Book Review: The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah

The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah is a tearjerker about two of America’s harshest times The Dust Bowl and The Great Depression. This Historical novel uses real events and puts here character’s through tragedy and triumph. This novel can easily get compared to John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, but teaks it giving it a new perspective what if Tom Joad was a single mother with kids. The perspective changes everything the character of Elsa want to breakdown but is strong for her and her kids. This is a novel that you will want to thank your mother after for all that she has sacrificed for her children’s happiness. This book will make you teary eyed as you go on a journey looking for a living wage. This book will also make you mad at how our fellow men and women are treated and some still treated this badly. The Four Winds drew me in right at the building as I connected with young naïve Elsa and her fairy tale visions of love. The story is grand character development taking a character so naïve and at the end making her so worldly that she almost can’t trust her fellow humans even when they’re trying to help. The novel is a bumpy road with so much heart that you fell every slight and every helpful gesture. Hannah will get in to the soul of her characters and take you with them. This novel does have a little controversy, because it does feature communist, and person raring to go, but this novel is not a secret convert to communism. It has a communist character and another that becomes convinced to rally. You might find yourself going that communist had a point 80 years ago. If anything this book is slightly pro-union, but then again under the circumstances and working conditions that was the smartest choice, and the only real option. But still this book didn’t change my view on unions some are good and some are bad.

The Plot: Elsa is 25, gawky, pale, and tall and lives in 1920’s Texas her family has all but given up on her finding a husband. They call her ugly in not so many words and show her no love. Elsa’s family is well off and spends most her time reading and dreaming of love. She reads is influenced to put herself out there and sneaks out to a bar. She meets a man in Rafe who calls her beautiful and makes her feel it. Rafe is Italian and her family would instantly disapprove. She goes to bed with him not knowing this can cause pregnancy and finds herself pregnant. When her family finds out; they find the man and his family responsible, drop her off, and disown her. Elsa who has lived high society has to become a farmer’s wife and fast. She finds out Rafe didn’t really love her but was more infatuated with her but will marry her. The novel skips a head 12 years in the middle of the great depression and the start of what is known as the dust bowl. It has hit the family hard with no work and no way to farm, Rafe thinks their sanctuary lies in California where they hear the rumor of all these jobs. Elsa wants to tough it out, but Rafe can’t, she’s losing him and her daughter Loreda everyday it doesn’t rain. Will Elsa leave land that is bought and paid for, for the promise of work?

What I Liked: How well these characters are developed. Hannah does not shy away from the difficult conversations. I liked how real this novel felt, how raw the emotions are. I came away learning a lot , I knew about the dust bowl and how hard it was to get work but I didn’t know the discrimination the would be workers felt. I did not know the ties of Communism to the labor movement and unionization. I liked how this story would evoke emotions out of me, and to the credit of the author she did not milk scenes for emotional impact, but would sometimes be blunt and the death explained later.

What I Disliked: The time jumped a little too far in the future the first time, I would have wanted to see the true beginning on the dust bowl and how the character’s reacted to it.

Recommendations: This book is a fantastic read that hits you hard and brings the emotion. The history may not be one hundred percent right, but you feel the history of the era and the hard times. This novels feels very authentic. I rated The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah 5 out of 5 stars. This is the first book I have read from Kristin Hannah and it will not be the last.

Book Review: Hour of the Witch by Chris Bohjalian

Hour of the Witch by Chris Bohjalian is a period piece in the mid 1600 America. It was you typical divorce stories husband beats on wife, she tries to divorce him and gets called a witch and has to defend against being a witch; so not typical at all. This novel will have you scream at characters, that I’m sure are accurately portrayed but so one sided and biased. The novel is set when the husband was king and they referred to the wife as the helpmate, it was not a partnership. This novel can be seen a feminist, it’s a fight for equal rights and to have a woman with strong ideas is not a bad thing. The trials are the best part of the book. The story is at it’s core simple but the way the story is told is what makes it so interesting. My only draw back was the novel repeats its self a lot. We go over the same issues twice during trial. It is an interesting story that could have totally happened and probably did during those times which makes is so believable. The Old English dialogue was fun to read. The ending was surprising and very fulfilling.

