Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Black Swan rising - Lee Carroll

Black Swan Rising (Black Swan Rising #1)Black Swan Rising by Lee Carroll

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I read this book as part of the Transworld book club reading challenge 2011.

I picked this title even though its not normally a genre I'd choose, as I thought it would be more of a challenge than reading 4 books I'd have chosen anyway. Hmm maybe that was a big mistake.

I guess this is what you'd call "urban fantasy" Its about a young woman who lives in New York, designs and makes jewellery for a living (I thought that might give me some common ground as I make jewellery) Her mother died when she was young and her elderly father has got them into debt with some unwise art dealing. She comes across a strange shop where the owner knows of her work and asks her to help open a jewellery box which has been sealed shut.

She later returns home to discover her father has been shot during a robbery. Then weird things begin to happen beginning with her being attacked by a Manticore and rescued by a vampire ....

It goes rapidly downhill from here stretching even my vivid imagination way too far. I found the characters 2 dimensional the dialogue wooden, the coincidences beyond belief and the supernatural element - just plain bonkers as though the authors sole intent was to cram as many mythical creatures in together without any real thought for a credible storyline.

I'm not anti fairy tales - Stardust was one of my favourite reads of all time and young adult fantasy is great when its well done, The Hunger Games and Lirael are amazing books which I adored.

But I'm afraid I fail to see any merit in this turgid, banal story with a heroine who made me want to slap her.

Sorry Transworld that I can't put a more positive spin on this book as I loved the first 2 I read for this challenge, I'm sure there are hundreds of urban fantasy fans who will relish this, its just a challenge too far for me though.

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Sunday, 2 October 2011

The Hangman in the mirror by Kate Cayley

The Hangman in the MirrorThe Hangman in the Mirror by Kate Cayley

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I read this book courtesy of Netgalley. I found it an enjoyable and fast paced read, nice and atmospheric and all the more enjoyable for being based on true facts. However it has some flaws too.

It would probably appeal to young adult readers as our heroine is feisty 15 year old Francoise, who lives in poverty in the mid 18th century in Montreal where French settlers struggle to make an honest living.

Francoise in the only surviving child of feckless parents, her ex-soldier father with a love for gambling (but little talent for winning) and her slatternly laundress mother with a fondness for a drop too much alcohol.

The young woman is keen to better herself but unprepared by her parents sees little opportunity to make something of herself, until tragedy strikes and leaves her orphaned and penniless. Deciding to use her wits and her love of words and stories to escape drudgery she manages to become a ladies maid but things still don't go smoothly and she ends up in a worse pickle than she starts in.

This is a nicely written tale but my main gripe is that the main description given by the publishers virtually tell the whole story, as does the title, the part where she has to try and marry the hangman is practically at the end of the book and knowing about it in advance kind of spoilt the story for me. It left little to discover and no mystery. I would have preferred to have been given less information beforehand.

It is extremely predictable too and the only thing which is built up as a kind of mystery is the identity of the would be hangman which is so obvious its almost laughable.

Nevertheless its a nice enough read and pretty well written, reminiscent of books by Mary Hooper, Melanie Gifford and perhaps Libba Bray.

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