The Empty Grave (Lockwood & Co. #5) by Jonathan Stroud


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The Empty Grave ends the Lockwood & Co series, that with this novel reached the fifth installment. In the ending of the previous novel (The Creeping Shadow), thanks to the skull’s revelations, we could guess the main narrative line of this novel.

The Lockwood & Co. team main focus here is to understand better the outside world, discovered in the previous novel, but they also are after some ghosts, and these parts of the book are mainly interesting because they provide info about the feeling of the main characters.

To talk about the plot of this novel is quite hard (if one wants to avoid spoilers), so I leave the book to the readers.

I liked very much this ending novel, also because of some well-devised plot twists. The characters are always coherent with the background built with the previous books; here the main focus is on Lockwood and on his recklessness in finding dangerous situations, as Lucy has by now understood.

This series is a very good and enjoyable one, an absolutely suggested read.

* The Empty Grave by Jonathan Stroud ★★★★☆

*I read this book in english

A head full of ghost by Paul Tremblay


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The Barrett family is a typical middle class American family: father, mother and two daughters, 8 years old Meredith and 14 years old Marjorie. Like every other family, also the Barrett’s have some issues, the father lost his job and the major daughter shows symptoms of a mental illness, for this reason she is seeing a doctor.

The situation and the symptoms get worse, the medications seems not to have relevant effects: John Barrett, in the middle of a mystical-religious phase, is convinced that his daughter is possessed by a demon. To help her he persuade his family to being part of a television production, “Possessed”, that to be filmed needs the family to be followed by a television troupe in the house.

These things I’m telling you do not happen in the present time, but are told as a memory by Merry who, fifteen years after the events, retrace the events for Rachel, a non-fiction writer who has the job to write a book about the Barrett family.

So we have second-hand events, averaged by the passed time and by the fact that Merry was a child when she lived through them. We have the Possessed tv series analysed by a horror blogger, Karen. We have religious fanaticism (Marjorie is possessed or simply very ill?) and the cruel television reality (how much is true – and false – in the troupe shootings?).

The very good part of the novel are the first two sections of the book, where the elements are perfectly balanced, the story is fast paced and thrilling and horrific. Another good point id the fact that at the end we don’t have certain answers, but lots food for thoughts.

Reflections concerning the plot – we have so many unreliable sources that everything could be true  – and concerning the other two main themes, the religious fanaticism and television cruelty, that are catalyst of other events.

I talked about the book with other people, and it emerged that the third part is the more weak, maybe also because of the homage reference (that I did not catch immediately) to Shirley Jackson that can appear as a way to simplify the ending. I forgive the weakness of the last section because the other two-thirds are a wonderful reading experience.

A head full of ghost by Paul Tremblay ★★★★★

*I read this book in english

Born of Illusions by Teri Brown


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New York, the 20s. Anna is a skilled illusionist and she helps her mother, Marguerite Van Housen, a well-known medium, during public shows and private séances.

Anna is young, she would like to have more space in the show, to know her father (who appears to be Houdini, accordingly to her mother), but more than anything she would like to understand the meaning of the vision of the future she has.

The novel is a paranormal YA, and a not very original one. For the most of the time we follow Anna’s thoughts about her father, her powers and her two love interest (an extremely original idea).

The setting, but more than that the characters, are not up to the ones of another series, set  in New York with paranormal thematic (The Diviners by Libba Bray).

The novel appears quite boring to me, moreover some turn of events were quite expected, I will not go on with the other book of the series.

Born of Illusions by Teri Brown ★★☆☆☆

*I read this book in english

Thunderbird (Miriam Black #4) by Chuck Wendig


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Thunderbird is the so much waited fourth installment of the Miram Black series (here the reference about the first three book), the woman who knows how and when you die by touching you.

Miriam is looking for a method to get rid of her power, that she was never especially comfortable with, and it seems there is a person who could help her: Mary Scissors.

However, finding that person is not so easy,  and during her trip Miriam finds herself involved in the action of a terrorist group with powers that want to change the world, even with extremely violent actions.

Miriam’s great dilemma will be: to get or not to get involved with all this? With the company of her usual visions and the knowledge of possessing new abilities, Miriam will take the best decision in her typical style.

The novel is extremely engaging, in particular in the latter part where I was unable to get the book down. The ending is wonderful, this book is an absolutely must for the Miriam Black fans and readers.

I already miss you, Miriam.

* Thunderbird by Chuck Wendig ★★★★★

*I read this book in english

Master of the Day of Judgement by Leo Perutz


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In this book we face the memories of Baron von Yosch, military on leave, and the mysterious suicide of actor Eugen Bischoff, husband of Dina, the woman  the baron himself still loves.

Dina’s brother is not convinced by the idea of the suicide, and he accuses the baron for the death of the actor. Von Yosch then begins searching for the true killer, and his research overlaps with the one of other people who were at Dina’s home the night of the suicide.

