After reading this, I immediately stopped and started it over again. Toni Morrison is an author I have wanted to read for years, and the only reason I never got around to it was a fear of not being able to comprehend these complicated works of literary fiction. Luckily, I really enjoyed this book. By the end of my first read through, I will admit I felt like I missed some details. I was able to ascertain the overarching points and narrative, but I was still confused a bit by whose who but more so the structure of the novel. The book is presented at points in first person by a seemingly side character. Later, it gives another first person perspective, and a lot of the book in between is third person.
As you might imagine, that was difficult to follow and keep up with. While it may be a disappointing to my past literature teachers, I choose to review some readings aids after I finished the first time to figure out the things I was missing. After I did that, it made a lot more sense. My improved understanding coupled with a genuine desire to get as much as I could out of this novel motivated me to reread the novel. Admittedly, I listened to the audiobook, so it made it easier but also likely made it harder for me to catch all the details the first time around. Although, I think the beauty of audiobooks is that, if you have the time and enjoy the experience (which I did), rereading can be both fun and a great way of retaining more and more details about the books.
The book itself is written beautifully. I could appreciate the poetry in her Morrison’s words even if I struggled to pull all of the meaning, and rereading it helped me better ascertain the meaning. That kind of writing really lends itself to this kind of story. That is to say, a dark narrative about the pain induced by racism and how it can decay a person’s mental health. In this book, we focus on a young black girl whose desperate desire is to have the blue eyes of the white girls she sees being so admired. This is brought on by racism but also hatred and bullying by other minorities for her perceived status and family “ugliness”.
In my video review, I discuss how this racism is still alive today. Despite being set in the great depression, the novel feels all too modern in its content. It is a hard novel to read both mentally and emotionally. Nevertheless, I highly recommend you check it out. There is a reason this novel is so well regarded. It touches on major societal issues in a way that hits you to your core. I highly recommend to everyone.
In the end, I gave the book 4 stars the first time and 4.5./5 stars the second time.
Rating Break Down Writing Style: 9/10 Plot: 8/10 Characters: 10/10 Ending: 10/10 Engagement: 8/10 Enjoyment: 9/10 Comprehension: 8/10 Pacing: 9/10 Desire to Reread: 3/10 Special: 10/10 Calculated Rating: 4.255/5 Final Rating: 4.5/5 (3.5-4/5 originally) Note, each rating is weighted based on personal importance to calculate a final score that is rounded to the nearest half.
In March 2015, I read Kindred, after years of wanting to read it. It was the year of women; I had become aware of my bias for men authors and dedicated 2015 to reading only women. In doing so, I read what would come to be my favorite book of all time (let alone the decade). This book had everything I love in a book: real characters, a dark premise, time travel, and addressed serious societal topics. In particular, I am very interested in the discussion of slavery and race because it is such an important part of American history. Even more so, it is a significant part of southern history, and as a white man I believe I have a responsibility to understand the atrocities of the past that is very much a part of my history.
It is next to impossible to tell somewhat what your favorite thing is. Favorite movie, show, or book. Every time I am asked this kind of question, I find my mind racing. Nevertheless, a few possible candidates always come to mind, and for me, more often than not, Kindred was always one of those that never left my mind. When I read it, I felt liked I loved it, but so much about how you read a book can be situational. That is, the mindset you are in at the time. I’ve always been hesitant to call a book I’ve read once, an all time favorite. There are other books I’ve read countless times, yet I still don’t feel like they are the absolute best book ever.
When I read this, I loved it. In fact, I have the draft of a blog postI started to make to talk about this book–something I had never done. I’ve since considered going back and writing this discussion, but I wanted to wait until I had reread it. Over the summer, I came across the Graphic Novel Adaption for this book, and I knew I had to have it. I read it this fall, but before I did, I started rereading the main novel in October. I got about a third of the way and stopped (I started it on a road trip with friends). I decided to finish it the last day of the decade because it seemed fitting. I am so glad I did. This reread cements this book as an all time favorite. Not just of the decade but of all time.
