Tag: Cherie Priest


Review – Bloodshot

Posted 24 July, 2017 by Nikki in Reviews / 2 Comments

Cover of Bloodshot by Cherie PriestBloodshot, Cherie Priest

There’s a lot to love about Bloodshot. The protagonist is a flapper vampire with obsessive-compulsive disorder, who uses her skills to steal things and sort of looks out for two street urchins who’ve taken up residence in her warehouse. Her client is a blind vampire who may be able to control the weather, having been experimented on by the government, and her eventual sidekick is a crossdressing ex-Navy SEAL who looks fabulous in either male or female clothing, kicks complete ass, and is trying to find out what happened to his sister in the same sort of experiments. The interactions are delightful, and Raylene’s tone is often funny.

There are some quibbles — Raylene tends to ramble, and on a second read it becomes obvious how long it takes for the plot to get off the ground. I’m still immensely fond of the characters and all the ass they kick, despite being tiny and obsessive-compulsive (Raylene), in high heels and a glittery thong part of the time, including during action scenes (Adrian) and blind (Ian). They make for a great team. Raylene’s a little too trigger happy — or rather, I guess, fang-happy; she’s definitely morally ambiguous, for all that I totally rooted for her throughout.

It might possibly work better as a TV show or movie, in that Raylene’s inner monologue is part of what slows things up. Not that I can imagine anyone making something of this and not utterly butchering it in some way — what charms about it is partly that these characters would rarely be allowed to shine in quite this way in mainstream fiction, and it’s possible in another context Adrian would be used as comic relief in some way. (Which he isn’t, which is great.)

Still very fun, but also definitely still flawed on a reread.

Rating: 4/5

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Review – The Family Plot

Posted 18 February, 2017 by Nikki in Reviews / 4 Comments

Cover of The Family Plot by Cherie PriestThe Family Plot, Cherie Priest

Received to review via Netgalley; released in September 2016

Cherie Priest has written a whole bunch of different books, and I don’t love them all, but I have found them all to be solid stories. The Family Plot has a fun setting and concept: a salvage crew go in to get what they can from an old house scheduled for demolition. Problem is, the house has a history, and its past occupants aren’t all gone. It makes so much sense: of course old houses are creepy, and of course salvagers are going to be more interested the older it is. And of course, the older it is, the more history it has, tragedy included. The main character, Dahlia, believes in ghosts already; she’s felt them, she knows they’re there, and mostly they leave the living alone.

I won’t discuss too many of the details of the plot, because that mystery is part of the interest. It is worth noting though that every summary I can find doesn’t match with the events as they unfold in the ARC I got.

The problem with me is that I’m a total wuss, so horror isn’t normally my thing — in fact, I only picked this up because it was by Cherie Priest. Even so, I felt that a lot of the elements were pretty traditional and obvious. Doors that slam behind you and won’t open. Burials where there shouldn’t be burials. Ghosts who scratch messages into the floor. It felt like we saw it all a bit too clearly for it to be creepy. The final resolution — the whys and wherefores of the haunting — also didn’t quite satisfy me. There’s so much monstrous build-up, and then the solution is kind of… anti-climatic.

Nonetheless, the setting works really well, and I loved Dahlia. She’s capable, but not a superwoman. She knows what she’s doing, she’s decisive and smart, but she doesn’t always make the right decisions. And she’s not some fresh-faced kid with no history: she has a past which informs the way she acts now and the way she interacts with those around her. The supporting characters weren’t developed as much, but I found myself oddly interested in Bobby in particular, and how he might get his life together. At the very least, he raised a decent kid in Gabe.

Overall, it’s enjoyable, if not ground-breaking, and probably worth a look if you’re into ghost stories.

Rating: 3/5

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Review – Dreadful Skin

Posted 13 April, 2016 by Nikki in Reviews / 2 Comments

Cover of Dreadful Skin by Cherie PriestDreadful Skin, Cherie Priest

I’ve been meaning to get round to Dreadful Skin for ages. I mean, the idea of a gun-toting nun chasing an actually scary werewolf across America has got to be fun, right? Particularly given that I enjoyed Those Who Went Remain There Stillwhich had a similar horror feel. This isn’t creepy, more grotesque, but not gratuitous either. It’s more Dracula in tone than slasher film, I mean. I didn’t realise it was actually three shorter stories collected together, telling the story via three episodes in the nun’s life.

