A couple of weeks ago, I gathered my courage, turned on all the lights in my house, and watched The Haunting of Hill House on Netflix. And I loved it. It’s a very, very loose adaptation of the novel by the same title by Shirley Jackson, but Mark Flanagan manages to translate the Gothic novel into modern times while doing an amazing job at characters and story.
So obviously when I heard that The Haunting of Bly Manor was coming out really soon, I got very exited and decided to read the book it was based on before watching the series. For those few souls who don’t know, The Haunting of Bly Manor is an adaptation of The Turn of the Screw, a 1898 novella by author Henry James. The fact that the book was already on my very long reading list only made the choice easier.
Carolyn, blood-drenched and barefoot, walked alone down the two-lane stretch of blacktop that the Americans called Highway 78.
Carolyn has grown up in the library at Garrison Oaks for most of her life, since the day her parents died and she was taken in – together with eleven other children – by a man they all call Father. Each one of them was tasked with learning a very specific fraction of his god-like knowledge, constantly tested and strictly punished by Father when they fail to show enough progress. Until one day Father disappears, the library is suddenly inaccessible to all of them, and they need to figure out what’s happened and what to do now. Did any of his thousand-year-old enemies finally catch up with him? And what will happen if they can’t get in the library anymore, and all the knowledge inside it is lost to them?
It’s only a matter of time before they start turning on each other for possession of the library, but Carolyn has already accounted for this. And she has a plan.
Since apparently my to-be-read pile is not high enough, I’ve decided to take on a new personal challenge: reading all of the winners of the Booker Prize, from 1969 to present. I want to venture out of my favourite genres and read some things that are considered “good literature”, just to see what the fuss is about; I also want to read some backlist titles that I might never know about otherwise, and since these books won a pretty famous award, it looks like a good place to start. Maybe I’ll find new favourites, or maybe I’ll hate all of them. Who knows?
Bestiary is the story of three generations of Taiwanese American women, narrated in alternating chapters by Daughter, Mother and Grandmother, and woven with myths and stories from Taiwanese folklore. One day, Mother tells Daughter the story of Hu Gu Po, a tiger spirit who longed to have a woman’s body and eat children. Soon after, Daughter wakes up with a tiger tail; holes dug in their backyard start to spit out letters from her grandmother; and she slowly falls for another girl, Ben, as they translate the letters together and find out about Daughter’s ancestors and their stories.
I wish I could give a better summary of this story, but it’s honestly so weird that I just don’t know how to do it.
Maggie Holt has lived all her life in the shadows of her father’s book, an account of the twenty days they spent in the Victorian estate called Baneberry Hall, before fleeing in the dead of night and swearing never to come back. House of Horrors, that’s the title of the book, is an allegedly true account of the haunted house and the spirits that tried to kill five-year-old Maggie during their stay. She has no recollection of the events, but the success of the book has shaped all of her relationships: from the kids asking her about ghosts, to the teenagers inviting her to seances, to the hundreds of people who, at the mention of her name, ask her: What was it like? Living in that house.
In this last period I’m finding it hard to focus on reading and writing, and so I’ve been picking up more short fiction than usual. I usually end up really liking it – do we want to talk about the satisfaction of finishing something in one sitting? – but sadly I found both of these reads very underwhelming. I mean, the ideas were there, the settings were interestings, but the stories themselves just fell flat. So this is a double-review post, in which I’ll try to explain the reason why I felt this way.
A month ago, more or less, I finished reading Eight Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson. While the book was not a new favourite – kind of forgettable, to be honest – most of the reviews I read agree that the eight books mentioned in the infamous list are all better than the novel itself. Mystery is not my go-to genre, but I do enjoy it most of the time when I pick it up and I liked the idea of reading some older books in the genre. I hadn’t read any of these books in the past, I was curious, and it sounded like a good idea for a blog post.
Fair warning: this book will feel extremely slow for those who are used to action packed, fast reads. That said, if you are like me and it doesn’t bother you at all, then read this book. It’s brilliant.
A Declaration of the Rights of Magicians is a historical fantasy book that recounts the events of the French Revolution, but with magic in the mix. Before we get into too many details, let me paint a picture of the world we are in.
Witchers are magically enhanced humans who fight monsters for money. They are faster and stronger than humans, live longer, possess extraordinary skills and make use of elixirs that could kill a normal person to enhance their abilities; they also feel no emotion, thanks to their special training, and they are feared and hated by most people.
Geralt of Rivia is one of them, maybe the most famous. With his milky white hair, his two swords, and his wolf medallion, he travels looking for jobs to make a living. He will encounter monsters, but also elves and druids, wizards and sorcerers, queens and bards and druids.