My son is seven today! Happy Birthday baby boy! Today is family stuff, presents and brownies instead of a chocolate birthday cake. Brownies without nuts! Because that’s how Daddy likes them and it is decidedly not Daddy’s day! I love how being a mom has changed my heart and added dimension to my personhood.
As Halloween looms near, I think the stories that talk about when the veil between our world and the next thins out become especially relevant. Never mind these are two books that have camped on the TBR forever and were read in the middle of the summer when I needed distraction (I read a ton this summer), but they were saved for the post that is up when the Halloween festivities begin to pick up in speed. This week will be parties and Trick or Treat. I already went to the big party that the YMCA has with my son every year, where you can smell other people’s bodies, scroll your phone while your kid takes a million trips through the bounce house, and get candy you’ll probably have to throw out. Excellent. (PS I was sarcastic long before I got pregnant).
City of Ghosts, VE Schwab
A young girl and her ghost best friend with experience on both sides of the veil travel to Scotland with her parents, where she encounters and has to defeat a dark supernatural force/antagonist/villain and get back to her side of the veil while she still can, all the while trying to understand her gifts and the relationship with her companion.
VE Schwab is one of my hoarded authors, where I buy numerous books before having actually read them. This one broke the seal because it was sitting in plain view of the YA section of the library and needed me to disregard the usual reading plan I am following for blogging. I took it home and it swept me away for two nights in the dead of winter. Yes. Perfect. As compelling as the dark antagonist was to the protagonist, Cassidy Blake. It was a quick read, being YA, and although you worried for her getting back in time and felt for the ghosts trapped in one of my favorite settings, Scotland, it didn’t get too tangled up and you knew she was going to be okay. I bet it would have scared the pants off me, though, if I was the intended age of the audience. It was a nice taste of the author’s world building and the next one is in Paris! I’m all about ghosting in European cities that I am too anxious and busy to visit myself. It looks like it has something to do with the catacombs, which I have been in and have always thought would be the perfect setting for a story.
Ghost Bride, Yangsee Choo
A middle class Malay woman in the early 1900s is asked by an influential family to marry the recently dead first son. The son who wants to marry her begins to haunt her dreams, and in an effort to get away from him ends up entering the land of the dead herself and becoming privy to the family’s tangled scandals on both sides of the grave. Not to mention that along the way she wants to marry the nephew that will now inherit, a man she was interested in before she knew who he was.
Full of intrigue, I kept thinking I knew where the book was going, but it always surprised me. So much happens, especially in the beginning that I kept thinking, why is this being revealed this early on? What’s she going to do with the rest? But the author fills the page with more and more tangles and depth to the story. For example, she meets the guy she likes but thinks he’s not of her class and can’t marry him, but then finds out that not only is he of her class, but he had been intended for her once, and she likes him and he likes her, and it’s not that far in and I’m like, well, what’s getting in the way now? Oh, plenty got in the way. It all had to come out fast because there were so many more events based on it. In my own writing I have been trying to work on deepening my plots and fleshing them out, and I admired the way she did this.
I have wanted to read this for years and I had been hoping that it was a book in translation, but it didn’t look like it was, but I never took it back off my kindle. Then in a bout of BookRiot reads that got intense on me, it reached out to me from my downloaded books list. I wanted a story. I wanted to be diverted from intense themes and brought into another world. Yes. And as I said, I kept thinking back to the similar ideas in City of Ghosts but done so differently overall, apart from the fact that one is for adults and one is YA. The afterlife lends itself to so many juicy interpretations.
She has just released The Night Tiger and it might end up jumping my reading plan because it looks at me from the library. Don’t ask me why I still check out the library when I already have a reading plan in place. It’s led to a lot of line jumpers this year. Shameful or shameless, I can’t decide.
This week will feature a bonus Halloween post, as yet again I have a fitting story for the day. Stay tuned!