Mini-reviews: October Binge-Reads

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The Wicked Deep by Shea Earnshaw

Hocus Pocus and Practical Magic meets the Salem Witch trials in this haunting story about three sisters on a quest for revenge—and how love may be the only thing powerful enough to stop them.

Welcome to the cursed town of Sparrow…

Where, two centuries ago, three sisters were sentenced to death for witchery. Stones were tied to their ankles and they were drowned in the deep waters surrounding the town.

Now, for a brief time each summer, the sisters return, stealing the bodies of three weak-hearted girls so that they may seek their revenge, luring boys into the harbor and pulling them under.

Like many locals, seventeen-year-old Penny Talbot has accepted the fate of the town. But this year, on the eve of the sisters’ return, a boy named Bo Carter arrives; unaware of the danger he has just stumbled into.

Mistrust and lies spread quickly through the salty, rain-soaked streets. The townspeople turn against one another. Penny and Bo suspect each other of hiding secrets. And death comes swiftly to those who cannot resist the call of the sisters.

But only Penny sees what others cannot. And she will be forced to choose: save Bo, or save herself. 

My Review

This has been my go-to TBR for October since it was first released yet unfortunately, when I read it, I’m ended up with mixed feelings.

Let’s start with the positive, which are the setting and the atmosphere. Every mention of this book have mentioned the atmosphere and I have to agree, it is one of the best and perfect for dark, rainy nights. The story is set in this small, coastal town of Sparrow, where a curse that has been plaguing them for 200 years also became their main attraction. It is a small town at the end of the map, constantly at the mercy of storm and waves, consisted of tight-knit community that distrusts strangers and for a brief period of time each year, their own teenage girls. It is the perfect setting for a curse to happen and the lore of the Swan Sisters adds to the allure of this town. I love how the writing interweaves the past and the present, slowly unfolding what happened then and now. I would say the plot is pretty predictable but the way it is revealed made it still enjoyable for me.

Unfortunately, the characters and the romance left much to desire. The characters felt one-dimensional and I feel like we did not know them at all at the end of the book. The romance is also very insta-lovey and dragged the book for a while, I ended up skipping passages where it is developing because I just could not care. I think the reveal at the end adds angst however it was also quite sloppy for the plot, however, I found the epilogue haunting.

I managed to read The Wicked Deep in one sitting as it is quite easy to read and the atmosphere just pulled you in, however the romance and the characters just did not work for me.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.
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Embassy of the Dead by Will Mabbit

The first book in a spookily funny new series, where the living meets the dead and survival is a race against time. Perfect for fans of Skulduggery Pleasant and Who Let the Gods Out.

Welcome to the Embassy of the Dead. Leave your life at the door. (Thanks.)

When Jake opens a strange box containing a severed finger, he accidentally summons a grim reaper to drag him to the Eternal Void (yep, it’s as fatal as it sounds) and now he’s running for his life! But luckily Jake isn’t alone – he can see and speak to ghosts.

Jake and his deadly gang (well dead, at least) – Stiffkey the undertaker, hockey stick-wielding, Cora, and Zorro the ghost fox – have one mission: find the Embassy of the Dead and seek protection. But the Embassy has troubles of its own and may not be the safe haven Jake is hoping for . . .

My Review

I received an eARC from publishers through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion in anyway.

I would say that in every element, nothing stood out/was exceptional for me. The characters felt like basic archetype with Jake being the curious, reluctant hero, Stiffkey the wise old mentor, and Cora being the lively and brave sidekick. The world-building doesn’t really stood out either, but I love the lore included such as the reapers and the Eternal Void. The presence of illustrations also really helped with imagery and atmosphere. The story sets mostly at night and visited various locations such as graveyard, dilapidated buildings, and old manor so it feels spooky but cozy-spooky.

Despite actually having mediocre elements, woven together this middle-grade book is the perfect cozy-spooky book for October! It is a mix of modern and old MG series: on one side, the writing and pacing are reminiscent of old children’s series like The Famous Five but on the other side, the quest-type of plot with meeting side-kicks along the way reminded me of more recent series like PJO.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.
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The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

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. Many 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’ storylines 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.

As with her New York Times-bestselling debut The Mothers, Brit Bennett offers an engrossing page-turner about family and relationships that is immersive and provocative, compassionate and wise.

My Review

I received an eARC from publishers through Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion in anyway.

I could not say much as I feel like it’s not my place and there are many readers out there whose voice and opinions are more fitting. Let me just say that this book surprised me, in a way that when I first read it I could not get past the first chapter and yet when I gave it another try recently, I flew through it. Maybe headspace does matter when you are reading…

I find the story very captivating: on how the twins lives intertwined, on how Mallard and their family rooted them, and how despite being separated and living a different lives, their daughter find their way to each other. The concept and the nuances are fascinating and they are executed brilliantly. The non-linear narrative threw me off at first, I think this is my first time so it felt very meandering and confusing. Soon, I grew to appreciate it and how it gives an intimate glimpse of the characters and memories associated with them.

It took me two tries to read The Vanishing Half, but it ended up being my favorite read for this month.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

What have you been reading? Have you read any of these books?

17 thoughts on “Mini-reviews: October Binge-Reads

  1. I totally get your problem with the characters. Though I haven’t read Wicked Deep, I’ve read other books with similar problems and they are just so annoying! Characters that don’t have any depth to them are always annoying! Thanks for the honest reviews, Tasya!


  2. i felt the exact same way you did about the wicked deep. like, the atmosphere and the writing of the past/present passages are amazing, but the romance was :/. i still want to re-read it at one point, though, probably when it’s autumn around here.


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