Review: Quinsey Wolfe’s Glass Vault by Candace Robinson

quinseywolfesglassvaultQuinsey Wolfe’s Glass Vault by Candace Robinson

My Rating: 3.5/5 TARDISes

Series: Glass Vault #1

Date Published: May 16th, 2017

Publisher: CreateSpace

Pages: 242 pages

Source: Publisher

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Synopsis: Some see it… Some don’t…

 People in the town of Deer Park, Texas are vanishing. There is a strange museum, known as Quinsey Wolfe’s Glass Vault, that appears overnight. Perrie Madeline’s best friend and ex-boyfriend are among the missing. Perrie, along with her friend August, go on a pursuit to search for them in the mysterious museum. Could the elusive Quinsey Wolfe’s Glass Vault have anything to do with their disappearances? 

A book that intertwines horror elements and retellings, with humor and darkness.

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*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

This is a spoiler-free review.

I tend to frequently gravitate towards retellings or reimaginings of well-known stories that have a bit of a twist into horror and darkness—and this is definitely one of those novels. Just as the museum itself proclaims, this story is not for the faint of heart. We follow characters who are falling into the gruesome and gritty parts of dreadful worlds, based in both reality and fiction. Though, as I said, this book may not be for those on the squeamish side, it takes those who are not “faint of heart” on a macabre adventure through multiple retellings.

In this novel, we follow a young woman named Perrie Madeline as she is thrown into a dark realm of nightmares come to life, in her efforts to rescue those she cares about. The town of Deer Park, Texas is being plagued by a string of inexplicable disappearances that leave absolutely no traces of the victims or potential leads to follow. These mysterious occurrences seem to center around a museum that appears overnight—in fact, it appears and disappears at the most random, and sometimes inopportune, moments.

It came out of nowhere, this giant stone structure claiming to be a museum named “Quinsey Wolfe’s Glass Vault”. Though it comes as quite a shock when she first sees it, Perrie doesn’t think much of this strange place until her ex-boyfriend disappears after mentioning it, followed rapidly by her best friend’s disappearance after the first night she should have spent working at the Glass Vault. Soon, Perrie puts two and two together, and journeys with her friend August into the bizarre and twisted world of Quinsey Wolfe in a desperate attempt to save Neven and Maisie.

I thoroughly enjoyed how unique this story turned out to be—it was a fun and highly imaginative experience. Robinson definitely breaks away from many of the commonalities of the genre, creating her own surprising and highly effective twists and turns to what could have been a typical retelling. There is very little predictability in this complex and atmospheric plot that she weaves. This not only pulls her readers in, but keeps them hanging on every moment, over every turn of the page.

There were only a few elements of this novel that were a bit problematic for me. This narrative is sort of split up into two halves—it begins in the natural world and moves into many fantastical alternate realities. Though I enjoyed being in both settings, I felt that the transition between the two was really rough. The way it came across was less fluid and more like being plucked out of the first story and dropped into a completely new one.

Though Perrie and August were equally confused at their new surroundings, they both seemed to handle this sudden change a bit too well at times. It didn’t take them as long as it probably should have to come to terms with the fact that something extraordinary and magical was taking place—though they were pretty freaked out, they also appeared as if they knew and understood almost exactly what was going on in a matter of minutes. One would expect them to have to take far more time to process their situation, and therefore, this made the transition into the fantasy side of the novel seem very rushed.

The characters were a very strong part of this novel—in fact, this is a very character-driven novel overall. Each one was very well-portrayed and likeable, and Robinson did a good job building up their personalities. She took the time to make each character very three-dimensional and distinctive—highly relatable and memorable. Perrie was a fairly strong narrative voice, and I really loved how her relationships with the other main characters, particularly Maisie, were portrayed. I fully connected with, felt for, and rooted for all of them throughout the trials they experienced, and that really drew me further in to the novel as a whole.

Though Candace Robinson’s writing did not flow with me quite as well as I would have liked, I could definitely see a huge amount of talent and strength in her words. She built up the worlds and the atmospheres with ease, and her depictions of the various settings were very vivid and not at all difficult to place oneself in.

One of the only negatives I came across in the writing itself was the tendency to rely on brief and concentrated info dumps, which simultaneously bogged down and rushed the plot. Robinson did a considerable amount of telling rather than showing, which did not serve a story as intense as this one could be well. This is a narrative that needed to feel fast-paced, not rushed, and while it was a mesmerizing story, too much of it dragged on with explanations.