From the inquiry it emerges a supernatural element that could have induced Bischoff – and other artists – to suicide.

Is the baron the killer, jealous of Dina’s love, or something made Bischoff to face the darkness inside himself?

The novel is nice, but the author chooses not to examine the themes of the story: the supernatural is used to conclude the story, but it could have been used more for the characters’ psychological introspection.

Master of the Day of Judgement by Leo Perutz ★★★☆☆½

*I read this book in italian

Between nine and nine by Leo Perutz


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Talking about this novel is not easy: the main character, Stanislaus Demba, behaves strangely in every situation we find him, and only about the middle of the novel we are revealed the reason behind his strangeness (reason that will confirm or deny the reader hypothesis).

The novel Between nine and nine is about the twelve hours of wandering in Vienna by Stanislaus, an anxious man, almost near to desperation.

The main narrative thread is interesting, the reader slowly discover the reasons why Stanislaus acts in a so weird manner. However, in my opinion, the true beauty of the novel is the characterization of the numerous background people, the author is able to re-create the 1900 Vienna with very few features, a skill hard to find.

* Between nine and nine by Leo Perutz ★★★★☆½

*I read this book in italian

[ARC] The Somnambulist and the Psychic Thief by Lisa Tuttle


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At the beginning of the novel we meet Miss Lane, the main character, while she leaves a work and begins another one as assistant to the detective Mr Jasper Jesperson.

They have problems in finding works, until their help is required – by lick and by their skill – by the sister of the owner of their apartment: her husband suffers of somnambulism and nobody is able to understand the reason of this unexpected behaviour.

In the same time in London some mediums disappear, while a new talent is becoming famous in the paranormal field.

The Somnambulist and the Psychic Thief is an adventurous crime story set in the peculiar world of mediums and paranormal, it’s a good read but it does not catch the reader curiosity, and the inquiry result is quite obvious.

Thanks to the publisher for providing me the copy necessary to write this review.

* The Somnambulist and the Psychic Thief by Lisa Tuttle ★★★☆☆

*I read this book in english

The Marquis Of Bolibar by Leo Perutz


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After falling in love with The Swedish Cavalier, I started reading other novels by the same author.

The Marquis Of Bolibar is set during the Napoleonic wars, during the Spanish campaign, and the narration follows the memories of Jochberg, a soldier who was staying in the town of La Bisbal with other regiments. Jochberg remembers the events of the time and thanks to his memory we are able to understand the reasons behind the soldier’s defeat against the Spanish guerrillas.

The Marquis Of Bolibar is a noble spanish man who is heard plotting with the guerrillas who are trying to conquer and free the city: to help them he is going to provide three signals, and since that moment the spanish soldiers can begin the attack. The marquis disguises himself as a muleteer, but he is unlucky to find himself in the wrong time and place: the tavern where five soldiers are talking about their sexual conquest of the colonel’s recently dead wife. To avoid the spreading of the gossip the soldiers sentence the muleteer to death.

Maybe something more powerful was guiding the marquise doings, since a series of events begins and the signals are sent to the guerrillas.

In this novel, like in The Swedish Cavalier, the real and the unreal coexist, because actions are made by men, and it could be a chance that the events develop in a precise way, but they seem to be driven by a superior will – also because otherwise the soldiers are behaving in a self destructive way. To this also Captain Salignac adds up, and he seems able to survive any battle, and some people see in him the Wandering Jew.

The novel is entertaining and engaging, the characters are characterized with small features but they are quite distinctive also for their flaws. The best part of the novel is the mysterious shadows looming over the story.

* The Marquis Of Bolibar by Leo Perutz ★★★★☆½

*I read this book in italian

Clean (Mindspace Investigation #1) by Alex Hughes


Clean di Alex Hughes mette insieme sci-fi ed elementi paranormali, niente di nuovo rispetto a quanto fatto da Philip K. Dick e ai suoi precog.

Ambientato in un futuro devastato dal punto di vista ambientale, Clean è narrato dal protagonista, telepate di notevole capacità, una volta impiegato nella Gilda dei Telepati ma poi allontanato a causa dalla sua dipendenza da droga.

Il protagonista, di cui non si conosce il nome fino alla fine, è impiegato nella tradizionale polizia come supporto agli interrogatori, ma si trova coinvolto in nell’indagine relativa a una serie di omicidi, in cui intravede la mano di qualcuno con le sue capacità.

Il romanzo si svolge nel corso dell’indagine e durante il racconto il lettore ha modo di conoscere meglio il protagonista e l’ambiente in cui vive.

La caratterizzazione del protagonista mi ha convinto parzialmente, ma nel complesso è un romanzo gradevole anche se non particolarmente innovativo per gli appassionati di fantascienza.


