Friday, December 2, 2016

The Halloween Host by S.M. Barrett

Arthur Brim owes a debt, and Halloween itself has come to collect.
If he fails to pay, every Halloween will become a bitter reminder of a broken promise to his son. To satisfy his debt, he must open his home to the spirits of the holiday.
Reluctantly, Arthur agrees, and soon meets the otherworldly members of the October Senate.
His guests, both frightful and fantastic, test his willpower and rattle his resolve.
They alter his house.
They shake his senses.
Soon, Arthur begins to doubt that he will be able to pay his debt as the Halloween Host.
There's a knock at the door.
Another visitor has arrived, and Arthur has no idea who, or what, is waiting on the other side.

I received a copy of this novel in return for an honest review

First off let me say this was a seriously cute Halloween book and I am sad I didn't get around to reading it until now. I always enjoy a novel that makes the seasons into living people and Autumn is exactly how I would picture her myself.

 The writing is good, but the cover art makes this feel like a kids novel and it isn't...not really. Too many big words and the world building is a little complex. My 12 year old who reads at a 12th grade level would probably get it, my 7 year old not so much.

I enjoyed the basic plot line and the characters, however there is a TON of info dumping in the first chapter, all about the October Senate and Halloween Committee and the rules and regulations each season has. It took away a little from the more charming aspects of this novel.

We probably don't need all that information right off the bat. Just knowing that Artie was in trouble with the leaders of the season and Halloween would have been enough. It's one of the reasons I wouldn't recommend a kid read this novel, I'm worried they would get bored by the technical aspects the author threw in and not enjoy the humor and fun.

The story had a Christmas Carol type feel to it except in stead of three ghosts there are ten.  Artie doesn't take his son trick or treating so in punishment the October Committee makes him Halloween Host and he has to deal with each of the senators of the season come the following Halloween.  Each senator brings a little something special and Artie learns a lesson.

This novel was fun, creative and like nothing I had read before. Something to certainly enjoy during the fall.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter

In the enchanted kingdom of Brooklyn, the fashionable people put on cute shoes, go to parties in warehouses, drink on rooftops at sunset, and tell themselves they’ve arrived. A whole lot of Brooklyn is like that now—but not Vassa’s working-class neighborhood.
In Vassa’s neighborhood, where she lives with her stepmother and bickering stepsisters, one might stumble onto magic, but stumbling away again could become an issue. Babs Yagg, the owner of the local convenience store, has a policy of beheading shoplifters—and sometimes innocent shoppers as well. So when Vassa’s stepsister sends her out for light bulbs in the middle of night, she knows it could easily become a suicide mission.
But Vassa has a bit of luck hidden in her pocket, a gift from her dead mother. Erg is a tough-talking wooden doll with sticky fingers, a bottomless stomach, and a ferocious cunning. With Erg’s help, Vassa just might be able to break the witch’s curse and free her Brooklyn neighborhood. But Babs won’t be playing fair…

Ok this is a hard one, but I felt it needed a proper review. Vassa in the Night is a retelling of a Russian folk tale called Vasilisa the Beautiful  which I had never heard before and is quite an interesting tale. I recommend reading it before picking up this novel.

I didn't care for Sarah Porter's other books so much, and enjoyed this one quite a bit more. The writing is beautiful and the story VERY unique. However that uniqueness can work for and against it. This book is weird, and if it's weird for me that says a lot because I enjoy anything odd, macabre or eccentric.  It is a little confusing, there is a lot to keep track of and there are quite a few characters. I got lost a few times and had to go back and re read to make sure I either a)understood what was going on or b)had read what I thought I read.

Vassa is an interesting character, not a Mary Sue, not particularly special in any way by herself. She is a bit whiny, but her character comes together at the end in a nice way. There isn't any romance in this book, which I must say I enjoyed. My favorite character was Erg her talking doll.

I felt the world building was a little lax, if it makes sense, there was too much information and not enough information all at the same time, which didn't help the confusing aspects of this novel. It reads in some parts like a folktale and in others like a traditional YA novel.

This is not a book to pick up simply because you like fairy tale retellings. In fact I probably wouldn't recommend this at all if that's what you're looking for. This book is dark, VERY VERY strange, a bit complicated, funny, heart felt, beautiful and eye twitch worthy all at the same time.  I am glad I read it. Though, it took a bit for me to get into it, about 30 pages.  I am also glad I didn't buy it because I won't be reading it again.