Reread October 2019 and December 31st, 2019
The first thing I love about this is Butler’s writing. It is easy to read and get lost in the world she develops. One of the few problems with the Graphic Novel was the pacing. It felt like it jumped or skipped details. Butler has created a fast paced novel, and by the end, it’s hard to imagine how quickly we’ve made it through everything in the book. Still, the book never feels rushed. Butler was a master writer and one of the most creative writer’s of the modern era.
The most important part of the book is how well Butler is able to bring to life something so many people mistakenly assume is in the distant past. She explores the nature of racism by following the a young man as he grows up to become his father. People are not born racist. Racism is learned. Nothing is more obvious in than that. Although, Butler makes use of this story to address common problems that still exist today. From the words we use to what people are willing to tolerate.
One thing I absolutely adored in this was how Butler focused so much on the strength and courageof all the slaves who lived in the past. Dana, the main protagonist, discusses how she just doesn’t have what it takes to survive long term. That is, there is only so much she can take. That is not a fault of hers; it is a recognition of how different things are these days. It also highlights how truly atrocious America was. The laws we had to the actions we made. Despite this, it doesn’t stop Dana from taking every opportunity she has to help slaves learn or do things they aren’t supposed to do. Regardless how scared she may be, she recognizes a moral obligation to act if you can. That is a message that is very important for everyone. If you can push back against atrocities, you have to do so.
Lastly, I wanted to discuss religion in the context of slavery and morality. I recognize, most readers are probably religious (most people are). However, slavery is the perfect example of how religion has been used to justify moral atrocities. Many say religion isn’t perfect, but it offers us moral guidance. To which I say, no, it does not. Religion is an authority, created by man for man. Morality is more than a command; morality is a conscious effort to do better by asking about how our actions effect others. The bible is full of guidance that can be twisted any way you like. Morality requires more. If you feel confident in your actions and choices, you should be able to demonstrate without referring to an objective authority figure. It is this kind of thinking that paves the way for slavery and other atrocities.
I love this book. I recommend it to everyone. 5/5 stars.
I had to write this review a week or so after finishing it, so this may be a more abridged review. Queenie was a thoroughly enjoyable book about a young black woman struggle to survive in a world that simultaneously attacks her while minimizing the significance of what she is going through. This was a compelling novel that explores the racial biases that a black woman has to endure and the ways people try so desperately to deny that they have such biases. I am reading a narrative of a young black woman. I am hardly in a position to say what is like to a black woman. However, there was never anything in the story I found difficult to accept as realistic. I feel confident everything Queenie had to endure was entirely based in real life scenarios. I think the novel works really well as a way of commenting on these racial and gender injustices.
Part of Queenie’s problems are how she deals with what happens to her, but I found it difficult to begrudge her for acting in the ways she did given what she had to deal with. Overall, I thought it was a really good book. I was worried that the ending would be too cookie cutter, so I was happy when it wasn’t. This is the story about how a young black women begins to find ways of living and coping in a world out to get her.
My first instinct was to give this book 4.5 to 5 stars because there aren’t many obvious flaws. However, after reviewing my year end stats, I feel like I need to be less liberal on my >4 star rating. 4 is a great read. It just isn’t an all time favorite, which this isn’t. Therefore, this gets a 4/5 stars.
Over four years ago, I read Kindred by Octavia Butler. It was my first time reading any of her work, and it quickly made her one of my favorite authors of all time. I hate to say I haven’t read as much of her work now as I would have liked to, but I’ve read a few and want to read more. That said, nothing she wrote will ever beat the masterpiece that is Kindred.
Kindred tells the story of a modern day black woman who is transported back to the antebellum south. She is drawn to a young white boy who continuously gets himself in danger and is in need of her help. Kindred is such a profound work of fiction because it uses Butler’s amazing imagination and creativity to simultaneously engage the reader while also forcing them to better appreciate the true horrors of slavery and racism. I can not speak highly enough of Butler, her writing, or her ability to tackle serious issues. All I can say is, if you haven’t read this, please do! Of all the books I’ve read, this is the one I’d probably push above all others.
