Happy Holidays from Never Enough Books…

Here at Never Enough Books, I would like to wish my readers a very happy holidays.

This is the final post of the year as I will be taking a brief hiatus to enjoy time with my family, as I hope my readers are doing the same with theirs.

I look forward to the new year with new books and new reviews.

See you all in 2016!!

Welcome to Night Vale by Joseph Fink and Jeffery Cranor

A friendly desert town where the sun is hot, the moon is beautiful, and mysterious lights pass overhead while everyone pretends to sleep…Welcome to Night Vale…

Night Vale pawn shop owner Jackie Fiero is given a piece of paper marked “KING CITY” by a man in a tan leather jacket holding a deer skin suitcase. Everything about this is slightly unsettling until Jackie realizes she can’t get rid of the paper in her hand and no one who meets the strange man remembers anything about him afterwards. Finding her own mind beginning to unravel, Jackie is determined to find the truth behind the strange man and the equally strange message.

Night Vale PTA Treasurer Diane Crayton is a single mother with a teenage son named Josh. This would not be odd save for that Josh is a shape shifter and lately everywhere she goes Diane keeps seeing her estranged husband but he hasn’t seemed to age a day. With her son showing a stronger and stronger interest in his estranged father, Diane feels helpless to stop the incoming disaster should the two eventually meet.

Jackie’s search for her routine life and Diane’s search to reconnect with her son collide as both women find themselves coming back time and again to two words – “KING CITY”. They realize King City holds the vital clues to their pasts and their futures. Now they just have to find a way to leave Night Vale and get there…

Welcome to Night Vale is one of those strange fandoms where you either love it or wonder what the hell is going on. A bi-weekly podcast, I think the best way to describe it is: If Silent Hill had public radio, it would be Welcome to Night Vale.

The novel itself fits somewhere during Night Vale’s second season which is currently being broadcast. It introduces us to new characters but also brings back familiar faces such as Old Woman Josie and the Erikas. With the majority of the action surrounding lesser known characters with only occasional appearances by more well known individuals, one doesn’t need to be a rabid fan to enjoy the book.

For me, one of the things that stand out about Welcome to Night Vale is the fact that both main protagonists are women. It is a rare treat to see this, especially with both characters being strong and independent. They each walk their own path and rely on their own selves, something we unfortunately do not see that often portrayed in media.

Fans of the WTNV podcast will definitely enjoy this book. It gives the reader a better glimpse into life in Night Vale and explorers lesser known characters. Having at least a passing acquaintance with the podcast and such definitely helps though because otherwise the casual reader will find this book just plain weird. Which is what brings so many of us back time and again.

A Study in Death: A Lady Darby Mystery by Anna Lee Huber

Following a rather interesting courtship, Lady Kiera Darby is more than thrilled to have an investigative partner and fiance in Mister Sebastian Gage. Wanting only a simple ceremony, Kiera finds herself capitulating to the wishes of her well-meaning sister who seems intent on making the wedding the event of the season.

Seeking solace from the ensuing madness, Kiera takes on a commission to paint a portrait of Lady Drummond. The sadness in the elder woman’s eyes is an expression Kiera recognizes; Lord Drummond’s brutish behavior brings to mind Kiera’s own late husband’s brusque ways. Unsure how to help, Kiera knows she cannot sit idly by. It is when Kiera comes upon Lady Drummond prostate on the floor however, that things take a fatal turn.

The physician called to the house as well as Lord Drummond believe it was natural causes that led to Lady Drummond’s demise. Kiera however believes poison to be the culprit. Using her knowledge of the macabre and armed with her own convictions, Kiera is determined to find the cause behind Lady Drummond’s death regardless of what – or who – stands in her way.

This is the fourth and most recent novel in the Lady Darby Mystery series, and so far the strongest. The plot is quite believable as is the execution of how the mystery itself is solved. Both Kiera and Gage act and react in realistic manners and we are given a great deal of information on Gage’s mysterious past. After finding out the truth it is easy to see why he would be hesitant to divulge such information.

Previously introduced characters make appearances as well as new individuals. Kiera’s sister and her husband are here once more supporting their beloved family member but also causing some emotional grief. We are also introduced to Gage’s father and the turmoil he tends to cause.

Unlike the third novel, Lady Darby is really given an opportunity to show her worth. Being the titular character she takes the forefront in every scene, thus allowing her to grow in the readers’ eyes.

A very well written mystery – those who enjoy a good historical novel will likely enjoy this series.

Alice by Christina Henry

There is a place called Old City, where in a warren of crumbling decrepit buildings there stands a hospital. Behind its cinder block walls the screams of the poor souls inside echo from every room. In one room is a young woman; her once blonde hair now dirty and tangled. She doesn’t remember why she is in this place. She only remembers a tea party long long ago; of cake and tea and blood. The only other thing she remembers is her name – Alice.

When a fire in the hospital offers a chance at freedom, Alice takes it. Only she is not alone in escaping. Another patient named Hatcher joins her, along with something else. Something dark, powerful, and extremely dangerous.

To find the truth and defeat the monster, Alice and Hatcher shall have to travel through Old City. Find friend and foe as they make their way to the heart of the city and the Rabbit; who patiently waits for his Alice.

Based loosely and inspired by the works of Lewis Carroll, Alice is a dark retelling of the Alice in Wonderland books. Here, Alice is all grown up, she is a young woman of 26 and has spent the last 10 years of her life in an asylum. She is given a chance to relearn what happened to her when a fire destroys the hospital and she makes her escape.

Alice is not an easy book to read and a good number of readers might find it triggering. Those who find mentions of sexual assault, rape, and other such mentions of sexual violence would do good to avoid this book. Violence towards women is everywhere in Old City and is a common thread throughout the book. It is both blatant and implied, active and imagined. Blood and gore is also a common thread and at times it is quite disturbing.

Set all that aside and you have a fairly good book. Watching Alice grow and become stronger; both physically and mentally; was very satisfying. My only complaint was that the supposed climactic ending was quite anti-climactic. The build up through the book toward this supposed final meeting between Alice and the Rabbit was a bit of a let down when it actually occurred. I think it could have been handled a little better.

I have recently learned that a second book, The Red Queen, will be released soon. I do not know if I will be reviewing that one as I had a difficult time with this book. The book itself wasn’t bad, it was the content it dealt with that was uncomfortable. As I said earlier, those who are uneasy with sexual violence would do good to steer clear of this book. However if you’re looking for a deeply disturbing dark fantasy, you might want to give this one a try.