Welcome to my second instalment of Rapid Reviews. As the title suggests, you’ll find rapid reviews for books I’ve read recently, but for one reason or another decided against writing a full review. These reviews vary in length but they will all be rapid! And to make things easier, you can see if I’ve enjoyed a book, or not, at a glance – next to titles I’ve enjoyed, you’ll find a ✔️ and for those that didn’t work for me, you’ll see a ✖️.
On today’s rapid reviews:
Thin Air by Michelle Paver ✔️
The Himalayas, 1935. Kangchenjunga. Third-highest peak on earth. Greatest killer of them all.
Five Englishmen set off from Darjeeling, determined to conquer the sacred summit.
But courage can only take them so far.
And the mountain is not their only foe.
Thin Air is a historical horror novel, set in 1935, it’s a short novel that gets better as the story progresses. I was a little wary at first as the plot starts much slower than I anticipated, but it slowly gathers momentum, and going into the last third, I loved every minute of it. It’s when the creepiness and the intense psychological thrills really began to manifest. Sadly, the descriptions of the climb and danger associated weren’t as atmospheric as I’d hoped, but I certainly felt the cold!
Of the five men that set off, two of them are brothers, and I really like the portrayal of their relationship.
“The mountain is still with me. I carry it inside. I always will.”
Overall, a well-written novel, and I’d like to read Paver’s other novel, Dark Matter: A Ghost Story.
*My thanks to Zuky the BookBum for sending me a copy of this title*
Imperfection by Ray Clark ✔️
Imperfection is a new crime series featuring D.I. Stewart Gardener and D. S. Sean Reilly, and set in the West Yorkshire city of Leeds. A haunting message scrawled on the dressing room wall of a theatre: the scene of a murder. It had been written using the blood from the victim, previously drained in a separate location. At the autopsy, D.I. Gardener and D.S. Reilly are shown a riddle carved into the chest of the corpse, informing them there would be more. Their efforts to find out why are continually blocked by a wall of contradiction, with little in the way of evidence to support their cause. Steered back to the scene of the crime and a disused prop room, Gardener and his trusted sergeant find another puzzle. The murderer, it seems, is playing games. It soon becomes clear to Gardener and Reilly that to find the killer they need to solve the clues, and to do that, they must tunnel their way into the past, where the streets were paved with gold, and to a man who had terrified people before either of them had even been born…
I was nervous when I started this one as it didn’t hook me right away and I was worried I wouldn’t enjoy it, but I soon settled into it. It being more mystery than thriller did give the novel a slower pace, but I enjoy both mystery and thriller books so it wasn’t a problem for me. I definitely think this novel has an old fashion feel to it. Both Gardener and Reilly are likeable, and though I love the ‘flawed detective’ trope, it was nice that this one focused on the mystery with minimal backstory. The mystery was good and the end was creepy, but it did feel a bit anticlimactic. Overall, I enjoy this one, but with so many crime series out, I’m undecided if I’ll continue with it.
Cross Her Heart by Sarah Pinborough ✖️
Lisa lives for her daughter Ava, her job, and her best friend Marilyn, but when a handsome client shows an interest in her, Lisa starts daydreaming about sharing her life with him too. Maybe she’s ready now. Maybe she can trust again. Maybe it’s time to let her terrifying secret past go. Then her daughter rescues a boy from drowning and their pictures are all over the news for everyone to see. Lisa’s world explodes, and she finds everything she has built threatened. Not knowing whom she can trust, it’s up to her to face her past to save what she holds dear.
This novel started much slower than I anticipated, but about a third of the way through, things began to heat up, which excited me for what was to come. Sadly, this excitement was short lived as after a very good twist, my interest began to wain considerably. I didn’t find the characters authentic, I didn’t believe in what I was reading, therefore it was very hard to remain interested in the plot. I skimmed a few pages to get to the end because I wanted to know “the who” – and wow, was that a disappointing, eye-rolling reveal. This novel wasn’t for me, and not one I’d recommend. Of the three novels I’ve read by Pinborough, Behind Her Eyes remains my firm favourite, so that’s the one I’m recommending.
*My thanks to HarperCollins UK for providing me with a copy of this title*
Misery by Stephen King ✖️
Misery Chastain is dead. Paul Sheldon has just killed her – with relief, with joy. Misery has made him rich; she was the heroine of a string of bestsellers. And now he wants to get on to some real writing.
That’s when the car accident happens, and he wakes up in pain in a strange bed. But it isn’t hospital. Annie Wilkes has pulled him from the wreck, brought him to her remote mountain home, splinted and set his mangled legs.
The good news is that Annie was a nurse and has pain-killing drugs. The bad news is that she has long been Paul’s Number One Fan. And when she finds out what Paul had done to Misery, she doesn’t like it. She doesn’t like it at all.
Paul Sheldon used to write for a living. Now he’s writing to stay alive.
Misery didn’t grab my attention the way I wanted it to; the plot moved quite slow at some points. It was gory, gruesome, an out and out horror movie was played out in the pages of this novel; Annie is straight-up, straight-jacket crazy! But after a while, it became a bit repetitive, because it was Annie just doing torturous thing after torturous thing, with zero character development, or any real substance to her character. I felt the same was true of Sheldon. So with limited character development and limited plot development, and this novel taking place in one room, with just these characters, all I was doing was reading about Annie doing evil things to Sheldon, with no real substance behind it. King is a masterful storyteller, but for me, that wasn’t evident here.
Misery contains a ‘book within a book’ – for what reason, I don’t know, bar the first snippet, it added nothing to the plot.
The ending to this novel was incredibly clever, and I really enjoyed it, in fact, it was my favourite portion of this novel. Misery is gruesome, it’s twisted, Annie is deranged, but overall, it was one dimensional – the mental struggle, the psychology behind Sheldon’s will to survival, was weak and overshadow by the gruesome acts of Annie, which was all this novel really seemed about, the sheer brutality of Annie’s acts.