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Decided to let the OH pick again for my next 2017 read, but she's done well here... I've been meaning to read some Ian Rankin for a while and where better to start with his first Inspector Rebus novel? So, here goes Knots and Crosses.

 

Synopsis

Detective John Rebus: His city is being terrorized by a baffling series of murders...and he's tied to a maniac by an invisible knot of blood. Once John Rebus served in Britain's elite SAS. Now he's an Edinburgh cop who hides from his memories, misses promotions and ignores a series of crank letters. But as the ghoulish killings mount and the tabloid headlines scream, Rebus cannot stop the feverish shrieks from within his own mind. Because he isn't just one cop trying to catch a killer, he's the man who's got all the pieces to the puzzle...

 

Really looking forward to this one! :yes:

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Okay, so yesterday the run of not acquiring books came to an end... but I think 11 days is a decent enough effort. :lol:

 

The Doll Funeral by Kate Hamer. This is an ARC for Faber which is due out in February. Looks fab. :yes:

Life and Fate by Vasily Grossman. I'll be honest, I hadn't heard of author or book but it was a Vintage Classics book on sale at work for charity. Great condition and only 75p, felt like daylight robbery. Although just looking, there may be a book I have to read first before it...

 

As for reading progress, I'm really enjoyed Ian Rankin's Knots and Crosses. Rebus is my kind of detective, gritty and flawed with a past that at this point remains deliciously mysterious. I know that there's a lot of these books in the series, so looking forward to finding out more/reading many more Rebus books. :smile2:

 

Will probably finish tonight.

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Rankin's Knots and Crosses all done and dusted, and I must say that I very much enjoyed that. I may come back and review it properly - but I also may not (love this new method of reading and not promising anything else!). What I will say that it was different to the normal police procedural fare. I mean, sure, John Rebus is a tortured, damaged detective with a murky past who drinks too much - but I think what sets the book apart is the pace at which it moves. Rankin doesn't mince his words, doesn't get too bogged down in details or explanations to do with the murders like certain other books of this genre tend to do. That gives Knots and Crosses a lot of room to breathe - and it's a better book for it.

 

What I will say, is that I think the series is going to improve (feel free to confirm fellow Rankin readers!) when we can explore the characters a bit more deeply. Sure, we get a big chunk of Rebus' back-story but there's depths to him and some of the other characters that clearly haven't been explored yet. Instead of a 'stand alone within a series' this feels like a genuine opener (like I believe it was intended to be?) to a series that continues from where previous books finish. Not sure if this is the case with the whole mass of Rebus books that spawned from this, but I know that Hide & Seek does indeed continue. I'll be reading that sooner rather than later for sure.

 

Rankin is a great writer. I've never been to Scotland but he paints a picture of Edinburgh clear enough to make me think I'm completely familiar with its set up - which makes for a book which is easy to immerse yourself in. Overall then, I enjoyed this immensely and I'm very much looking forward to at some stage continuing the series. Hopefully there are many, many more fine Rebus novels ahead of me.

 

★★★★☆

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OH has already lined up the next read for me (seems to be a thing, this!) but I might struggle with this one. Tried reading it on holiday back in 2015 and struggled, but I don't think through any fault of the book... so I'll give Alone in Berlin by Hans Fallada another shot now! :yes:

 

Synopsis

Berlin, 1940, and the city is filled with fear. At the house on 55 Jablonski Strasse, its various occupants try to live under Nazi rule in their different ways: the bullying Hitler loyalists the Persickes, the retired judge Fromm and the unassuming couple Otto and Anna Quangel. Then the Quangels receive the news that their beloved son has been killed fighting in France. Shocked out of their quiet existence, they begin a silent campaign of defiance, and a deadly game of cat and mouse develops between the Quangels and the ambitious Gestapo inspector Escherich. When petty criminals Kluge and Borkhausen also become involved, deception, betrayal and murder ensue, tightening the noose around the Quangels' necks ...