The Plot: Mary is married to Thomas a brut of a man who has two sides the good Christian and the abusive terror that only Mary gets to see. Mary is 24 and barren which is rare for the times, not with her lack of trying. Mary has a brain an thinks logically when other wives don’t. Mary believes in tonics and plants to heal instead of blood letting with leeches. She trusts in a woman Constance who heaven for bid choose to live alone and is referred in town as a witch one woman who was hanged already for a witch had dealings with Constance. Her father stirs trouble when he brings the devil’s trident to town, which we now a day refers to as a fork. Mary’s trouble starts when she finds a fork sticking up in the ground next to their door as a curse she accuses Catherine her handmaiden that has a crush on Thomas her husband. She dismisses it and finds one the next night but Catherine thinks she saw her plant it and already blames Mary’s tonics on killing her brother that was dying any way. Mary is accused of which craft her husband drunk and angry of the incontinence drives a fork into her hand. Mary files for divorce the next day as she is also accused of witchcraft. Will Mary get a happy ending or will she hang for being a witch, and will she find out who wants her, Thomas, or Catherine cursed?

What I Liked: The language was really fun. I loved the word “prithee” which means pray thee. The story was really interesting, simple but fascinating. I have not put much thought into divorce and it origins in the New World, but it was really interesting, almost as interesting as the witch angle. The trial and many judges, was also interesting. The ending was really stratifying, I didn’t know how it was going to end, but was happy when it ended the way it did. I had read the poetry of Anne Bradstreet a depressed puritan woman whose brother published the poems in England; I liked how they were used in the story. I liked that the character of Judge Adams wasn’t so biased and one sided that he thought of Mary as evil he could have figured it all out; I loved the moment when she realized and acknowledged how close he was to the truth of everything.

What I Disliked: the repetition was too much at times, the characters were not one note but a lot of their words were. That is the only thing I disliked but it was a high level of it.

Recommendations: This book is great, it is a little too repetitive but it still manages to be interesting. The 17th century is not a time period that I have read many books from, but I really enjoyed my time here. This is mainly a trail story, but there is drama and a mystery that fills the time not in the trial. I rated Hour of the Witch by Chris Bohjalian 4 out of 5 stars.

Book Review: The Paris Library by Janet Skeslien Charles

The Paris Library by Janet Skeslien Charles is a historical fiction set in the Paris American Library during World War II. The story is about the love and escapism of books during hard times, and the choices and secrets we keep. This book captures the library and the community it creates, really well while highlighting the power of books. The author, Charles heard this story secondhand when she was working for the Paris American Library making flyers, and became enamored with the story of community and survival. The story is well written and you can feel the history while reading it. The narrative has burst of excitement, and some bits of lull. I did feel Charles stuck a little too close to history at times, their’s some deaths that I just wasn’t impacted by, and I felt I should be. Not to sat the novel did not have emotional scenes but I thought the two main deaths could have more impact on the reader. I would compare this novel to Dear Mrs. Bird by A. J. Pierce and Lilac Girls by Martha Kelly Hall. I read the advanced reader’s copy of The Paris Library thanks to Netgalley and Atria Books. The Paris Library by Janet Skeslien Charles was published on February 9 2021.

The Plot: Odile has a passion for reading and the Dewey Decimal system. She’s a french girl that has learned to speak english through books, and has frequented the Paris American Library all her life, and now wants the go for her dream job of working for it in 1939. She gets the job, where she is surrounded by books and fellow book lovers, it is the greatest year of her life. She has her dream job and her dream beau a Paris police officer, then the war hits and changes everything. We jump forward and meet Odile 44 years in the future living in Montana as a bitter old woman. We learn how a woman so full of life can live all alone. She meets Lilly a girl who reminds her of her yourself, she tells her story as a warning of choices. What happened to Odile in Paris from 1939 to 1944.

