toes that is caused by more that the fore-warned drop in temperature. There are no patrons in the tent as she explores, circling alone around trellises covered in pale roses and a softly bubbling, elaborately carved fountain. And everything, save for occasional lengths of white ribbon strung like garlands, is made of ice (119).

The seek each other out, these people of such specific like mind. They tell how they found the circus, how those first few steps were like magic. Like stepping into a fairy tale under a curtain of stars. The pontificate upon the fluffiness of the popcorn, the sweetness of the chocolate. They spend hours discussing the quality of the light, the heat of the bonfire. They sit over drinks smiling like children and they relish being surrounded by kindred spirits, if only for an evening (143).

“Secrets have power,” Widget begins. “And that power diminishes when they are shared, so they are best kept and kept well. Sharing secrets, real secrets, important ones, with even one other person, will change them…This is, in part, why there is less magic in the world today. Magic is secrets and secrets are magic, after all.” (173)

The woman wears a dress something akin to a bridal gown constructed for a ballerina, white and frothy and laced with black ribbons that flutter in the night air. Her legs are encased in striped stockings, her feet in tall black button-up boots. Her dark hair is piled in waves upon her head, adorned with sprays of white feathers. Her companion is a handsome man, somewhat taller than she, in an impeccably tailored black pinstriped suit. His shirt is a crisp white, his tie black and pristinely knotted. A black bowler hat sits upon his head. They stand entwined but not touching, their heads tilted toward each other. Lips frozen in the moment before (or after) the kiss. Though you watch them for some time, they do not move…Each of them always gravitating toward the other. Yet still they do not touch (225).

He recalls what the tag said about opening things, wondering what could possibly be inside all of these jars. Most of the clear-glass ones look empty. As he reaches the opposite side of the table, he picks one at random, a small round ceramic jar, glazed in black with a high shine and a lid topped with a round curl of a handle. He pulls the lid off and looks inside. A small wisp of smoke escapes, but other than that it is empty. As he peers inside he smells the smoke of a roaring fire, and a hint of snow and roasting chestnuts. Curious, he inhales deeply. There is the aroma of mulled wine and sugared candy, peppermint and pipe smoke. The crisp pine scent of a fir tree. The wax of dripping candles. He can almost feel the snow, the excitement, and the anticipation, the sugary taste of a striped candy (238).

The sign outside this tent is accompanied by a small box full of smooth black stones. The text instructs you to take one with you as you enter…Inside, the tent is dark, the ceiling covered with open black umbrellas, the curving handles hanging down like icicles. In the center of the room there is a pool. A pond enclosed within a black stone wall that is surrounded by white gravel…Reflections ripple around the room, making it appear as though the entire tent is underwater. You sit on the wall, turning your black stone over and over in your fingers. The stillness of the tent becomes a quiet melancholy. Memories begin to creep forward from hidden corners of your mind. Passing disappointments. Lost chances and lost causes. Heartbreaks and pain and desolate, horrible loneliness. Sorrows you thought long forgotten mingle with still-fresh wounds. The stone feels heavier in your hand. When you drop it in the pool to join the rest of the stones, you feel lighter. As though you have released something more than a smooth polished piece of rock (283).

If that won’t make you read The Night Circus, I don’t know what will. Happy reading!

Review: A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

The smell of the library always lifted my spirits – that peculiar combination of old stone, dust, woodworm, and paper made properly from rags (p.31)

Okay. So. Here’s the deal. I’m sure you’ve heard me say before that I loved a book and that I think you should go buy said book and read it immediately. I’d be a pretty remiss book blogger if I hadn’t told you all that at least once before. But here’s the thing – I’m a strong enough woman to admit when I was wrong. All those other books I told you to buy? Forget them. All those other books other book bloggers, coworkers, and librarians tell you about? Back-burner them, people. This book? This book right here? This is the book you need to pick up instead. Cross my heart.