 

Sounds intriguing and I know it's had good comments on here, so we'll see... :smile2:

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A Gathering Light by Jennifer Donnelly

 

Not really sure what to say about this one, as I'm a little bit still on the fence. I knew from the outset that it wouldn't be my usual fare - a novel set in the early 1900s and based on a real-life event (of which I won't say more because: spoilers). It's also for "children or young adults" according to the publisher's site - which I can, now I've finished, agree with - so again I wasn't sure exactly what to expect.

 

It was, however - for the most part, at least - a very enjoyable book. Donnelly writes well, with an eye for period detail and with a lovely deft touch that frequently manages to have the reader chuckling despite some of the miserable conditions and family lifestyles being portrayed. The plot unfurls at an admittedly slow place, as we focus on Mathilda "Mattie" Gokey - a feisty, smart young girl who dreams about being a writer and moving away to college to pursue her dreams.

 

Mattie is passionate about both writing and reading - looking up a new 'word of the day' in her dictionary every morning. For this reader, some of the best bits in the book were the entertaining 'word duels' that took place between Matt and her best friend Weaver Smith, from who she is inseparable and who also has similar goals and academic aspirations.

 

Yet with her mother dead, her sisters to look after, and the farm work to do, for Mattie this may all be a pipe dream. Donnelly keeps us guessing which way it'll go while using concurrent narrative threads - one a present day exploration of everyday life in North Woods, the other the story of Mattie's time working at a hotel nearby, and ultimately what she discovers while she is there.

 

Ultimately, A Gathering Light was a good read. Not spectacular, but a slow exploration of the importance of working hard to achieve your goals and making the best of the cards life deals you. Donnelly has a great cast of characters - one of which, Miss Wilcox, Mattie's teacher, is one of the stars of the show - and writes assuredly as she gently brings the two threads of the narrative together in a satisfying conclusion.

 

Again, not my usual read, but this time, I'm glad I made the effort to go out of my comfort zone.

 

★★★☆☆

I agree with your thoughts on this book. And it is nice to go a bit out of your comfort zone. Glad to see how eclectic and challenging  your reading is. I've added a few of your listings to my TBR.

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I agree with your thoughts on this book. And it is nice to go a bit out of your comfort zone. Glad to see how eclectic and challenging  your reading is. I've added a few of your listings to my TBR.

 

Glad you enjoyed the book, and I agree absolutely - life wouldn't be as interesting if we stuck to the same things over and over. Glad you found some things from my lists. What did you add? (If you don't mind me asking.)

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I have Alone in Berlin on the wish list after a recommendation from Brian (?). So will be intrigued to hear your thoughts.

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I have Alone in Berlin on the wish list after a recommendation from Brian (?). So will be intrigued to hear your thoughts.

 

I think a lot of people have reviewed it favourably on here - including Brian and Kay (?). To be fair, I think I was enjoying it, but it wasn't really a relax-by-the-pool kind of read, so that's why I struggled... will report back after I've giving it the attention it probably deserves.

 

Wishing you a wonderful year of reading, Ben.  :smile:​ 

 

Hi Chrissy! You too. :smile2: Hope you have a fantastic 2017 filled with some fabulous books. :friends3:

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Honestly really enjoying Alone in Berlin and honestly can't remember why I didn't get far with it the first time. (The more I think about it, reading a big heavy modern classic - heavy in subject matter and weight, that is - sitting by the pool in the sunshine probably wasn't the best place for it...) Now, however, I'm a good 100 pages in simply from commute time reading today. Which is decent going. Sadly I haven't been in the mood for reading at all tonight after having a fall earlier on the way home from work, but at least the book is going well and I'm not getting bogged down in it at all. Happy days! :yes:

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Sorry to hear about your fall Ben, I hope you didn't hurt yourself too badly! 

 

Your TBR list for this year looks great. There are a few books I've really enjoyed and some that I really want to read too. I absolutely approve of including Terry Pratchett for when you need a break, his books always cheer me up. 

 

Knots and Crosses sounds good, I think I'll keep a look out for it!