What I Like: The love and genius of the Dewey Decimal system to categorize library books. I like that the Dewey Decimal device is used by Odile to categorize her life. I learned lots, that the French soldiers could still send mail, and weren’t treated great but not too bad as soldiers go. The people who had it worst are the women that dated Nazi soldier, no matter their reasons, had there head shaved and were beaten. I loved the friendships between Odile and Margaret and Odile and her brother’s fiancé. The love of books and the library. There’s a lot of book discussions that I found interesting, I’m adding There Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Thurston to my TBR, because of Odile affection for it, and the passages used in the book. The scene where Odile puts together where Paul, her beau, was really taking her to be alone. The final twist was a good one.

What I Disliked: It took the book a little too long to start connecting the 1939 story to 1983 story, I ended up liking it but it took a while to get there. There is two deaths in this book and I did not feel them like I should have, I was kind of shocked that there wasn’t any lead up to them.

Recommendations: I will recommend The Paris Library, it is a good historical fiction that highlights the importance of books. The dramatic scenes are good and have some an intensity. If you love books about survivors of World War II then you will like this book. I rated The Paris Library by Janet Skeslien Charles 4 out of 5 stars.

Book Review: The Deep by Alma Katsu

The Deep by Alma Katsu is a horror that takes place on the Titanic and it’s sister ship the Britannic in 1912-1916. This horror adds the element of a well researched historical fiction. There’s a demon that wants innocent souls what better place to find them than the Titanic. It adds horror to the already real life horror of survival. The side characters are interesting but too many of them were throw away characters and did not effect the overall plot, they are there for a couple moments then redundant. I definitely felt cheated in that I did not know of the survival of some of these characters. The novel has a good LGTBQ relationship, and showed what hiding it looks like in 1912. I the authors style of anding underlying horrors to historic events, I liked this one more then The Hunger which added even more horror to the Donner Party expedition, while I thought that the story was just okay I liked the idea of it, I’m glad to see this was executed better with a stronger story backing it up. I was hooked early in this one, but felt too many side characters were being introduced taking a away from the main characters then I started to really like the side characters.

The Plot: We know in 1912 that the voyage of the Titanic was doomed one, but it was haunted well before that by a siren of the sea that wants innocent souls. Annie is a young caretaker of the elite of the first class Titanic passengers, she helps in everything, from cleaning, bartending, fetching, and taking care of kids. She grows obsessed about one one family, Mark, his wife, and his young newborn. she feels a connection to Mark, but knows it’s wrong she ends up taking care of the child but being fearful of the wife who she thinks might be evil. A seance on the ship brings forth an ancient evil, or was it already there?

What I Liked: The beginning add to the mystery and really made me curious, the story went in a way different direction than I was expecting, which was okay I thought it was going to be more of a ghost story involving purgatory, but it was not that. I like the history that was put into the story, it added to the horror. The ending was pretty intense, and really went there. The creature was rarely seen but it seemed to work, and made you curiouser until the end when everything is explained. The Les and Dai storyline was pretty good even though their story kind of sort of went nowhere, LGBTQ angle felt real and right. The cover is beautifully haunting.

What I Disliked: There was no update on all the characters that we were introduced to, we see some sacrifice other to survive but don’t get any update on these characters after the sinking. I would have liked to see way more of the main characters, the other characters were good but sometimes they felt like filler.

Recommendation: The story is clever adding horrors to deep survival. I did not recommend The Hunger, but this one I enjoyed a lot more. I do want to read something where Katsu is focused on just the main characters, that is my biggest critique after having read two stories by her, she has the talent and can create interesting characters, just let them truly lead the story. I rated The Deep by Alma Katsu 4 out of 5 stars.

Book Review: Annie and the Wolves by Andromeda Romano-Lax

Annie and the Wolves by Andromeda Romano-Lax is fictional look at a Annie Oakley and a historical researcher who finds new letters, that will change space and time. Annie and the Wolves is grounded yet really out there. There’s a plot twist that takes this really grounded story linking Annie Oakley and Ruth the woman researching who are linked in their fight against wolves/predators, and then turns it on it’s head. Trigger Warning: sexual abuse of a children. The twist not revealed in any synopsis or press materials materials happens less than halfway, and is used effectively at the end. I was a little confused at the beginning which feels like Ruth has ADHD as subjects get bounced around, the plot twist helped be understand this better and I throughly enjoyed it once I got used to the bouncing around narrative. The book has an exciting yet compelling finish. I was not expecting the book to go where it did but I enjoyed the unexpected ride. Thanks to Netgalley and SOHO press for letting me read Annie and the Wolves before publication. Annie and the Wolves by Andromeda Romano-Lax was published on 2-2-21.