For years, I’ve watch anxiously in hopes that it might be adapted into a film or TV series. Sadly, that has yet to happen. There is plenty to say about how such an amazing piece of work can go adapted given how frequently they happen, but this is not about that. That’s because we now have, not a film, but something in between. With this new graphic novel adaption, we can experience this amazing story in a brand new form.
I wish I could say I reread the novel before I started this, but I only read the first couple parts before I finally got around to starting this graphic novel. That gives me a unique perception of this story as I can compare the parts I recently read and see what other parts are like without being recently exposed to it. I definitely noticed the abridgment early on. As I passed what I had read, it became less obvious, but even then there were parts that felt oddly structured. Sometimes, transitions are abrupt skipping or shortening what calls for more time. In the end though, I think it is worth it. I get it takes sacrifices to be able to adapt this entire novel.
The fact is, it is abridged, so it just isn’t capable of covering the same material as effectively. For that reason, it isn’t as good as the original novel. That said, the content is still amazing. I don’t think you can judge the overall quality of the graphic novel for how it stands up against the original. The original did it better, but this is still an outstanding rendition. There is so much art here that brings this material to life on a much deeper level. We have the visceral descriptions (for the most part) of Butler coupled with the art of John Jennings. The art, by the way, is fine; I don’t have much of an opinion there. In the end, it works. It brings her work to a new level.
To me, the dream rendition of this would be an illustrated adaption of the entire novel, incorporating the art used here. Hell, maybe you (or I) could listen to the audiobook while following along in the graphic novel. I’ll also settle for a film/TV adaption as well :). Until then, I highly encourage you to read Kindred and this new Graphic Novel. 5/5 stars
Teach her that ‘gender roles’ is absolute nonsense.
Beware the danger of what I call Feminism Lite.
Teach Chizalum to read.
Teach her to question language.
Never speak of marriage as an achievement.
Teach her to reject likeability.
Give Chizalum a sense of identity.
Be deliberate about how you engage with her and her appearance.
Teach her to question our culture’s selective use of biology as ‘reasons’ for social norms.
Talk to her about sex and start early.
Romance will happen so be on board.
In teaching her about oppression, be careful not to turn the oppressed into saints.
Teach her about difference.
This is one of the books I chose to read for Buzzwordathon 5.0, and you can read more about why I choose Dear Ijeawele there! I originally intended to make this a summary of the fifteen suggestions, but I decided not to do that about halfway through. It’s why I didn’t finish the book in one day; I was trying to discuss it as I listened.
Needless to say, I scrapped everything I had written. I did that because I realized it wasn’t necessary. This is a very short book with pages the size of my palm. Some of these suggestions are a page or less long. None of this is a bad thing. In fact, I think it is perhaps the biggest reason for everyone to read it!
I really enjoyed this book. It is a collection of suggestions that Adichie is giving her friend or cousin (I don’t remember which) on how to raise her daughter to be a feminist. Some of it may seem obvious, but Adichie frames each point in a very persuasive and easy to understand way.
You don’t need to be Nigerian to read this. You don’t need to be a mother or even a parent. These suggestions convey why everyone should be a feminist. It reminds us why we do this, and it offered me a clear guide to strive toward. I highly recommend it to everyone.
I will be buying it as Christmas gifts for several people in my family. I can see them scoffing at first, but I think it is short enough and open enough that hey might actually pick it up and learn something. Reading the list above isn’t enough. The context she provides is worth studying. I’ve already reread half of the book and intend to continue it to completion. Needless to say, it gets a solid 5/5 stars.
A few years ago I read I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, the first of Dr, Maya Angelou’s Autobiography series. I did it during a year where I read only woman authors. I was familiar with Dr. Angelou; how could I not be. She is a legend after all. Unfortunately for me, I had avoided the Caged Bird because I am not usually too into autobiographies. Except, Dr. Maya Dr. Angelou presents her life in a fictional retelling that is both beautiful and gripping. It ended up being one of my favorite books of the year, if not of all time. Dr. Angelou writes in a way that is poetic and characters that are real. As an autobiography, realness may be expected, but the real surprise comes from the honest and openness with which she presents her life. It is hard not to fall in love with it. I wish I was more fluent in writing styles to say exactly what it is about her writing that makes it so unique, but it is unlike anyone else I’ve read.