There’s not really enough space — or likeable enough characters — to get emotionally hooked to this. Even with the first person narrators, they switched so frequently and sounded similar-ish, so I didn’t get hold of them. But I loved the Spring-Heeled Jack link, the setting, the way the werewolf acts and the way Priest uses the werewolf lore here. The middle story feels like a bit of an anti-climax; it does reveal a couple of things, but it doesn’t involve the main antagonist, and mostly just sets up the last story.

Interesting construction, etc, but I think I would’ve liked a more cohesive novel more.

Rating: 3/5

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Review – Fathom

Posted 2 April, 2016 by Nikki in Reviews / 4 Comments

Cover of Fathom by Cherie PriestFathom, Cherie Priest

Fathom isn’t my favourite of Cherie Priest’s books (the honour for that goes to Bloodshot and Hellbent, by an awful long way), but it was an interesting read. It felt somewhat… inconclusive, because in the end, nearly all of the actions of the book mean nothing. One character in particular just seemed to be there to be described in a quirky way in the summary (“add in a hapless fire inspector who’s just trying to get his paperwork in order”). It was particularly odd because it wasn’t a quirky sort of book at all; it was more dark and weird, with elementals and a whole supernatural world crawling under the skin of normal life. And then that character exited the plot with almost no impact on it; he was just a convenient way of getting from A to B, and then he’s gone.

Still, that darkness and power, the transformations of the characters who get caught up in it, are fascinating — and the loneliness of Mossfeaster is portrayed well, his half-indifference belied by his interest in his creation, by his desire to keep her close. I wanted to know more about Mossfeaster and his past, and Arahab, and the fire elemental too whose existence was only really touched on…

The weirdest point, though, is the depiction of Berenice. There’s a handwave towards setting her up with motivations (she claims to have been molested by her stepfather), but most of the time she just seems spoilt, petty, and… well, evil. Arahab was more ambiguous, with her genuine love for her ‘children’, her drive. Berenice seemed pretty much just out for herself, and it never really went any deeper than that.

This all sounds very lukewarm, but it was a fascinating read. I’d love to have spent more time exploring the mythology and less on the hapless fire inspector or Berenice’s plotting.

Rating: 3/5

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Stacking the Shelves

Posted 19 December, 2015 by Nikki in General / 18 Comments

Just one library trip this week — partly because I have a book I really should return soon that I need to finish. So not many books picked up!

Cover of Beauty by Sarah Pinborough Cover of Fathom by Cherie Priest

Since you probably know me at least a little, you know that I’ve started Beauty already, because I can never wait and just read books I already have… At least it finishes off that trilogy!?

Oh, and I did get one review copy this week, via Edelweiss. Exciting!

Cover of This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab

What’s everyone else been getting, reading, or coveting? Reading-wise, I’m partway through Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater and The Cutting Room edited by Ellen Datlow, among others. I’m not sure a book of horror stories based around movies is really my thing, but at the same time I’m kind of mesmerised.

Also, yay! It seems I have reached my goal of getting 80% feedback submitted on Netgalley. Finally.

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Top Ten Tuesday

Posted 2 June, 2015 by Nikki in General / 15 Comments

This week’s theme is books you’d like to see as movies/tv shows. The proviso here is that I would want appropriate casting, e.g. not a white man for Ged or Patriot.