The Plot: Ruth has spent two years recovering from a car wreck, that had her push people and her live in boyfriend away. Ruth spent this time researching Annie Oakley of the wild west from the late 1800’2 to early 1900’s who had her own debilitating train crash. Ruth becomes obsessed and then she is sent letters from a psychiatrist who treated Annie, this is a time when they would just mark women hysterical who had strong feelings, this what Ruth is expecting, but she gets a whole lot more. Annie talks about dealing with her wolf, a sexual predator when she was young, that now wants to confront them. Ruth has her own wolf in a former coach at her old school, will Ruth learn from Annie how to give justice?

What I Liked: Te Annie Oakley scenes with Sitting Bull in the tent. The twist as I mentioned was unexpected but it made this novel so unique, I hate not giving it away but my rule is not to give more than the synopsis. I like the characters of Reece and Caleb, Caleb took a while to like but Reece was immediate. Te ending was pulled off really well with a couple of layers to it. I liked all the connections that Annie and Ruth had, I liked that Ruth questioned if she was giving Annie these characteristics or they were real. That this novel is low key science fiction novel, sort of.

What I Disliked: The twist was great but I still wanted more explanation on how it worked exactly. The Annie Oakley scenes were my favorite I wanted more.

Recommendation: I will recommend this totally unique novel. It is a quarter historical fiction, half a drama with a little mystery element to it and the plot twist takes it to almost science fiction level. I rated Annie and the Wolves by Andromeda Romano-Lax 4 out of 5 stars.

A Witch in Time by Constance Sayers

A Witch in Time by Constance Sayers is a beautifully written debut that takes a witch cursed to die young and love a man that will constantly disappoint her, time and time again. A Witch in Time tells a great love story about missteps and sacrifice. It hits the right beats in time and history as we observe four life times starting in 1890’s and ended up in present day. I loved aspects of the curse and how both the cursed and the watchers of the curse can manipulate certain aspects of it. The story bounces back in time in the form of dreams, which I thought worked really well as I was never confused about what time I was in and who’s life I was reading about. The story is good but is slightly similar to Victoria Schwab’s most recent The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, which deals with a curse and time, while this book I liked more and focused on past lives more than a singular life there are comparisons. The writing style which was simple but really connected me to the story and character’s, it reminded me a lot of Taylor Jenkins Reid’s writing style’s in Daisy Jones and the Six and The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. I was selected for an advanced readers copy for Constance Sayer’s new novel The Ladies of the Secret Circus, which I’m really excited about after reading A Witch in Time.

The Plot: Helen is on her first date since her divorce almost a year ago, she’s meeting Luke on a blind date. When she meets Luke she swears he looks familiar to her. Luke says we’ve met before just not in this lifetime. This sends Helen in a spiral remembering through her dreams of France in the 1890’s and how she was cursed. She remembers Luke who looks just the way he does now protecting her after the curse had been placed. Luke is light on the details only saying she doesn’t have long, that it took him to long to find him and she must remember everything. Helen lives three lifetimes as she keeps getting connected to the same two people every time. Another thing Helen has noticed is she is getting powers and they get stronger with each lifetime. Helen is strong enough to finally break the curse but is she strong enough to do what it takes?

What I Liked: The lifetimes were described really well I wanted to stay longer in the Silver Age of 1930’s cinema. I liked the curse and the thought that went in to it, it was a fun mystery to unravel. I liked the love triangle, you could see every time why she picked the wrong love. Clint was scary I almost wish he was more connected to the story. I liked that we got to see her witch powers grow through out time. I’m a huge fan of the movie The Prestige and I liked that this story and that story used the real magician Angiers and twisted him. The narrative of flipping back and forth in time works really well, the story was complex but easy to follow.

