Book Review: Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte


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Release Date: December 2002
Publisher: W.W. Norton & Company.
Pages: 464.
Find It On: Goodreads. Amazon.

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A wonderful classic novel that I wish I had read sooner!

Wuthering Heights is set in the 19th century in the Yorkshire moors, and follows several generations of the families who live there. It follows the romantic and destructive relationship between Catherine and Heathcliff, the young orphan Catherine’s father adopts. Heathcliff is badly treated by Catherine’s older brother, and departs the Heights, feeling his love for Catherine is not returned. Heathcliff returns many years later and proceeds to extract revenge on all who wronged him in his childhood.

Wuthering Heights is a novel I’ve always wanted to read, I’ve had a copy of the book for a long time and it has lived on my bookshelves for years, but I’ve never gotten around to reading it. I so wish I’d read it earlier, it’s a fantastic, haunting book and really is a great example of classic English literature.

Jane Eyre has been one of my favourite novels since I was a little girl, so I just loved examining the similarities between it and Wuthering Heights, and there are quite a few. Both novels look at things not often talked about in Victorian literature, and the nature of the violent relationships highlighted in Wuthering Heights, was I’m sure quite shocking at the time.

Something that really interested me about the novel is the structure, it’s written in a sort of Russian doll style, with a narrative within a narrative, and I love that you sometimes see the same thing from different viewpoints, because it calls into question the reliability of the narrator, and I do love an unreliable narrator. It’s such a wonderful book, the story is so powerful and it has all the tropes of Gothic and Victorian fiction, it’s a fabulous fabulous book.

Whilst this is my first time reading it, I actually picked it up as a result of a feminism module I’m taking at University, I found it so fascinating to analysis the novel under the concept of feminism, the depicts of domestic violence and the role Isabella Linton plays in the novel – a character which I believe is very overlooked, made it a really fascinating topic. I think one of the interesting things about a novel like Wuthering Heights is that it’s hard to approach it without any preconceived notions of the story. Most people will have seen at least one of the many film and TV adaptations, or perhaps read a retelling of the story or even just have a vague idea of the romantic story of Heathcliff and Catherine. But Wuthering Heights is much more than just a passionate love story, it is brutal, harrowing and destructive and features more revenge, anger and supernatural elements than anything else. This edition also has loads of background information, essays and reviews from the time so if you’re interested in looking at the novel in more detail, this is definitely a great edition for that!

Wuthering Heights has influenced so many popular novels today it is a must read for practically everyone, but if you’re a fan of Gothic fiction, Jane Eyre, or the old unreliable narrator, I urge you to grab this one off the shelf next!

Looking for something similar? Try: Jane Eyre or The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. 

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Book Review: A Monster Calls – Patrick Ness

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Release Date: September 27th 2011
Publisher: Walker Books
Pages: 215.
Find it on: Goodreads. Amazon.

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Think you know what the monster is? Think again…

“The monster showed up at midnight. As they do. But it wasn’t the monster Conor was expecting. He’d been expecting the one from his nightmare. The one he’d had every night since his mother started her treatments, the one with the darkness and the wind and the screaming….”

The monster visits Conor, an ancient, wild monster that comes in the form of a yew tree. He says that Conor called him here. Each night he tells Conor a story, and after the third story, Conor will tell him the truth, the truth Conor does not want to face up to…

This book is very beautiful and moving, and I definitely had to stop for some tissues towards the end! The concept was created by Siobhan Dowd, the young adult author who sadly passed away from cancer. Patrick Ness takes up the mantle, in hope to write a book Siobhan would be proud of. It’s very sad, sweet story about a boy dealing with a really difficult thing. Anyone who has ever had to go through something similar will find the story especially moving. I myself have recently gone through the passing of a loved one and that had a big effect on how much the story touched me. The writing is very poetic and lyrical and it really shows the depths of human grief, how much it can affect you and change you as a person.

A Monster Calls is a book that is somewhat difficult to review, it deals with a subject which is very sensitive, in a very frank and realistic way. It deals with grief and loss and the hardships of losing someone you really care about. It is a truly wonderful book. That being said it definitely wasn’t what I expected. Hearing the name A Monster Calls and seeing the eerie dark cover, I was somewhat surprised as to the contents of the story, but it absolutely blew me away.

