A history of wild places

Shea Ernshaw creates a mystery for all readers in, A History of Wild Places.We meet Travis Wren a psychic detective tasked with tracking down Maggie St. James, an author who has gone missing after her recent novel leads to the death of a young teenager. Just as he finds a hot lead and is right on her trail, he disappears just like the woman he has been tasked to find.  It’s not until a man (Theo) living in a near by community in the woods finds an abandoned truck and becomes curious that we begin to get some clues. Soon we are led down new path full of unanswered questions. Questions about: the missing man, the missing woman, and all the secrets that lie within a small town hidden in the woods. 

Our main characters: Theo, Calla, and Bee each have a  unique character arch. As a reader, it was quite the journey to see how each characters relationships with each other, their community, and their community’s leader changed over the course of the novel. Watching each of them work through the mysteries and questions they each encountered took me on a journey that surprised me at every turn. I particularly enjoyed how Ernshaw tackled the main characters “de-programming” themselves from their leader and community’s teachings and lifestyle. Every time I thought I could guess where the story was going, I was surprised. Nothing about Ernshaw’s work was completely un-predictable and I found that to be very enjoyable. 

A History of Wild Places is a journey of secrets, tragedy, and self growth. A great read for any true crime or cult documentary enthusiast….just be careful not to get lost along the way. 

A Flicker in the Dark

Mystery and tragedy  find themselves in A Flicker in the Dark, a thrilling novel by Stacy Willingham. We meet Chole Davis a young psychiatrist who happens to be in the  final stages of planning her upcoming wedding to the man of her dreams. All her worst night mares come true  when a local girl goes missing…Then another girl goes missing. Nearing the anniversary of her fathers crimes, she finds herself fearing that a copycat killer has begun to terrorize her hometown. With no one to trust, she fears the worst in everyone around her and begins her own investigation. Eventually she finds that the real monsters can be hiding silently behind any corner. 

I frequently found my self “on the fence,” with the character of Chole, she is a character who often has very questionable or unethical  judgment. In all, she is far from the typical, “perfect heroine,” which made her much more interesting character. However, all her faults and previous mistakes made her much more thrilling to follow in the story. However, Some of her character flaws were a bit too much and not always believable. She was stupid at times and it wasn’t always endearing. She made some poor and illegal choices that sometimes took the story to unnecessary and some times irrelevant plot lines.  

A Flicker in the Dark is a very thrilling read. Each twist and turn of the story was completely unpredictable. Even with all of the main characters flaws I would recommend this book to anyone who wants a thrilling mystery. I wont give away any spoilers but if you give Willingham’s work a try you will find yourself completely engulfed in her story, unable to put it down. 

Revelator

Deep in the mountains of Tennessee a mysterious deity slumbers. In Daryl Greggory’s work Revelator, we meet a long like of women, all (supposedly) born out of wedlock, with striking physical characteristics, and a long line of secrets to protect. Stella should have been next in line to serve as the next revelator, until a tragic accident causes her to run from the only real home and family she has ever known, vowing never to return again. After the death of her “grandmother” she returns to find a young girl (Sunny), with an odd appearance, and very peculiar behavior.

The character arch of Stella is a fantastic literary journey that would entrap the interest of any reader. Stella’s return to the cove is an enticing page turner. Her determination to protect and shelter Sunny from the oppressive nature of her family’s religion makes her an incredibly interesting character. Her journey from young religious prophet to a morally gray bootlegger is a fantastic view into the life of a woman struggling for control of her own life.

Greggory’s work felt like is an interesting take on familial relationships and the potential destructive nature of blind faith. The long line of revelators are used as pawns for the spread of the family’s religion and the profit of their family’s pastors. Every page leaves the reader rooting for Stella and Sunny to escape their family’s grasp and leave to find a better life. The Revelator is a spine-chilling journey no reader will be able to put down.

