Two Books Read Simultaneously (Because One Scared Me And I Couldn’t Read It After Dark)

Two Books Read Simultaneously (Because One Scared Me And I Couldn’t Read It After Dark)

I have mentioned in a previous post that I am very suggestible. Even the hint of something scary is enough to set my mind whirring into all sorts of horrifying possibilities. So when I tried to read Night Film by Marisha Pessl, I was spooked pretty much constantly.

Night Film
Night Film

“On a damp October night, beautiful young Ashley Cordova is found dead in an abandoned warehouse in lower Manhattan. Though her death is ruled a suicide, veteran investigative journalist Scott McGrath suspects otherwise. As he probes the strange circumstances surrounding Ashley’s life and death, McGrath comes face-to-face with the legacy of her father: the legendary, reclusive cult-horror-film director Stanislas Cordova—a man who hasn’t been seen in public for more than thirty years. For McGrath, another death connected to this seemingly cursed family dynasty seems more than just a coincidence. Though much has been written about Cordova’s dark and unsettling films, very little is known about the man himself. Driven by revenge, curiosity, and a need for the truth, McGrath, with the aid of two strangers, is drawn deeper and deeper into Cordova’s eerie, hypnotic world. The last time he got close to exposing the director, McGrath lost his marriage and his career. This time, he might lose even more. Night Film, the gorgeously written, spellbinding new novel by the dazzlingly inventive Marisha Pessl, will hold you in suspense until you turn the final page.”–Indiebound

This book is supposedly a thriller, but I would argue it’s slightly scarier than that, although what do I know about true horror? I can’t read it. Books like this are difficult to talk about without giving too much away, so I will just say a few things about it. First, I liked the characters a lot, especially McGrath’s two “sidekicks.” Each main character, even the deceased girl, Ashley, is nuanced and detailed in a way that few authors achieve without seeming to show significant effort. McGrath, though unlikable, is an excellent, flawed protagonist whose mission to prove himself ends up driving the story. My only complaint is that he is not tremendously believable as a father.

There are almost two endings to this story, and I enjoyed that immensely. You’ll see what I mean when you read it.

And again, this book scared the daylights out of me. I could only read it during the day. It’s so spooky, and it hints at some really dark and even perhaps demonic dealings that go on in shadowy locations around New York. There are also pictures in this novel, so you never know when you’ll turn a page and come face to face with something weird and startling. Because of this, I had to have something to read that was definitely less scary, and less adult:

Deep Blue
Deep Blue

“Deep in the ocean, in a world not so different from our own, live the merpeople. Their communities are spread throughout the oceans, seas, and freshwaters all over the globe. When Serafina, a mermaid of the Mediterranean Sea, awakens on the morning of her betrothal, her biggest worry should be winning the love of handsome Prince Mahdi. And yet Sera finds herself haunted by strange dreams that foretell the return of an ancient evil. Her dark premonitions are confirmed when an assassin’s arrow poisons Sera’s mother. Now, Serafina must embark on a quest to find the assassin’s master and prevent a war between the Mer nations. Led only by her shadowy dreams, Sera searches for five other mermaid heroines who are scattered across the six seas. Together, they will form an unbreakable bond of sisterhood and uncover a conspiracy that threatens their world’s very existence.”–Indiebound

All I really want to say about this book (so I can forget about it quickly) is that it is stupid. The plot is stupid, the characters are stupid, and the world-building is stupid. The stupid “mermaidisms” drove me insane (example: their money is called “currensea.” Stop.)!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The lines between the world we know and the fantasy world where mermaids exist are not well-blended, and it comes off rushed and sloppy. This book is about at the quality level of a made-for-TV movie. I’m not interested in the rest of the series. I’m totally disappointed because I think there is a lack of good mermaid literature in the book world, and I was hoping this would make up some ground. It didn’t. Even for children’s level reading, it was bad.

The Fern Capel Series

The Fern Capel Series

I’ve been reading the same book for so many days now that I’ve forgotten there are books I’ve finished that I need to blog about! I also haven’t been doing quite as much reading because I have been lesson planning more, and I have also started drawing more again. I want to tell new people I meet that I do more than just read (although reading will always be my first love!).

One of the doodles I've been working on
One of the doodles I’ve been working on
I love this cover
I love this cover

Today I’m writing about a series of three books that I absolutely loved in high school. Prospero’s Children, the first book in this series by Jan Siegel, is a wholly unique novel about an English girl in the 1980s just stumbling upon her witch powers. While other girls of sixteen worry about who will ask them to the dance and what to wear, Fern must concern herself with the powerful witch attaching herself to Fern’s father and also prevent disaster from striking the ancient city of Atlantis. Not sure about you, but I couldn’t handle that responsibility at sixteen.

“It began ages past in fabled Atlantis when a mad, power-hungry queen forged a key to a door never meant to be opened by mortal man–its inception would hasten her own death and the extinction of her vainglorious race. For millennia the key lay forgotten beneath the waves, lost amid the ruins of what had been the most beautiful city on Earth. But however jealously the sea hoards its secrets, sooner or later it yields them up. Now, in present-day Yorkshire, that time has come. And for young Fernanda Capel, life will never be the same again.”Indiebound

There are so many beautiful things about this book. The language is rich and lush–it wraps itself around the reader like a scarf. The whole book has an ethereal, dream-like quality to it, especially in the parts that involve magic. The characters are charming and terrifying in their turn. Fern and her brother Will–children in this first novel–are “old souls” whose maturity and poise defy their age and allow them to cope with the supernatural events which they cannot outrun. Their mentor, Ragginbone, is such a thoughtful, delightful, wise old (really old) man that I wish I had someone like that in my life. Someone who had lived through not just decades but centuries and could tell me what to do with my life while we ate tea and biscuits. And I must mention Lougarry though I won’t tell you who or what she is. I wish I had one of her too. You’ll have to read the series.

The Witch Queen
The Dragon Charmer
The Witch Queen
The Witch Queen

The other two, The Dragon Charmer and The Witch Queen, are even stronger than the first, in my opinion. As Fern grows up, she makes allies in the supernatural kingdom and grows into a very strong witch. With her powers come enemies and people who want to use her, and she must use her wits as well as her magic to untangle herself from their webs. I particularly love The Witch Queen, although I wistfully wish the ending were slightly different. I understand the purpose in ending the series the way she does, and I know that there really wasn’t any way the reader (or Fern) could have both of the things that she wanted. But still. I find myself wishing there was another way. What am I talking about? Read the series and find out!