One thing I would suggest is that if you decide to read this book, don’t go for a kindle edition – but a physical copy of the book, the illustrations are gorgeous, they’re so beautiful and fit the tone of the book so well, reading it on an e-reader would completely diminish the experience. It is not the most easy of reads, at times it is heart breaking and painful, but it is without a doubt worth your time to read.

It is hard to say much more about A Monster Calls, other than that it is truly wonderful and if you’ve ever dealt with grief or loss in any capacity, buy this book now.

Looking for something similar? Try: This Dark Endeavour or Revolver.

Book Review: Monstrous Beauty – Marie Brennan


Release Date: 28th October 2014
Publisher: Book View Cafe
Pages: 40.
Find It On: Goodreads. Amazon.

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Seven retellings of well-known fairy tales, but with a dark and sinister twist…

Marie Brennan has taken some of the most well known fairy tales – Sleeping Beauty, Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella and several others, and completely turned them on their head:

“Cut out her heart and bring it to me” the queen said, and so the huntsman did.

Now in the cold darkness of the wood, the princess’ mutilated body lies waiting for the wolves. The stench of putrefaction draws scavengers of all kinds. Ants devour the flesh of her lips; birds steal strands of her dark hair;  her pale skin grows sickly and bloated. Ravens peck out her dull. dead eyes.
But others find her before the wolves…’

These are not the Disney versions you know and these dark, spine tingling versions are a perfect read this winter!

I absolutely love fairy tale retellings, I find it so fascinating the many different versions and adaptations that can arise from one single story. I received Monstrous Beauty through a LibraryThing give away and devoured it in a single sitting. Huddled under a blanket with a storm blowing outside, it particularly heightened the dark, sinister qualities of Brennan’s stories.

Each tale is beautifully written, in a flowing poetic tone. I haven’t previously read any of the author’s other work, but discovering at the end that Marie Brennan writes fantasy novels, I am very much looking forward to reading more of her work. The stories are short ones and all follow a similar theme – namely that of the monstrous feminine. The princesses, the sweet innocent characters you know from previous adaptations, are not all that they seem. I studied the theory of the monstrous feminine at University and I really enjoyed Brennan’s use of it here. It was particularly hard to pick my favourite of the set, they are all clever and enjoyable but I particularly enjoyed the Rapunzel adaptation entitled Tower in the Moonlight, and the Beauty and the Beast adaptation – Waiting for Beauty. Waiting for Beauty particularly intrigued me, as it made me feel a deep amount of sympathy for the beast – something you would not always expect with other adaptations.

I also really liked the additional notes on each of the stories, it was particularly interesting to discover how the stories came to be. Again mentioning Tower in the Moonlight, I thought it really fascinating that Brennan came up with this from a memory of static hair having a life of its own in childhood.

I also really love the cover! It’s very eerie looking and adds to that tone of supernatural horror. Monstrous Beauty is a great little read if you’re hiding from this horrible winter weather – but be warned it might leave a chill down your spine!

Looking for something similar? Try: Tear You Apart or Thicker than Blood.

Book Review: Night of Elisa – Isis Sousa

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Release Date: 7th September 2014
Publisher: Tragic Books
Pages: 208.
Find It On: Goodreads. Amazon.

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This beautiful, haunting Gothic novel will leave you desperate for more!

In Duskland, Leonhard takes his nightly stroll through the forest where he comes upon the body of a young woman. Finding her still alive he takes her home, she awakens and remembers nothing of who she is, where she has come from – or even her name. And who are these strange people? The gentleman Leonhard, the mysterious severe Doctor Charles and the Siamese sisters Gerania and Iphigenia.

We soon discover Elisa walks the border between life and death, but with her health slowly deteriorating, she might fight to stop her husband destroying everything she has ever known, and then there’s her feelings for Leonhard, but what can she do when he resides in one world, and she the other?

I absolutely LOVED this book. It definitely isn’t your traditional story, and I cannot wait to read the prequel Isis Sousa is working on. If you’re a fan of gothic fiction, purchase this now! It has all the wonderful traditions of the genre, the damsel in distress, the shadowy realm and beautiful haunting mansion – and of course the dastardly villain who attempts to ruin everything.