All These Bodies

All These Bodies by Kendare Blake begins with a killing spree across the midwest that stops in the small town of Black Deer Falls, Minnesota. This is where we learn that a small family of four was attacked, leaving three killed and only one surviving infant. In the midst of all this carnage a young teen girl (Marie) is found covered in the blood of the diseased. Is she the victim or the perpetrator? How did she come to be in the middle of this carnage? The sherif’s son (Michael) , is the only one who she will tell her story too. After a rollercoaster of an investigation, the reader is left with more questions than answers.

One of the most interesting aspects of the story is the unidentifiable monster in the closet. There was a string of murders so there was clearly a killer but the killer themselves were never the most prominent part of the story. While I was reading Blake’s work, it appeared that the biggest villain in our story, was fear and the want for speedy, but neglectful, justice. The town of Black Deer Falls was terrified of whoever or whatever brutally murdered one of their own. They wanted to justice, not to wait around for a fair and speedy trail (even if it meant harassing and abusing Michael’s family and friends to get it).


While the idea of the story is very interesting and had a lot of potential, the book itself could have had a little more substance to it. I found the characters to be one dimensional, unsympathetic, unreliable, and at times a little infuriating. For example: Marie our main suspect, seemed to be hostile and uncooperative for no real reason and seems to act only as an antithesis the prosecuting attorney (Benjamin Pilson). Whereas, Michael’s (the story’s protagonist) squeaky clean image wasn’t relatable and we don’t really know much about him apart for his future aspiration to become a journalist. His character fell flat, I wasn’t sure why he was given the authority he had throughout the novel, it was simply unbelievable. All three of these characters mash up into a very unsatisfying story. After I read Blake’s work I was left with more questions than answers. Was the killer a vampire? Was Marie a vampire? Was Marie innocent or was she lying the whole time? Who can really be trusted?

Bruised

A story of self discovery and healing is told through Bruised by Tanya Boteju. We begin the story with Daya, who recently lost her parents in a car accident. After meeting a few new friends at the skate park, Daya tries out for a roller derby team to help distract her from her grief. After realizing that roller derby is much more than getting knocked around and bruised, Daya finds herself on a journey of healing and self discovery.

The cast of characters presented in Bruised are nothing but diverse and supportive. Boteju’s characters are relatable to readers of all ages. Daya; the main character; is a teen girl who just wanted her parents to be proud of her ( a feeling all of us have experienced at one point in our lives). One of the most refreshing aspects of the book is that it normalizes characters of different sexual orientations and gender expressions. Bruised, shows young teens and young adults that having a supportive community can help one though the most difficult of circumstances.

Bruised provides a brilliant depiction of a good community support system. Daya’s extended family and friends support her during a time of self discovery and devastating grief. In addition, they support her passions and outlets while holding her accountable for her detrimental habits. Boteju shows readers of all ages the support we should be giving our loved ones and the support we all deserve in times of hardship.

The King of Infinite Space

Hamlet as you have never imagined before, The King of Infinite Space by Lyndsay Faye is a modern retelling of Shakephere’s classic with a plethora of modern twists and turns. Centered around three lovers and friends: Ben, Lia, and Horatio as they confront their changing relationships, addictions, and illnesses all the while working to solve the mystery sounding the death of Ben’s father.

The King of Infinite Space, is like no other Shakephere reboot that you have read or watched before. All of Faye’s characters are so rich and dynamic with mysterious backstories, it leaves the reader yearning to keep turning the page. Each chapter of Faye’s work is so uniquely formatted that I provides a dynamic view into the mental state and development of the star cast. Each chapter centers around a singular characters plot line and hints about their future plot collisions.

Faye’s writing style is engaging and dynamic. Each chapter is uniquely written to allow the reader to become better acquainted with each of the characters mental state, conflicts, and plot lines. Every reference to Hamlet is a pleasant little tidbit to be enjoyed by any Shakespeare fan ( previous reading of Shakespeare is not a requirement for enjoying Faye’s work). The King of Infinite Space keeps even the most well read Shakespeare fan on their toes and repeating, “just one more chapter…”