PositiveTor.comThe Fourth Island is like a dark tide. It flows in and out of time, history, and myth, creating a picture of the Aran Islands that is deeply enmeshed in Irish culture ... Tolmie’s lyric prose pulls us through, not a riptide, but an undertow through the entire piece. Her command of dialect and description is wonderfully grounded Gaelic experience ... It is perhaps both a strength and a hindrance in The Fourth Island that it spoke of folklore but only in passing, that the narrative makes it more difficult for the audience to explore how Irish it is ... The novella is beautifully written, each word picked carefully, but half-in and half-out of the Gaeltacht Aran Islands, it feels its own distance very keenly ... Exploring the humans of The Fourth Island was exceptionally entertaining, and I enjoyed a lot of the quirks that were added onto each character as we unpacked their histories ... Unfortunately, because of the shortness of the book, and the exceptionally keen focus on the rich interiority of the characters, the plot feels as isolated as the premise ... Tolmie’s romantic voice appears on the page as she parcels out the story in generations and lives, giving strength and vibrancy to the individual, but ignoring the island’s story. The novella often reads like a eulogy to the past
RaveTor.com... This is the crux of the book ... When you realize that it’s not just a horror story, but a story about misogyny, rage, anger, and the indignities that women had to endure in order to survive, to be respectable, to be considered proper women. Grady Hendrix does not shy away from the indignity of women’s lives in the nineties in the south ... The gory, bodily horror is truly horrific, but the way that grown-ass, capable, responsible women are treated, dismissed, and denied the ability to think for themselves, is what really makes you want to scream ... Book Club doesn’t ignore the intersection of classism and racism that makes this community vulnerable. The book itself tries very hard to make the white women aware of their complicit systemic racism and harm that they inflict on the Black community, but without a deeper inspection of the Black characters and problems, it feels at points like a literary bromide ... .. Hendrix is a master of characterization. The members of the Book Club are all beautifully faceted and sharp, tart and prim and proper, and all at once fierce and furious. They are also peak Southerners ... I will stress, one more time, that while this book has a soft start, which feels like it will be a slow ramp up to desiccated horror fest, it is instead a fireworks display. It lulls you into watching, waiting for the horror, and when it comes it is startling, visceral, disturbing, and hard to read. Like all great fireworks shows, the horror is not easy to predict, and it’s hard to watch without flinching. This isn’t your mother’s vampire story ... It’s a brutal book, and the happy ending comes at a high cost. Book Club lures you in with the bucolic setting, charming women, and Southern affect, but when it turns, it does a hairpin one-eighty, goes and spins sedys in the police parking lot while screaming obscenities, then turns around and delivers the vigilante-style vindication that we—and Patricia—so desperately deserve.
MixedTor.comFans of Pulley’s previous work will appreciate her style; a slow-to-ignite layering of many conspiracies, the barest scientific justification in science fiction, and the slight twist of historical fact and myths. Small complications and adversaries of circumstance eventually culminate in a race against time, all operating along the railroad-line justification of Mori’s making. Chance seems to play a large part of many plot points, all explained by the basic premise of Mori’s nearly omniscient power. The magical way that science is woven into understanding the world is unique, if oversimplified. Electric discharge activates intentional shades of past movement, which appear as ghosts in smoky rooms and foggy streets. It doesn’t really make sense, but it’s not so ridiculous that you dismiss it entirely ... the slow folding and unfolding of the plot takes over half the book to fully coalesce into action and movement. It moves fast in parts, speeding through an escape from prison in just a few paragraphs, but slow in others, keeping characters in said prison for long swaths of time as they clean rooms and make tea without much narrative payoff. When things start to finally become understood, and all dead ends are explored, there is a sense of throwing darts in dark room, where Mori is the only one who knows where the board is. The way that the two point of view characters go through their narrative is like the arms of an octopus. They slowly outstretched, feeling a plot, story, or understanding, and then at a dead end, quickly retreat to a familiar place ... it feels necessary to have read Filigree Street before diving into Pepperharrow. The intricacies and details of each relationship is hard to replicate in summary, and the result is that the book reads as if Pulley assumes you already have a working knowledge of the people involved, and in fact, some essential points of the lot rely on this understanding ... ultimately, a book for Pulley’s fans. It will be a hard sell for new readers, as it will take too long to pay off and requires a strong understanding of the characters from the first page.