 

Hope you have a great reading year, it definitely seems as though it's off to a good start!  :smile:

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Sorry to hear about your fall Ben, I hope you didn't hurt yourself too badly! 

 

Your TBR list for this year looks great. There are a few books I've really enjoyed and some that I really want to read too. I absolutely approve of including Terry Pratchett for when you need a break, his books always cheer me up. 

 

Knots and Crosses sounds good, I think I'll keep a look out for it!

 

Hope you have a great reading year, it definitely seems as though it's off to a good start!  :smile:

 

Ah, I'll be okay, think I might have pulled a muscle in my left leg as it hurts like nobody's business, but we'll have to see... :(

 

I love the fact you have described my TBR pile as 'great' rather than 'extensive' or 'impossible to get through' or any other negative, depressing, truthful comments. *laughs* What books did you love from it? (If you get time to post.) I personally love that there's such a big selection for me this year. It needs a bit of a cull but that'll have to wait for a little bit I think...

 

Glad you're keeping an eye out for Knots and Crosses - Rebus was a pleasant surprise in a year that, you're right, has started well books-wise. Rather content with my total and the standard of books that I've read so far, and actually, it's funny you should mention Pratchett, because I'm going to read Wyrd Sisters alongside the Hans Fallada novel. (Best way of breaking it up, I think, will give me something lighter for bedtime...)

 

Right back atcha' on the well wishes for 2017 anyway, hope the next 12 months are kind to you both reading-wise and not. :friends3:

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As mentioned above, I've decided to read Sir Terry Pratchett's Wyrd Sisters (the sixth Discworld novel, as that is where I am up to) alongside Hans Fallada's Alone in Berlin - that way I'll have something a bit lighter to break it up for reading before bed. Problem is, I can see this now: I'm totally going to bomb through the Pratchett and leave poor Hans hanging. :lol:

 

Synopsis

Things like crowns had a troublesome effect on clever folks; it was best to leave all the reigning to the kind of people whose eyebrows met in the middle.

 

Three witches gathered on a lonely heath. A king cruelly murdered, his throne usurped by his ambitious cousin. A child heir and the crown of the kingdom, both missing. The omens are not auspicious for the new incumbent, for whom ascending this tainted throne is a more complicated affair than you might imagine, particularly when the blood on your hands just won't wash off and you're facing a future with knives in it...

 

Sounds suitably silly and just the perfect counterpart to Alone in Berlin... :smile2:

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Currently about halfway through A Gathering Light and it isn't half-bad, actually. Definitely not what I was expecting and I feel like it's a little bit slow, but Jennifer Donnelly's writing is particularly evocative and I've got a soft spot for some lovely descriptions. Will be interested to see if the pace picks up a bit in the second half and we get a bit more plot. :yes:

I've read this one too, but can't recall much about it. I'm sure I found it a bit disappointing I think, but can't remember why that was. As for Rebus by Ian Rankin, I can honestly say that being a Scot I have never read any of his books, but I know my in-laws had  shelves full of those kind of reads. We gave so many away, when house clearing... :giggle2: 

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Im glad you are getting on with Alone in Berlin this time around, as you've mentioned it's one of my all time favourite books.

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I've read this one too, but can't recall much about it. I'm sure I found it a bit disappointing I think, but can't remember why that was. As for Rebus by Ian Rankin, I can honestly say that being a Scot I have never read any of his books, but I know my in-laws had  shelves full of those kind of reads. We gave so many away, when house clearing... :giggle2: 

 

I can see why people would probably feel A Gathering Light to be a bit underwhelming - it's one of those solid, easy reads that doesn't quite blow you away. That's interesting re: Rebus. Would you not be tempted by being a Scot? I'd be interested to know how Scots actually get on with his books, whether they feel they're accurate, etc.

 

As for giving away while clearing out, that makes sense! They seem like the type of read-once-give-away crime thriller/police procedurals we all like to read once in a while. :lol:

 

Im glad you are getting on with Alone in Berlin this time around, as you've mentioned it's one of my all time favourite books.

