Marie’s Reading: “The Cellar” by Minette Walters

CellarThough the blog doesn’t reflect it, I’ve been on a Minette Walters kick lately.  I like her unlikeable characters, and I like her feel for misdirection.  The Cellar is different than her other books, and it’s a dark, sad, creepy story.

A family of African immigrants brought along their slave, Muna, to England.  She has been with them since she was eight years old, when they stole her from an orphanage.  Muna is forced to live in the cellar, to cook and to clean, and to endure all manner of abuse from the Songali family.  And all this time, she’s been plotting her revenge.

There’s a slow, creepy build to this story.  At the start, one of the sons of the family has gone missing, which brings police to the door.  To cover Muna’s true place in the household, she’s finally given real clothes and a bedroom.  As the tale continues, you discover how much Muna knows and understands–from the fact she can speak English to the lengths she’ll go to to exact some vengeance on this family.

There’s no one to like in this novel, but you can certainly understand how tragic and twisted poor Muna is.  Even in the more grotesque moments, it’s hard to feel much but a sick pity for her.  This is one of those horror stories that unwinds the disturbing truths slowly, and stays with you for a while after reading it.

If you enjoy claustrophobic horror stories and tales of revenge, give this a look.  But if the winter darkness already has you in a funk, maybe put this one off until summertime!

–Marie

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Marie’s Reading: “The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street” by Susan Jane Gilman

This novel is what you’d get if you crossed  A Tree Grows in Brooklyn with Citizen Kane.  And added lots of delicious ice cream.

kaneI
“So sue me, darlings!”

 

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Marie’s Reading: “The Golem and the Jinni” by Helene Wecker

GolemOften I find that my favorite novels are ones that both blend and defy genre headings.  The Golem and the Jinni fits that description.  It’s part fantasy, part historical novel, part love story, part immigrant tale, and part coming of age, all woven together into one intricate and satisfying story.

In 1899, a Golem is awakened on a ship en route to New York City from Germany.  At the same time, a Jinni trapped in human form is let out of a bottle in New York’s Little Syria, with no memory of how he came to be trapped.  Eventually the two supernatural creatures meet and form a friendship, without realizing how intertwined their stories truly are until the story’s climax.

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Marie’s Reading: “Schroder” by Amity Gaige

schroderI’m back with Amity Gaige’s new novel, Schroder–just like I promised I would be!

Just hear Erik Kennedy out.  He has good reasons for taking his daughter on an unscheduled vacation.  He’s even got good reasons for fabricating his identity at age fourteen.   Over the course of his story, which he is writing from a correctional facility, he’ll tell you all about his childhood in East Germany, his love for his wife and daughter, and his fateful decision to become Erik Kennedy. Continue reading