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Familiar Diversions

I'm a librarian who loves anime, manga, and reading a wide variety of genres.

Currently reading

Algis Budrys
Alliance In Blood
Ariel Tachna
Progress: 86/210 pages
To Say Nothing of the Dog: Or How We Found the Bishop's Bird Stump at Last
Connie Willis, Recorded Books LLC, Steven Crossley
The Invisible Orientation: An Introduction to Asexuality
Julie Sondra Decker
The Mystic Marriage
Heather Rose Jones
Progress: 302/426 pages
Ichi-F: A Worker's Graphic Memoir of the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant
Kazuto Tatsuta
Progress: 448/553 pages
Jennifer Foehner Wells
Progress: 58/367 pages
The Dead of Winter - Chris Priestley When I was younger, I used to read lots of horror novels. The first time I raided my parents' bookshelves, I took Stephen King's Firestarter (which I enjoyed) and a German copy of Pet Sematary (that didn't work out so well – my German vocab just wasn't up to the task). I'm much more of a wimp now and rarely read horror, but I couldn't resist the bit on the back of this book that said fans of Neil Gaiman would enjoy it.This is one of those books that I enjoyed more as I was reading it and in the grip of its creepy atmosphere than when I wasn't reading it. When I wasn't reading it and had more of a chance to think about it, I found that certain aspects of it irked me more.My biggest problem with the book was probably Michael, who I didn't entirely like. Part of the reason for that, I think, was that there was hardly any time to see Michael at his best. The story began right after Michael's mother's funeral, which would have been bad enough, but then he was essentially forced to live with a man he resented. I tried to cut Michael some slack, at first, but his sullenness got a bit old after a while. He wasn't as bad towards the servants as he was towards Sir Stephen, but I don't think he was likable enough to deserve the affection some of the servants demonstrated later on in the book.Initially, I didn't mind Michael's reaction to Sir Stephen so much. I could understand why Michael might blame Sir Stephen for his father's early death, and Sir Stephen did act a bit unhinged at times. However, I couldn't understand why it didn't occur to Michael that he and Sir Stephen had a few things in common, especially after he learned that both of them had seen and heard similar creepy things at Hawton Mere. It wasn't that I thought Michael should start to like and trust the man – I was just surprised that he never made the connection between his own reaction to the scary things happening at Hawton Mere and Sir Stephen's declining mental health. I figure, if I had grown up at a place like Hawton Mere the way Sir Stephen had, I probably would have eventually gone crazy too. Instead of seeing Sir Stephen as a potential ally or even just as another source of information, Michael seemed more focused on blaming him for everything.Despite slightly disliking Michael, I plowed through this book really quickly. I read it in three sittings and could probably have finished it in one or two if I hadn't been so tired. Its atmosphere had such a grip on me that I found myself wishing I had more than just my cat for company while I read it.Although I did think the book was very creepy, after a while I found myself wishing for a greater variety of scares. Mostly, the scares consisted of darkness/shadows and strange noises, along with different combinations of “I think there's something behind/nearby me,” breathing sounds, a ghost, a mysterious child, and a priest hole. Even though I sighed a bit when I got to yet another “it's dark and there's something in here with me” scene (not that those scenes didn't work on me each and every time - I'm that much of a wimp), the book never felt like a slog. It helped that I was very intrigued by the mystery of whatever had happened at Hawton Mere. I really wanted to find out who the woman and child Michael kept seeing were and why they were there.Overall, I enjoyed this and would recommend it to someone looking for horror that doesn't rely on gory, gruesome moments for its scares. It'd probably work well for its intended audience (“Ages 12 and up,” according to Amazon).(Original review, with read-alikes, posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)