 

Thanks Brian, it definitely must have been the mood I was in and my surroundings last time around. Only about a hundred pages in this time but enjoying it immensely. I think it's the humour and warmth that have taken me by surprise - I wasn't expecting it to be so light and funny (in places).

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Added another book to my wishlist this morning. I've made a conscious effort to not increase the TBR as much and to try keep the wishlist down, but John Self has been gushing about A Natural by Ross Raisin this morning on Twitter, and it sounds very much up my street. It's about football - cue groans - and the synopsis doesn't get me overly excited, but I'm going to trust Mr. Self's opinions and keep an eye out for it on release March 2.

 

Synopsis

Tom has always known exactly the person he is going to be. A successful footballer. A man others look up to. Now, though, the bright future he imagined for himself is threatened.

 

The Premier League academy of his boyhood has let him go. At nineteen, Tom finds himself playing for a tiny club in a town he has never heard of. But as he navigates his isolation and his desperate need for recognition, a sudden and thrilling encounter offers him the promise of an escape, and Tom is forced to question whether he can reconcile his supressed desires with his dreams of success.

 

Leah, the captain’s wife, has almost forgotten the dreams she once held, for her career, her marriage. Moving again, as her husband is transferred from club to club, she is lost, disillusioned with where life has taken her.

 

A Natural delves into the heart of a professional football club: the pressure, the loneliness, the threat of scandal, the fragility of the body and the struggle, on and off the pitch, with conforming to the person that everybody else expects you to be.

 

--

 

So it's obvious this one isn't going to capture everyone's attention but apparently the prose is beautiful and it's high early praise is enough to put it on my radar. :smile2:

Edited by Ben

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... luckily I think Vintage might kindly send me an ARC of A Natural - so that's something to look forward to.

 

Quiet weekend reading-wise. Girlfriend has had a few weekends off from studying so have been spending a bit more time with her and reading less, but I'm still chipping away. Making decent progress with Alone in Berlin - a long-term read that I don't expect to finish pronto - and I also have less than a hundred pages left of Pratchett's Wyrd Sisters. Hopefully get the latter finished tonight then I - or the OH - can pick something else! :smile2:

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Ah, I'll be okay, think I might have pulled a muscle in my left leg as it hurts like nobody's business, but we'll have to see... :(

 

I love the fact you have described my TBR pile as 'great' rather than 'extensive' or 'impossible to get through' or any other negative, depressing, truthful comments. *laughs* What books did you love from it? (If you get time to post.) I personally love that there's such a big selection for me this year. It needs a bit of a cull but that'll have to wait for a little bit I think...

 

Glad you're keeping an eye out for Knots and Crosses - Rebus was a pleasant surprise in a year that, you're right, has started well books-wise. Rather content with my total and the standard of books that I've read so far, and actually, it's funny you should mention Pratchett, because I'm going to read Wyrd Sisters alongside the Hans Fallada novel. (Best way of breaking it up, I think, will give me something lighter for bedtime...)

 

Right back atcha' on the well wishes for 2017 anyway, hope the next 12 months are kind to you both reading-wise and not. :friends3:

 

Ouch that is painful, I hope it's feeling a bit better now!

 

Lots of books can never be a negative! Although 'extensive' would be a pretty accurate description of your TBR list too  :D. As for books I've read and really enjoyed on your list...

 

Atwood, Margaret: The Handmaid’s Tale

Barrie, J. M.: Peter Pan

Burton, Jessie: The Miniaturist (including this because it was really fun to read - I think I stayed up until about 4 in the morning finishing it - but I didn't actually love it in the end. There was something I didn't quite like - I'll be interested to see what you think  :smile: )

Carrel, Lee Jennifer: The Shakespeare Secret (#1)

Dickens, Charles: David Copperfield (my favourite Dickens book so far)

Dickens, Charles: Oliver Twist

Dickens, Charles: Little Dorrit

Fforde, Jasper: The Eyre Affair (#1)

Kostova, Elizabeth: The Historian (It's been a really long time since I read this, I actually did an essay on it for my a-levels  :giggle2:  but I remember loving it)

McEwan, Ian: Atonement (when I put this down I was just amazed at how brilliantly and cleverly written it was!)

