Dark Spring. I read this book and write this review as someone who longs to see that which I’ve never seen in nearly 40 years of existence on this Earth – the Milky Way as the Ancients did. Here, Eklof makes a case as to why the light pollution that is so prevalent in so many areas of the world needs to be treated just as seriously as any other form of human-made pollution. Indeed, at least in his claims, this is as strong a book against light pollution as Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring was all those years ago.
HOWEVER, where Eklof fails a fair degree – and the reason for the star deduction here – is that while he makes a lot of strong claims, there is scant documentation of these claims – coming in at just 15% or so of the text here, when more fully documented books come in closer to 20% – 30%, and books that are particularly well documented can reach 50% or so of the overall text.
Still, as a sort of primer to these issues for those who may not be aware of them already, this is a strong book that will allow for further research after reading it. Very much recommended.
This review of The Darkness Manifesto by Johan Eklof was originally written on October 25, 2022.
Dark. Real. Short. This book is interesting in that it has almost two separate storylines entirely, using at least some of the same characters… and then… stuff happens.
The one storyline is a genuine romance, where our lead is troubled by accusations from her recent past but is trying to move on both professionally and personally. This storyline is dark, but meets every “rule” of the “romance genre”. It is also very *real*, almost viscerally so, in how it portrays and handles the particular situation.
Sadly, the other storyline, where someone else is simply troubled and which leads to the accusations in question (yes, this is a slight dual-timeline approach), is *so much darker*, with violent fantasies of both shooting people and raping people. (To be clear, little is ever shown “on screen” other than the character discussing a *desire* to do these things. That alone could be too disturbing for some readers though, so worthy of noting.) But here again, Banks does a truly phenomenal job of making this character and storyline so very *real*, even as this particular character is truly so *dark* and disturbed.
That Banks manages to create such divergent storylines, using some of the same characters, and manages to do so in such a short amount of space (clocking in at not far over 200 pages), *and then manages to combine them so superbly*… this is a master storyteller at work, yall. Very much recommended.
This review of Everything We Never Said by Sarah Banks was originally written on February 10, 2023.
This week we’re looking at a dense, dark, and disturbing Southern Gothic tale from a debut writer who clearly has a strong career ahead of him. This week we’re looking at The Cicada Tree by Robert Gwaltney.
Dense, Dark, And Disturbing Southern Gothic. Gwaltney here manages to craft a Southern Gothic tale that will give fans of the genre chills. The world as seen through the eyes of 3rd grader Analiese… well, who knew that the third grade schoolyard could be so reminiscent of the corporate boardroom and its constant behind the scenes power plays? The back third is where the book gets particularly disturbing, as a massive brood of cicadas emerges to devastating effect right as the events of the last several weeks in Analiese’s life begin to come to a head. The finale will disturb many for its revelations, and for those that like perfectly tied up endings… be prepared, you don’t get that here. Which actually speaks to just how well Gwaltney commands his genre here. Indeed, the one knock I have on this book is just how very *dense* it is. It is supposedly around 300 pages, but reads as though it were twice as long. Still, the tale is intriguing enough that you’re going to want to stay in and see just what happens next, and Gwaltney here truly does show great prowess as a storyteller. Very much recommended.
For this blog tour, we’re looking at a solid Halloween themed, Urban Legend backed mystery/ drama. For this blog tour, we’re looking at The Mother Next Door by Tara Laskowski.
Here’s what I had to say about it on Goodreads:
Halloween-Themed Mystery/Drama With An Urban Legend – And A Punisher Scene. In the early 2000s, pre-MCU version of The Punisher – the one with Thomas Jane as Frank Castle/ The Punisher and also featuring John Travolta and Will Patton – I’ve always LOVED the scene in the finale where Castle tells Travolta’s character “I made you kill your wife. I made you kill your best friend. And now I’ve killed you.”. This book actually has elements that played out there within it as well, and this book actually works the drama and even action in those sequences much better than even that movie pulled off. (Though in its defense, in that movie the scene in question is just a plot point in service of the actual story, and here the story ultimately revolves around this scene.) To my mind, all of the above is obscure enough that I haven’t actually gone into spoiler territory here, so let’s move on.
This is a tale where several characters are at play, but we only ever really hear from three of them – the newbie, the Queen Bee of the resident Mean Girls (in this particular case, the mothers who effectively run the school’s PTA board), and a mysterious “other”… who seems intent on killing someone on Halloween night. It mostly takes place in the leadup to that night, where we see that not all is as it seems on Ivy Lane, and that, in the words of Tony Stark (when referencing Nick Fury in The Avengers), her “secrets have secrets”. Which goes for most every “her” here, particularly the three we actually hear from.
Arguably the one knock here is that male characters are almost non-existent and pretty damn one dimensional, but eh, this is fairly common across the genre, particularly when written by females. Finding an author that actually does opposite-sex characters well in this genre is a bit difficult at times, so it is more easily excused – for better or worse- as simply the way things (currently) are when this occurs.
Beyond this quibble though, this is a strong enough book, and spooky/ creepy enough that it absolutely fits right in with the Halloween vibe and its release is thus perfectly timed in mid-October. Definetly not a classic “monster tale”, but if you prefer your monsters of the more human variety… this may be up your alley. (Though to be fair, there is nothing *overly* horrific here. Though there are absolutely some very bad people here.) Very much recommended.
Below the jump, an excerpt (that if I remember correctly is the entire prologue) followed by the “publisher details” – including basic publishing data, book description, author bio, author web/ social media links, and links to buy the book.
Continue reading “#BlogTour: The Mother Next Door by Tara Laskowski”