Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Seven for a Secret Review

Seven For a Secret by Lyndsay Faye

(from the back of the book)

Six months after the formation of the NYPD, its most reluctant and talented officer, Timothy Wilde, thinks himself well versed in his city’s dark practices – until he learns of the gruesome underworld of lies and corruption ruled by the “blackbirders,” who snatch free Northerners of color from their homes, masquerade them as slaves, and sell them South to toil as plantation property. The abolitionist Timothy is horrified by these traders in human flesh. But in 1846, slave catching isn’t just legal – it’s law enforcement.

When the beautiful and terrified Lucy Adams staggers into Timothy’s office to report a robbery and is asked what was stolen, her reply is, “My family.” Their search for her mixed-race sister and son will plunge Timothy and his feral brother, Valentine, into a world where police are complicit and politics savage, and corpses appear in the most shocking of places. Timothy finds himself caught between power and principle, desperate to protect his only brother and to unravel the puzzle before all he cares for is lost.

Seven for a Secret is the second book in the Timothy Wilde series. You will be able to enjoy this story and follow the plot just fine even if you don't read the other one first but some of the personal background bits might be lost on you. Faye once again does a great job of giving the reader a feel for the world that these characters live in. You can imagine what it would be like to live in New York at the time. She also gets you involved with the characters and takes you along for the journey with them. You can feel the worry, fear and gut dropping anticipation as Timothy realizes something is about to happen and doesn't know if he will be able to stop it. You worry for these people. Which I think is a testament to how well they are written. You wouldn't care about people who don't feel real. Timothy does spend a lot of time being introspective and talking about his feelings. Which can tend to slow the plot down a bit at times. And the whole interaction between him and his lost love does nothing for me and leaves me wishing it wasn't even there. But the relationship between Timothy and his brother, Timothy's own self-doubt and insecurity, the personable secondary character, the interesting plot and setting all combine to make a very enjoyable and engaging story. If you read and liked the first book I'm sure you will like this one too. And if you have not read Gods of Gotham, the first book, I suggest you do.

Monday, March 3, 2014

King Stakh's Wild Hunt Review

King Stakh’s Wild Hunt by Uladzimir Karatkevich

(from the back of the book)
King Stakh’s Wild Hunt tells the tale of Andrey Belaretsky, a young folklorist who finds himself stranded by a storm in the castle of Marsh Firs, the seat of the fading aristocratic Yanovsky family.  Offered refuge by Nadzeya, the last in the Yanovsky’s line, he learns of the family curse and terrible apparitions that portend her early death and trap her in permanent, maddening fear.  As Belaretsky begins to unravel the secrets of the Yanovskys, he himself becomes quarry to the Wild Hunt, silent phantoms who stalk the marshes on horseback and deliver death to all who cross their path.  He must uncover the truth behind the ghostly hunt to release Nadzeya from her fate and undo the curse that hangs over the marshes.

This is an eerie tale.  The whole story creates a creepy, dreary atmosphere and you can feel the oppressive weight hanging over these people and see the effect that constant fear has had on them.  It’s wonderful how it keeps you unsure of what is real or imagined, what is supernatural and what is the conniving of man.  It is a mystery and a ghost story and you are never sure what is going to happen next.  There is the quiet, slow horror of noises and apparitions in the hallways and the heart stopping terror of chasing (and being chased by) phantoms in the dark, dangerous marsh.  And Nadzeya’s belief and acceptance of the fact that she is doomed and there is nothing she can do starts to infect the reader as everything seems to go against her would-be savior.  The haunted and spooky environment will have you hearing footsteps when no one else is home.  It is a dark and creepy tale, but that’s what makes it fun.  In a read it with all the lights on sort of way.