Mosse, Kate: Labyrinth (#1)

Pratchett, Terry: Wyrd Sisters (#6)

Pratchett, Terry: Hogfather (#20)

Swift, Jonathan: Gulliver’s Travels

Tracy, J. P: Dead Run (#3) (I genuinely did not know this was part of a series until I saw your list! I picked it up randomly on holiday and couldn't put it down)

 

And books I also really want to read:

 

Anonymous: The Arabian Nights: Tales of 1001 Nights, Volume 1

Austen, Jane: Mansfield Park

Bronte, Anne: The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

Clarke, Susanna: Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell

Dickens, Charles: Bleak House

Doyle, Conan Arthur: The Complete Sherlock Holmes

Dumas, Alexandre: The Three Musketeers

Eliot, George: Middlemarch

Hardy, Thomas: Far from the Madding Crowd

Hardy, Thomas: The Woodlanders

Hardy, Thomas: Under the Greenwood Tree

Hardy, Thomas: Jude the Obscure

Hardy, Thomas: The Mayor of Casterbridge

Hugo, Victor: Les Misérables

Ishiguro, Kazuo: The Buried Giant

Maurier, du Daphne: Jamaica Inn

Perry, Sarah: The Essex Serpent

Thackeray, M. William: Vanity Fair

Verne, Jules: Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea

 

There are a few more on there that I've looked at in the past and thought of adding to my wishlist but this is getting long  :giggle2:. So anyway I'll be looking for all the above books in your thread with interest this year!  :smile:

 

I hope you've enjoyed Wyrd Sisters. I thought the Shakespeare jokes were pretty good in that one  :D

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Ouch, hope you're doing okay after your fall. I'm always falling but it never gets easier - in fact gets far more shocking the older you get!

 

I read the first couple Rebus books years ago and quite enjoyed them.

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Lots of books can never be a negative! Although 'extensive' would be a pretty accurate description of your TBR list too :D. As for books I've read and really enjoyed on your list...

:lol: At least I admit it and I'm comfortable with the fact I'll probably never get it down to 0. As for my leg, much better thank you. It was pretty bad for a few days but seems I've recovered now. :smile2:

 

Atwood, Margaret: The Handmaid’s Tale

This has been on my list for ages but something about The Handmaid's Tale - and Atwood more generally - always puts me off. *shrugs*

 

Barrie, J. M.: Peter Pan

You know when you just feel like you know everything about a book and that there's not much point in reading it? I'm sure my mum read this to me when I was younger so it probably feels like I already know it too well, but do actually still want to read it...

 

Burton, Jessie: The Miniaturist (including this because it was really fun to read - I think I stayed up until about 4 in the morning finishing it - but I didn't actually love it in the end. There was something I didn't quite like - I'll be interested to see what you think :smile: )

Interesting, I know this has been on a lot of BCF members' lists for a long time, and it's been sat waiting to be read forever on mine. I read her other one - The Muse last year and really enjoyed it, so not sure what the problem is. Will let you know how I do get on with it, though.

 

Carrel, Lee Jennifer: The Shakespeare Secret (#1)

Know practically nothing about this one - book or author - and indeed can't even remember where I picked it up, so it's good to know you enjoyed it.

 

Dickens, Charles: David Copperfield (my favourite Dickens book so far)

Dickens, Charles: Oliver Twist

Dickens, Charles: Little Dorrit

Read three Dickens last year and fully intend to explore his oeuvre further, SOON.