The story is told in a very sweeping, elegant way and is very reminiscent of classical Victorian Gothic novels. The story is very captivating it has something for everyone: mystery, intrigue, a touch of the supernatural as well as a beautiful romance aspect. The Night of Elisa is a very unusual book, and one of the things I really loved was the beautiful sketches that are littered throughout the novel. They are wonderful drawn and kept very simple, done in black and white and they very much fit the tone of the novel. Coupled with the gorgeous cover it really adds to that wonderful dark Gothic feel of the story.

I have seen several people mention Tim Burton in reference to The Night of Elisa, and I have to agree. It has a very Tim Burton-esque Corpse Bride feel to it, and being a fan of Burton myself, it really made me want to immerse myself in the story even more. I love the characters, they’re so well written and you start to feel really attached to them. I have so many favourites – the Siamese sisters, Elisa’s aunt Berenice and Marcel to name but a few. So if you’re looking for a lovely, fun, beautiful autumn read, Night of Elisa should definitely be on your list.

Looking for something similar? Try: Soul Ties or What Waits in the Woods. 

Book Review: The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood


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Release Date: March 1996
Publisher: Anchor Books
Pages: 311.
Find It On: Goodreads. Amazon.

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Margaret Atwood’s nightmarish story of a totalitarian future will leave you very unsettled.

In a world where radiation has caused much of the population to become infertile, a totalitarian regime has changed everyone’s way of life. Offred is a handmaid, she is sent to live with a Commander and his wife, in the hope that she will bring them a child. She must endure ritualistic ceremonies and pray that the Commander will make her pregnant. If she produces a healthy child she will be safe, not banished to the colonies and deemed “unwoman.” Littered with flashbacks to “the time before” we see Offred’s past and how much of that is now gone.

I read this book as part of a science fiction module at university, and it blew me away. It’s the sort of book I’m still thinking about and still turning over in my head even though I finished it a while ago. It’s definitely a book everyone should read in their lifetime. The writing is incredible, told in a first person narration style, we get an intimate look at Offred’s life – we do not know her actual name, each handmaid takes the name of their commander Ofglen, Ofwarren. Their lives are controlled down to the minutest detail. One of the interesting things that really struck me about the novel is how believable it all is, this horrifying, nightmare could actually happen – in fact Atwood herself said that she didn’t put anything into the story that had not already happened somewhere in the world. That gives me a shiver down my spine, the idea that our world could so easily be turned upside down. Throughout the book Offred references the past, the small things that change that at first you don’t really bother about, the the loss of jobs for women, the controlling of their money and slowly but surely the complete destruction of the way everything once was.

There are so many interesting characters in this novel. If I had time I would go into immense detail about them all, but I don’t want to spoil the story. I found the Commander and his wife extremely interesting. The Commander who asks Offred to play Scrabble with him and complains that “men have nothing to do.” The hard, unforgiving Serena Joy, the commander’s wife, formerly an activist for women to stay in the home, who unfortunately got her wish and then some. One of my favourites has got to Moira, Offred’s best friend from the time before, we catch snippets of her through the story, and her inherent will to survive is astounding.

The “Historical Notes” which end the novel is a particularly interesting chapter, provided as a lecture in the future, in which a group of scholars are discussing Gilead – though they are not there to judge, simply to uncover the truth behind the regime – is such an ironic, satirical chapter that it definitely adds to Atwood’s wonderful, quirky style. I’ve spoken to a few people who have read other Atwood novels, and they all come highly recommended, I can’t wait to sink my teeth into another one of her wonderful, unusual novels.

Looking for something similar? Try:  The Unit or The Birthday of the World and Other Stories. 

Book Review: The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood


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Release Date: March 1996
Publisher: Anchor Books
Pages: 311.
Find It On: Goodreads. Amazon.

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Margaret Atwood’s nightmarish story of a totalitarian future will leave you very unsettled.

In a world where radiation has caused much of the population to become infertile, a totalitarian regime has changed everyone’s way of life. Offred is a handmaid, she is sent to live with a Commander and his wife, in the hope that she will bring them a child. She must endure ritualistic ceremonies and pray that the Commander will make her pregnant. If she produces a healthy child she will be safe, not banished to the colonies and deemed “unwoman.” Littered with flashbacks to “the time before” we see Offred’s past and how much of that is now gone.

