Thursday, April 11, 2013

Book Suggestions~ Forbidden Game, Night Circus, Haunting of Hill House

Books, books, books. I believe literature may actually occupy 90% of my brain. I've got this enormous list of things to recommend to everyone sitting on my computer and I doubt it'll ever reach it's end considering I'm constantly adding to it.

 The first one I've got today is actually a YA book. I don't read a huge amount of these, (Or, correction, I don't normally like a lot of these. The same overused tropes left and right...) but this book has been one of my favorites for years. It's called Forbidden Game by L. J. Smith and though technically it's three books I have the collected edition. I have a hunch the creativity of the series in not making it like any other paranormal romance is because it was written before Twilight hit the market. (When everyone started emulating that in varying degrees.)

In the book, Jenny is convinced by a white-haired stranger at a store to buy a game for her party. She does so, but when she and her friends go to play it they invoke a rune which drags them into the game. The stranger from the store is there and introduces himself as Julian. He says that they've all agreed to play this game, and therefore must do as he says if they want to live. They have 24 hours to navigate the house and face their fears or they're trapped here forever. When asked what his motivation is, he claims that he's in love with Jenny, that he's watched her for years. He's a 'Shadow man', an ancient race of beings who've always made deals and played games with humans. Basically, I can't go into much more detail without spoiling certain plot twists, and the next two books can't really be explained until you've finished the first one, so you'll have to trust me ;)

I like the atmosphere and places in the book. They've got the sort of fantastical elements that I love in a setting, but there are very dark undertones lying under the surface, especially in some of Julian and Jenny's conversations. As far as characters go, Jenny always annoys me in the beginning. She's weak and bends to everything her boyfriend says. However, her development through the books has her change into a strong, independent girl who I can actually respect. (Even if a few of her choices make me want to cry) Her circle of friends all have their quirks and I found them all interesting enough to like, other than Tommy her boyfriend. Julian of course, is my absolute favorite. I have a tendency to like the villains, but I've always especially loved him. Some aspects of his personality are enough to make you want to hit him through the book, but I guarantee that if you don't like him in the beginning you'll like him by the end.

The end of this series actually upset me nearly to tears,  but there's hope for me yet. The author has said she's working on a sequel series, which will be targeted at adults and that makes me extraordinarily happy.

The second book I have for you is The Night Circus. I'm sure you've all seen this on the shelves, or if you follow Jillian Venters on Tumblr she's alluded to it several times. The plot of this book becomes rather convoluted, much of it is a mystery throughout the novel. It revolves around two magicians, who place a bet that their apprentices are capable of defeating the other in a sort of competition. They spend years training them, but the apprentices aren't told who the other is, or even what the competition is. The setting is to be the Night Circus. A circus that 'arrives without warning' and sets up quickly in whatever location it's arrived at. It's open at night and inside the color scheme is entirely black and white. There are wonders inside that you couldn't even dream up. (The author of this has one of the best imaginations I've ever encountered) The circus ends up gaining a cult following, The 'Reveurs', who wear a splash of red to identify one another, and attempt to predict where the circus will go next. And under all of the mystery and fantastical elements of the circus (Supported by magic, though no one realizes) there's the ongoing battle between these two apprentices.

There's not much else I can say, other than that the whole book held me in rapture. The settings, the people, they were all so delightfully decadent that it had me aching for a real life 'Night Circus' to pop up and let me in ^^ The story is rather slow-paced, but in my opinion the atmosphere makes up for it entirely. Of course that might not be the case for everyone so I'm giving you a little warning that the plot is certainly not the fastest moving one around.

Finally, the third book is The Haunting of Hill House. This one was published in 1959 and it's the sort of Gothic style horror I really enjoy. The book is generally considered one of the greatest ghost stories ever written, and I tend to agree. The author uses psychologically frightening tactics to slowly build up suspense throughout the book. There's no gore or graphic violence, everything is extraordinarily subtle, and you won't realize many of the significant hints until later on. As far as the plot's concerned it's not very complicated. A doctor is conducting a study on the so called paranormal activity witnessed at Hill House. He invites people to come and participate, based on their previous experiences with paranormal events. Only two young women accept, and the heir to the house joins them. As they stay in the house they begin to experience small disturbances, which gradually escalate the longer they remain. The climactic event has been hinted at subtlety throughout the book and the ending was not anything I expected. The ending is actually fairly ambiguous, I'm not even sure which of the two possibilities I believe in more strongly.

The characters in the book aren't very likeable in my opinion. Eleanor is full of self-pity, Theodore is brash and irritating, Luke is fairly spineless, and Dr. Montague is a bit patronizing. But it's the makeup of all of their psyches and the exploration of them that further enhances the book and the events in it. The nonsensical conversations between the characters might seem unrealistic at times, but it only adds to the atmosphere.

Finally, a little question for you all. Have any of you been watching Vikings? Because it's fantastic. I'm a bit of a history buff and I was worried they would mangle all the Norse myths and culture, (Not to mention, I've got a personal stake because I'm Swedish and rather proud of my heritage) but I think they've been doing a wonderful job. I love Ragnar because he manages to be both soft-spoken and intimidating, (Also, he's got gorgeous eyes) Lagertha is a kick-ass shield maiden, and Aethelstan (The captured monk) is just adorable. I'm going to full heartedly recommend this show to anyone who hasn't been watching.

Plus come on. Look at that braided mowhawk.
Obviously vikings were the original punks ;)


  1. xxxx little darling xxxxApril 12, 2013 at 10:30 AM

    Have you ever read 'Le Horla'? It's a short story in French (translations are found for free online) about a man being possessed by a vampyre. It's nice and old :) and extremely good.
    'The matter is I do not get any rest, and my nights devour my days'
    Very good story, highly recommended.
    And The Graveyard Book (Neil Gaiman) is so lovely, even though it's not adult or young adult, but for sort of 12ish year olds, and it is good for when you've scared yourself with a book (I do this a lot) and want to read ghosty stuff without having to sleep with the light on!i read it a few years back, and it's a really good book! Ots about Nobody Owens, who was raised by ghosts as his family were murdered. But the murderer catches up...
    And Whisper my Name, by Jane Eagland, is a good book about Victorian mediums.

    Anyway, I will have a look out for these books, The Night Circus sounds brilliant!

    1. I'm going to go look for that right now! It sounds great :) I read The Graveyard Book a couple of years ago and thought it was pretty spooky/adorable XD And if you can find a copy of any of these I highly recommend them ^^