 

Fforde, Jasper: The Eyre Affair (#1)

Jasper is being read this year I promise. :D

 

Kostova, Elizabeth: The Historian (It's been a really long time since I read this, I actually did an essay on it for my a-levels :giggle2: but I remember loving it)

Interesting because I tried to find this a few years ago and didn't get that far, but at the time I think it was mood rather than the book. In a similar way that Alone in Berlin couldn't grab me the first time around. Hope I have better luck this time.

 

McEwan, Ian: Atonement (when I put this down I was just amazed at how brilliantly and cleverly written it was!)

Another one I'm looking forward to! Haven't remembered the film at all so should be fresh for me...

Edited by Janet

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Tracy, J. P: Dead Run (#3) (I genuinely did not know this was part of a series until I saw your list! I picked it up randomly on holiday and couldn't put it down)

That's good to know that you read it without realising. I imagine I'll have to get the first one and read that first to satisfy my OCD, but the second and third I already have ready to go.

 

There are a few more on there that I've looked at in the past and thought of adding to my wishlist but this is getting long :giggle2:. So anyway I'll be looking for all the above books in your thread with interest this year! :smile:

Glad you're excited about so many of my list - hope we have lots to share and talk about during 2017. :smile2:

 

I hope you've enjoyed Wyrd Sisters. I thought the Shakespeare jokes were pretty good in that one :D

I did indeed. Will review properly at a later date - full of man flu this week and really don't feel like writing reviews right now *laughs* - but I definitely enjoyed it. Typical witty, hilarious Pratchett. I know the wizards are beloved in the Discworld series but the witches in my eyes are definitely up there! :D

 

Ouch, hope you're doing okay after your fall. I'm always falling but it never gets easier - in fact gets far more shocking the older you get!

 

I read the first couple Rebus books years ago and quite enjoyed them.

Thanks Noll, I'm much better now - was a bit of a fright and a lot of pain for a few days, but at least it's settled down and there wasn't any lasting damage. Eee, falling sucks! Good to know it won't get any easier. :lol:

 

Aye, the Rebus wasn't bad at all. Thinking of earmarking them when I'm in the need for a nice, quick crime thriller to pick the mojo up. :smile2:

Edited by Ben

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Do any of the moderators fancy having a go at fixing the quotes two posts up? Had an absolute nightmare. :lol: :lol:

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In the meantime, I've "acquired" a couple more books today, although one was an ARC so that hardly counts, right? *laughs*

 

A Natural by Ross Raisin. Kindly sent by a good friend at my favourite publisher Vintage. Not out until March but looks like my kind of read.

The Beach by Alex Garland. Spotted this at work on sale for £0.75 (for charity) and couldn't resist.

 

So much for not acquiring many books this year. Looks like that went out of the window in well, mid-January.

 

*In terms of my TBR, I'm just keeping my acquired books on a separate list for a while until I decide what to do with the master TBR list. I'll add them eventually, of course, but at the moment it needs a proper cull and tidy up before I make changes.

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I also started David Mitchell's Slade House on the bus this morning and I'm rattling through it pretty quickly. Don't know if this is a common theme with Mitchell, but this is very... readable. It's only short anyway, but it's very easy-going at the moment. Although I am a finding it a bit disjointed in places. In any case, for those of you who don't know what it's about:

 

Synopsis

Keep your eyes peeled for a small black iron door.

 

Down the road from a working-class British pub, along the brick wall of a narrow alley, if the conditions are exactly right, you’ll find the entrance to Slade House. A stranger will greet you by name and invite you inside. At first, you won’t want to leave. Later, you’ll find that you can’t. Every nine years, the house’s residents — an odd brother and sister — extend a unique invitation to someone who’s different or lonely: a precocious teenager, a recently divorced policeman, a shy college student. But what really goes on inside Slade House? For those who find out, it’s already too late...

 

Spanning five decades, from the last days of the 1970s to the present, leaping genres, and barreling toward an astonishing conclusion, this intricately woven novel will pull you into a reality-warping new vision of the haunted house story—as only David Mitchell could imagine it.

 

--

 

So far, it's as suitably creepy as it sounds. :cat:

Edited by Ben

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