Ink and Bone, by Rachel Caine
The Great Library of Alexandria has survived to modern times. This ancient repository of knowledge now keeps all original books in a world where private ownership of books is forbidden. Copies of books are provided to the masses through Alchemy, and those that try to smuggle books illegally are hunted down by Library Automata–fearsome robots in the forms of Sphinxes and ancient Greek gods. Jess Brightwell comes from a family of book smugglers. His father trained him early to be self-reliant and to keep secrets well. When his father asks him to train to become a scholar in the Library so he can more easily smuggle books, Jess is conflicted. He loves books, and believes that maybe the Library offers him more than a life of smuggling ever could. When he arrives at the Great Library, he meets a new class of students, an intimidating instructor, and begins to understand that the Library may have a dark side to its services. During a dangerous training mission, students begin to die and Jess must make a vital choice…stay loyal to the Library or stay loyal to his friends.
This is a terrific start to what promises to be a fun new Young Adult series. Steam punk meets Harry Potter as Jess and company begin their journey to understand the workings of the Great Library. Their discoveries and decisions may just change the world. For older fans of Harry Potter, and for fans of Sarah J. Maas’ Throne of Glass series.
In a Dark, Dark Wood, by Ruth Ware
Nora is a reclusive writer, and she likes it that way. Unexpectedly, she receives an invitation to attend the “hen,” or bachelorette party, for Clare, a friend she hasn’t seen in ten years. The invitation is puzzling and curiosity getting the better of her, Nora accepts. Soon, she finds herself in a glass house in the woods, cut off from civilization, with a small group of Clare’s supposedly closest friends. As they start the partying in earnest, Nora tries to figure out her purpose with the group. When they use the Ouija board for their evening party game, things start to slip into weirdness. Murder is the Ouija word of the day, a threat backed up by mysterious footprints in the freshly fallen snow. Is this a party game gone wrong, or is the group truly in danger?
This debut novel’s storyline reminds me of one of those scary movies that kids like to watch at sleepovers. Hints are dropped here and there about friends with hidden grudges and people with mysterious pasts. Shadows lurk in the corners, and monsters hide in the closets. While that may make this story seem trite, it is not. You immediately connect with Nora, and alternating chapters tell details during and after the story’s main event, keep the pacing strong and the tension high. A fast read, with the creepy atmosphere of the glass house in the woods providing an eerie setting. Without any graphic or explicit details, this psychological thriller is a fun read.
Filed under horror, mystery
Pretty Girls, by Karin Slaughter
More than twenty years ago, beautiful nineteen year-old Julia Scott disappears into the night, never to be seen again. With no clues and no body, the mystery of what happened to her haunts her family still. Her two remaining sisters, Clare and Lydia, are estranged; Clare is married and rich, and Lydia is poor with a teenage daughter. When Clare’s husband, Paul, is murdered in a robbery, it is as if she has stepped into an episode of “The Twilight Zone.” The authorities and their questions are more than creepy, and with a sense of foreboding, Clare starts to look harder at the details of her husband’s life. What she finds begins to terrify her, and without knowing who to turn to, she turns to her sister, Lydia, for help. The two of them must put aside their differences in order to figure out why Clare is becoming the target for some truly frightening attention.
The last Karin Slaughter book I read was the brilliant “Cop Town,” which is a character driven police procedural set in the 1970s. I loved the fast pacing of that particular book. “Pretty Girls” has an entirely different pace and structure. “Pretty Girls” gives you the point of view of the family surrounding Julia Scott as they ponder the mystery of her disappearance, and then, you see the rest of the story unfold through the eyes of Clare and Lydia as they work together to figure out the strangeness of Paul’s life. The tension ratchets up a little more with each chapter, and soon, you literally can’t stop turning pages.
For me, I still prefer a book like “Cop Town,” for its fast moving story. “Pretty Girls” started a little slow for me, but it will likely appeal to fans of “Gone Girl” and “Girl on the Train.” I enjoyed the dynamics between the two sisters; Ms. Slaughter always writes the most compelling female characters.
Review copy received through Edelweiss. This title is released on 9/25/2015.