The Visitors

I’ve never read Catherine Burns before so I don’t know if this is a typical novel. The Visitors is disturbing on so many societal levels. Marion Zetland lives with her older brother John in their family home. She seems to idolize him and fear him. She is meek and scared and lives her life like an ugly, overweight middle aged woman who has no social skills would. We get glimpses of John in his prime, youth, and present and the three don’t seem to match up. A cruel older brother in childhood, a successful college student with the world ahead of him, and a strange recluse in middle age.

As details of Marion’s life emerge, the stories are unclear but theres a wake of destruction that follows Marion and John. Their parents are odd and wealthy in an area where that didn’t seem common, but as adults Marion seems to live in squalid conditions and doesn’t seem capable of working. John doesn’t seem much better and much crueler.

As the truth reveals itself slowly, its clear that things are very wrong. But when you think it couldn’t get worse, it does. Creepy and disturbing read. Im not sure if this is a commentary on cold parents, or how childhood exceptions can cause your life to go awry. No matter what, there’s some serious dysfunction and mental health conditions happening in this family.

Read May 2020

Christopher’s Diary: Echoes of Dollanganger

Its been years since the original V.C. Andrews wrote this series and whoever is writing it now, seems to be writing for a much younger audience. Weirdly, I read most of the original series when I was in middle school, so maybe it never was as “mature” as I think it was. But this story has a terrible teen romance that somehow tries to mimic the incestual relationship of Cathy and Chris in Flowers in the Attic. Not something that’s particularly exciting to mimic. And the teen romance and drama was just, blah.

If I see another V.C. Andrews, hopefully I’ll remember this one and skip the next one. But I’ve been reading these books for almost 30 years, so there’s some sort of draw that I can’t seem to resist. Plus its so easy to read that it doesn’t take much out of me…

Read November 2018

The Historian

I love this novel by Elizabeth Kostova! I’ve read The Historian multiple times and I always enjoy the scholarly fictional approach to the search for Dracula. Kostova has her characters chasing each other and myths around Europe in different generations and different pairings, but its an exciting ride.

Once again a great, interesting read!

Read November 2018


Holy crap this book was long. IT by Stephen King tells the story of 7 childhood friends, 6 of which reconnect 27 years later. A horrific string of murders happened in their childhood that they all barely remember, and they must come together again to end a new string of murders. Somehow in the intervening years, only one of them remembers what happened in Derry, Maine in 1958 and can see what is happening in 1984.

King is so incredibly detailed in this story, giving each character a unique voice, back story, current story, and action scenes. Its like the reader relives everything that the adults behind to remember with them, from each perspective. Derry has an evil presence that everyone in town seems to be subliminally aware but manages to ignore. This was a horror story to beat horror stories!

Excellent read! Might make me unable to finish my 1 book a week this year since it took so long to finish this, but worth it! I think I’m ready for some short, non-horrific novels after this one. Give myself a little break.

Read November 2017

The Gunslinger

I must preface this with the fact that I like Stephen King’s novels and was excited to read the first of the Dark Tower series based on the recommendation of several people who were rereading the entire series since a movie is coming out. I read the introduction in my copy of The Gunslinger which was written by King himself. In it, he talks about how he feels this was a young novelist’s book written in youth and surrounded by pretentiousness.

There’s not much that happens in this novel, but I imagine that it was written to help set up the remaining series. Not having read any of the other series, I cannot say whether it works for that or not. What I can judge is this novel by itself since that’s how I read it.

The Gunslinger as an independent book, is not exciting and incredibly drawn out. I had a hard time getting through the chapters of nothingness as we follow a character through a bleak world. I cannot tell the exact setting, but I’m guessing that its in the future after something has gone awry in the world. Some of the scenes were gripping but many others were not.

I haven’t decided if I’ll read any further in this series, but if I do, I hope the story is better than this.

Read October 2017

The Winter Foundlings

Holy hell, The Winter Foundlings is an addictive read. Kate Rhodes takes a horrible story of a child murderer and somehow makes it worse. In The Winter Foundlings, we follow Alice Quentin, a psychologist who transfers to the high-secutrity prison to study the treatment methods for the worst criminals, outside of London. While there, Alice is hoping to meet and study the treatment for Louis Kinsella, a child killer with no remorse, when back in London a child is found murdered in a way that matches Kinsella’s murders.

Quentin must remain impartial and clearheaded as she’s pulled into Kinsella’s world and manipulated by her own mentor and premier crime psychologist.

Rhodes tells the story of Quentin’s investigation interspersed with an abducted child who’s fighting for her life in whatever way she can. The details of the murders are horrific and hard to read, but Quentin’s devotion to them and finding their killer is hypnotizing.

There’s a similarity between this novel and Silence of the Lambs, not that I’ve read that recently, but the feel is the same with a male psychotic killer manipulating a woman investigating a current crime. There’s more of a copycat killer in this novel than in the other. But it doesn’t matter. This story feels so original and is so gripping, I can overlook the similarity.

Read July 2017

The Shadow Land

The Shadow Land by Elizabeth Kostova follows a young American woman, Alexandra Boyd,  who lands in Hungary and accidentally steals an elder woman’s bag as she’s getting into a taxi. Trying to return the bag, she turns to the police and another taxi driver. Alexandra and her new taxi friend travel around Sofia and the surrounding countryside desperately trying to find the older couple and their son who lost their bag.

Along the way, the duo gets caught up in the story about the man who’s belongings are in the lost bag, a young violinist who was detained in politically oppressed Bulgaria. Alexandra’s story is interspersed with the tales of Bulgaria from the 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s, spilling secrets that somebody wanted hidden.

There is an old world gothic feel to this story, as if ghosts might pop out of the corner. But the horrors in the real world are more terrifying than any ghost story.

Great novel!!! Read May 2017