Book Review: The Twisted Tree by Rachel Burge

51lDNLBOP+LThe Twisted Tree by Rachel Burge

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Horror

Publishing Info: January 2019 by Hot Key Books (first published 2018)

Pages: 248

Star Rating: 4/5

Back Cover Summary:

Martha can tell things about a person just by touching their clothes, as if their emotions and memories have been absorbed into the material. It started the day she fell from the tree at her grandma’s cabin and became blind in one eye.

Determined to understand her strange ability, Martha sets off to visit her grandmother, Mormor – only to discover Mormor is dead, a peculiar boy is in her cabin and a terrifying creature is on the loose.

Then the spinning wheel starts creaking, books move around and terror creeps in . . .

Set in the remote snows of contemporary Norway, THE TWISTED TREE is a ghost story that twists and turns – and never takes you quite where you’d expect.

 

Can’t lie, the cover is partly what attracted me to this book. I love trees as a visual, and often take photographs of them, so that got my attention. The cover also gives off creepy, mysterious vibes that piqued my curiosity. I also liked that it sounded a little unique, and certainly quite different to other YA fantasy I have read.

Rachel Burge does an amazing job of creating a mysterious, spooky atmosphere. The suspense is great and really had me on the edge of my seat and rooting for the main characters. It’s actually scary at times. The plot didn’t follow the typical heroes fighting evil villain route as such, which I found refreshing. Norse mythology was weaved in well with the plot and fit very naturally.

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Book Review: Plague by Michael Grant

81apkuk0bplPlague by Michael Grant  

Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction

Publishing Info: May 2015 by Egmont Books (first published 2011)

Pages: 560

Star Rating: 4/5

Back Cover Summary:

It’s been eight months since all the adults disappeared. Gone.

They’ve survived hunger. They’ve survived lies. But the stakes keep rising, and the dystopian horror keeps building. Yet despite the simmering unrest left behind by so many battles, power struggles, and angry divides, there is a momentary calm in Perdido Beach.

But enemies in the FAYZ don’t just fade away, and in the quiet, deadly things are stirring, mutating, and finding their way free. The Darkness has found its way into the mind of its Nemesis at last and is controlling it through a haze of delirium and confusion. A highly contagious, fatal illness spreads at an alarming rate. Sinister, predatory insects terrorize Perdido Beach. And Sam, Astrid, Diana, and Caine are plagued by a growing doubt that they’ll escape or even survive life in the FAYZ. With so much turmoil surrounding them, what desperate choices will they make when it comes to saving themselves and those they love?

I have mixed feelings about Plague, the fourth book in Michael Grant’s Gone series. If you’re squeamish, there are some scenes in this novel that will really make you want to close the book. Warning: do not eat while reading this. I really shouldn’t have been surprised since the title of the book is ‘Plague’. There are people coughing their insides out or having evil bugs hatching out of them and eating them alive – gross. Let’s not linger on that.

Grossness aside, this is a great book. While the previous books in the series felt quite disjointed to me, this one fit together much better. Each of the individual threads were tied together so nothing felt random or out of place like some of the scenes or story lines in the previous books did. All of the plot elements were heading in one direction, which made this novel gel better.

The power relations and struggles are really interesting in this book and the series as a whole. Dynamics between all the characters is one of the things that keeps pulling me back to this series. It’s great to see how relationships, friendships and rivalries evolve over the course of the story as different problems are thrown at the characters.

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Book Review: The Woman in Black by Susan Hill

584843The Woman in Black by Susan Hill

Genre: Gothic, Horror, Historical, Mystery

Publishing Info: 1998 by Vintage (first published 1983)

Pages: 200

Star Rating: 3/5

 

Back Cover Summary:

Arthur Kipps, a junior solicitor in London, is summoned to Crythin Gifford to attend the funeral of Mrs Alice Drablow, and to sort through her papers before returning to London. It is here that Kipps first sees the woman in black and begins to gain an impression of the mystery surrounding her. From the funeral he travels to Eel Marsh House and sees the woman again; he also hears the terrifying sounds on the marsh.

Despite Kipps’s experiences he resolves to spend the night at the house and fulfil his professional duty. It is this night at Eel Marsh House that contains the greatest horror for Kipps. Kipps later discovers the reasons behind the hauntings at Eel Marsh House. The book ends with the woman in black exacting a final, terrible revenge.

 

I’m not usually one for reading in the horror genre, but this was more of a Gothic ghost story so I didn’t mind reading it. The book is short which I think helped with its readability. If it had been longer I probably wouldn’t have been so interested in wading through it, but since it was only short I figured it wouldn’t take long for me to read it. I read it over a few days but could have easily read it in one sitting, not only because of its short length but also its easy to read style.