  1. A Wizard of Earthsea, Ursula Le Guin. Shush. There hasn’t been one. Doesn’t exist.
  2. Captain Marvel. Sooner than planned, please. And keep in the recent bit about her dating Rhodey!
  3. Young Avengers. You’ve got all the ingredients ready, Marvel. Dooo iiiiiittttt.
  4. Throne of Glass, Sarah J. Maas. It could be really epic, and it’d require a female lead who could do stunts and would need a good range of acting skills.
  5. A Natural History of Dragons, Mary Brennan. I’m not sure how well it’d translate to the big screen, but again, it’d require a female lead and it’d be a little bit like Walking With Dinosaurs, only dragons and fiction.
  6. The Winter King, Bernard Cornwell. Do Arthur right!
  7. Tigana, Guy Gavriel Kay. In the right hands, it would be beautiful.
  8. Sunshine, Robin McKinley. Female lead who is both a reluctant hero type and a baker. Interesting vampire lore, gorgeous imagery. It’d be amazing, right?
  9. Farthing, Jo Walton. Could serve as a timely warning to a country embracing conservatism right now, too.
  10. Bloodshot, Cherie Priest. Weird found-family dynamics, kickass female lead, ex-Navy SEAL drag queen? Okay, there’d be so many ways for them to mess it up, but we’re talking an ideal world here, and it would be so very right.

Gaah, gimme them. Nowww.

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Top Ten Tuesday

Posted 12 May, 2015 by in General / 4 Comments

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday prompt is “ten authors I really want to meet”. Now, I’ve actually been lucky and met a fair few authors I love — Jo Walton, Robin Hobb, Alastair Reynolds… But I’m sure I can come up with ten more.

  1. Ursula Le Guin. And nobody is at all surprised. Not even a little.
  2. Patricia McKillip. I know very little about her as a person, but her writing is awesome.
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien. I mean, not as a zombie or anything, but if I could go back in time. Attend one of his lectures maybe?
  4. Hazel Edwards. She wrote There’s a Hippopotamus On Our Roof Eating Cake. Obvious.
  5. Cherie Priest. She seems cool, I want to pet her dog, and I like her on Twitter.
  6. N.K. Jemisin. Granted, I’d probably just babble quietly, but that’s the same with anyone I admire.
  7. Robin Hobb. Again. I was fourteen at the time, after all.
  8. Jacqueline Carey. Sign all my books. All of them.
  9. Guy Gavriel Kay. Ditto.
  10. Susan Cooper. The first thing I move into a new house is my copy of The Dark is Rising sequence, and I’m not even kidding about that. It goes in the first box or bag to enter the new place, and gets put on the shelf symbolically before anything else.

So, uh, yeah. I could probably think of more, but I’d better stop daydreaming now…

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Review – Maplecroft

Posted 13 October, 2014 by lionbird in Reviews / 6 Comments

Cover of Maplecroft by Cherie PriestMaplecroft, Cherie Priest

I like Cherie Priest’s ideas a lot, and even the writing when it works for me — Bloodshot and Hellbent being books I totally adore. I like her characters, the way she picks people who other writers might overlook: the working mother of Boneshaker, the neurotic vampire and her found family of Hellbent, and here, Lizzie Borden — yes, that one. She takes the two Bordens and makes them heroines, tries to change your perspective on the murder of the Borden parents, makes them women of learning and resolve, biting back against patriarchal society. And Lizzie’s relationship with Nance O’Neil is explicitly a sexual one here, which… I’m not sure if I think it’s a bit exploitative, using these real people in the service of this story. And yet I don’t flinch if you go back further and use Chaucer or Gower or Shakespeare, speculate about their relationships, so I guess it’s just because they’re that much closer to living memory. Either way, I do enjoy the way Priest chooses characters to weave her stories around.

The format is pretty cool, too: an epistolary novel, basically, very much in the same sort of vein as Dracula — only here, it’s a woman acquitted of murder versus stuff from the Cthulhu mythos. I’m not sure how completely Priest draws on that or whether it’s just nods in that direction, but she does a pretty good job of making the menace felt. One thing I didn’t quite get was the tetanus stuff and how/why that worked, which weakened things for me a bit — I felt like just a bit more explanation on that point would’ve helped, much as it might have gone against the grain of the mystery and the superstition that was wrapped around the scientific aspects.

