Category Archives: gothic

Book Reviews
March 27, 2014 posted by Emma

Dark Companion – Marta Acosta

Dark CompanionOrphaned at the age of six, Jane Williams has grown up in a series of foster homes, learning to survive in the shadows of life. Through hard work and determination, she manages to win a scholarship to the exclusive Birch Grove Academy. There, for the first time, Jane finds herself accepted by a group of friends. She even starts tutoring the headmistress’s gorgeous son, Lucien. Things seem too good to be true.

They are.

The more she learns about Birch Grove’s recent past, the more Jane comes to suspect that there is something sinister going on. Why did the wife of a popular teacher kill herself? What happened to the former scholarship student, whose place Jane took? Why does Lucien’s brother, Jack, seem to dislike her so much?

As Jane begins to piece together the answers to the puzzle, she must find out why she was brought to Birch Grove and what she would risk to stay there..because even the brightest people make terrible decisions when they are offered the things they desire most.

 

I originally picked up Dark Companion for two reasons: the gorgeous cover, and the comparisons to Jane Eyre. Unfortunately, while I did enjoy some parts of the book, I was left mostly underwhelmed.

Things I liked:

The writing! It was really lovely and well-done, and had very Gothic, dark tones which appealed to me a lot. The book could definitely be a little creepy (and weird) at times, especially when the author was describing the gloomy, dreary school, but it worked. Sometimes it risked feeling a little too gloomy and drab, but all in all, the writing was a plus.

I also really enjoyed reading about some of the characters, with the exception of a few. Jane herself was kind of hit-or-miss with me…sometimes I felt myself empathizing and cheering her on, and sometimes I wanted to slap her upside the head (especially the way she let some of the others treat her). The best characters for me, however, was her best friend, Mary Violet, and the love interest, Jack. Mary Violet in particular was hilarious, with her quirky poetry and odd way of speaking/behaving. Jack was kind of an oddball, and while I’m not sure he’ll go into my list of favorite book guys, he was interesting and well-developed enough.

Things I disliked:

Lucien, or Lucky as he was called. Oh my gosh. He was so creepy, so abusive, and so weirdly possessive. I hated the way he treated Jane, and even worse, I hated that she let him! For a good chunk of the book she practically worships him, which I absolutely couldn’t stand, especially when his brother Jack was clearly the better choice.

Speaking of Jack, the romance wasn’t all that great either. Jane spends most of the book fixated on Lucky while ignoring the obvious signs that Jack is into her, in a kind of forced love triangle that didn’t really work (mostly since Lucky was a creep and clearly not a viable choice). And then when she finally does open her eyes and realize that Jack has been there all along…it feels really sudden and rushed. There was definitely some sweet moments between the two of them, but I just wasn’t feeling it, despite really liking Jack’s character.

And lastly, I can’t say much without giving away spoilers, but basically the plot gets really weird really fast at a certain point, once Jane starts to figure out what Birch Grove’s big secret is. It was a little (okay, a lot) strange and I’m just not sure how much I’m willing to roll with it. Especially where Lucky is concerned, yuck! Again, I can’t say much…but I will say that it was definitely a little disturbing.

 

All in all, while there were some aspects of Dark Companion that I thoroughly enjoyed, the book didn’t quite live up to my expectations. It was a little too creepy in some parts and a little too bland for the rest of it. Some people might totally love it, but it just wasn’t my cup of tea.

Pages: 368

Publication Date: July 3, 2012

Publisher: Tor/Macmillan

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

 

 

Born of Illusion (Born of Illusion #1) – Teri Brown
Book Reviews
June 13, 2013 posted by Nichole

Born of Illusion (Born of Illusion #1) – Teri Brown

13000748Anna Van Housen is thirteen the first time she breaks her mother out of jail. By sixteen she’s street smart and savvy, assisting her mother, the renowned medium Marguerite Van Housen, in her stage show and séances, and easily navigating the underground world of magicians, mediums and mentalists in 1920’s New York City. Handcuffs and sleight of hand illusions have never been much of a challenge for Anna. The real trick is keeping her true gifts secret from her opportunistic mother, who will stop at nothing to gain her ambition of becoming the most famous medium who ever lived. But when a strange, serious young man moves into the flat downstairs, introducing her to a secret society that studies people with gifts like hers, he threatens to reveal the secrets Anna has fought so hard to keep, forcing her to face the truth about her past. Could the stories her mother has told her really be true? Could she really be the illegitimate daughter of the greatest magician of all?

 

I’ve been really excited to read Born of Illusion for quite some time now. Who doesn’t want to read a book about magicians, mediums and mentalists in 1920’s New York City? How cool! Unfortunately, it fell flat for me. If you follow my review, you know by now that I’m not the biggest fan of historical fiction. This book was not an exception. While some of the magic was pretty cool, I found it to be just too boring for my taste.

One thing that this book really has going for it is that the main character, Anna, is very likeable. Anna was the reason I was trying to make it through the book. She was strong, powerful, yet still a nervous child trying to make it in the world. The other characters in the story were also very likeable or interesting, but they weren’t enough to carry the story.

Here was my thing with Born of Illusion: There wasn’t enough magic or spark to it. There was mystery…but not enough. I found myself not caring what was going to happen next. I didn’t care who Anna’s father was or what would happen to Anna’s mother. I didn’t care if anyone was killed off or if something bad happened. I just didn’t care. I only read half of Born of Illusion before I set it down, but there weren’t really any action scenes or “aha!” moments. There were a couple cool scenes involving magic, but nothing that really knocked my socks off. It was just kind of bland.

