I thought this was pretty good but didn’t quite stick the ending. It went a little outside my realm of believability around the 80% mark but I still enjoyed it. It had a very ‘The Shining’ feel for a while that I wanted it to embrace even more so. I was expecting a little more paranormal in this one. The end of this novella kind of went off the rails a little bit.
The audible dramatic presentation of Out of the Shadows was fantastic. If you are an Alien fan and are alright with them playing around with the original movie’s timeline a little bit, this is definitely for you. This novel is between both Alien and Aliens with Ripley on a new world that has issues with Aliens. I’d recommend this to anyone that likes full cast narrations with music and effects.
This will be a review of both Into the Drowning Deep and Rolling in the Deep as they are basically the same story.
When I found out that Mira Grant was writing a book based off of oceanography/marine biology featuring mermaids, I knew I just had to read it. I enjoyed her Newsflesh Trilogy even though I had a few issues with the second book, nonetheless Into the Drowning Deep sounded like a perfect read for me at the right time. About a week before my library hold came in, I found out that she actually wrote a novella, Rolling in the Deep, in this world, and that Into the Drowning Deep was a direct sequel. So I immediately purchased the ebook novella of Rolling in the Deep and devoured it. I’m so happy I read Rolling in the Deep first because the suspense and mystery aspects of these books were more pronounced in Rolling in the Deep because the author introduced the mermaids in it. Into the Drowning Deep assumed that you already knew what happened in Rolling in the Deep and that we saw what the mermaids can do. So in this way, I highly recommend reading Rolling in the Deep first.
Moving to Into the Drowning Deep, I was super excited to jump right in. The story set up its main points of view, a marine biologist whose sister died in Into the Rolling Deep, a media personality that is only comfortable with other people when she is in front of the camera, three sisters with two of them that are deaf, and a mermaid expert that used to be married to the man running the expedition to find out if the mermaids filmed during Into the Rolling Deep was a hoax or not. There are a plethora of other side characters but these are the main ones. What is great about the characters in this book, which is the book’s strength, is how diverse they are. Each character, regardless of page time, is completely flushed out and engaging to the reader. There is a myriad of scientists involved in the expedition to prove the existence of mermaids and it really ends up being a book about science people doing science stuff to figure out how to save their lives.
While reading this book I had a great time seeing the character development, especially the media personality falling for the marine biologist, and them having a very realistic relationship. When chaos ensues the characters that have integrity step up while the ones that the reader is wary of only look out for themselves. A large portion of the book is talking about the scientific aspects of the mermaids and I should have realized Grant would include a lot of science in her book. For some people, the book might slow down in the midpoint with all the science experiments but I thought there were enough thrills to excite.
If you are looking for a book with a diverse group of characters(a lot of women, LGBT, deaf representation), some great science, and mermaids tearing out the throats of people with Phd’s, then give Into the Drowning Deep a try. Do yourself a favor before you read this one though and grab the ebook of Rolling into the Deep before reading Into the Drowning Deep, as the connections definitely make Into the Drowning Deep a stronger book.
17/25 Possible Score
3 – Plot
4 – Characters
3 – World Building
4 – Writing Style
3 – Heart & Mind Aspect
Starting Hex by Thomas Olde Heuvelt was a slightly confusing experience at first. We are put into this town where there is a spooky witch walking around town with her eyes and mouth sewn up, plus she is in chains. There is very little explanation why this is happening and we learn quickly that people just see her as, “Oh that is just Katherine doing her thing,” and, “Oh it’s alright Katherine is just chilling in the dining room with us while we eat dinner, no big deal.” Because of this really crazy twist on how the paranormal entity is perceived in this book, it can start out being a little wonky but soon I figured out what was going on. I guess this witch has cursed this town and basically everyone keeps her a secret from the outside world because if people mess with the witch, she’ll cause everyone to kill themselves. So, at this point of the story, I was intrigued but with reservations on how the book is written.
The reason I had reservations about how this book was written is that it just didn’t flow well for me. I don’t know what it was but the book didn’t have a noticeable rhythm for me and each point of view switch sometimes reset that idea of an off rhythm. I think the point of view switching between the one family threw me off some because the chapters were rather short and the point of view would switch from father to son. Their viewpoints were similar enough that sometimes I had a hard time distinguishing between the two. The pacing of this book could have been much better with the tension ramping up. I felt that by the time we got to the end of the book there just wasn’t that natural tension and anxiety that should have been there considering what was going on. Honestly, I think we just saw too much of the witch throughout the story and not enough unexplained mystery.
I did really appreciate the history that was involved with the witch and the town of Black Spring. Most of the events dealing with the witch would be linked to something she did 300, 200, 100, or 30 years ago. Because of this, there is a logical linkage of events that then culminates in why she reacts the way she does. The family dynamics in this story were spot on. I always like to read stories about many different families and this one was no exception. I really liked how the fear of the unknown drove some of the residents of Black Springs to do things that were way out of character. At points in this story, I wasn’t sure who was more evil, Katherine, or the town. Characters become unraveled and it really delves into the strains and hidden parts of relationships that come to the surface during times of crises.
Overall, I did enjoy this book but it wasn’t that scary. There was little tension in this story for me and I wasn’t the biggest fan of Heuvelt’s writing style. There were a few moments of world-building questioning that popped up in my head with some plot holes but nothing major enough for me to really mention. I think it was a good book but I don’t think it’ll stand the test of time like other horror novels.
13/25 Possible Score
3 – Plot
3 – Characters
3 – World Building
2 – Writing Style
2 – Heart & Mind Aspect
I have to admit, going into Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer, I wasn’t expecting a whole lot. I knew it was weird and I knew that sometimes new weird stuff just doesn’t work for me but I was really into this small book. The only thing I knew about this was that my sci-fi friends loved it and there was an Area X with some weirdness going on. I wonder how many times I’ll type weird in this review? Anyway, right away, at the very beginning, I knew I was going to like this book because no character had a name.
Yep, that’s right, no character had a name, and I thought that was fantastic. Each character had a specific job they had to do on the expedition to this Area X, but they were forbidden to share their names. I realized that this was a huge red flag, “these people gonna die,” moment, haha. The reader follows the biologist and her plant-loving, creepy crawly loving ways. What is also really great about this book is that every character is a woman. Something fascinating happens when the women don’t have names and just careers/disciplines, you see them as their roles in the group and not just the women in a story. I loved this decision by VanderMeer.
I don’t want to get too much into this book because I think the enjoyment comes from experiencing it. I did want some more background about or biologist because those parts of the story were so incredibly interesting to me. Maybe I’ll get more of that in the sequels. I never knew where the story was going to go and it had an atmosphere of dread and suffocation that I really dug while reading. It didn’t hurt that VanderMeer can really write extremely well. I was impressed with VanderMeer’s writing and he just got a fan for life.
I really liked this book and I ordered the second book the day after finishing this one from the library system. Excited to unlock more secrets of Area X. This book is a solid 4.5 for me with a perfect writing score.
20/25 Possible Score
4 – Plot
4 – Characters
4 – World Building
5 – Writing Style
3 – Heart & Mind Aspect
I should have tried something else as my first Peter Straub because this just didn’t work for me at all. The serial killer points of view were alright but the background stories were extremely confusing and might make more sense if I read the books about this killer beforehand.