Review of “Malice”

In recent years, paranormal books have filled the shelves of bookstores and libraries, and the excerpt for Malice by Lisa Jackson led me to question whether it would be another one of those books. Having finished this chilling and gripping book,I am passed to report that it is not just another paranormal book. In fact, it is all the more gripping and chilling due to how utterly earthly it was.

The questions this book raises center largely on the quest for answers Rick Bentz embarks on, and the discretion needed to determine whether or not his mind is fooling him and the reader both. Instead of the paranormal book I thought I was reading, this book classifies fully as a psychological thriller, drawing out the reader’s tension right until the very last pages. Lisa Jackson is a genius in her genre and this novel is decidedly well written.

For those who are easily spooked, our dislike crude language and sexual references, this may not be the book for you. Likewise, if you’re looking for a light read, you might want to reconsider your choice, as this is a murder mystery, and forces the reader to wrestle through the same problems Bentz is dealing with. However, if you enjoy a spooky, sexy, and thrilling novel, I highly recommend this book for you.

Review of “Casual Vacancy”

For those readers who grew up reading J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, switching away from her world of magic and adolescence to the small town world of Pagford is like hearing your favorite band from high school’s new album- the voice is the same, but it’s grown up. The issues Rowling portrayed through her latest novel proved to be a far cry from any Harry and his friends faced, which is why I suspect so many people have negatively commented on this book.

Although initially slow, the plot revolved neatly on the vacancy left by Barry Fairweather, picking up pace as Rowling pushed through the stories of the adults and the adolescents in Pagford. The power struggle is gripping, and the story rapidly pulls the reader in, emotionally and mentally and demands a response.

Layering the plot with class struggle, marital problems, the angst and trouble of teenagers, domestic abuse, and the basest of humanity’s qualities, Rowling somehow manages to tie it all off with a bittersweet ending. This novel was deliciously familiar and a literary piece of genius (as always), but not appropriate for younger teens or children.

Review of “The City of Dark Magic”

One of the occupational hazards of being a history major is the tendancy to read books critically, appraising the content, if there is an argument, how effective the argument was, and whether it was a good book. When my semester ends, the urge to review, and write on them, doesn’t stop. A friend suggested that I should actually write out my reviews, so here is the first of them. If you plan on reading the book, I warn you that this review contains spoilers.

Like it’s title, The City of Dark Magic, centers on one of the European cities that is steeped in superstitions, bloodshed and history- Prague. Sarah, a PhD. student, is invited to come and work in Prague for the summer, in the wake of her mentor and adviser’s death, on preparing a collection of Beethoven’s works for a museum display. She is told on her arrival that her deceased mentor commuted suicide, and that he was a drug addict, but this doesn’t ring true for her, and she goes about her work in an attempt to solve this mystery.

As a history major who will be seeking a Masters in Museum Studies, I find myself a little skeptically of her ability to prepare an exhibit, which seems to be her secondary work, as Sarah gets caught up in the plot. Professionals are trained to do this, and yet she walks in and innately knows the process? It took an entire summer of Internship to learn the process of acquisitioning and storage, and I wasn’t even trained in display set up.

That aside, the plot thickens as she falls in love with the prince, makes friends with some of her coworkers, and more murders are committed. A US Senator turns out to be involved in the intrigues, the prince’s cousin is determined to take over the family holdings, and another academic is murdered, and framed as suicide. It was fascinating and gripping, blending science with myth and history, as each of her questions are answered, and new questions, not to mention murderer attempts, occur.

Despite the mysteries each being solved, justice being brought around, and the museum opening, the ending lacked certain elements of closure. There were certain elements throughout the book, as well, which could have been left out, such as Sarah’s sex life (though it was almost always written with taste), and the language could have been toned down a hint.

Overall, I would rate this book with a four and a half out of five. It was thrilling, and I had trouble putting it down, but there were some things which didn’t necessarily sit well with me. Continue reading