I have always wanted to continue this series, but for so long all I’ve ever read (for pleasure) is via audiobooks. I tried so hard to find these on audio–audible, CD, and even tape. Unfortunately, the 6th entry in the series is the only other book on audio, and that’s abridged. Therefore, I am doing the unprecedented and actually reading the physical book. I do not want to be deprived of this series just because it isn’t on audio. I am nearly 30; I have plenty of time to read these if I set my mind to it. It may take me 40 minutes to read 10 pages of a mass market paperback. These are short books. What’s more, I hope this will improve my reading speeds (though I read a good bit in middle and high school and yet I am still slow).
I will finish this book. I am forcing myself to read at least one chapter a day/night. These are at times a page or two long, so it really is the bare minimum. However, it is rare that I don’t read multiple chapter, and even when I don’t, it is only my own poor time management skills that prevent me. Every time I start this book, I am amazed at how quickly she can pull me in, even in only a page or two. That is the power of Dr. Maya Dr. Angelou’s writing. Lastly, I hope to use this to prove to myself I can read physical books. There are plenty of other great stories I don’t read because of their not being on audio.
I am writing this the same day as my introduction because I didn’t want to write about this if I wasn’t going to get invested first. I am about 35 pages in, maybe 20%, and it is amazing. I am happy that I finally re-immersed myself into Dr. Angelou’s works in part because it is so great, but also because it reassures me that my initial praise of the Caged Bird was justified. I mentioned before the realism, and that is all to present. Dr. Angelou walks us through her transition to adulthood, warts and all. This as much a story about survival as it is about learning. I suppose the question then becomes how can I learn from Dr. Angelou’s life. I may be a decade older, but I still have so much to learn.
I am more than half way now through the novel (57%). I am loving this book. I actually read well over my personal requirement over the weekend as I relaxed at a nice cottage in northern Ontario. Dr. Maya Angelou is just a gem. Her writing still stands out as unlike anyone else I’ve read. There are moments I am infuriated and others I just laugh out load at the absurdity. What’s more, I am learning so much more about Dr. Angelou. There is something about her persona that made her almost godlike or angelic (angel is in her name), but she takes us to even the darkest parts of her younger years. She was a good women who did what she could to survive and take care of her son, but she also had prejudices and did some questionable things. Of course, Dr. Angelou never explicitly says she regrets these things. For all intents and purposes this isn’t her writing it, this is like any other novel with the protagonist giving their thoughts, as they see it. It provides a level of realness that is gripping but also inspiring. It is nice to see people we look up to are human; they too have made mistakes. The road to their success isn’t what we may think.
Up to this point, I have discussed everything I love about Maya Angelou and her autobiographies. The back of my copy says “Maya Angelou writes like an angel who has paid her dues in hell,” and I think this perfectly conveys the tone of the novel. Her writings are beautiful and moving. As I have said before, it is comforting to know that Angelou hasn’t lived a perfect life. She is someone who a lot of people look up to, myself included, and she shows how life is a process of mistakes and learning. All we can ever do is our best, admitting our mistakes along the way.
I am very happy I read this novel for all the reasons I’ve mentioned, but I do wish it was a more complete story. This is a collection of moments in Angelou’s life in young adulthood. Therefore, I wouldn’t expect it to be a complete history, but the structure is a bit disconcerting at times, jumping from one moment to the next sometimes without much connection. This is particularly abrupt near the end where it feels she is building to a big life lesson to conclude with. Then she concludes that bit of her life, and continues into another small bit of her life before she concludes the story.
It all just felt so abrupt. I wish the it was a more cohesive story overall; perhaps what we have would have worked better in the form of short stories. Nevertheless, the novel is still great at what it does: presenting us with a period of her life as a young mother. 4.25/5 stars
My favorite Quotes
The more I read, the more I find lines I find myself wanting to make note of for whatever reason, and I thought this would be the perfect place to talk about or at least list them.
I hated their stupidity, but more than that I hated being underestimated. If they only knew, they could strip buck naked and do the Sassy Sue wiggle and I would continue to sit, with my legs crossed, sipping the Dubonnet.