I would have liked to have seen and experienced more of what the characters were going through rather than read paragraphs of them flat-out explaining where they were and what was happening. Because everything about this plot was so unique, I really wish that this novel could have been a bit longer, allowing Robinson time to flesh out each individual setting and its accompanying retelling, as well as Perrie’s and August’s experiences handling the hurdles of each one. In the end, it felt like there was a bit too much information crammed into too short a space and timeframe.

Though I had some mixed feelings on certain aspects of this novel, I overall really enjoyed reading it. With unique and vivid world-building, Robinson creates a very gripping reading experience. Though it is not devoid of some minor issues and the pacing does not quite hit the mark, it is still an intriguing, humorous and, at times, chilling read. If you are a fan of dark retellings or horror stories, I would highly recommend giving Robinson’s book a try. This novel ends on a massive cliffhanger, so I am definitely looking forward to picking up the next installment once it’s released.

3.5 TARDISes

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Review: The Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco

thegirlfromthewellThe Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco

My Rating: 3/5 TARDISes

Series: The Girl from the Well #1

Date Published: August 5th, 2014

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Pages: 304 pages

Source: Purchased

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Synopsis: You may think me biased, being murdered myself. But my state of being has nothing to do with the curiosity toward my own species, if we can be called such. We do not go gentle, as your poet encourages, into that good night.

A dead girl walks the streets.

She hunts murderers. Child killers, much like the man who threw her body down a well three hundred years ago.

And when a strange boy bearing stranger tattoos moves into the neighborhood so, she discovers, does something else. And soon both will be drawn into the world of eerie doll rituals and dark Shinto exorcisms that will take them from American suburbia to the remote valleys and shrines of Aomori, Japan.

Because the boy has a terrifying secret – one that would just kill to get out.

The Girl from the Well is A YA Horror novel pitched as “Dexter” meets “The Grudge”, based on a well-loved Japanese ghost story.

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This is a spoiler-free review.

I am finding that giving voice to my thoughts about this novel is a far trickier task than I was expecting. I liked many aspects of the novel and had a pretty good time with it. However, I never got caught up in the plot the way I hoped I would. It took me forever to get through this novel because I was not overly motivated to keep coming back to read it, despite wanting to know the fate of the characters. At the heart of my struggles with the story were both the writing style and the fact that I was not at all scared while reading.

However, just because I personally didn’t find it scary doesn’t mean that it isn’t, or that others won’t. This may be exactly the creepy book you are looking for. There are some fantastic scenes with Okiku exacting her revenge on those who deserve it—parts that are very eerie and pretty gorey. Those were some of the best chapters to read as they were action-packed and fast-paced, while the rest of the novel went at a much slower pace.

I have to admit that I was a little disappointed at not being too scared while reading. I don’t scare very easily at all, but I had heard plenty about how terrifying this book was. And I completely agree that it was much different than a lot of American “horror” or “thriller” novels—it was a very different sort of narrative. But unfortunately it still didn’t creep me out.

I absolutely do not want to focus completely on negatives either, because there was plenty to love about this book, and I really did enjoy it overall. It reads exactly like watching a horror movie—and not just any sort of horror movie, but the kind that I really love. Honestly, that was my favorite aspect of the whole thing. It reminded me of the scary movies I have watched with my family and friends over the years

In this novel, we follow the main characters—cousins Tark and Callie—through the eyes of Okiku, a ghost that has taken an odd interest in Tark. Okiku is a l300-year-old spirit, unable to leave Earth and determined to take revenge on those who murder innocent children. She moves around the world freely and frequently.

However, when she witnesses a malevolent spirt that appears to be part of Tark, related somehow to the strange tattoos that are scrawled all over his body, she remains. Though she has never taken enough of an interest to stick around any particular human for very long, there is something unusual about him, and that keeps her attention.

Okiku is a unique character, and makes an interesting narrator for the novel. The main thing I noted about her was how she referred to the people she was around. She counts everyone and everything she comes across in her environment, and always distances herself from the living by referring to them by something like a job title or a distinguishing physical feature. The only people she regularly refers to by their names are Tark and Callie. I thought this added a lot to the story, showing the importance of her connection to them.