This book and I? This is love, here, people. We’re talking so much love that I used an actual BOOKMARK – not an old receipt, not a semi-clean napkin, not even a dog-eared page – to mark my place. And I didn’t write on it in pencil, accidentally spill coffee on it’s back cover, or break the spine by splaying it open. I  treated this book like the treasure it is. And now it’s your turn! Check the book jacket:

Deep in the heart of Oxford’s Bodleian Library, scholar Diana Bishop requests  a manuscript called Ashmole 782 in the course of her research. Coming from an old and distinguished lineage of witches, Diana senses that the ancient book might be bound up with magic – but she herself wants nothing to do sorcery; and ater making a few notes on it’s curious images, she banishes it quickly back to the stacks. But what she doesn’t know is that the old alchemical text has been lost for centuries, and its sudden appearance has set a fantastical underworld stirring. Soon, a distracting horde of daemons, witches, and vampires descends upon the Bodleian’s reading rooms. One of these creatures is Matthew Clarimont, an enigmatic and eminent geneticist, practitioner of yoga, and wine connoisseur – and also a vampire with a keen interest in Ashmole 782.

But it’s just SO MUCH MORE THAN THAT!!! Seeing as how I often have a heard(er) time breaking down what it is that makes me enamored with a particular book – as opposed to those things that make me dislike a work – I’m going to do my best to try and convey what I found so fascinating with  a limited amount of ALL CAPS, !!!!, and *squee*ing.

The first thing that stands out about A Discovery of Witches is the scholarly way the book holds itself. This is most likely due to the fact that both Diana and Matthew work in academia, as professors and researchers, and the fact that Deborah Harkness herself is a professor of history with – gasp – an emphasis in the history of science and magic! Her real-life experience means that reading about the scenes in which Matthew and Diana are researching are never as boring as they might potentially be, and it also means a good deal of the book takes place within libraries and other rooms filled with books – and who doesn’t love that. I also think it’s worth mentioning that Harkness has really done her research (pun maybe a little bit intended), as many things, people, and events (including the Ashmole collection) are real things that can be found in real places. It lends a certain level of truth and reality to a story that still, at it’s heart, is about magical creatures.

And good God the creatures! Let me tell you thins – if you’re looking for a book with complex, alive characters, this is a book for you to check out. Not only does Harkness do old-school vampire in a way that’s completely refreshing (no sparkles, pouty lips, or twat acting here), although if I had one qualm with the book it’s that Matthew can be a bit of a chauvenist, and it takes Diana a little bit to learn to fight back. But, he was originally born before Christ, so Matthew has lived most of his life conforming to different honor and chivalric codes, so I’m willing to cut him a bit of slack. Plus, he’s SO DAMN SEXY. Mmmmm….Matthew Clairmont. Unless, of course, manners, education, crazy-flexible yoga-doing, being knowledgeable about wine, and refined beyond belief aren’t things that float your boat. In which case, there probably isn’t any vampire that would really appeal to your senses. I also want to apply Harkness for writing Diana as a flawed but powerful character. She spends a great deal of the book denying her witchcraft and her powerful legacy (her parents were also incredibly powerful witches, and she follows in their genetic footsteps), but she’s never really unsure of the person she is, or of what she wants. Perhaps her greatest ability is her ability to love and sacrifice for those in her life, and as Harry Potter taught us, love can be an incredibly powerful magic in it’s own right.

But it’s not just Diana and Matthew who are fascinating. Diana’s lesbian aunts Sarah and Em are the perfect balance not only for one another, but for Diana and Matthew, who are the tempest storm to Sarah and Em’s safe-harbor. We don’t really meet Diana’s family until a little more than half-way through the book, but the readers feel immediately welcomed in to their home – a house that, in quite a few moments of humor, is haunted enough to make up it’s own mind about guests. We also get to meet Matthew’s mother Ysabeau, who is everything regal and beautiful and cold that you would expect from an ancient female vampire. The way her and Diana’s relationship progresses feels very natural, and although the two are never buxom buddies, there is a certain level of affection that exists there. Add to this the presence of crazy-artistic daemons Nathaniel, Sophia, and Hamlish, as well as a vampire son or two and some crazy-evil people known as the Congregation who want nothing more than to keep Diana and Matthew apart (well, and to steal Diana’s magic in an incredibly life-ending way) and you’ve got a cast of characters with a little something for everyone.

