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Portable Magic

Reading, for me, is entertainment and an escape from the real world. But it can also inform and stretch the boundaries of the life I live.

Currently reading

A Wizard of Earthsea (The Earthsea Cycle, #1)
Ursula K. Le Guin
Whisper Network
Chandler Baker
Progress: 54 %
Invisible Man
Ralph Ellison
Progress: 28 %
The Mystery at Lilac Inn
Carolyn Keene
100 Hair-Raising Little Horror Stories
Gary Raisor, Richard Chizmar, Al Sarrantonio, Avram Davidson
Progress: 70/512 pages
Leading Change
John P. Kotter
Peanuts Classics
Charles M. Schulz
Progress: 66 %
The Bungalow Mystery
Carolyn Keene
Progress: 192/192 pages
The Bungalow Mystery #3
Carolyn Keene
Progress: 192/192 pages
The Mystery at Lilac Inn
Russell H. Tandy, Mildred Benson, Carolyn Keene

The House of Small Shadows ★★★☆☆

The House of Small Shadows - Adam Nevill

After spending so much time in online book communities and getting recommendations from people I trust, I almost never take a risk on a book I know nothing about. But it's good to step out of your comfort zone once in a while, and how risky can a book be that's been labeled "British Fantasy Award Winner for Best Horror Novel of the Year"?


Well. Hmm. On the one hand, this book is hilariously awful. I'm not sure when I've last seen such intrusively awkward writing. On the other, though, the story was so interesting and inventive that I just kept reading in spite of it. I was even able to forget to be annoyed by the writing style, for brief periods of time. 


The writing features frequently incomplete sentences, commas missing or randomly inserted, and seemingly premature periods. I sometimes had to stop and re-read sentences to understand them. For example: 


Catherine glanced again at the doorway. And realized Edith's silhouette was no longer looking in her direction, but to the side of the unlit room, opposite the door. From which direction there now issued a scraping. Sharp metal against masonry, but faint. And then a flap of cloth. She would have screamed if her air wasn't sealed inside her petrified lungs. 


I get that he's describing sounds that Catherine is hearing, but my first thought was still, "what about the flap of cloth?" before realizing the author meant she was hearing the sound of cloth flapping, not describing an object. 


I suppose it's possible that the writing style represents some kind of local speech pattern that I'm just not familiar with, as little attempt has been made to "Americanize" the word choices, etc. for the US edition. The author does demonstrate standard sentence structure and punctuation in the acknowledgements, so it's clearly a choice of writing style on his part. 


As for the story, I'm evidently not the only one who finds both puppets and taxidermy super creepy. And that awful doll in Trilogy of Terror. Now just combine them all into a single concept and be prepared to sleep with the lights on.


Hardcover edition, picked up on a whim from a Halloween display at my public library.