Firstly – I was gifted an e-copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for a review!
Laura Wilson is the heir to an ancient curse.
As a young witch descending from the very powerful trio of witches that had cursed Macbeth, the pressure she faces daily is non-stop. When Laura is forced to participate in her school’s rendition of the classic play, she gives herself a single task: breaking the curse once and for all.
This task proves itself to be more difficult than she ever could have imagined when a miscast spell leads to the summoning of her dead ancestor, Cecily Wilson, one of the very witches that cursed Macbeth.
As Laura attempts to send her resurrected relative back beyond the veil, she is faced with one of the harsh realities of high school—having a crush on her best friend, Holly. However, things only get more complicated as Holly pines after Peter, a lonely, quick-witted vampire.
While she grows closer to Cecily, Laura sees first-hand the true horrors of being a witch in Elizabethan England as demonic forces arise in her little town of Shipley Hollow.
Can Laura break the curse and save her family name before the curtains rise on opening night?
Published July 21st by Vine Leaves Press
Today is my stop on the tour for The Strange Book of Jacob Boyce by Tom Gillespie!
Thanks Love Books Tours for inviting me along and sending a review copy of the book!
A spiralling obsession. A missing wife. A terrifying secret. Will he find her before it’s too late?
When Dr Jacob Boyce’s wife goes missing, the police put it down to a simple marital dispute. Jacob, however, fears something darker. Following her trail to Spain, he becomes convinced that Ella’s disappearance is tied to a mysterious painting whose hidden geometric and numerical riddles he’s been obsessively trying to solve for months. Obscure, hallucinogenic clues, and bizarre, larger-than-life characters, guide an increasingly unhinged Jacob through a nightmarish Spanish landscape to an art forger’s studio in Madrid, where he comes face-to-face with a centuries-old horror, and the terrifying, mind-bending, truth about his wife.
Wow, okay. This is going to be a really short review because it’s hard to talk about without ruining some detail of the story.
There are some aspects of The Strange Book of Jacob Boyce that I loved – it was mysterious, it bent genres and is probably the most creative book, in terms of content, that I’ve read this year. It is ambitious and it doesn’t hold back and that is amazing. By the end of the book I felt it covered a lot of ground in regards to dealing with grief and loss – hard topics to contain in the narrative!
However I did find that there were some things I didn’t enjoy which, while small, really affected my overall enjoyment of the story. I didn’t like Jacob, as a character I couldn’t get into his head and that really made me lose connection since we spent the entire novel following him – maybe this is intentional? He is strange after all. I also didn’t enjoy that amount of spanish in the novel – I have nothing against the language but to be honest, I don’t understand it so anything written in spanish was words I just skimmed over and it became another thing which kicked me out of connection with the narrative.
As you can see, these might be insignificant details to some people and I would always urge anyone to read something even if I took some negatives away. Parts of this novel I felt were very Da Vinci Code (I’m not ashamed to say I enjoyed that book) and you can really feel the amount of research and work that went into the writing; Gillespie has a lot of talent in his writing style and I will definitely be keeping an eye out for his books in future.
All in all this book was definitely mind bending and I would urge fans of Blake Crouch and Stephen King to read it!
Published in the UK by Dialogue Books – June 2020
The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it’s not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it’s everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities. Ten years later, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. The other secretly passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past. Still, even separated by so many miles and just as many lies, the fates of the twins remain intertwined. What will happen to the next generation, when their own daughters’ story lines intersect?
Weaving together multiple strands and generations of this family, from the Deep South to California, from the 1950s to the 1990s, Brit Bennett produces a story that is at once a riveting, emotional family story and a brilliant exploration of the American history of passing. Looking well beyond issues of race, The Vanishing Half considers the lasting influence of the past as it shapes a person’s decisions, desires, and expectations, and explores some of the multiple reasons and realms in which people sometimes feel pulled to live as something other than their origins.
I want to start by saying that this book was a complete surprise to me. I was lucky enough to be sent a copy of the book by Tandem Collective so that I could join in on one of their summer readalongs and it was so much more than I expected it to be. The group I was in a chat with was fantastic and we had pretty similar views and outcomes from the novel.
Brit Bennett has such a wonderful voice and she uses it powerfully in The Vanishing Half – I went into this novel after reading the above synopsis, thinking it was a tale of losing a sister, a twin, a part of your soul but I took away so much more than that.
Brit tells the story of the twins through their parents and their children and how the events they all lived through affected them – the twins leave their hometown and separate as young women, pursuing different lives and lifestyles. Stella, “crosses over” and chooses to live as white, married to a white man, in a middle class neighbourhood and Desiree chooses to marry a black man, who she leaves and ends up back home, taking her daughter with her to the town she tried so hard to leave.
Between the intertwining narratives, Brit tackles how racism and flaws in society affect its inhabitants and she does this inclusively, representing black people, white people, men, women, transgender and different sexualities. I think my favourite characters in the novel were Reese and Jude, the steps they make towards equality is so wonderfully written and they were such diverse and deep characters I couldn’t help but wish for more of their story as I read the book!
Ultimately, this novel for me was about identity and how a person can shape their identity to what they want and need it to be, through conscious and subconscious actions; how their relationships mould their identity and ultimately, it is about losing a part of yourself to (find yourself) become that identity.
I can’t recommend this book enough, while the first few chapters were slow and introductory, it did not take long for me to get sucked in and need to finish! I will be looking out for more of Bennett’s books! You can buy The Vanishing Half now on Amazon for Kindle or in Hardback.