I liked Tark and Callie, but will admit that they are very one-dimensional characters. In fact, pretty much everyone but Okiku is. There is not a lot development in their personalities, even after some of the painful and traumatic experiences they go through. It was highly unbelievable that they would not have been changed or affected more than they were. And though I liked Okiku, I also felt that she didn’t do nearly enough. She mainly just watched things happen—I was expecting her to intervene more than she did. This is part of what took away from the creepiness of the narrative.

I have always found Japanese folklore—in fact, folklore from any culture—extremely fascinating to study. That made it even more exciting when I found out that I already knew a lot about the story this novel is based off of, and the terms that are used frequently throughout it. Even if you don’t have previous knowledge of these things, they are addressed well enough throughout the story that readers will not be at all confused or be left feeling like they lack important information. I really liked the inclusion of Japanese culture into the plot—it added a lot to the atmosphere.

The plot progressed rather slow in my opinion, particularly toward the middle of the novel. I think this was due in part to the writing style, not just the overall plotline. It’s a bit difficult for me to pinpoint my feelings about Chupeco’s writing and narration style. On the one hand, it was very unique, but on the other hand, I felt that it did not flow well and was sometimes hard to follow. I believe that the choppiness of her writing style was suppose to add to the tone of the novel, but it was just challenging and sometimes tiring to get through. For me, it didn’t add anything to the story, it just pulled me further away from it.

The narrative style is different from anything I’ve read before, however—it is first person omniscient, which is a point of view rarely seen in novels. Okiku tells the reader what she observes, but she also has insight into people’s thoughts to a certain degree. This goes to the point where the narration takes on a third person omniscient feel, then pulls the reader back into Okiku’s point of view. There may have been some limits, making it first person limited omniscient, but I couldn’t quite tell. So while it was not my cup of tea, I do commend Chupeco for utilizing this unusual style.

Overall, this novel did not quite live up to the hype for me, but I still found it to be an enjoyable read. It was one of those novels that was simply good—not bad, not mind-blowingly wonderful, but good. I would definitely recommend giving it a go, and I’ve already picked up a copy of the sequel, so I do plan to continue on sometime soon.

3.0 TARDISes

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16 Books I Want to Read in 2016

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A new year means a time to make resolutions, and for us book lovers, some of those may be bookish resolutions. For me, my TBR pile is beginning to get out of control, so I would like to make a good dent in it this year. There are also many specific books that I am particularly interested to get to, either because they’ve been in my pile for ages or because I intended to read them last year and never got a chance. For these reasons, I’ve decided to make specific lists of both standalones and series that I want to get to in 2016.

I am determined to get to most if not all of these books that I’m listing, so I definitely plan on checking back periodically throughout the year to see what I’ve completed. Essentially, these are my 2016 book bucket lists! I’ve already written a post about series and trilogies that I plan on starting this year, so I’ll keep this list mainly to standalones that I would like read (with a few exceptions). If you want to check out my series and trilogies TBR, click here!

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1. Dark Places by Gillian Flynn – My goal is really to read the rest of Gillian Flynn’s books this year (so Sharp Objects as well), but I figured I’d just include one in this list. This is on my January TBR, so I’m hoping that it will be one of my first reads of the year. I can’t wait to dive into another one of her novels, even though I’m going to be sad when I run out of books!

2. More Than This by Patrick Ness – I read A Monster Calls about a year and a half ago now, and it is absolutely insane that I have not read anything else by Patrick Ness yet. On top of starting the Chaos Walking trilogy, I would also really like to read this novel. Patrick Ness’s writing is beautiful and some of the best that I have ever read, so I am incredibly eager to experience more of it.

3. Carry On by Rainbow Rowell – Though I own three, I have not yet read a Rainbow Rowell book. Now, contemporary romance type stories are not usually my thing, but I have heard such fantastic things about her work that I really want to give it a try. The plots for many of her novels also sound more like something I would enjoy than a lot of books usually found in the same genre. I would also like to read Fangirl this year, but I have decided to start out with Carry On, mainly because it sounds the most appealing out of all of her novels to me.

4. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline – I have been dying to read this book for a long time, and it has been sitting on my shelf for ages. I am so eager to experience all the epic nerdiness that is this book! Also, I purchased a copy of this for my dad for Christmas, so I’m hoping that we can read it together some time during the year.

