Review: Deeplight by Frances Hardinge

50157754Deeplight by Frances Hardinge

Published: April 14, 2020 by Amulet Books

Buy this book at: Amazon | B&N | Book Depository

Synopsis: The gods are dead. Decades ago, they turned on one another and tore each other apart. Nobody knows why. But are they really gone forever? When 15-year-old Hark finds the still-beating heart of a terrifying deity, he risks everything to keep it out of the hands of smugglers, military scientists, and a secret fanatical cult so that he can use it to save the life of his best friend, Jelt. But with the heart, Jelt gradually and eerily transforms. How long should Hark stay loyal to his friend when he’s becoming a monster—and what is Hark willing to sacrifice to save him?

Rating: 4 star

Review: This book drew me in with its cover, as is often the case. I was intrigued by the synopsis. And several reviews of it called it a merging of Frakenstein, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea and Dr. Jeykll and Mr. Hyde, and that left me even more interested. Normally with that much hype surrounding a book it is bound to disappoint, at least a little bit, but this book was fantastic.

Hark was a fabulous character. He was uncertain and timid but trying to find a foothold in the world. He could see that his friendship with Jelt was changing but admitting it to himself meant that nothing would be the same. He broke my heart and left me cheering him on. He had a great story arc. Through the course of the story he was forced from being a little boy running a small time con to a man who takes responsibility for his own story.

I had a hard time feeling too much sympathy for Jelt because he was pretty mean to Hark from the moment we met him. But, despite that, I felt tremendous sympathy for how Hark dealt with the changes in his friend.

The gods were presented as monsters first, deities almost by accident, and I liked that approach. The idea of monster gods is appealing to me and this was the perfect blend of monster and majesty to suit me. The world this book was set in was also beautifully detailed. I could feel the undulating waves of the Undersea. The permeating fear of it that fed the gods for thousands of years. It was a beautifully written story. My only complaint was that the ending when Hark is going after the heart dragged on for a bit too long. After about 50 pages my mind started to wander and I wished we could stop describing everything so thoroughly and move on with the action a bit quicker. But the ending was compelling, as was the epilogue. I read the last thirty pages or so with tears streaming down my face, my heart breaking and cheering for Hark all at the same time. In the end this was a story about the power of stories, and it had a profound power all its own.

The Madman’s Daughter by Megan Sheperd

madmansdaughterThe Madman’s Daughter by Megan Sheperd

Published January 29th, 2013 by Balzer & Bray

Buy this book at (no seriously you need to buy it!): Books A Million / Book Depository / Amazon / B&N

 

Synopsis:

In the darkest places, even love is deadly.

Sixteen-year-old Juliet Moreau has built a life for herself in London—working as a maid, attending church on Sundays, and trying not to think about the scandal that ruined her life. After all, no one ever proved the rumors about her father’s gruesome experiments. But when she learns he is alive and continuing his work on a remote tropical island, she is determined to find out if the accusations are true.

Accompanied by her father’s handsome young assistant, Montgomery, and an enigmatic castaway, Edward—both of whom she is deeply drawn to—Juliet travels to the island, only to discover the depths of her father’s madness: He has experimented on animals so that they resemble, speak, and behave as humans. And worse, one of the creatures has turned violent and is killing the island’s inhabitants. Torn between horror and scientific curiosity, Juliet knows she must end her father’s dangerous experiments and escape her jungle prison before it’s too late. Yet as the island falls into chaos, she discovers the extent of her father’s genius—and madness—in her own blood.

Inspired by H. G. Wells’s classic The Island of Dr. Moreau, The Madman’s Daughter is a dark and breathless Gothic thriller about the secrets we’ll do anything to know and the truths we’ll go to any lengths to protect.

 

Rating: 4 star

 

Review:

This book is awesome with a side order of fantastic.  I have not read the book that inspired this novel, although I know the premise and basic plot points.  I expected that to mean that I didn’t anticipate any of the plot twists, that was not exactly accurate but I still loved the book.  It was creepy without being even the slightest bit gory…okay maybe there was one tiny gory moment but not too bad.  It made my skin crawl without being traditionally scary.

Juliet is a character that I had to like.  She is tough, feminine, smart, articulate, creative, and curious.  Its been quite a long time since I read a book with such a kick ass heroine.  She gets a little doe eyed around Montgomery, but I expected that so it was not too terrible to endure. I was really interested in spending more time in Juliet’s head.  Her internal dialogue intrigued me immensely.  At first I thought that my immersion into the book was a result of exceptionally lovely writing.  But as I look back, the writing is very solid and descriptive but nothing exceptional.  The source of my fascination was Juliet.  I couldn’t get enough of her.

The plot was very tightly put together and proceeded at a decent pace.  Not once did I feel like things were moving too fast or that things were moving along at a snail’s pace.  It was the perfect pace for the plot.  It spent just enough time on certain portions of the plot that you started to feel uncomfortable.  You wanted the author to move on, but it didn’t until that discomfort achieved its purpose.  I really enjoyed that.  I like a book that uses the pacing and plot to evoke certain reactions or feelings out of me.  In our current environment of cookie cutter characters put into a cookie cutter plot, this felt different.  I also found that I guessed all of the different plot twists long before they actually happened.  When a twist would come up, I’d sensed it coming and wasn’t surprised by it.  Shockingly, I didn’t find this annoying, I kind of enjoyed it.

The only reason that I deducted a star was the love triangle.  In general, I am sick and tired of love triangles.  They are horribly cliche at this point and not interesting at all.  But the love triangle itself was not the reason I disliked it.  I actually liked the fact that the two men were so vastly different from each other.  I could understand Juliet’s attraction to both and why she would not be sure who was the best man for her.  My problem was that I couldn’t even tell it was supposed to be a love triangle until I specifically told.  I saw no attraction or interest from any of them and then it was kind of like, “Oh she kissed him, I guess she must like him.”  and then “Oh, she kissed him too, love triangle here we come.”  I should have been able to guess it.

And now we have come to the ending of this wonderful tale.  Oh, and what an ending it was.  This is the one twist that I didn’t see coming a mile away.  I was convinced that there had to be more pages that I was missing somehow.  It couldn’t possibly end like….THAT!  Where were the rest of the pages?  Maybe I got a flawed book and they left out a chapter or two at the end.  I still am dumbfounded that it couldn’t possibly end that way.  I need that second book right now to find out what happens.