A Great Reckoning
By Louise Penny
Review by Kathy Caputo (our Book Your Summer grand prize winner!)
This book is the twelfth in a series of mystery novels by a Canadian author in which the protagonist is the wise and gentle Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of a Canadian Police Agency. He is known for his intelligence, his kindness and for his ability to see the goodness in flawed characters, often having his associates question his judgment.
The main setting is a tiny idyllic fictional village near Montreal in which several of the local residents are regular characters in the series. Characters include a gifted artist, a retired psychologist turned book store proprietor, an eccentric aging poet and a gay couple who operate a bed and breakfast inn and a cozy bistro that functions like a community center. Descriptions of rich French food served in the bistro add to the warm and inviting atmosphere of the community, especially when there is snow pelting the windows. Part of the story takes place at the police academy and elsewhere. Continue reading
The Raven Boys
By Maggie Stiefvater
Review by Zoey Mills
The Raven Cycle follows a group of soon-to-graduate prep school boys and Blue, a clairvoyant’s daughter, and their quest to find the grave of the Welsh King, Glendower. Lead by Gansey, the group is certainly dynamic in that each character brings something to the story. I would say one of Stiefvater’s main strengths is building characters.
As I got further into The Raven Boys, I realized that I became invested in characters (some more than others) and I could picture them as real people. Building entirely different worlds in a book is an extremely difficult thing to do, and often authors tend to give their readers an information overload. Stiefvater is extremely subtle in providing the information needed, and her foreshadowing is so subtle to the point where I had no idea of any of the twists that lay ahead. Although some events within the story are definitely fantastical, her writing is so moving and powerful that you can find yourself lost in the world of Henrietta, Virginia. Continue reading
The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan
Review by Emma
It’s clear how self-aware Glen Duncan was of the tradition he attempts to navigate in The Last Werewolf, focused on the final months of the moribund race of lycanthropes. He negotiates a genre of horror we’ve become accustomed to, a vogue of monstrosity that’s returned from the depths of our imaginations after several decades of hibernation in which werewolves were merely fodder for satire, a campy terror that no longer haunted the nightmares of our subconscious. Not unlike Anne Rice’s Vampire series, Duncan invites the readership to reexamine lycanthropes, both to understand aspects of their humanity—or rather the crisis of being physically ripped from it each full moon—and view them within a narrative that’s persisted in folklore for hundreds of years. Jacob Marlowe’s narration is possessed of a certain eloquence, his speech fragmented with astute literary allusions, so off-handedly quipped that we come to understand him as a man very much in love with words and the importance of recognizing those storytellers that matter, just as Duncan does not presume to ignore the multitude of literary renderings the werewolf has undergone. Marlowe’s tendency to wax poetic is construed as his medium to wrestle with notions of morality while so Cursed. Duncan parses lyrical sentences with oblique references to Blake or Tennyson to give the reader a sense of the vital importance words have for Marlowe, a meta-commentary on his own risk to reimagine lycanthropy. However, this eloquence breaks down further into the narrative as the tempo increases. Continue reading