Page 41, 3rd paragraph, Mass Paperback Edition
Dr. Angelou has recently met a lesbian couple who invited her over to their place. While there, she quickly came to regret the visit, and made it clear she was not any way gay. Nevertheless, the couple began to kiss intimately to get a rise out of her, igniting this hilarious response.
He melted into the darker darkness. The following year I heard that he had blown his brains out with a shotgun on the day of his father’s funeral.
Page 71, final paragraph chapter 16., Mass Paperback Edition
Dr. Angelou meets with an old acquaintance who goes on an on about wanting to leave home but having to take care of his father, never letting Dr. Angelou talk. When she finally bids him farewell, things turned quickly turned morbid in a way that just caught me off Dr. guard because of how matter of fact it was.
But I too had some training–that is, “Never let white folks know what you really think. If you’re sad, laugh. If you’re bleeding inside, dance.”
Page 86, 3rd paragraph, Mass Paperback Edition
This may be the most profound quote I read. It speaks to what is like to be black, let alone a black woman, during this time. Everything will be used against you, and you have no choice but to be cautious. This has an uncanny similarity to Dr. Angelous poem, When I Think About My Self. This is probably my favorite poem, not just of hers (of which I’ve read only a few). Please, watch the clip below as she performs it.
She talks about an older women who has to let her employer talk down to her because it’s what she has to do to to get buy. Beyond on that, its about the sacrifices one has to make and the indignities you may have to endure in life and how strong a person that makes you. Now, I say that, but let me be clear, I am probably missing or misrepresenting parts of it. You can probably see similarities to the quote I’ve mentioned here. The quote even adds a level of weight to this poem too. I always saw it as Dr. Angelou writing about women who have to endure this, never realizing she was one of those women. Of course, it makes the tears all the more understandable.
Things had arranged themselves in my favor at last.
Page 87, 6th paragraph, Mass Paperback Edition
I hesitated to include this quote because it is seemingly small and unimportant. Sure, it speaks to a life of hardship which is all too accurate. What surprised me when I read it was that I couldn’t help but do a double take. Dr. Angelou has a way of getting things done and working with what she is given that almost gives the illusion of success. I mean, don’t get me wrong, everything she does seems to become a success, but not because it’s what she wanted. Rather, she makes the most of what she is given in a way that is inspiring and admirable.
He’s a man. He’s got a job and his health and strength. Some people have to make it through life with less.
Page 89, 1st paragraph, Mass Paperback Edition
I may be giving this more weight than was intended, but I felt like there was a lot to unpack here. Dr. Angelou’s grandmother (who raised her) is talking to her about Dr. Angelou’s brother, who Dr. Angelou feels needs to strive for more than just being a waiter. Overall, it seems to speak to the contentment some people have in life, contentment that Dr. Angelou just doesn’t have. It is hard to figure out if Mother (the name given to her grandmother) is speaking regretfully or a matter of fact, but it definitely feels like she’s targeting men in particular in a way that amused me.
People always said Uncle Sam would spend a thousand dollars to get you if you stole a three-cent stamp from him. He was more revengeful than God.
Page 92, 1st paragraph, Mass Paperback Edition
There isn’t much to unpack here. I thought this was cute and funny. Except, it’s also very poignant even today. With recent reporting by Propublica about the IRS targeting the poor more often then the rich seemingly because they’re easier to take down. The government is flawed in many ways with backward approaches to resolving issues.
Hell, I wouldn’t have recognized Stalin if he’d been in my class when I was fourteen. Literally, all white folks still looked alike to me: pale and similar.
Page 94, 1st paragraph, Mass Paperback Edition
This is equally amusing as it is concerning. Here she is discussing her attempt to apply to the army. She was so sure she would get in, but she was worried they may find out that she has a son. Come to find out, the only thing they cared about was her being apart of socialist group. They accused her of being a traitor of her country.
The only way I could be in the business was to give due service for the money paid. I decided privately that I would make each trick (each man) happy and forget the unbearable loneliness that sent him out in the rain searching for love.