What I Disliked: The novel repeats it’s self an awful lot, this is something I have found in a lot of debut novelist, who often don’t trust the reader to keep up, which I was able to do really easily, and didn’t need the reminder. The flow could have been better toward the end, the chapters got longer and slowed the momentum.

Recommendations: A Witch in Time is a fabulous debut of a talented writer in Constance Sayers. If you like witches and time travel then this is a perfect mix of the two. The novel is easy to read and hard to put down. I see great things from this author in the future. I rated A Witch in Time by Constance Sayers 4 out of 5 stars, this was almost a 5 star rating. I will read her new novel The Ladies of the Secret Circus pretty soon thanks to netgalley and Redhook books.

Book Review: Snow, Glass, Apples by Colleen Doran adapted from a Neil Gaiman short story

Snow, Glass, Apple’s by Colleen Doran adapted from a Neil Gaiman short story is a haunting adaptation of Snow White told in a graphic novel form. The story is told from the Stepmother’s perspective, notice I didn’t say evil stepmother. In this story it is flipped where the stepmother is good and loving, her stepdaughter is evil incarnate. The images are hauntingly beautiful and very graphic. The images leave a lasting impression with the mix of bold color with dark colors. The story had very little dialogue with most of the story delivered through narration. This story is a 17+ story that has violence and graphic sex depicted.

The Plot: It begins with love and lust towards the new queen and king, they have separate bedrooms and often make love. The queen starts to notice a change in the king and starts seeing him less and less. His daughter from a previous marriage is strange and quiet, the stepmother tries and thinks they have a moment as the girl loves apples. She bites the apple then bites her stepmother tasting her blood. The storm’s wound heals creating and interesting scar. She she’s the king again and tries to make love but the king is frail, when she undressed him she sees the same scar across his body. He dies and she sends a hunter to remove her heart, he does, and the stepmother puts the heart over her bed, but a strange thing happens as the heart doesn’t die but stay alive, as does her stepdaughter. It is up to the stepmother to kill her stepdaughter once and for all.

What I Liked: The imagery is stunning, even the horrific stuff you can not take your eyes off of. The creative way the story is told still having the same beats as the original, just twisted. That the Prince is attracted to still things. The dwarves and forest folk are cut throat bandits and thieves. I

What I Disliked: The graphic drawings went a little too far showing graphic pubic hair. I would have liked more dialogue between characters.

Recommendation: If you’re a fan of Neil Gaiman then you will get a very faithful adaptation of a 23 page short story turned into a 75 page graphic novel. If you are a fan of beautiful haunting artwork then you will be rewarded here. I rated Snow, Glass, Apples by Colleen Doran 4 out of 5 stars.

Book Review: The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett is a family drama about race, focusing on the light and darkness of skin color. The book will really make you self reflect your own prejudice and bias based on skin color. Bennett doesn’t just analyze the white standard of skin bias but the black on as well. The book starts in the 1950’s and goes up to the early 1980’s. The story follows 3 generations of the Vinges family women. The story jumps in time a little a the beginning which took some getting used to but, I liked what it set up. The story was really good and really got into the psychology of its characters. The way the story was told reminded me of The Immoralists by Chloe Benjamin, and how the story jumps in time. The Vanishing Half is an important story that needed to me told. This book features an interesting portrait of a trans man transitioning, which was pretty bold. I do fear that the scene will turn off some readers, who came for a story about race, which would be unfortunate. The Vanishing Half won the Goodreads choice award for Historical fiction in 2020, I do feel this is a little bit of a stretch as history is an afterthought to the drama the only moments in history that are highlighted are Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. assignations and the Aids crisis that’s really all, there’s rarely a pop culture reference. The story is a fantastic general fiction that involves four decades. The Vanishing Half is being developed as a limited series at HBO and HBOmax.