It is a bit slow at some points — the epistolary format doesn’t help with that, since it gives us very explicit glimpses into how characters are feeling after the events they’re recording, which can slow down the action as they introspect. But overall I thought it was interesting, and I’d definitely read more in the series, where I’m much less bothered about the Eden Moore books or even the Clockwork Century books, which I haven’t read all of.

Rating: 3/5

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Top Ten Tuesday

Posted 26 August, 2014 by in General / 24 Comments

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday, a la The Broke and the Bookish, is “top ten books you really want to read but haven’t got yet”. Which is difficult, for me: I tend to pick up what I want right away, because I am terribly prone to needing instant gratification. Still, I’m doing better lately, and there’s some books I haven’t got as ARCs despite all my hankering after them.

  1. Maplecroft, by Cherie Priest. I’ve enjoyed most of Priest’s work, and even when I haven’t loved it, I’ve thought it was interesting. So I’m very much looking forward to this one.
  2. The Just City, by Jo Walton. I love the sound of it; the whole concept of setting up Plato’s Republic for real and seeing how it works? Yeaaah. Plus, it’s Jo Walton: I’ll read anything she puts out.
  3. The Fifth Season, by N.K. Jemisin. I don’t even know what it’s about, I just know I want it when it comes out. Jemisin’s never let me down yet.
  4. The Galaxy Game, by Karen Lord. I wasn’t totally bowled over by The Best of All Possible Worlds, but I did enjoy it, and I’m looking forward to seeing how Lord develops the minor characters of the first book, and where she goes with developing the universe she’s set up.
  5. Dreamer’s Pool, by Juliet Marillier. I generally enjoy Marillier’s work, and this sounds like an interesting one. In a way, I think I can kind of predict what’s coming, but I still think it sounds interesting, and Marillier’s writing and characters are an important part of the package, too.
  6. A Darker Shade of Magic, by V.E. Schwab. This is the first one on this list where I haven’t read anything by the author before! I’m intrigued by the summary, the various parallel Londons it mentions. I may be kind of a sucker for alternate Londons like Neverwhere and Un Lun Dun.
  7. Batgirl, vol. 1: Silent Running, by Scott Peterson & Kelley Puckett. I like Gail Simone’s run on Batgirl with Barbara Gordon; I’m interested to dig into other characters, though, particularly as Cassandra Cain has specific limitations. Although, what’s with Batgirl having disabilities and being magically healed?
  8. Heraclix & Pomp, by Forrest Aguire. I’ve been interested in this since reading Dan’s review.
  9. Dangerous Girls, by Abigail Haas. Everyone makes this one sound amazing. I’m hoping to win a giveaway for this book sometime soon, but otherwise, I’m definitely looking to pick it up somewhere.
  10. Hammered, by Elizabeth Bear. I like the idea of the middle-aged heroine, the world sounds interesting, etc. I may not end up picking this one up if I don’t like the work by Elizabeth Bear I’ve already got somewhere, but for now I still have my eye on it.

What about everyone else?

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Waiting on Wednesday: Cherie Priest’s Maplecroft

Posted 2 July, 2014 by Nikki in General / 4 Comments

Wednesday again, and time for Waiting on Wednesday!

I’ve been watching for tweets about this one like a hawk. I haven’t loved every Cherie Priest I’ve read, but I’ve appreciated and enjoyed them all, and I’m excited about this one.

Lizzie Borden took an axe and gave her mother forty whacks; and when she saw what she had done, she gave her father forty-one….Cover of Maplecroft by Cherie Priest

The people of Fall River, Massachusetts, fear me. Perhaps rightfully so. I remain a suspect in the brutal deaths of my father and his second wife despite the verdict of innocence at my trial. With our inheritance, my sister, Emma, and I have taken up residence in Maplecroft, a mansion near the sea and far from gossip and scrutiny.

But it is not far enough from the affliction that possessed my parents. Their characters, their very souls, were consumed from within by something that left malevolent entities in their place. It originates from the ocean’s depths, plaguing the populace with tides of nightmares and madness.

This evil cannot hide from me. No matter what guise it assumes, I will be waiting for it. With an axe.

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