Damn! This review is at over 1,000 words already, so I’ll try to wrap it up. I know that many other people who have read this book have been a little…disconcerted over the way that SO MANY THINGS happen all towards the end, which is clearly a case of ‘setting-up-for-book-2-in-the-series-itis’. And while usually that bothers me, I think that Harkness has done such a good job creating characters we love and places we love seeing them in (what wouldn’t I give for Matthew’s office/bedroom castle turret? Yep, you heard me right. Turret.) that it doesn’t feel as forced as moves like this usually do. Plus, I think the most important thing for me is that the book has an ending that stands on it’s own. No, not EVERY question is answered (The Lantern did that and it drove me NUTS, even though that’s not a part of a series) but the action had come to a place that, if there weren’t another book coming out, there is still closure for everyone.

This book is the most beautiful combination of history, magic, folklore, romance, and kick-ass brain power that I don’t think I could recommend it any more highly. It just became my number one read of 2011. And may be hard to beat in 2012. Please, please go read it! I need someone to talk about it with desperately, and I’d definitely want that person to be you! In other, current reading news, I’m about half way through The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, and it’s also a great book in it’s own way, although I think some of my lukewarmness orginates from reading it right after I finished A Discovery of Witches. Yep. It’s one of those books – one of the ones that make the next few books you read after seem less shiny than they might otherwise. But I’m hoping to finish up The Night Circus as my last read for the R.I.P. Challenge, and what a great month of October reading it’s been. Happy reading to you, and a Happy Halloween (or Samhain, whatever your tastes may be)!

FAVORITE QUOTES:

        We were in the chateau’s graceful round tower – the one that still had its smooth, conical copper roof and was set on the back of the massive main building. Tall, narrow windows punctuated the walls, their leaded panes letting in slashes of light and autumn colors from the fields and trees outside.
The room was circular, and high bookcases smoothed its graceful curves into occasional straight lines. A large fireplace was set squarely into the walls that butted up against the chateau’s central structure…There were armchairs and couches, tables and cassocks, most in shades of green, brown, and gold. (p.228)

As in most old libraries, the books were shelved by size. There were thick manuscripts in leather bindings, shelved with spines in and ornamental clasps out, the titles inked on to the fore edges of the vellum. There were tiny incunabula and pocket-sized books in neat rows on one bookcase, spanning the history of print from the 1450s to the present. A number of rare modern first editions, including a run of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories and  T.H. White’s The Sword in the Stone, were there too. (p. 234)

“I love you, and I’m not going to stop.” Of this, too, I was certain.
“You are not in love with me.”
“I decide who I love, and how, and when. Stop telling me what to do, Matthew. My ideas about vampires may be romantic, but your attitudes toward women need a major overhaul.” (p. 284)

We turned down the rutted road leading to the Bishop house. Its late-eighteenth-century lines were boxy and generous, and it sat back from the road on a little knoll, surrounded by aged apple trees and lilac bushes. The white clapboard was in desperate need of repainting, and the old picket fence was falling down in places. Pale plumes rose in welcome from both chimneys, however, filling the air with the autumn sense of woodsmoke (p. 409)

 

Review: The Oracle of Stamboul: A Novel by Michael David Lukas

I can’t believe I almost forgot to write about this book! I first heard of this book from Nancy over at Bookfoolery and Babble and I reserved it from the library immediately! when it came in, I proceeded to devour it and then gave it to my mom for her to do likewise. Unfortunately, this passing the book around meant that I lost track of the little beauty (literally – look at that cover! It’s even more beautiful in real life, because that gold color is all gilt) until now. I’m just glad it didn’t slip through the cracks completely, because I really did love reading it. Check the Goodreads:

Late in the summer of 1877, a flock of purple-and-white hoopoes suddenly appears over the town of Constanta on the Black Sea, and Eleonora Cohen is ushered into the world by a mysterious pair of Tartar midwives who arrive just minutes before her birth.