The Plot Desiree and Stella Vinges are twin sisters in the small town of Mallard, Louisiana. A town so small it’s not even on the map. The Vinges are all very light skinned and so is every other colored person in the town, that’s the only way the white people can tolerate them. Stella and Desiree are so light they could almost pass for white. Stella has experimented with this and passed for a brief moment when a black man working security spotted her. The twins lost their father to a mob of angry white men, there mother did what she could but she couldn’t pay the bills, she made the girls drop out of school and work with her to pay the bills. The girls each dreamers, wanted more out of life and weren’t happy, they decide to run away. They stayed with each other for quite some time until Stella a perfected playing white and leaves her sister Desiree for a different life as a white woman. Desiree find love and marries a dark skinned man and has a dark skinned child in Jude. The husband beats her and she returns home with her child causing a stir because of her daughter’s skin color. Desiree meets Early and bounty hunter that she knew as children and hasn’t lost his crush, he covers for her to her husband and starts looking for Stella.

What I Liked: The story and the conversation around skin color is really fascinating. The relationship between Loretta and Stella was my favorite, someone she feared would reveal her secret would be the only friend she could talk to. The psychology of faking white and what it does to Stella towards her relationship towards black people. June was my favorite secondary character, I loved the psychology of her and secrets. I liked how the story made connections, it was real and messy not tied up in a bow. There’s to many good lines of dialogue here are my to favorite exchanges “White folks kill you if you want too much, kill you if you want too little.” Willie Lee shook his head, packing tobacco into his pipe. “You gotta follow they rules but they change ’em when they feel.” and “You did all this for a man?” “Not for him,” she said. “I just liked who I was with him.” “White.” “No,” Stella said. “Free.” Desiree laughed. “Same thing, baby.”

What I Disliked: Stella still hides her true self from one of the most important people in her life, I feel if she told them they would not have believed her anyway, but she would have got it off her chest. I do find it a little unbelievable that no one questioned Reece about being trans before he could start the hormones and have surgery.

Recommendations: The Vanishing Half is a heck of a read that will make you think after you read it. The Vanishing Half has a hard look about skin color backed up by a fantastic story. The story flows really well and was hard to stop at certain points. I rated The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett 5 out of 5 stars. I look forward to reading more from Brit Bennett in the future.

Book Review: The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton

The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton is a historical nautical mystery that takes an Agatha Christie plot and adds the devil. The plot has so many twist and turns that all make sense. The novel is a fun who done it, with so many suspects all with murder that will make you head spin. The standouts for me is the plot, however crazy it gets there’s always a plausible reason and character work is so good giving all 20 supporting characters their unique voices who all have their own motives and actions. A quick plot for The Devil and the Dark Water is what if a Sherlock like character was in chains and locked away and his Watson like compatriot who is a sympathetic giant that is more of a bodyguard than a problem solver had to solve a supernatural the crime. This is Stuart Turton’s second novel after the excellent 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle that was best described as Agatha Christie on crack! I rarely buy new books when they first come out, but based on his strong debut I did and I was rewarded with a well thought out who done it. The story did not blow me away like The 7 1/2 deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle did, which was my the number one book I read last year, but this is a great book that is easily in my top ten of this year.

The Plot: Samuel Pipps is the world’s greatest detective in 1634, who has been imprisoned and taken to a ship setting sail for Amsterdam to serve time for his crimes, what ever thy are. Arent Hayes is Samuel’s loyal bodyguard determined to protect him and prove his innocence, but before he can do that he has to stop a devil that boarded the transport ship. A leper warns the people boarding the Saaradam that Old Tom/ The Devil is a board this ship as he burns himself alive. When the leper is seen to they find his tongue had been severed and could not talk. Arent finds people willing to help but never knows who to trust as ghost and phantom boats lead to murder plot.

What I Liked: Really well written characters, both main and side. I was never confused with characters and there is an awful lot of them. The plot is really captivating and dealing with all the elements on a boat which is. character in it’s self. The twist are very layered, I did not guess who the killer or killers was, and was guessing back and forth until it was revealed. That for me is a true sign of a great mystery. Women are written very well and hold there own being very clever at a time when they did not have power. Arent’s character really grew on me and you can’t help but root for him solving the mystery. It’s great to see a big character not dumb who is still a gentle giant but a smart one. The going to the bathroom and what they wiped with on a ship at the time is pretty horrifying. The way the sailors are described – They’re only on this ship because they’d be hanged anywhere else.