Page 139, 1st paragraph, Mass Paperback Edition
This was her right as she naively entered into the prostitution business. She was driven by a manipulative older man who convinced her this was so they could be together, and she in turn convinced herself that what she was doing was honorable and for the good of the man. I thought this was an interesting way of describing it because I think she was trying to convey her own nativity during this time in her life.
How can I say I am trying to read more women of color horror writers and not read Octavia Butler? Kindred is arguably one of my favorite books I have ever read. Butler is a master writer of Science fiction, and there is plenty of abject horror in Kindred as well. Fledgling follows the life of a young girl who is/becomes/discovers (?) she is a vampire. Whether this is urban fantasy or horror is yet to be decided (by me). Nevertheless, I’ve wanted to read Fledgling, and this is great excuse to do that. The reason I had looked over it up to now was just my own dislike for vampire books. That seems almost absurd considering how much I love Anne Rice’s first couple novels in her vampire chronicles, but after the third in that series and all the press with Twilight, True Blood, Vampire Dairies, and so on I became very annoyed with the genre. I finally choose to read this, not for the subject, but the author.
I was a bit slower starting this one than intended, but I am happy to say it was worth the wait. Both interesting and enthralling, I did not struggle to become interested in our young (yet old[ish]) protagonist. It isn’t exactly horrific, but it is unnerving. The story follows a young girl who was hurt and forgot her memory. She seems to be ~11 years old, but in reality, she is a vampire maybe in her 50s I think it is. Right off, Butler dives into the issue with this sort of scenario. You have a mature woman, stuck in the body of a child. She apparently still has sexual urges, or at least feels the need to have sex. Her motivations are still a bit of blur, aside from her basic vampiric drives and her desire not to harm.
Even though I know she isn’t a child, it is impossible to remove the fact the situations she are in are as a child. I don’t question her ability to make these judgments. The issue is with anyone who would be sexual with her. I feel like there is more I could say, but honestly, I don’t know how because it is such a weird subject. Coupled with it are serious questions of consent from her partners who she is able to enact some form of hypnotism that feel most akin to drugging a person. In this case, they aren’t just immobilized. They are made to want it. How does one get consent when the consent comes from an altered state. All in all, its fascinating. Its fun and not too long. ~14% through with 8 hours to go.
That was an astonishingly quick read. I only started it four days ago, and I barely listened at all over the weekend because I was enjoying a trip up north to a beautiful cottage. This book was great. I wish I could say it was one of my favorites of the year, but no matter how original this was, I am still not that into vampires. Again, Butler creates a story that pierces into issues around race and bigotry. I am curious what her thoughts were on polyamory as well because this book is very much a proponent of that. On top of that, it is still a great discussion on consent. What’s more, when does a relationship go from being mutual to one sided? This does an amazing job of giving us a protagonist who does not shy away from these questions. She works to recognize them as the only way of addressing them. Sure, this is fiction, but it is all too common that people in a position of power have sway they shouldn’t necessarily use. These questions make this over a decade old novel still very much relevant to society today.
I would rate this 4.5/5 stars. Whether I would round it up or down is the tough question. My instinct is to round it down based solely on the feelings it triggered, but the depth that we see in Butler’s characters and societies and the reflection upon our own elevates it, leading me to round it up. I wish I could say it was the best vampire novel I’ve ever read, but it isn’t. I haven’t read Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles in several years (probably more), but my reelection of those first few books (I only read 3 of the however many there are) was of world much darker in tone than Fledgling. These are the type of feelings that I would like to get from the horror genre. That is the only reason I wouldn’t give Fledgling a full 5/5 (personal preference).
I was going to start Fledgling first, but I ended up ending Dies Drear on my bike and only had the Good House on hand. I am liking the book so far. I thought this was a horror ghost story, and it may prove to be that. However, it begins about a family that seem to be witches or magic of some how. It seems to relate to their African ancestry, but I am not sure exactly how. I am intrigued. I love it when fantasy mixes with every day life (basically urban fantasy). Hopefully, we’ll get a bit of horror from this too. I think the hardest part of this will be staying focused through the entire 21hr book, which is a bit longer than Dies Drear.
