Once more onto the breech, my friends. It is Monday once more. I received review copies of all of these books, but as always, opinions are entirely my own.
This Eden by Ed O’Loughlin is a weird one. Out earlier this month from riverrun, this is a sort of spy thriller set in the tech industry around Michael who is drawn into a cryptocurrency conspiracy after his girlfriend’s death. It is extremely fast-paced and tension is high throughout – though at the expense of logic consistency. I struggled a lot with the voice, the urgency with which the story was told grated on me after the first few dozen pages and felt repetitive and annoying. Through the tone of the story and the constant secrecy the characters uphold even with each other, the reader doesn’t really know anything about any of them, even at the end of the story, so for me it was very hard to get invested in the book. A gripping plot is not the only thing that I need to like a book – I need characters I care about, I need emotional investment, I need a compelling voice. And sadly, the only thing that kept me reading was that This Eden had a good hook.
Dog Rose Dirt by Jen Williams will be published in July by Harper. This is a solid murder-mystery thriller. The story revolves around Heather, whose mother has just killed herself – and while tidying up her affairs, Heather finds a bunch of letters her mother had been exchanging with a convicted serial killer. But despite him being behind bars, new victims are being found in the same distinctive manner… Heather is pulled into the investigation whether she wants to or not, as she is innately connected to the mystery at hand. I found the story compelling, relateable and compulsively readable. However, some twists were very predictable – I saw some parts of the ending coming from very early on in the story and was just waiting for the resolution to happen. It’s not a perfect book, but a very solid one for fans of the genre. Worth a shot if you like twisty murdery books!
I was super excited for Star Eater by Kerstin Hall, published last week by Tordotcom. So obviously I was thrilled to be able to review an audio ARC, but sadly I didn’t love this as much as I expected to. Star Eater is a story about cannibal nuns – a religious sect who gain magical powers through eating the flesh of their martyred mothers. The book centres on Elfreda Rahn, who is drawn into an intricate political web, where she plays a role she never expected. I never expected I’d say this but this political fantasy about cannibal nuns needed more politics, religion and cannibalism. It felt like the story was trying to go in too many directions at once, doing too many things, and lost sight of the concept. There is certainly a lot of interesting stuff in here, and I wouldn’t call it bad, but it’s also nothing that is outstanding. In some ways, this felt unfinished – I think it might have worked better as a novella, shorter, but focused on only one aspect and exploring that in detail, maybe even as a series of novellas. The way it is now, it lost a lot of its emotional impact through bombarding the reader with a ton of different strands and relationships that aren’t properly explored.