But joy is mixed with tragedy, for Eleonora’s mother dies soon after the birth.

Raised by her doting father, Yakob, a carpet merchant, and her stern, resentful stepmother, Ruxandra, Eleonora spends her early years daydreaming and doing housework—until the moment she teaches herself to read, and her father recognizes that she is an extraordinarily gifted child, a prodigy.

When Yakob sets off by boat for Stamboul on business, eight-year-old Eleonora, unable to bear the separation, stows away in one of his trunks. On the shores of the Bosporus, in the house of her father’s business partner, Moncef Bey, a new life awaits. Books, backgammon, beautiful dresses and shoes, markets swarming with color and life—the imperial capital overflows with elegance, and mystery. For in the narrow streets of Stamboul—a city at the crossroads of the world—intrigue and gossip are currency, and people are not always what they seem. Eleonora’s tutor, an American minister and educator, may be a spy. The kindly though elusive Moncef Bey has a past history of secret societies and political maneuvering. And what is to be made of the eccentric, charming Sultan Abdulhamid II himself, beleaguered by friend and foe alike as his unwieldy, multiethnic empire crumbles?

This summary doesn’t even begin to do this book justice! Eleonora’s precocious child genius reminded me so much of a female, more literary Ender Wiggin (yeah, that’s right, I’m repping the love for Ender’s Game) that I couldn’t help but love her immediately! She is the kind of character who made me wish that I had been born a child genius. She’s playing chess and reading ancient Greek by the time I’d learned to write my ‘e’s the right way and tell time on an analog clock. Her reputation with Moncef Bey was just the right combination of mentor, friend, and caretaker that it really did make it easier to stomach some of the more tragic happenings in Eleonora’s life.

So, speaking of tragedies, here’s a mini-spoiler: Eleonora’s father is killed about a quarter of the way through the book by a boat explosion that turns out to be a kind of terroristic act. However, the fact that she deals with this tragedy by reading it away only helped to make her even more one of the best-written characters I’ve read in a while. It’s always fun to read about fellow book lovers, and what reader hasn’t taken solace in books a time or two? This action on her part makes her easier to relate to, especially considering that I know some readers have a harder time suspending belief where child geniuses are concerned.

So what did I love about the book beyond Eleonora and Moncef Bey (who is quite the silver fox, if you know what I mean – dignified, attractive, intelligent, quite, gentle…much like a Middle Eastern Richard Gere)? The setting was breathtaking:

  

and the pictures don’t even do justice to the way Lukas describes the smells, sights, and most importantly colors of the (slightly older than those pictures) marketplaces, libraries, and palaces of Stamboul. It was a wonderful world to get lost in, and I had no idea Stamboul was a real place until I had finished the book (yes, I know IStamboul is a real place, but apparently the two are related somehow? Not really sure on the details here, despite extensive wikipedia-ing) but its definitely made my list of places to visit when I win the lottery and have nothing but time to travel with!

All in all, I think this a book that most readers would love to sink in to. There is just enough political intrigue to spice up the novel’s events, but not such extensive background information that the reader feels weighted down. And I REALLY can’t stress enough just how much of a joy it is to get to know Eleonora, and to watch her grow as a student and as a person! In other news, keep a look out for the vlog coming up (I’m going to discuss two recent YA reads I read, or tried to read, and why they just didn’t quite work out for me) as well as, I hope, a review of Deborah Harkness’s A Discovery of Witches, which I’m reading right now and is seriously one of the best books I’ve read in quite a while! Happy reading!

Review: Sweetly by Jackson Pearce

This book was a great YA read for Carl’s R.I.P VI challenge, and I’m so glad to be using the challenge to mix with my goal of reading more YA books! Checks the Goodreads summary, y’all:

Twelve years ago, Gretchen, her twin sister, and her brother went looking for a witch in the forest. They found something. Maybe it was a witch, maybe a monster, they aren’t sure—they were running too fast to tell. Either way, Gretchen’s twin sister was never seen again.