Clean by Alex Hughes puts together sci-fi and paranormal elements, nothing so new with respect to what Philip K. Dick made up with his precog.

Set in an environmental devastated future, Clean is told by the point of view of his protagonist, nameless till the end of the book. He is powerful telepathic, once involved in the Telepath’s Guild from where he was cast aside due to his drug’s addiction.

Now he is involved in the local police, supporting them during interrogations. In the book he is then involved in an investigation about a series of murders, and he soon sees that another telepathic could be involved.

The novel develops during the investigation, and during the story the reader has the chance to know better the main character and the world he lives in.

Honestly I did partially like the characterization of the protagonist, but the book is nice, despite not particularly innovative for sci-fi readers.


Clean by Alex Hughes ★★★☆☆

The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge


Ho scoperto la bravura di Frances Hardinge leggendo Cuckoo Song, inquietante e avvincente, e non mi sono quindi lasciata scappare The Lie Tree, nel complesso avvincente ma non paragonabile con Cuckoo Song che resta il mio preferito.

Faith e la sua famiglia si trasferiscono su un’isola dopo che il padre, esperto archeologo e pastore, viene invitato a partecipare a una spedizione viste le sue competenze. Anche sull’isola si diffonde però notizia dello scandalo già noto nella capitale che coinvolge il padre della protagonista, accusato di aver contraffatto dei reperti fossili.

L’ostilità degli abitanti verso la famiglia continua ad aumentare finchè l’uomo viene trovato morto. Tutti pensano al suicidio, ma Faith è convinta del contrario, anche perchè il padre le aveva confidato l’esistenza di una pianta capace di nutrirsi di menzogne e i cui frutti permettono di rivelare segreti a chi li consuma.

Faith si avventura quindi nella ricerca della verità, e per sfruttare il potere della pianta inizia a costruire una rete di menzogne che coinvolgono gli abitanti dell’isola.

The Lie Tree si rivela un romanzo ben costruito, con personaggi vivi e umani per azioni e desideri, Faith per prima con il suo desiderio di essere finalmente apprezzata dal padre, che però la considera inferiore come donna, e dalle persone che la circondano, per i quali è pero poco più che una bambina. La pianta della menzogna, così particolare e unica, dà concreta forma all’avidità e al desiderio di potere e conoscenza degli uomini e serve a Faith per capire meglio se stessa e le persone che la circondano.

Ho però trovato più coinvolgente la vicenda di Cuckoo Song anche perchè i personaggi di quel romanzo mi hanno convinta maggiormente; in The Lie Tree molti risultano abbozzati (il fratello di Faith è un esempio, rilevante nella vicenda quasi solo come controparte maschile e meno sveglia della sorella) e ho trovato difficile empatizzare con Faith, così desiderosa delle attenzioni da parte del padre, che però emerge come figura egoista. Alla fine a risultare positive sono solo le figure femminili, tra cui anche la madre della protagonista che dimostra determinazione nel suo ruolo.

E’ comunque una lettura molto godibile, sia perchè non mancano elementi di azione e colpi di scena, sia per la qualità della narrazione e la scelta di non cadere in storie consolatorie e buoniste.


Frances Hardinge is a great writer, I discover it by reading Cuckoo Song, creepy and engaging, so I chose to read her last novel, The Lie Tree, overall engaging but not great as Cuckoo Song, that stays in my hall of fame.

Faith and her family move to an English island after her father, a known history expert and a minister, is invited to participate in an archaeological expedition. But also the island is reached by the news of the scandal that involves Faith’s father, accused to have forged fossils finds.

The hostility from the island people grows till the minister is found dead. Everybody think about suicide, but Faiths believes her father to have been killed, also because he once shared with her the existence of a unique plant, able to feed from human lies and which fruits allow the one who eats them to know great secrets.

Faith begins to search the truth, and to exploit the plant power she builds a strong net of lies involving the island people.

The Lie Tree is a well-built novel, with vivid and human characters, for their actions and desires, among them Faith wanting to be loved by her father who consider her inferior as a woman, and appreciated for her intellect by the people on the island, who treat her as a child. The lie tree is able to shape greediness and the human desire of power and knowledge and allows Faith to understand better herself and other people.

In the end the novel was not engaging as Cuckoo Song, maybe also because I liked the other novel’s characters better. In The Lie Tree some are almost sketched (like Faith’s brother, relevant only to the extent of being the male and less intelligent counter part of his sister) and I was not able to share Faith’s emotions, so willing to have her father attentions, with him being so selfish. In the end the only characters who have a positive connotation seems to be mostly the female ones, like Faith’s mother that shows some determination in her behaviour.

The lie tree is however a very enjoyable read, both for the action, the narration quality and the choise not to write a trivial, good, comforting boring story.


The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge ★★★★☆