Book Reviews

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The Fall by Bethany Griffin

The Fall of the House of Usher is one of Edgar Allan Poe’s most chilling tales and Bethany Griffin brings a new, spooky perspective to the story.

The story follows Madeline Usher, a wealthy, but sickly young woman who has been haunted and, at times, tortured by the mysterious and evil house that has been in her family for generations. As a child, Madeline thought that the house was alive and that it loved her and wanted to protect her. As she grew older, she came to realize that the house is indeed alive. But the house does not love her. The house wants to suck the life out of her. You see, the Usher family is cursed. They go mad. They die young. They cannot escape. Madeline is desperate to find a way to escape the fate of so many Ushers before her. Then she wakes up in a coffin. And from there, the story really begins.

This book is a fantastically gothic horror novel. I felt immersed in this terrible haunted house and could feel the creeping terror of this book crawl up my spine. This is a book that you can either plow right through or read slowly to savor every creepy moment.

-Review submitted by Lauren McPike, Youth Services Manager

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Shadow and Bone book cover

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Shadow and Bone is a fantasy novel that follows the adventures of a young orphan named Alina.  Life hasn’t been easy for her.  She grew up in a bare bones orphanage and her once powerful country of Ravka is being destroyed by an impenetrable darkness known as The Shadow Fold.  Not only does the darkness make it impossible to grow crops, but it also holds terrible, flesh-eating creatures that will tear anyone who dares to venture in limb from limb.  Her only friend is Mal, a boy she grew up with in the orphanage.  They joined the military together and during one mission where they had to cross into The Shadow Fold, Mal is attacked and Alina runs to save him.  During a fit of panic, Alina lets forth a bright light from within, revealing a special power she never knew she possessed.  She is immediately taken to The Grisha, a group of people who possess other special powers and determine that Alina is a sun summoner and just may be the answer to destroying The Shadow Fold.  Once her powers are confirmed, she is whisked away to the palace in Ravka to be trained to serve The Darkling, the leader of The Grisha.  The Darkling takes a special interest in Alina and tells her that he has many plans for her.  And as excited as Alina is to finally feel like she belongs and is something other than a complete failure, things aren’t what they seem.  Several people have warned her about The Darkling, telling her not to trust him or let him get too close.  He is charming and seductive, but he also scares Alina.  And when it comes to people with special powers, things are never what they seem.

This book was full of intrigue which I love!  Lots of whisperings and never fully knowing who was an ally and who was an enemy.  There was also quite a bit of action with several chase scenes and fight scenes.  Alina is an interesting character in that she is a genuinely good-hearted person, but is also very flawed.  She gets angry easily and desperately wants to belong.  Yet, she also refuses to give up and shows a truly kind side many times.

Along with some slight romance and a world unlike any I’ve ever read before, this book really does have something for just about everyone.  If you like fantasy, if you like action, if you like intrigue, if you like magic, heck, even if you like romance, you will probably find something to like about this book.

This is book 1 of a trilogy.  Books 2 and 3, Siege and Storm and Ruin and Rising, are also available.

-Review submitted by Lauren McPike, Youth Services Manager

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Cinder Book Cover

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Cinder is a retelling of Cinderella with a very creative twist:  She is a cyborg!  Set in far-futuristic China, Cinder was born human somewhere in Europe, but a devastating hover accident left her parents dead and her severely injured.  After several surgeries, doctors were able to save her but only by rebuilding parts of her with metal and computers.  She is later adopted by a man who later married a woman with two girls from a previous marriage and after he dies, Cinder is made to work hard not only around the house, but also as a mechanic in the market in New Beijing to pay for her stepmother’s extravagant lifestyle.  Sound familiar?

Here’s where it gets interesting…  Through her work in the market, she meets Prince Kai and before she knows it, she’s entangled in a web of lies, secrets, and not just international, but intergalactic intrigue.  Yep, there are people living on the moon in this book.

I have to admit that when I was told the premise of this book, I actually thought it sounded ridiculous.  In the hands of a lesser writer, it might have been.  But this book was wonderful!  The idea of people having colonies on the moon seemed so silly to me, but Meyer made it seem believable and the background of those people was very interesting.  Cinder is a great heroine who not only has a brain, but uses it and uses it well.  I also found Prince Kai very intriguing.  He is a young man who has grown up knowing what he is “supposed” to do and wants to do what he thinks is right not for him, but for his people.  We know so little about “The Prince” in the Cinderella story that I was happy to learn about Prince Kai.  And don’t think I’ve told you everything.  There are MANY more interesting characters and plotlines in this book, but you’ll just have to read it for yourself.

Fair warning:  This book ends on a bit of a cliffhanger.  I might have said out loud “Wait.  What?  No!” when I finished the last page.  Have no fear!  If you feel the same way I do at the end, there are two books after: Scarlet (book 2) and Cress (book 3) with Winter (book 4) scheduled to be published next year.

-Review submitted by Lauren McPike, Youth Services Manager

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