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Ring Shout

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 2020-11-25

Daaaamn, this was an excellent listen. The entire story is well constructed with some of the most interesting characters I've ever had the pleasure of encountering. Women with distinct combat skills hunt "Ku Kluxes", which are non human monsters pretending to be human. Raises a lot of good questions about justice vs revenge.

And hoooooooly shit, the reader. The reader, sorry, *performer* for the audiobook strode past my standards and made herself a platform an Olympic size swimming pool away from my old standards. Channie Waites sings, has distinct character voices, hits every sound effect, and generally made me feel like a friend was telling me her own story. I can't say enough good things about her.

The Suffering

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 2020-11-23

This novel was much more pulled together than its predecessor. The different MC had a much stronger voice and characterisation and the performer did a better job as well, his Okiku came through much stronger and scarier, and Tark's angsty teen voice was very true to the character.
The plot and main action was much more coherent and compelling too, and I actually had to pause things one evening because listening to it in my dark bedroom made me too nervous about house noises and I needed to be up early. Genuinely love when that happens.
Looking forward to enjoying more books by the author.

The Girl From The Well

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
3 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 2020-11-21

Overall a light read. I liked the whole hunting child killers down and paying them in kind. I wish there was a bit more differentiation between the various characters and their voices. Maybe this is a facet of the audiobook performance, but there seemed to be many moments where I couldn't tell which character was speaking. I also have a minor issue with the perspective. The novel starts from the perspective of a ghost, but there are times she doesn't seem to be present but narrates anyway, or describes other character's thoughts and emotions as though she is omniscient. It put me out of the story a bit. I did appreciate the perspective of experiencing betrayal and murder and becoming a vengeful ghost as a result...and then not being able to move on to the next realm. It says a lot about forgiveness and justice. I look forward to the sequel.

In the Dream House

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 2020-11-14

My God, this was a gift to listen to.

Machado uses the many chapters, titled as genres, signifying both the fracturing nature of the abuse and the need to make sense of things by categorizing them.

With a lilting, rhythmical voice she conveys her story. With sharp, precise words, she breaks apart so many assumptions society has: metaphors, cliches, caricatures that shape our understanding of relationships, abuse and queerness. With lovingly crafted imagery, she unlocks the chests of our biases, revealing how much absolute nonsense we've left unexamined.

Her voice is so vulnerable the entire time and in its softness articulates so many indignities, pain, fear and grief. Listening to the audiobook felt like she'd slipped into my own body and gently pressed all the inexpressable places we both hurt. And through it, her ability to describe things with a poet's brush just made me ache for and admire the enduring beauty of her character.

1 person found this helpful

Louisiana Longshot

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 2020-11-13

I was looking for a low stakes pass of my time and this seemed like a good pick. Overall it was a pleasant read and had familiar cliches you could see coming a mile out, and the secondary characters were entertaining. If you're okay with these, you'll enjoy the book.

******SPOILERS******



But if you're like me and can't "switch your brain off" for certain tropes, here are the ones this book made me cringe:

- The MC thinks having long hair, being a librarian, liking makeup is apparently anti-feminist and "sets the movement back 10 years".

- Despite working for an intelligence agency, despite being in a kind of "off the books" witness protection, the MC does not effectively lay low, blend in, or try to be forgettable in personality. I get wanting to be yourself and not taking bullshit. But if you're trying to lay low, antagonising people, especially the local law enforcement, is usually a bad idea.

- MC frequently reaches for her gun for obviously innocuous phenomena. A weak senior dog that another character already mentioned was around. Her usually short-haired reflection with long extensions. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

- MC almost murders a FROG on her first night because she can't sleep through the croaking, in Lousiana. She also litters into the bayou more than once.

These really annoyed me, but the story was entertaining and short enough that I got through to the end. The secondary characters were so much more interesting than the MC and the MC's narration and they were what kept me going. They're a pair of much older women who are clever, quick with wry jokes, they're self sufficient and extremely good at Taking Care of Business. I want to know their history. I genuinely would've enjoyed a whole book that starred them.

I'm not entirely sure I'll continue with this series, but on the light hearted entertainment front, this book certainly delivered.

Lovecraft Country cover art

Lovecraft Country

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 2020-11-10

This was an intense (honestly harrowing at times) but excellent listen. The HBO series differs in many ways and I'm glad that I get to enjoy both works without being too spoiled for either. I like getting to ponder why certain differences exist.

In addition to seeing POC characters get loads of screentime in my favourite genres, I'm really grateful for the brief history lessons sprinkled throughout the book.

But. I feel ambivalent about a white writer subjecting Black characters to so much violence and injustice.

On the one hand: 1950s America was kinda shit for anyone who wasn't wealthy, white, straight, male, and able-bodied, sure. And this book is a gentle reminder that today's racism is not as different from 1950s racism as we'd like it to be.  We also get to see beautiful and intriguing Black characters having a few moments where they're not directly struggling with racism.

On the other hand: by consuming this book, am I entertaining myself with and desensitizing myself to Black people's pain? Does the fact of the main characters being Black make non Black readers more ready to commit to anti-Black racism? Is it worthwhile that the popularity and quality of the book resulted in a series that stars many Black actors? Definitely some thinking to sit with.

2 people found this helpful

Haunting cosmic horror

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 2020-10-27

A wonderful audiobook. The reader (Kevin R. Free) made the great writing even more compelling, with his different voices and accents. As for the plot, it's apparently a revisit of the H.P. Lovecraft story "The Horror at Red Hook" but told from the perspective of a black man. You get a bit of 1920s Harlem, some racist violence and a lot of cosmic horror. It's chilling in a very good way.

Decades of abuse

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 2020-10-20

Even if you're familiar with abuse, I expect this will be a tough read to digest

I don't think I could've spread listening to the audiobook out over time because the novel explicitly details extreme abuse, torture and murder. It's well written but the content is heavy and the perspectives unflinching.

I've read enough about narcissists and abuse to see the pattern in the central abuser's behaviour. Early in I could predict her lash outs and for me it was nearly a longitudinal (and horrifically unethical) psychological study. I do worry about getting desensitized though and I can see other readers finding the long and harrowing descriptions of various abuses to be exploitative rather than informative.

Here's how I'm taking this: we all have responsibilities towards children and other vulnerable beings in our communities. Be kind. Be inquisitive. Look out for your friends and the kids in your care.

Oh and the pie chart of people who say "but they're family" (therefore your abuser means well) and "why didn't they leave?" is an unbroken circle.

Good, short chiller

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 2020-10-10

A pretty good read. I read this after I read the sequel, but I didn't feel too spoiled. The characters weren't as fleshed out as in Into The Drowning Deep, but I wasn't too bothered as the book was pretty short and seemed to aim for brief, chilling cautionary than feature length thriller.

Solid horror

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 2020-10-09

Wow. Not only was this a solid, inclusive, Bechdel Test excelling horror story but the plot is a great motivation to:

a.) Exercise regularly

b.) Learn a sign language

I appreciated the dedication to the science as well.