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5. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien – This was one of the books on my “Books I Can’t Believe I’ve Never Read” list from last year. Embarrassingly enough, I have never read any Tolkien novels; I’ve not even seen any of The Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit films. This totally hurts my film nerd, book nerd, and general nerd status! I’m planning to finally watch the films this year and, in terms of the novels, I would at least like to start out by reading this one before the end of 2016.

6. Alice by Christina Henry – I purchased a copy of this with a gift card from Christmas and I absolutely can’t wait to read it! If you’ve read my other posts, I’m sure you are already aware of my obsession with retellings/reimaginings. Take that and make it into a dark retelling and add a morally ambiguous villain? Yes please! I’ve already added it to my January TBR, so I’m planning for it to be one of my next reads.

7. This Monstrous Thing by Mackenzi Lee – Speaking of retellings, here’s another one! I saw a few reviews for this while browsing blogs and it sounded like my kind of story, so I recently picked up a copy. This book seems particularly interesting because it includes the actual publication of the story that it is a reimagining of (Frankenstein) as a plot point, something that I’ve never personally seen this type of novel do before. I have not heard all that much about it, but everything that I have heard has been very positive, so I’m interested in giving it a try.

8. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier – This was the top book on my “Books I Can’t Believe I’ve Never Read” list. The film version of Rebecca is one of my favorite films of all time. I absolutely adore this story, but incredibly enough, I’ve never actually gotten around to reading the novel. I definitely want to fix that this year; I know that I am going to love reading this and experience the story again in a whole new way. And I’ll definitely be using this as an excuse to re-watch the movie for the millionth time!

wool A Darker Shade final for Irene flowersforalgernon neverwhere

9. Wool by Hugh Howey – This is one of the exceptions to my list of standalones because it is the first book in a trilogy. My dad got me a copy of this for Christmas, so I didn’t have it yet when I made my series and trilogies list. I must admit, the main thing that originally attracted me to this novel is the fact that it sounds a lot like one of my favorite series of games, the Fallout series. I’ve also heard nothing but fantastic things about this book and the entire trilogy as a whole, so I am very eager to get into this one.

10. A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab – This is another exception to the standalone list because it is the only book out so far (though not for long) in the series. Since Vicious ended up being my favorite book of 2015, I am now on a quest to consume every Victoria Schwab book in existence. I hoping to read the sequel, A Gathering of Shadows, this year as well, so I may go ahead and marathon the two after that is released.

11. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes – This is yet another book that was on my “Books I Can’t Believe I’ve Never Read” list. It was always in the list of options for summer reading when I was in school, but I never got around to choosing it. I’ve wanted to read this for ages, so I think it’s about time that I do!

12. Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman – Neil Gaiman is one of my favorite authors of all time, yet I still have a couple of books of his sitting on TBR. I have also not read a novel by him in over a year, something that needs to be fixed at once! This definitely sounds like it is going to be a great one. I am hoping that I can get around to reading The Graveyard Book this year as well, but Neverwhere is my top priority at the moment. 

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13. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck – Again, another book that was on my “Books I Can’t Believe I’ve Never Read” list. This is also another book I feel like I should have read in school but never did. We actually never ended up reading any Steinbeck at all in school, which, as an avid writer and reader, I definitely need to rectify. My dad, who is a big Steinbeck fan, got a copy of this for me for my birthday, so I really want to give it a read sometime soon.

14. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo – This is another exception to the standalones because, as of right now, this is meant to be a duology. I picked up a copy of this right after it was released last year but I never had an opportunity to read it. This sounds like it is going to be a fantastic read; the plot definitely seems right up my alley. I’m hoping to get to this one relatively early on this year because I am far too excited about it to wait any longer!

15. A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms by George R.R. Martin – I’ve mentioned many times before that I have been experiencing a massive Game of Thrones addiction these past few months since I started watching the show. Because of this, I have been desperately wanting to read any and all books even remotely related to the series. And, excitingly, I ended up getting a copy of this one for Christmas! I have the main series of novels on my series and trilogies TBR, so I definitely needed to add this one on here.

16. Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee – Last but not least, I think that I finally need to give this one a go. I sort of ended up chickening out of it last year. As I’ve said before, I’m sure there is a good chance that it will turn out to be a lot better than I think it is going to be, and I really do want to read it. As long as I keep in mind that this is a first draft of To Kill A Mockingbird and not a sequel, I’m sure I will end up enjoying it.

What are some of the books on your TBR that you particularly want to get to in 2016? Let me know in the comments! 🙂

-Ariana

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