Years later, after being thrown out of their house, Gretchen and Ansel find themselves in Live Oak, South Carolina, a place on the verge of becoming a ghost town. They move in with Sophia Kelly, a young and beautiful chocolatier owner who opens not only her home, but her heart to Gretchen and Ansel.

Yet the witch isn’t gone—it’s here, lurking in the forests of Live Oak, preying on Live Oak girls every year after Sophia Kelly’s infamous chocolate festival. But Gretchen is determined to stop running from witches in the forest, and start fighting back. Alongside Samuel Reynolds, a boy as quick with a gun as he is a sarcastic remark, Gretchen digs deeper into the mystery of not only what the witch is, but how it chooses its victims. Yet the further she investigates, the more she finds herself wondering who the real monster is, and if love can be as deadly as it is beautiful.

OH MY GOODNESS. Okay, so, to begin with I’ve never read a re-telling of Hansel and Gretel (also, side note, I did think that Ansel, as a name, was a bit too close/too much of a weird-name-stretch to sit well with me, but I guess a name like Hansel is hard to find an equivalent of) so this one was especially interesting. I also loved the frequent mentions and descriptions of the chocolate treats at Sophia’s chocolatier. The book, while not the most beautiful I’ve ever read, certainly did a wonderful job of creating the small southern town, full of reputations and secrets, where the book takes place. So lets move on to a discussion of…

THE GOOD: Pearce does a wicked job of adapting fairy tales. Like, probably one of the best jobs of any retellings I’ve read in a good long while (she also has a retelling called Sisters Red which is a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood). The world that she creates is one in which werewolves and witches live (more on this in the BAD column) but is primarily a human world, full of people who hurt and make bad decisions and don’t listen to the people that care about them. It’s nice to read such a well-created world. Also, Gretchen is one bad ass chick! She learns to shoot multiple different guns, and ends up doing quite a bit of sharp-shooting, even saving Samuel a time or two, in a great damsel-in-distress reversal. Speaking of Samuel, it was such a joy to watch his hurt and his layers peel back, and I think it’s so rare to find a YA boy who can admit to having been in love (not the same as being in love, which they seem more than willing to own up to) and dealing with the hurt of that.

I also think that the ending was appropriate and fitting, if not the most YA friendly. I mean, **SPOILERS** after we find out that Sophia knows that the ‘witch’ is actually a group of werewolves, and that she’s been funneling the missing girls to their deaths at the hand of the Fenris, it’s hard to feel sympathy for her – even is her sister is being held hostage under threat of death. In the end, the only way to stop the pain for all of them – including Gretchen and Sophia, is to kill Sophia. It’s not your typical happy YA  ending, but one that was well written and true to the reality of the story. But poor Ansel. 😦 **END SPOILERS** Which brings us to…

THE BAD: MORE WEREWOLVES. Seriously. Also, this is not a spoiler, as you find out early on that the ‘witch’ Gretchen thinks took her sister is actually one of a group of werewolves. I’m just SO DAMN TIRED of 1.) werewolves and 2.) vampires in paranormal lit, especially YA paranormal lit. This was primarily my huge problem with the story as a whole – it would have been cooler if the witch had been an actual witch.

My other problem with the novel was the fact that the ocean was brought in to it. I mean, I get that the southern coast does have an ocean attached to it, but thinking of werewolves, which are land animals the last time I checked, having an underground ocean kingdom where they keep their victims…it’s too weird. It didn’t really seem to go anywhere, to me, and I wish it had been left out completely.

Again, this was an absolutely wonderful little joy of a book, and just look at that cover! $100 bonus bucks if you can spot the uber-creepy face in the trees! Hope you all are wrapping up your October reading on a good note, and looking forward to All Hallow’s Eve! Happy reading!