I’m over 5hrs (23%) into the book, and I am thoroughly enjoying it. The book has a interesting and compelling story about a women who early on gains ownership of her grandmothers house, an old house known famously by everyone in the town as the Good House. Except, tragedy strikes (the Goodreads synopsis is far more spoilery, beware), and she ends up leaving the house before fate draws her back. As time goes on we begin to wonder if this house may not be as good as everyone thinks.
The story itself is solid. Beyond the plot, the story telling is very well done. I am a big fan of Due’s style. It is engaging and amusing at times. I feel like I am really there experiencing the narrative, and that is the best kind of book. The story is a mix of paranormal horror and modern day urban fantasy. There may be African magic or dark forces at work in a way that feels like new take on classic ideas in urban stories. I am hoping we dig deeper into the African (and maybe Haitian) roots. I can’t help but compare this to my experience of The Children of Blood and Bone that used African myths. The difference being that story had a worn out plot and a less effective writing style. Furthermore, this story exists in the contemporary world, and that makes it more capable and effective at articulating what it’s like to be a black woman in society. This is not to suggest that I, a white man, know what it is like to be a black woman, and that is why I appreciate having these stories that can give a slightly better understanding.
I am over half way now, nearly 60% through the book. I did notice a slight lull in the book about half way. This may be the book or myself getting a bit tired after pushing through so much so fast. To give you some prospective, this books word count is on par with Harry Potter (closest to book four). This book is even longer than To Say Nothing of the Dog, which I didn’t even realize. It certainly doesn’t feel like that. Even with the brief lull, I am amazed at how fast I am pushing through the book. It is interesting, unnerving and engaging. Apart from the unnerving though, there isn’t much horror. Again, this may be more urban fantasy than horror, but I think it still works for the Halloween theme.
The lull doesn’t last. The story is quick to pick up and make me eager to keep reading. The problem is, it felt like an abrupt change of pace from the slow part to going full throttle. The story spends a lot of time slowly introducing and explaining the back story of the house and Angela’s grandmother Marie. The next thing you know, it’s a flood of information that was necessary for things to pick up. It isn’t a major flaw; I’ll probably dock it half a star for it.
The novel has managed to maintain a surprising level of speed. Not everything was revealed as I suspected. Around half way, we begin a flood of information that is disconcerting at first, but it is easy to get into the new pace of the story. Then, it’s hard to get out. There are only 5 hrs left (77% through).
I think I have been misjudging the horror in this book. I lept seeing all the horror pieces as less effective, but I think it is better to refer to it as different. Many stories build suspense to this notion of will our characters be okay while Due completely disregards this in our most intense moments. She isn’t afraid to foreshadow and outright state that a persons death is impending. The horror of it is that she doesn’t turn away. Instead, we find ourselves in the perspective of the dying, forced to share that most horrifying of moments as you realize this is death. It is less effective at maintaining dread, but it is great in its own right.
In the end, it was a great book, but I am sad to say, this has the most undermining ending I have ever read. I say undermining because, in general, I think a story stands on its own, and the ending is but a small piece of my enjoyment. The issue here is the ending really just undercuts everything I read in a way that hurts the book unlike any ending I’ve read before. I read one reviewer saying it was like a fairy tale. I thought I knew what to expect, but this ending was way more fairy tale than I expected. This coupled with the lack of dread many times makes it a less effective horror book. Nevertheless, it is still a really good read. It just isn’t on par with Stephen King at his best.
On that note, there are multiple references to King in this book, and the story-line it self feels like a take on the Shining with a bit of paranormal activity and voduo magic. I loved seeing callbacks to Marie Laveau and Papa Legba who I first learned about in the third season of American Horror Story, but they predate the show as does this book. With these inspirations, Due creates an amazingly original and well done novel, taking similar ideas, introducing a different culture, and still reworking the parts she uses here. Furthermore, it’s all weaved together with a writting style that feels natural and easy to follow. I will be reading more of her books!
I would rate this 4.5/5 stars. There were moments here I enjoyed more than Fledgling (which I rated 4.5 rounding up), but the ending really does cause it to round down.