The plot is simple – there’s a house in an eerie marsh and it’s haunted. I did like the mystery element to the story when Arthur Kipps was trying to work out what had happened at the house and why the woman in black was haunting it. It was the story of the dead characters that was most interesting, while the characters who were actually living were for the most part a little flat.

Although I enjoyed it I wasn’t totally gripped, which is what you really want from a ghost story. The settings were suitably spooky and there was something unsettling in the way the woman in black wasn’t a see-through ghost like you’d imagine, but was more real and therefore creepier. There weren’t actually many ghostly bits set in the house though. Kipps actually spent a lot of time in the village near the house and more suspense could have been used in those scenes to keep my interest more.

I thought the ending brought the whole thing together and gave the book more weight. I had thought it was going to be a really dull ending but then the twist gave it a dark ending which was more sinister and satisfactory than I was expecting.

 

Film Review: Goosebumps

Film Review: Goosebumps

Release date: 5th February 2016

Director: Rob Letterman

Starring: Jack Black, Amy Ryan, Dylan Minnette, Odeya Rush

Runtime: 103 minutes

Genre: Fantasy, Horror, Comedy

Watched in: 2D

Rating: 4/5 stars

 

Goosebumps is based on the Goosebumps books by R. L. Stine in which Jack Black plays the author. After a new neighbour, Zach, visits the house the monsters trapped inside the Goosebumps books are released into the town causing chaos. It’s up to Stine, Zach, Stine’s daughter and their friend to trap the monsters back inside the books. The film doesn’t take itself too seriously and plays on a lot of clichés and tropes. It’s one of those films you go to see just for a bit of fun.

There are a lot of different monsters released from the books including the Abominable Snowman, a werewolf, and a giant stick insect thing. The main villain is Sappy, but I’m not going to say too much about that as they don’t give it away in the trailers, but he was a really creepy villain (also played by Jack Black).

The acting wasn’t spectacular though not exactly bad, but this isn’t the kind of film you watch for amazing acting, it’s the kind of film you watch to be entertained and I was entertained. It was funny to see Jack Black play a serious character whose humour comes from his seriousness.

There was plenty of action and a few twists that worked well and although the beginning was a little cliché and predictable, later on the twists managed to surprise me.

Overall it was an entertaining film. Would highly recommend if you want to watch something that’s just a bit of fun.

Book Review: The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks

The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks

Genre: Contemporary, Thriller/Horror

Publishing Info: 2013 by Abacus (first published 1984)

Pages: 244

Star Rating: 4/5

 

Back Cover Summary:

Two years after I killed Blyth I murdered my young brother Paul, for quite different reasons than I’d disposed of Blyth, and then a year after that I did for my young cousin Esmerelda more or less on a whim.
That’s my score to date.
Three.
I haven’t killed anybody for years, and don’t intend to ever again.
It was just a stage I was going through.
Enter – if you can bear it – the extraordinary private world of Frank, just sixteen, and unconventional, to say the least.

 

The Wasp Factory is certainly an interesting read. When I started reading I wasn’t sure if I liked it but as I read it grew on me as I became more intrigued and realised how clever it is. It is most certainly an odd book, with some very strange goings-on.

The plot revolves around Frank, and the events that follow when he discovers that his mad brother has escaped from the institution where he was living and is heading back to the island in Scotland where Frank and his father live. The book is a sort of self-discovery for Frank as he finds out about his true identity, but I can’t say any more as I don’t want to spoil it.

The character of Frank is quite disturbing. He sacrifices animals and enjoys blowing things up with bombs. Yet he isn’t a villain or an anti-hero. He’s one of those characters you can’t categorise. And despite the awful things he does and has done I wanted to follow his journey. I quite like reading unreliable narrators and Frank is certainly one of those.

Apparently, what I’ve heard from other people who have read it is that it is a subtle dark comedy. I didn’t really see any comedy in it at all. But then dark comedy isn’t usually my thing so maybe I just couldn’t see it.

There was only one thing holding me back from giving this book five stars. There is a scene (which I can’t explain without spoiling the book) which I found particularly graphic and upsetting. It’s an image I won’t be able to get rid of now that I have read. Something which I can’t unread. Personal circumstances probably made this scene more upsetting for me then it might for other people. I just thought I ought to explain why I only gave it four stars.

I would really recommend this book. It’s unusual (in a good way) and such an interesting, dark read. It wasn’t what I was expecting, and there were a few twists and turns along the way that were very surprising. It’s probably not for everybody, but I would recommend having a stab at it. It will be worth it in the end.