Tag Archives: book review

Review of How to Save an Undead Life (The Beginner’s Guide to Necromancy #1), by Hailey Edwards

I borrowed an audio copy of How to Save an Undead Life (by Hailey Edwards) through Hoopla.

Description from Goodreads:

Grier Woolworth spends her nights weaving spooky tales of lost souls and tragedies for tourists on the streets of downtown Savannah. Hoop skirt and parasol aside, it’s not a bad gig. The pay is crap, but the tips keep the lights on in her personal haunted mansion and her pantry stocked with ramen. 

Life is about as normal as it gets for an ex-necromancer hiding among humans. Until the society that excommunicated Grier offers her a second chance at being more than ordinary. Too bad no one warned her the trouble with being extraordinary is it can get you killed. 

Review:

So, I just didn’t particularly care for this. I suppose it wasn’t bad, just not to my taste. I thought Grier was the perpetual victim and it got on my nerves. She basically spends the whole book walking heedlessly into danger, only to be saved by the strapping boy next door. She never confronted the powers that be about her situation (though she was smart enough to understand it) and then, at the end, there’s a bit about how she’s making plans of her own. But after a whole book of her floundering, I couldn’t believe a word of it. Plus, a new (and probably important character) was introduced IN THE LAST CHAPTER. 

But my biggest issue was that the whole book is predicated on the fact that Grier was supposed to have just gotten out of prison (a horrible, supernatural prison that she was never expected to leave). But the reader is just told this. It’s so remote that you forget about it. How to Save an Undead Life felt very much like a second book. As if there should be a first book that addresses how and why Grier went to prison. The whole thing felt very anchorless and baseless. I get that it’s supposed to be the mystery in the next book (or books), but the reader REALLY feels the lack of explanation in this book. 

A last small gripe, the title makes no sense to the book (as for as I can see). 

The writing and narration (by Rebecca Mitchell) were technically competent. The grammar and such is sound. No complaints on that front. All in all, others may like this more than me. But I’m glad to be finished with it.

Edit: I’ve just realized I’ve read another book by this author and in re-reading my review of it, I find that I had almost identical complaints. If I can help it, I won’t be making the mistake a third time.

Review of The Ballad of Black Tom, by Victor LaValle

I borrowed an audio copy of The Ballad of Black Tom (by Victor LaValle) from my local library.

Description from Goodreads:

People move to New York looking for magic and nothing will convince them it isn’t there.

Charles Thomas Tester hustles to put food on the table, keep the roof over his father’s head, from Harlem to Flushing Meadows to Red Hook. He knows what magic a suit can cast, the invisibility a guitar case can provide, and the curse written on his black skin that attracts the eye of wealthy white folks and their trained cops. But when he delivers an occult page to a reclusive sorceress in the heart of Queens, Tom opens a door to a deeper realm of magic, and earns the attention of things best left sleeping.

A storm that might swallow the world is building in Brooklyn. Will Black Tom live to see it break?

Review:

I found this a really powerful novella. It deftly shows how easily the injustice and cruelty of everyday racism can push even good men to monster-like acts. (I was going to say turn them into monsters. But I don’t think Tom is ever a monster; just emotionally beaten by the racial realities of the 1920s.) I found it especially poignant how, even after the fact, the primary white character erases Tom from the event, effectively hiding the embodiment of white America’s sins (and his own participation in it) from himself, rendering it moot. All in all, I found this atmospheric and evocative. Plus, Kevin R. Free did a great job with the narration. A+

Review of The Last Sun (The Tarot Sequence #1), by K.D. Edwards

I bought a copy of The Las Sun, by K.D. Edwards.

Description from Goodreads:

Rune Saint John, last child of the fallen Sun Court, is hired to search for Lady Judgment’s missing son, Addam, on New Atlantis, the island city where the Atlanteans moved after ordinary humans destroyed their original home.

With his companion and bodyguard, Brand, he questions Addam’s relatives and business contacts through the highest ranks of the nobles of New Atlantis. But as they investigate, they uncover more than a missing man: a legendary creature connected to the secret of the massacre of Rune’s Court. 

In looking for Addam, can Rune find the truth behind his family’s death and the torments of his past? 

Review:

Finally! This week I’ve DNFed two book and given two others 2 star ratings. At last, I found a winner. I loved the wit and banter in this book. I adored the platonic love between Brand and Rune. I thought Quinn was adorable. There wasn’t much to the mystery, but there was enough. When I finished this I immediately went to Amazon to try and buy the sequel and was disappointed to find it’s not out yet. 

I do have a bit of a trigger warning though. Rune has a traumatic rape in his past and it plays a big part in the book. There are no extended or graphic rape scenes, just a few flashbacks. But it’s present enough in the book that I honestly don’t think I’d have been able to finish it if Rune had been a heroine, instead of a hero. I don’t mean to suggest any sort of hierarchy of victimhood. A male being rapes is just as bad as a female, of course. But as a woman, I’m far more triggered by the closer relate-ability of a female character. And it would be a shame to have missed this book because of it. I can’t wait for the sequel.