Fantasy · YA

Jane, Unlimited – Kristin Cashore

3 Stars

I picked Jane, Unlimited up from the library on a whim the other day, after seeing a description and the cover in a Facebook group I’m active in.

Jane
Cover from Goodreads

The metallic cover was intriguing and I am sometimes a sucker for a pretty cover. The description was also interesting:

If you could change your story, would you?

Jane has lived a mostly ordinary life, raised by her recently deceased aunt Magnolia, whom she counted on to turn life into an adventure. Without Aunt Magnolia, Jane is directionless. Then an old acquaintance, the glamorous and capricious Kiran Thrash, blows back into Jane’s life and invites her to a gala at the Thrashes’ extravagant island mansion called Tu Reviens. Jane remembers her aunt telling her: “If anyone ever invites you to Tu Reviens, promise me that you’ll go.”

What Jane doesn’t know is that at Tu Reviens her story will change; the house will offer her five choices that could ultimately determine the course of her untethered life. But every choice comes with a price. She might fall in love, she might lose her life, she might come face-to-face with herself. At Tu Reviens, anything is possible.

Jane, Unlimited was quite a strange book. I got very serious Rebecca vibes from the book – which Cashore reinforced in her afterword where she explains that she was inspired by Du Maurier’s Rebecca. It would make sense then, that I wouldn’t enjoy Jane, Unlimited much, since I HATED Rebecca when I had to read it in high school.

I also struggled with the structure of the book. Cashore starts by building a story with many threads and mysteries swirling around and then abruptly things get weird. It’s as though Cashore couldn’t figure out how to weave all her various storylines together, so instead of writing one cohesive ending, she wrote five – each ending more absurd than the last. This made for somewhat dull reading. Each new ending started at the same moment the others did and therefore was fairly repetitive. For cohesion, some details and events remained the same throughout each ending which was pretty boring.

Ultimately, I loved the fifth and final ending, even though it was very nearly the most absurd of them all (though #4 sure gives it a run for its’ money.) I could have read an entire book based just on the fifth ending and done without all the rest of the book.

Jane, Unlimited hit shelves on September 19, 2017. If you check it out, let me know what you think!

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Horror

Deadlands: Boneyard – Seanan McGuire

3 stars

I received an eARC of this book in exchange for my honest review from NetGalley. 

I will be totally honest and say that Deadlands: Boneyard is not my cup of tea. I am not familiar with the Deadlands RPG system that the books are based around, but I don’t think that affected my overall enjoyment of the book.

The publisher’s blurb on NetGalley:

Step right up to see the oddities and marvels of The Blackstone Family Circus and Travelling Wonder Show! Gasp at pit wasps the size of a man’s forearm. Beware the pumpkin-headed corn stalker, lest it plant its roots in you!

Annie Pearl is the keeper of oddities, the mistress of monsters. Her unique collection of creatures is one of the circus’s star attractions, drawing wide-eyed crowds at every small frontier town they visit. But Annie is also a woman running from her past . . . and the mother of a mute young daughter, Adeline, whom she will do anything to protect.

Hoping to fill its coffers before winter sets in, the circus steers its wagons to The Clearing, a remote community deep in the Oregon wilderness, surrounded by an ominous dark wood. Word is that a travelling show can turn a tidy profit at The Clearing, but there are whispers, too, of unexplained disappearances that afflict one out of every four shows that pass through the town.

The Clearing has it secrets, and so does Annie. And it may take everything she has to save her daughter—and the circus—from both.

McGuire does weird well, and she seamlessly blends circuses, mad scientists, steampunk, and the wild, wild wilderness in Oregon. She builds a cohesive world and interesting characters. My issue is the plot.

There are no holes, dangling threads but boy is it slow to start. I’ve read a lot of McGuire’s writing (just about everything I can get my hands on) and a slow start isn’t atypical for her, but Deadlands: Boneyard was the first where I struggled with the slow start. McGuire spends the first four chapters of the book just setting the scene. It isn’t until part of the way through the fourth chapter does the plot start to finally take shape. Once it gets going, she builds and maintains tension with skill making Deadlands: Boneyard a perfect October, pre-Halloween read.

McGuire’s writing is lyrical and descriptive, though she does sometimes get lost in metaphorical descriptions it does make for a nice turn of phrase.

If the wild, weird West is your kind of thing, Deadlands: Boneyard will be your kind of book.

Deadlands: Boneyard is a novel set in the Deadlands RPG universe and hits shelves October 17, 2017 – today!