Fans of The Madman’s Daughter by Megan Shepherd and Pantomime by Laura Lam should enjoy Born of Illusion.

 

Pages: 384

Publisher: Balzer & Bray

Publication Date: June 11th, 2013

Rating: N/A not rating due to DNF

 

Teaser Quote: “”You’re quite good–for a girl.” “Thank you,” I tell him, ignoring the girl remark. If I argued with every male magician who made a snide comment about my gender, I’d never have the time to do magic. I prefer to outperform them on stage, where it really matters.”

 

The Beautiful and the Cursed – Page Morgan
Book Reviews
June 1, 2013 posted by Nichole

The Beautiful and the Cursed – Page Morgan

15989598After a bizarre accident, Ingrid Waverly is forced to leave London with her mother and younger sister, Gabby, trading a world full of fancy dresses and society events for the unfamiliar city of Paris.

In Paris there are no grand balls or glittering parties, and, disturbingly, the house Ingrid’s twin brother, Grayson, found for them isn’t a house at all. It’s an abandoned abbey, its roof lined with stone gargoyles that could almost be mistaken for living, breathing creatures.

And Grayson has gone missing.

No one seems to know of his whereabouts but Luc, a devastatingly handsome servant at their new home.

Ingrid is sure her twin isn’t dead—she can feel it deep in her soul—but she knows he’s in grave danger. It will be up to her and Gabby to navigate the twisted path to Grayson, a path that will lead Ingrid on a discovery of dark secrets and otherworldly truths. And she’ll learn that once they are uncovered, they can never again be buried.

 

Be warned in advance that I am going to do nothing but rave about this book throughout this entire review, because I want it to be no secret that The Beautiful and the Cursed by Page Morgan is my favorite read of the year. We’ve read through all the book hypes. Witches, vampires, werewolves, creepy babies born to vampires, mermaids, selkies, zombies, even aliens. But what we haven’t read about is gargoyles. The Beautiful and the Cursed is set around the 19th century. Two girls, Ingrid and Gabby, and their mother move from London to Paris to open an art gallery. They were supposed to meet their brother, Grayson, at their new estate, but he wasn’t there when they arrived. From there, the two girls learn that there is so much more to the world than they ever imagined. Gargoyles roam the earth and are cursed to protect the humans who live on their territory. Not only that, but there is such things as angels and demons…as well as an underworld…which is exactly where Grayson has been taken to.

I could sit here and give you the whole dang synopsis of the book, but I’m afraid that that would give too much away. Instead, I want to highlight the whole awesome package of this book. I’m not the biggest fan of historical fiction. I often find it boring and outdated. So, when I received The Beautiful and the Cursed in the mail, I was a little nervous to start it. I’m not quite sure what inspired me to read this book. I think it might have had something to do with the cover. Let’s face it, it’s no secret that I have a thing for book covers. Anyways, I was hooked into the book from the very first chapter. Every word that Page Morgan wrote was so freaking beautiful. I have to admit, I’m devastated that I’ve already finished it.

When I read that The Beautiful and the Cursed was about gargoyles, I was instantly intrigued. I haven’t read about gargoyles before. I’m sure that there are some books out there featuring gargoyles, but none in any current popular YA books. I wasn’t disappointed; the gargoyles were perfectly written. They were strong, vulnerable, dedicated, livid…any emotion that you can think of, I’m sure it can fit in with some gargoyle.  I really loved the relationship between Ingrid and her gargoyle, Luc. They had a forbidden romance of sorts, and that’s something that’s going to draw a lot of you in.

There is a sort of love triangle with Ingrid/Luc/Vander. Normally, I’m not the biggest fan of love triangles, because I often find them very predictable. I have no idea who Ingrid is going to end up with. I also really like both Luc and Vander, so there’s not one particular guy that I’m rooting for. I think that people who have issues with love triangles are not going to get annoyed with this one. Quite frankly, all of the characters are so loveable that it doesn’t even really matter.

I don’t want Ingrid and her men to steal the show here, because the real catch of this book was Gabby and Nolan Quinn. I have not loved a couple so much since Jace and Clary from The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare. I whipped through this book just for the simple purpose of getting to the next scene between Gabby and Nolan. It was hot. It was sexy. It was everything I could ever ask for in a YA romantic relationship. To be honest, Gabby and Nolan are the reason that I’m having such an issue that I already finished the book. I need more of them, and I need more of them now.

Have I convinced you to go read this book, yet? If you’re not a fan of historical fiction…don’t worry! Neither am I. But The Beautiful and the Cursed is, by far, the best book I have read all year. I would call it the next Mortal Instruments. Convinced you , yet? Go and buy this one! It’s out in bookstores!

 

Pages: 352

Publication Date: May 14th, 2013

Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers

Rating: : ★★★★★

 

Teaser Quote: “The hellhound’s paws scrabbled over the tunnel floor and it heaved itself toward Nolan’s voice. Sounds, amplified in the darkness, were all Gabby had to piece together what was happening. A grunt of force from Nolan’s throat, the cool chime of air rushing over a silver blade, a short, panicked choking sound from the beast, and then the scattering of gravel as the demon’s massive form buckled and fell. An explosion of green sparks lit the tunnel before fizzling back to blackness.”