RaveTor.comIn a weird way, Ilze Hugo’s debut novel The Down Days feels almost a little too on the nose ... Hugo’s effortlessly buoyant prose and magical realist impulse shines through ... the narrative plot driving Down Days forward sets this project apart from her previous writing and illustrates an ability for powerful and nuanced storytelling not seen in her shorter pieces. One of Hugo’s greatest accomplishments in the novel is her ability to establish laughter as something worthy of fear. In The Down Days, the characters are infected with the giggles and uncontrollable laughter often drives people to death. While this plot might sound a bit ludicrous, Hugo completely pulls it off. The reader easily enters the mind of the characters as they grow paranoid, begin panicking, hallucinating, experiencing loss, and trying to make sense of their new world where joy is a sign of impending doom ... post-apocalyptic circumstances became not only fascinating, but strangely reassuring. The characters in The Down Days are potentially the most lovable component of the book. Hugo’s in-depth and punchy descriptions for each protagonist creates people so vivid, it’s easy to forget we are reading about a fictional world ... Aside from the plot itself, The Down Days shone in its lyrical, poetic language and the elements of magical realism embedded throughout the story. From the book’s first sentence, Hugo establishes herself as a master of language ... And the playful, upbeat pace of the prose throughout the novel mirrors the book’s fast paced plot and never allows the reader to bore of the narrative.
RaveTor.com... dark and unsettling ... Momplaisir’s story is a challenging and complex one, but ultimately a success. Through an unflinching look at Lucien’s violence and emotional damage towards the other characters in the novel, the book does an incredible job at portraying the generational traumas that immigration and poverty can have on a family. My Mother’s House does not shy away from other sensitive and rarely heard narratives such as societal indifference to Black women’s pain and the ways that women are marginalized in social unrest and migration, and the responsibility of women and matriarchs to protect against violence that they are also subject to ... By far, one of the author’s greatest strengths was her ability to weave the house into the narrative as not only an object, but a character, as the La Kay chapters reveal the house’s devastation at the horrors happening within Its walls, and Its frustration at not being able to stop it ... impossible to pigeonhole; though it’s marketed as a literary thriller, elements of the novel also qualify as horror, realistic fiction, and magical realism ... Many authors would not be able to pull off a novel that encapsulates so many genres and styles, but Momplaisir’s beautiful, poetic prose and impeccable narrative pacing melds each of these literary elements perfectly to create a satisfying, slow burning narrative and an unforgettable read that caters to a variety of interests ... Though thriller drives the plot forward, at times, the horrors of the book become almost too much to bear. Certain scenes in the novel are simply not for the faint of heart—torture, immense cruelty, violence, and a particular moment involving the abuse of a cat come to mind as making my stomach turn. Momplaisar’s prose, which effortlessly evokes strong emotions and creates vivid imagery in very few words, allows the reader to viscerally understand and experience each victim’s harm. Like La Kay, the reader is forced to watch the unspeakable horrors occurring in the house and desperately wish there was a way we could make them end ... tackles some of our most pressing societal issues, including gentrification, racial injustice, and the psychological harm of migration, with rarely encountered grace and an unflinching eye.
PositiveTor.comRoth’s latest novel shines on a number of fronts. The prose is fast paced and engaging, and the author has a knack for blending fantasy with elements of reality that are so compelling they almost feel tactile. The characters in Chosen Ones also drive the book forward ... The plot, of course, is the main attraction of the novel, and Roth allows a good deal of suspense to drive the novel forward ... Through a combination of present action and much needed flashbacks, Roth allows the readers to both watch the characters move forward in their current journey and understand their fears and anxieties through context. Though the book takes many dark and serious turns, Roth also finds ways to imbue her trademark humor into the plot through the lovable relationships between its main characters ... seems like not only a great read for Roth’s intended adult audience, but also a relevant choice for many younger readers as well ... In these chronically uncertain times, Roth’s Chosen Ones offers us reassurance that we will make it to the other side of crisis and live to tell the tale.
RaveTor.com... unique, complex, yet undeniably beautiful. Kidd’s prose is so daring—using stunning imagery and unpredictable, rare language—that I often found myself pausing while reading, taking time to bask in the beauty of a metaphor or pausing to reflect on a rhetorical question. And, like just like the author’s textured prose, Kidd has built a story that is winding, beautiful, and complex ... The plot is dark and gritty, but with an undeniable grain of optimism resting underneath ... succeeds effortlessly on many fronts. Aside from the daring plot and Kidd’s stunning prose, what perhaps struck me most about the books was the unique cast of characters. Bridie herself is a masterclass of a protagonist ... The goofy characters provide a much needed levity from the darker subject matters of the novel—the sweet romance between Bridie and Ruby and the blossoming friendships between the characters not only allow a break from the macabre subject matter, but also illustrate Kidd’s impressive range as a storyteller ... effortlessly toes the line between historical fiction and a darker fantasy world ... this is the genius of Jess Kidd’s work: she has mastered the art of literary balance. Elements of fact, fiction, hope, and despair are abundant in this novel, and each play a different yet significant role ... magic is everywhere, but it somehow never makes the plot feel less real.