One last update: the poll ends tomorrow, so if you haven’t voted but want to–please do! 🙂
Updated: I just realized that if you read this post in the wordpress reader, you won’t see the poll. 😦 Please visit my blog to see the poll. (That sounded desperate. Did that sound desperate? Oh, goodness! 😉 )
So, “paranormal” was voted as the genre. I think Halloween is on everyone’s mind! 👻🎃🍬🧛 Continue reading
I’m early this week! Yippee! Thank you as always to Rochelle for hosting Friday Fictioneers!
Since “paranormal” seems to be winning in my NaNoWriMo poll (see here), I thought I’d better start practicing.
Me afraid? Just because it’s Halloween, pitch-black, and the wind slides leaves like skeletal feet on concrete, and I’m alone in the haunted castle? Noooooo. Continue reading
Henry Holt and Co.
February 7, 2017
Blurb from Goodreads: On the family homestead by the sea where she grew up, Martha Mary saw ghosts. As a young woman, she hopes to distance herself from those spirits by escaping to an inland college town. There, she is absorbed by a budding romance, relieved by separation from an unstable sister, and disinterested in the flyers seeking information about a young woman who’s disappeared—until one Indian summer afternoon when the missing woman appears beneath Martha’s apartment window, wearing a down coat, her hair coated with ice.
SASCHA DARLINGTON’S REVIEW
After reading the blurb and having a fascination with paranormal stories, I was definitely coming to The Clairvoyants expecting something different from what I received, but that doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing, does it?
There is something dreamlike about the way in which Karen Brown has conveyed this story, a feeling of timelessness. As I was reading, I felt an old-fashioned quality rise, from the use of “old” names like Martha and Delores to the gatherings at Anne’s, where artists and intellectuals met for drinks, and even the drinks were “old” drinks for young people in their late teens and early twenties, martinis, g&ts.
The writing is almost lulling, weaving in facts, alluding to events, hinting. The reader automatically trusts this first person narrator, Martha Mary. She seems misunderstood by her mother and older sisters and she finds it necessary to hide away her “gift” for fear that she will be sent to an asylum like her younger sister, Del.
Martha falls under the spell of a photography instructor who is as obsessed with his photography as Martha is with hers. But she was first led to him by the ghost of Mary Rae.
The magic for me in Brown’s storytelling is likening it to a chunk of alabaster that is being sculpted until the truth remains or at least some understanding of the truth. However, the reader also needs to question the information provided because everything becomes entwined.
While not every detail of the ending is provided on a silver platter for the reader, if they have been paying attention to the way in which Brown provides information, they have a pretty good idea as to what’s happened to whom. I liked the subtlety.
If you like your literary fiction with a taste of mystery and supernatural, I highly recommend The Clairvoyants.
I won an ARC through LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers program in exchange for an honest review.
From Amazon: The Clairvoyants
rating: (4 butterflies and a ladybug)
Lil watches as Brian the tech guy for PN Associates sets up electronic equipment throughout her townhouse. Lots of wires, tiny boxes, scopes that look like cameras, microphone, the words smoke and mirrors come to mind.
Josh has a canister of salt and she eyes him, skeptically. “Are you going to cook?” she asks.
“Purification circle. Do you mind if I pour some in a circle on your vinyl floor?” he asks.
She shrugs. “Knock yourself out.” Mumbo jumbo is another phrase that pops into her mind. But maybe with all of this she’ll sleep better. Five nights without sleep was definitely catching up with her.
He explains to her that the purification circle will keep the evil entity from harming them as they try to banish it.
Brenda has walked through every room in the house, making verbal notes into her phone. She arrives in the kitchen and watches Josh pour the salt in a circle.
Arturo arrives with pillar candles that he places at four directional spots slightly within the circle. Lil watches as he lights them and then wonders how easy it is to get candle wax up from vinyl. All of the electronics just seem so crazily disparate from the candles and salt. Perhaps there’ll be a priest and an exorcism next.
“I thought ghosts stay in the place where they died,” Lil says.
Brenda shakes her head. “That’s a popular misconception. Many do stay because they’re confused. Many evil spirits tend to move. They’re not so confused.”
