books

Five books to read if you loved ‘Pride and Prejudice and Zombies’

Five books to read if you loved 'Pride and Prejudice and Zombies'

I’ve loved Pride and Prejudice for years. I love books and movies with zombies. So obviously, when I found Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, I fell in love! If you’ve already read the book and saw the movie this weekend, and are now looking for other titles in a similar vein, here are five of my picks you might enjoy:

Mr. Darcy, Vampyre, by Amanda Grange. What if Elizabeth Bennett’s beloved wasn’t quite the dashing gentleman she imagined him to be?

Phoenix Rising (The Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences #1), by Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris. Corsets, check. Feisty heroines, check. Unabashed fun, check.

Illuminae, by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. Not gonna lie, the ending wasn’t as tear-jerking as I hoped. But this was still an awesome book about (get ready) rage zombies in outer space.

The Zombie Survival Guide, by Max Brooks. You didn’t think this would not be on the list, did you?

Death Comes to Pemberley, by P.D. James. Not of the undead kind, unfortunately—just regular murder—but this is still a fun re-imagining of life with the Darcys. Also a PBS miniseries, if you’d rather watch it than read it.

Have you read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, or seen the movie? What did you think? Any similar titles you’d recommend to me? (If you haven’t read the book yet, make sure to enter my giveaway over here!)

Top Ten Tuesday: historical and futuristic settings I love

Top Ten Tuesday: historical and futuristic settings I loveIt’s time once again for Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish! This week we’re discussing the historical and futuristic settings we love best. I love both genres but lately I’ve read lots of dystopia, since it seems to be a popular genre of late and I do really like sci-fi. Here are ten books with historical and futuristic settings that I’ve really loved, broken down book by book.

Outlander, by Diana Gabaldon. Well, it’s historical fiction, time travel, adventure, mystery, and romance, all rolled into one, so it touches multiple bases in my genre-reading category. But I really enjoy seeing historical events through the eyes of a modern woman (Claire). She’s feisty and outspoken and constantly gets into trouble for her big mouth.

The Knife of Never Letting Go, by Patrick Ness. I always find it interesting to read about a futuristic society without realizing it—that is, you don’t start to get hints of a sci-fi story until several chapters in. Some sci-fi authors seems to feel the need to hit you over the head with the sci-fi elements so I appreciate subtlety.

Lock In, by John Scalzi. This book blew me away with the writing. I’ve read very few sci-fi books that so subtly slip in details and background and manage to weave such a complex story without confusing you or resorting to info dumps. Supposedly this was the start of a series but I haven’t seen any updates on further installments.

The Map of Time and The Map of the Sky, by Felix J. Palma. Historical sci-fi is so awesome and yet so rare (at least to my knowledge). These books feature H.G. Wells as a protagonist in Victorian London, and yet they deal with sci-fi elements like time travel and alien invasions. I can’t explain how awesome they are, you just need to read them. I just found out that The Map of Chaos was published recently and now I can’t wait to read it and see how the trilogy wraps up!

Best historical and futuristic settings in books

Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel, and The Martian Chronicles, by Ray Bradbury. Sci-fi, dystopia, and other futuristic books can sometimes feel mechanical or too formulaic, so I always appreciate finding a futuristic tale that’s beautifully written. Both of these books look at a post-apocalyptic human future, though one focuses on earth and one is set in outer space. The writing is lyrical and the pacing just perfect. I will definitely re-read these books in the future.

In the Land of Armadillos, by Helen Maryles Shankman and The Snow Child, by Eowyn Ivey. One is a collection of interwoven short stories set in World War II-era Poland, the other is a novel set in Alaska during the time of settlers, gold rushes, and new frontiers. Both blend historical fact with fiction and a healthy dose of magical realism, for a result unlike anything else I’ve encountered.

Abandon, by Blake Crouch. I love it when an author takes a historical mystery and makes up their own story for it. This one had a really creepy bent to it that made it perfect for horror novel lovers as well.

So what historical and futuristic settings do you love best? Do you prefer historical fiction or futuristic stories? Are futuristic stories that aren’t super sci-fi cool or do you prefer lots of otherworldly tech and dystopia? What about historical stories—do you like lots of period details, or do you like it when the author uses their imagination?

Books review: The Black Tongue (or, where is the disquiet genre when you need it?)

The Black Tongue, by Marko HautalaThe Black Tongue, by Marko Hautala (paperback, 314 pages). Four stars out of five. Thank you to NetGalley for the review copy!

The Black Tongue is a weird book. While Goodreads lists it as “horror/suspense/mystery”, and it does have elements similar to the Nordic crime novels I so love, it doesn’t fit neatly into a genre box. It has some elements of horror, and at times feels similar to the unreality of Night Film (an excellent book, by the way) or the TV show Fringe. In a way I think a good subgenre for this book would be “disquiet”, because many pieces of the book are not so out-and-out horrifying as they are deeply unsettling.

This is largely due to Hautala’s gift for invoking a sense of atmosphere. You can smell the sea and envision the creepy old house where Maisa experiences her terror. The story jumps around through three different time periods and multiple characters, but the underlying sense that something is not quite right is pervasive, running like a wrong thread through the background of these POVs. It’s a very tightly written novel that’s very hard to put down. As I read it I constantly thought of what a dark, dramatic movie it would make, with some excellent cinematography and lighting to bring out the creepier scenes in the book.

What lessened my enjoyment of this book was the simple fact that it ended with very little resolution for the characters, and to be honest, I’m not entirely sure what the story was supposed to mean. It begins with an urban legend—Granny Hatchet, the boogeyman of this small Finnish town by the sea—but spools off in other directions, teasing with other elements that may or may not tie into the legend.

I suppose you could say that Granny, like the legend of the Loch Ness Monster (referenced in the book), is created as a way to scare the local residents into silence. Or perhaps she’s the result of rumors and gossip surrounding a mentally ill old woman, and after so many years she’s just a convenient cover that someone else is using for their own purposes.

Or perhaps Hautala is trying to say something else entirely: his story has echoes of the Brothers Grimm—famous for imparting moral lessons through their stories—and perhaps here the moral behind Granny Hatchet is: don’t ask questions, don’t seek answers, just keep your head down and follow the established routine. The older generation is trying to prevent too much change in the younger generation, even as they fail: communism falls out of fashion, leaving people like Samuel’s dad without a crutch, and new floods of immigrants to the country bring with them new ways and new ideas.

But these are all just ideas, because honestly, I’m not really sure what to make of the book. On top of the diverging story lines, it’s not always clear if the characters involved are entirely mentally present, or if they’re experiencing psychological breakdowns that lead to hallucinations, paranoia and other disconnects from reality. Is it possible Granny Hatchet really exists, and the novel is a sort of magical realism turned dark? Or are the characters taking the urban legend a little too far?

Overall, this was a great book, very dark and spooky—I just wish it had a more conclusive ending. I know sometimes art is supposed to provoke questions, not provide answers, and this book definitely gets stuck in your head for days on end. Maybe later on I’ll have an epiphany and decode the message within. In the meantime, I still enjoyed it, even if it felt a little murky at times; but if you enjoy a more clear-cut horror story, you’ll probably be left frustrated at the end as you try to decipher what it all means.