The Weaver by Emmi Itaranta

Eliana is a model citizen of the Island. She works as a weaver, living in the prestigious House of Webs. She also holds a secret – she can read and write – two things that are forbidden to the women of the Island. She can also dream – an ability that is forbidden of all residents by the mysterious Council. To dream is to be ostracized and cast out.

Much like the weaving she is so proficient at, Eliana has woven a web of protection around herself. The web begins to unravel though when an injured young woman is washed up on the shore outside the House of Webs. Unable to speak, the only clue to the girls’ identity is a tattoo on her palm. A tattoo in invisible ink that bears Eliana’s name.

The Weaver is the second novel by Emmi Itaranta. Like her first one, it takes place in a future dystopia where some unknown event has changed society. The resulting world is both familiar and yet also new to the reader. It is vast and yet it is tiny, much like the island where our story takes place.

Itaranta’s style of writing is very unique. Like the water that plays such an important role in her books, her prose has a kind of ebb and flow. We the reader are subjected to the push and pull of emotions by her words. We experience the highs and lows just as the characters do.

An engaging read, I found The Weaver to be imminently enjoyable. Much like Itaranta’s other book, I recommend it to my readers and look forward to seeing what she creates in the future.

 

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New Amsterdam (New Amsterdam #1) by Elizabeth Bear

Abigail Irene Garrett is a formidable and notorious woman. She drinks far too much and sleeps with married men. She has nothing but obligations. She is also a forensic sorceress, working for a Crown that has done little to win her loyalty.

Sebastien de Ulloa is a vampire. Incredibly old, he has forgotten his birth place and even the year he was born. What he does remember is the woman who made him what he is.

In a world where the sun never set on the British empire, and where the expansion of the American colonies was stopped by the war magic of the Iroquois; they are exiles in the new world and possibly its only hope for justice.

My dear readers, in the almost three years I have been writing this blog this is the first time I could not finish a book. Not because I ran out of time but because I found the book just that bad.

Told in a series of short stories, aside from the main characters there is little tying the novel together as a whole. Reading them, one almost has the feeling that the stories were written separately and only later were compiled together as a book. The tone is very inconsistent and quickly becomes irritating.

What irked me the most though was how flat I found the characters. With almost no characterization given, there is nothing to draw us to either Garrett or Ulloa. I found them to unfortunately be very one dimensional and bland. While the summary made them sound very interesting, upon reading the book I found the opposite to be true.

Looking at some of the other reviews on Goodreads, it would seem I am not alone with my dissatisfaction. New Amsterdam has a mixed bag of reviews.

While the concept showed great promise, the execution unfortunately falls flat. Steer clear of this one, dear readers.

Those Who Hunt The Night (James Asher #1) by Barbara Hambly

Vampires have been living in London since the time of Elizabeth I. For now they have lived in relative peace but now some are being ruthlessly murdered; their coffins opened to the daylight that bring instant death. No vampire known can stand the sunlight to try and catch the killer so they are forced to turn to a mortal individual for help.

Enter James Asher – one time spy and now professor of languages. He returns home to find his wife in a kind of stupor and a strange guest waiting for him. Don Simon Ysidro is one of the oldest vampires, and while he is polite he leaves no doubt as to how powerful he is. Were they to flee, Simon would have little problem finding her and so Asher must reluctantly agree to assist.

However, Asher has strong doubts. Should he find the killer, what then? Now that he knew the truth about vampire, they surely wouldn’t let him live. Would they?

Those Who Hunt The Night is a book that harkens back to the original vampire stories. These vampires are not romantic, they are not moody pseudo-teenagers brooding about. These vampire are monsters and Hambly writes them exceptionally well.

With a story that evokes the feel of the horror of darker days, Hambly takes us on a meandering yet exciting ride from start to finish. I was especially surprised with the ending and who the actual perpetrator was. Looking back, one can see how clues were sprinkled through the narrative that eventually leads to the final reveal.

While some readers might find the book slow, I found it almost reminiscent of some of the vampires in the story. Like many of them, there is something to be said about enjoying the journey regardless of the destination. Vampires have nothing but time.

Readers who enjoy old school type horror novels will likely enjoy Those Who Hunt The Night. Being a fan myself, I did and look forward to reading the next book.

Hounded (The Iron Druid Chronicles #1) by Kevin Hearne

To the casual observer, Atticus O’Sullivan looks like nothing more than your average twenty something tattooed Irish lad. Add a few zeroes to the end of his age and one will come closer to the truth – Atticus is actually twenty one centuries old. For the past few years he’s lived happily enough; he owns his own occult bookstore in Arizona and in his spare time shape shifts to hunt with his Irish wolfhound. Atticus is the last of the druids and the owner of the magical blade Fragarach – the Answerer.

Unfortunately, there are those who want the sword for themselves – one particular Celtic god has been trying to get it from Atticus for untold years. Now he’s on the verge of achieving his goal and getting his hands on the blade he’s coveted for years. Atticus, however, is not willing to give up the sword without a fight and he’s going to need all the help he can get from his friends to hang on to it.

Hounded was one of those books I saw mentioned on another website (this time Tumblr) and it immediately caught my eye. So of course I borrowed it from my local library and added it to my current queue.

Hounded reminds me a great deal of the early Dresden Files books. Our sometimes questionable hero is quick witted and funny, taking things serious but not too seriously. He is immensely likable. It’s little wonder the ladies’ in the books pages are drawn to him.

Hearne definitely did his research when writing Hounded because Celtic myth and mythos abound within the pages as well as mention of other belief systems. The subject is handled well without being too preachy about which one is “best” – though Atticus obviously has his favorite.

There were a few instances where the action was a little over the top but its easily forgivable. Overall, I thought Hounded was wonderfully well written. Fast paced and funny, I recommend it to any one who enjoys Joss Whedon or Jim Butcher. I’ve already gotten the next book in the series and cannot wait to read it!