Lil nods as if this all makes perfect sense. Nothing makes sense. None of this. She is a pragmatic person. No spirituality. If you can’t see it, it doesn’t exist. Well, of course, she could see the image of Jess. That was no comfort.
Josh gestures for Lil and Brenda to enter the circle with him. Arturo joins Brian to monitor the equipment.
“Lil, I’m going to start talking to you like I did at our offices. I want you to just speak honestly and let whatever emotions you feel come through. This is what we’re working with. The spirit is feeding off of your negative emotions kind of like a succubus.”
“S-u-c-c-u-b-u-s. A being that feeds off of emotions.”
Lil stands next to Josh, her arms wrapped around her torso. Suddenly she feels nervous. Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea. It feels definitely creepy. Dusk has fallen and the wind’s picked up. The dogwood branch in front scratches her bay window.
“Lil, what happened to Jess?”
“My Uncle killed her.”
“He didn’t want us there. He called us leeches. He killed my Aunt. My mother’s sister.”
“Why wasn’t he in prison?”
“The police couldn’t prove it. They never found her body. Jess and I think he threw her body over the Corgan Bridge and that the river took it out to sea.”
“Did you say anything to the police?”
The flames on the candles sway rapidly and Lil feels a cold draft swish across her face. Her eyes widen at Josh who merely continues to stare at her. He nods. He points to his eyes as if to tell her to just focus on him. Brenda starts to chant something. It sounds like Latin, but Lil wouldn’t really know Latin from Greek or Aramaic or pig Latin, for that matter.
The lights flicker out and then the candles hiss into darkness. Josh grabs Lil’s hand. Brian yells and then there’s a loud thump as though someone has been thrown against a wall. If Lil were the screaming type, she would be doing that now.
“I’m okay,” Brian yells.
Brenda continues to chant. Nothing happens for several moments and then Arturo appears with a battery-operated lantern.
“Weirdest damn thing, Josh,” Arturo says. “I don’t think it’s a single entity.”
“My readings showed two energy surges from different parts of the house.”
The lights come back on. Lil supposes that Brian must have flipped the breaker. She tries to focus on what Arturo’s saying, but it’s nonsense to her. She glances down at the salt circle, notices that it’s been rubbed away.
“I thought the circle was supposed to be impenetrable.”
They all glance from the break in the salt to the black hand print shadowed with red next to Brenda’s boot.
“I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore,” Brian says.
Publisher: Kensington Books
Publication Date: August 30, 2016
In The Form of Things Unknown, Natalie has just returned home after being in a mental health facility due to a psychotic reaction after her now ex-boyfriend, Caleb, gave her ecstasy. But it’s not really her home that she’s returned to, but the home of her Grandmother who is having schizophrenic episodes after the death of her husband. It’s like walking on eggshells for Natalie and her parents and she almost happily accepts being coerced by her brother, David, into trying out for a part in a summer theater’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
On the day of auditions, she sees Lucas, a boy she recognizes from the mental health facility. He doesn’t seem happy to see her and she doesn’t even know if he recognizes her.
She makes friends with some of the girls, gets a role in the play, but then things begin to unravel when she thinks that the theater might be haunted, or her episodes are returning.
The Form of Things Unknown is a gripping novel delving into relationships and mental health issues. Natalie’s situation is intensified by the fact that her Grandmother is on a mental roller coaster and it makes Natalie wonder if this is how she’ll one day be. The plot is handled with great sensitivity by Robin Bridges who is also a nurse as well as a writer.
The character of Natalie is quite well-done. You can feel her fear and her confusion. She doesn’t always know the right thing to do, but then she’s a teenager. She’s likeable.
This is a novel that you pick up and want to read in one sitting. It’s tremendously absorbing.
I both loved bits and hated bits (hate is probably too strong of a word; we’ll say: didn’t feel satified with) of the ending quarter of the novel and that’s why I’ve dropped a half of a star in this review. It’s nevertheless very much worth reading.
The Form of Things Unknown is on sale today!
I received an ARC from NetGalley and Kensington Books in exchange for an honest review.
From Amazon: The Form of Things Unknown