I read this book as part of a science fiction module at university, and it blew me away. It’s the sort of book I’m still thinking about and still turning over in my head even though I finished it a while ago. It’s definitely a book everyone should read in their lifetime. The writing is incredible, told in a first person narration style, we get an intimate look at Offred’s life – we do not know her actual name, each handmaid takes the name of their commander Ofglen, Ofwarren. Their lives are controlled down to the minutest detail. One of the interesting things that really struck me about the novel is how believable it all is, this horrifying, nightmare could actually happen – in fact Atwood herself said that she didn’t put anything into the story that had not already happened somewhere in the world. That gives me a shiver down my spine, the idea that our world could so easily be turned upside down. Throughout the book Offred references the past, the small things that change that at first you don’t really bother about, the the loss of jobs for women, the controlling of their money and slowly but surely the complete destruction of the way everything once was.

There are so many interesting characters in this novel. If I had time I would go into immense detail about them all, but I don’t want to spoil the story. I found the Commander and his wife extremely interesting. The Commander who asks Offred to play Scrabble with him and complains that “men have nothing to do.” The hard, unforgiving Serena Joy, the commander’s wife, formerly an activist for women to stay in the home, who unfortunately got her wish and then some. One of my favourites has got to Moira, Offred’s best friend from the time before, we catch snippets of her through the story, and her inherent will to survive is astounding.

The “Historical Notes” which end the novel is a particularly interesting chapter, provided as a lecture in the future, in which a group of scholars are discussing Gilead – though they are not there to judge, simply to uncover the truth behind the regime – is such an ironic, satirical chapter that it definitely adds to Atwood’s wonderful, quirky style. I’ve spoken to a few people who have read other Atwood novels, and they all come highly recommended, I can’t wait to sink my teeth into another one of her wonderful, unusual novels.

Looking for something similar? Try:  The Unit or The Birthday of the World and Other Stories. 

Book Review: The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood


38447
Release Date: March 1996
Publisher: Anchor Books
Pages: 311.
Find It On: Goodreads. Amazon.

the-star_318-1604the-star_318-1604the-star_318-1604the-star_318-1604

Margaret Atwood’s nightmarish story of a totalitarian future will leave you very unsettled.

In a world where radiation has caused much of the population to become infertile, a totalitarian regime has changed everyone’s way of life. Offred is a handmaid, she is sent to live with a Commander and his wife, in the hope that she will bring them a child. She must endure ritualistic ceremonies and pray that the Commander will make her pregnant. If she produces a healthy child she will be safe, not banished to the colonies and deemed “unwoman.” Littered with flashbacks to “the time before” we see Offred’s past and how much of that is now gone.

I read this book as part of a science fiction module at university, and it blew me away. It’s the sort of book I’m still thinking about and still turning over in my head even though I finished it a while ago. It’s definitely a book everyone should read in their lifetime. The writing is incredible, told in a first person narration style, we get an intimate look at Offred’s life – we do not know her actual name, each handmaid takes the name of their commander Ofglen, Ofwarren. Their lives are controlled down to the minutest detail. One of the interesting things that really struck me about the novel is how believable it all is, this horrifying, nightmare could actually happen – in fact Atwood herself said that she didn’t put anything into the story that had not already happened somewhere in the world. That gives me a shiver down my spine, the idea that our world could so easily be turned upside down. Throughout the book Offred references the past, the small things that change that at first you don’t really bother about, the the loss of jobs for women, the controlling of their money and slowly but surely the complete destruction of the way everything once was.

There are so many interesting characters in this novel. If I had time I would go into immense detail about them all, but I don’t want to spoil the story. I found the Commander and his wife extremely interesting. The Commander who asks Offred to play Scrabble with him and complains that “men have nothing to do.” The hard, unforgiving Serena Joy, the commander’s wife, formerly an activist for women to stay in the home, who unfortunately got her wish and then some. One of my favourites has got to Moira, Offred’s best friend from the time before, we catch snippets of her through the story, and her inherent will to survive is astounding.

The “Historical Notes” which end the novel is a particularly interesting chapter, provided as a lecture in the future, in which a group of scholars are discussing Gilead – though they are not there to judge, simply to uncover the truth behind the regime – is such an ironic, satirical chapter that it definitely adds to Atwood’s wonderful, quirky style. I’ve spoken to a few people who have read other Atwood novels, and they all come highly recommended, I can’t wait to sink my teeth into another one of her wonderful, unusual novels.

Looking for something similar? Try:  The Unit or The Birthday of the World and Other Stories.