cornerofmadness (cornerofmadness) wrote in 50bookchallenge,

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Book 12-13

The Spectral City (Spectral City, #1)The Spectral City by Leanna Renee Hieber

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Eve Whitby comes from a family of psychics, even though her parents are not comfortable with this at all (Her grandmother, however, is and is both a powerful psychic and Eve's mentor). It opens with Eve being put in charge of a supernatural squad within the NYPD by Teddy Roosevelt himself and Detective Horowitz is set up as her liaison.

Something strange happens immediately. One of the ghosts Eve usually speaks to, who helps her with her investigations, has gone missing. Eve and her other psychic companions, several young women from diverse backgrounds and races (and one who communicates via sign language) have a few cases facing them. A murder at a prominent house that no one is allowed to investigate, a spat of religiously motivated thefts and a missing little girl are all piled on their plate.

Without spoilers, they are somewhat interrelated and the ladies (along with Horowitz) have to prize apart all the threads and follow them back to answers. I will say that it doesn't quite all tie up and the ending is very open to the next book (as I type this, the third in the series is gearing up for release). I'm not generally a fan of opening endings but enough was tied up and the story felt done so that was okay.

I really liked Eve and Horowitz. Both are outsiders (she a woman/psychic on the force right before the turn of the 20th century, and he a Jewish detective) and they work well together. You can see the beginnings of a romance there. I did like Eve's girl gang of psychics (not to mention Grandma) but I didn't feel like I got to know the other psychics that well yet. I'm looking forward to doing that in book two. I really enjoyed this and I'm awaiting what comes next.

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The Castle of OtrantoThe Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Honestly I probably should have given it another star because of it's age and importance as a classic novel but it was very dry and melodramatic. In the 1700s it would have been fantastic (and it was from what I've read about it). Walpole's Gothic novel tried to evoke the age of Chivalry. It opens with Prince Manfred's son, Connor's upcoming nupitals to Princess Isabella when a huge helmet falls from the sky and crushes him.

You'll see some darker Shakespearean influences in this with long-lost heirs, two princesses insta-loving the same man and ghostly apparitions of those who've been wronged but it's definitely no comedy. Matilda, Manfred's daughter, who'd rather be a nun falls instantly for a young peasant who helped Isabella escape Manfred who is trying to force himself on her so he can have more male heirs now that she can't marry his son (and to heck with his wife Hippolyta). There is a root in Catholicism here as well with monks and crusades and returning crusaders.

Structurally, its not easy to read because there are no paragraphs in between speakers (mine is old 1963 but of course this was written in the 1700s). The language is thick with out of date (nearly 300 years later no surprise) words and a writing style that just doesn't fly these days. It's honestly not that engaging but you can see the influences for 19th cen. authors like Poe. I'm glad I read it. I might have liked it a bit better if I slogged through this and it had a less depressing ending but like I said this is no rom-com (in spite of having some of those elements). I've had this book on my shelf since high school. I can now send it on its way.

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Tags: fantasy, historical fiction, paranormal

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