Monthly Archives: February 2020

Review of The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal, by K.J. Charles

I purchased an ebook copy of K.J. CharlesThe Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal and then later bought the audiobook. In the end, I listened to it.

Description from Goodreads:

A story too secret, too terrifying—and too shockingly intimate—for Victorian eyes.

A note to the Editor

Dear Henry,

I have been Simon Feximal’s companion, assistant and chronicler for twenty years now, and during that time my Casebooks of Feximal the Ghost-Hunter have spread the reputation of this most accomplished of ghost-hunters far and wide.

You have asked me often for the tale of our first meeting, and how my association with Feximal came about. I have always declined, because it is a story too private to be truthfully recounted, and a memory too precious to be falsified. But none knows better than I that stories must be told.

So here is it, Henry, a full and accurate account of how I met Simon Feximal, which I shall leave with my solicitor to pass to you after my death.

I dare say it may not be quite what you expect.

Robert Caldwell
September 1914

Review:

So good. So So good.

I bought this audiobook some time ago on the strength of being written by K.J. Charles. Then put off listening to it, uncertain if it was actually a series of short stories (a format I’m not overly fond of). As it turns out it is a series of cases, but there is enough of a plot flowing through them that I still consider it one story. And I loved that story! Robert and Simon ae characters I could get behind and the reader could absolutely feel how they became important to one another. But mostly I just adored the narrative style. The way Robert told the story. No doubt part of my love was because Gary Furlong did such a wonderful job bringing it to life. But it was such a good story, to begin with. I really struggled with wanting to listen more and get to the end and listen less so it never actually ended.

Review of The Absinthe Earl (The Faery Rehistory #1), by Sharon Lynn Fisher

I borrowed a copy of The Absinthe Earl (by Sharon Lynn Fisher) from my local library.

Description from Goodreads:

They crossed centuries to find each other. Their love will shatter worlds.

Miss Ada Quicksilver, a student of London’s Lovelace Academy for Promising Young Women, is spending her holiday in Ireland to pursue her anthropological study of fairies. She visits Dublin’s absinthe bars to investigate a supposed association between the bittersweet spirit and fairy sightings.

One night a handsome Irishman approaches her, introducing himself as Edward Donoghue. Edward takes absinthe to relieve his sleepwalking, and she is eager to hear whether he has experience with fairies. Instead, she discovers that he’s the earl of Meath, and that he will soon visit a mysterious ruin at Newgrange on the orders of his cousin, the beautiful, half-mad Queen Isolde. On learning about Ada’s area of study, he invites her to accompany him.

Ada is torn between a sensible fear of becoming entangled with the clearly troubled gentleman and her compelling desire to ease his suffering. Finally she accepts his invitation, and they arrive in time for the winter solstice. That night, the secret of Edward’s affliction is revealed: he is, in fact, a lord in two worlds and can no longer suppress his shadow self.

Little does either of them realize that their blossoming friendship and slowly kindling passion will lead to discoveries that wrench open a door sealed for centuries, throwing them into a war that will change Ireland forever

Review:

Meh. It wasn’t bad, but I also thought it was fairly shallow. Everyone was just so darned nice all the time that I felt very little tension. Yes, there was the whole Ireland/Faerie war bit. But even it was essentially just dropped on the reader. It was never given the buildup it needed to give it the importance it needed. Lastly, I hated that D & C were not given their chance, even if only once. I felt like the reader was denied satisfaction. But I also doubt D would give up so easily. [That is left purposefully vague to avoid spoilers.]

The writing itself was fine, however. And other than some over-formality, the dialogue flowed well enough and I had no issue with the editing.

All in all, an OK read. I’d pick up another of Fisher’s book. But I’m not rushing out to buy them either.

Review of The Sinners (The Sinners Series #1), by Daniele Lanzarotta

I received an Audible code for a copy of Daniele Lanzarotta‘s The Sinners.

Description from Goodreads:

Liam and his childhood best friend Rebecca were raised in a small town. Now living in the city, as roommates, they encounter more challenges than the average college student.

When faced with the reality of having to quit school and move back home, Liam and Rebecca get an odd invitation to move into a mansion with a group of extremely wealthy guys from the college. Liam knows it’s all too good to be true, but he gives into Rebecca’s pleas to take the offer until they get back on their feet.

Weeks turn into months, and as Liam discovers the truth of what happens within those walls and Rebecca finds herself in the middle of a dangerous game between lust and envy, their lives quickly spiral out of control.

Review:

This simply wasn’t very good. To be fair, part of my disappointment is that the last paragraph of the book’s description made me think it would be erotica and it’s 100% not. All the sex is fade to black and there’s not even that much. Nor is it a romance. Being as Rebecca’s role seems to be limited to the girl the boys sleep with, but she bounces from one to the other. The whole thing is basically unbearable though because it’s so full of red flags that no one (not even someone in dire straights) would put themselves in the position. That goes for moving into the house, falling for the first guy and then the second, and then the decision she makes at the end. None of it is believable for a girl who is shown to be pretty savvy in general.

Then there’s the consideration that, in order for the events to happen as they did, several characters had to have complete personality shifts and act out of character. Plus, Rebecca is mysteriously special, such that someone’s curse doesn’t work as it’s supposed to. It all just reeks of the often-cited and hated “she’s so special without actually being special in any way” trope. (And yes, I know I used special 3 times, but I emphatically hate the “she’s so special for no reason” trope.)

I might have given it three stars though, if not for the end. For most of the book, I couldn’t tell you for 100% certainty who the main character is (which makes a book hard to connect with). But what happened at the very end really was too much. It may have clarified who the main character was meant to be, but it made the whole plot feel pointless to me. I disliked it in the extreme.