What I Disliked: The story was always interesting, but it took a little bit for it to really get going. The after the climax ending felt unfinished, I felt the characters would definitively decide what was going to happen next, it left it mostly closed but there was still a crack that was left unclosed.

Recommendations: Check out the work of Stuart Turton great characters, really clever plot twist, that will have you guessing who done it until the end. The Devil and Dark Water is less confusing than the 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle which was the main criticism for people who did not like it. This book is a lot more accessible and told in a more traditional mystery way than Hardcastle. I rated The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton 5 out of 5 stars. It is a little too soon to call Turton the king of new mystery, but he’s off to a great start I eagerly anticipate his next work. I have rated all his works 5 out of 5 stars.

Book Review: Capturing the Devil by Kerri Maniscalco

Capturing the Devil by Kerri Maniscalco is a gothic young adult novel about romance and capturing the serial killers known as the White City Devil in the late 1800’s. This is the fourth book in the Stalking Jack the Ripper series. The series starts with Stalking Jack the Ripper 1, Hunting Prince Dracula 2, Escaping from Houdini 3, Becoming the Dark Prince 3.5 and Capturing the Devil. This book like other books in the series uses true events and famous people of the time to fit the narrative. In Capturing the Devil she use Chicago’s World’s Fair as a backdrop and features Nikola Tesla and H.H.Holmes. The novel also displays old photos of places, objects, and people to help you imagination. The story is heavy on the relationship of Audrey Rose and Thomas Cresswell taking up the first half of the book. I really like their relationship and how it has evolved over the 4 books, but I wanted at least a couple more scenes of forensic science which drew me to the series at the start. There’s drama and tension (most of it sexual) in the relationship which I did enjoy, maybe I’m greedy but I wanted the relationship with a lot of blood and murder in between. The writing, descriptions, and dialogue were really good and maybe the best of the series. The ending is 60 pages of full of bloody tension and conflict saving everything up until the end. This book made me want to reread The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America by Erik Larson that tells the nonfiction story of the World’s Fair and how the White City Devil came to be.

The Plot: Audrey Rose and Thomas Cresswell have made it to America, but they might have brought from England, a terror that rivals Jack the Ripper, When a corpse is found on the ship that brought them. Audrey and Thomas investigate a body they think could be linked, but what’s on their mind even more is each other. Thomas sent a telegram to Audrey’s dad asking for his daughter’s hand in marriage. Audrey receives an anonymous note that either ties to the murder or the wedding, or maybe both. Will Audrey and Thomas get the happy ending they so deserve? Or will the Devil ruin everything?

What I Liked: The writing has never been better, I was often blown away by the descriptions that belonged in a gothic poem. The love of Audrey Rose and Thomas Cresswell was very rewarding after seeing there little flirts here and there through the series. The wedding vows were especially beautiful I might have to borrow some of those words one day. The ending was super exciting, I liked the dilemma and the choice of action taken. Liza, the cousin, remains my favorite side character and truly missed her when her character was not in the scene. The day before the wedding scene was such an important moment that was written so well. Cresswell’s obsession with cake had me laughing. The book cover, actually the whole series book covers are one of the best. The work and detail on the time period and history and how it fit in with the story.

What I Disliked: The first half of the books dreadful pace, can they finally investigate another murder, in between the love story. I appreciated the attempt to connect the White City Devil and Jack the Ripper, but the White City Devil was so good at covering up his crimes, it almost makes the story boring with series lack of investigations. The end was exciting but the build up was slow.

Recommendations: I really recommend reading this series in order, I think this book would bore a new reader thrust into the relationship of Audrey and Thomas. I’f you have read all the books then this book is a good end to the series where we see characters return from all books and look at something major that happened in the first book in a fresh new way that adds to the mystery of Jack the Ripper. I rated Capturing the Devil by Kerri Maniscalco 3 out of 5 stars. Here’s how I rank the whole series from best to worst Hunting Prince Dracula, Becoming the Dark Prince, Stalking Jack the Ripper, Capturing the Devil, and Escaping from Houdini. I would rate the whole Stalking Jack the Ripper series 4 out of 5.