Mutterschoß (Elea Brandt)

Mutterschoß (literally: Mother’s Lap) is a novel by Elea Brandt, set in Ghor-el-Chras. It was not (yet) translated into English.
Finished on: 10.6.2021
[I received a copy of this book to review, or, as they say in German, this post is Unbezahlte Werbung.]

Content Note (for this review): ableism, abortion, slavery
[there is a complete list included in the book itself and available at the author’s homepage]

Ajeri is a midwife. Since she also performs abortion and is a former slave, her standing is difficult, but she likes her work. One of her clients, Midena, is just about to give birth – hoping it will be finally the heir her husband Bailak, head of the slaver’s guild, has been waiting for. But Midena has been plagued by nightmares recently, and when her labor comes early, everything goes wrong very quickly. Ajeri calls for a doctor to help. To her dismay, it’s Shiran who shows up – arrogant doctor’s apprentice and an old acquaintance of Ajeri. They start fightnig for Midena’s life, but it’s too late for her. The child is alive, but it is not right. Ajeri finds herself on the run, blamed for what happened, while Shiran is tasked by Bailak to figure everything out or risk losing everything himself. Ajeri and Shiran both realize soon that there is a dark force after the pregnant women of the city.

Mutterschoß is a good read with an openly feminist message, which I always appreciate. But I struggled a little with how the book deals with ableism, so I couldn’t love it unreservedly.

(c) Chaos Pony Verlag
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The Cipher (Kathe Koja)

The Cipher is a novel by Kathe Koja.
Finished on: 20.12.2020
[I won this book in a LibraryThing Early Reviewer give-away.]

In a small storage room in Nicholas’ building, there is a hole in the floor. But it’s not just a hole, it’s apparently endless and might be alive. Nicholas’ on-again-off-again girlfriend Nakota is obsessed with what they call the funhole, dragging Nicholas to the storage room any chance she gets to just look at the hole. Nicholas doesn’t understand her fascination, he would rather forget the hole’s existence. But he can’t say no to her, not even when she hatches a plan to dangle a video camera into the hole and film what’s there. The longer they spend time with the hole, the more they change.

The Cipher was difficult for me. I loved the concept and the body horror elements were utterly visceral, but I often struggled with the prose and the story. I wish I could have loved it more.

The book cover showing a hand being held up above a face. Both are pixelated as if looked at through a faulty camera.
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The Haunting of Hill House (Shirley Jackson)

The Haunting of Hill House is a novel by Shirley Jackson.
Finished on: 27.10.2020

John Montague is an avid researcher of supernatural phenomena. When he learns of Hill House, he is convinced that he has finally found the location where he can definitely prove that hautings really take place. He rents Hill House for the summer and invites several people to join him, all of whom have – according to his research – some experience with the supernatural. The ones who take him up are Eleanor Vance, a shy young woman, and Theodora, her polar opposite. Additionally joining them is Luke Sanderson who will inherit Hill House at some point. The four of them settle in Hill House – and things do take an eerie turn quickly, in ways no-one expected.

Shirley Jackson had been on my to-read-list since about forever, and watching Shirley finally gave me the last push to pick up The Haunting of Hill House (which had been lying on my nightstand for at least a year). And hot damn, it was so absolutely great. I’m completely blown away by it.

The book cover showing a woman's shadow reflected in water.
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Fellside (M.R. Carey)

Fellside is a novel by M.R. Carey.
Finished on: 21.6.2019

Jess Moulson is one of the inmates at Fellside prison. She was convicted of arson and murder after a fire that started in her apartment killed another inhabitant of the house, all while Jess was out on heroin. That other inhabitant? Alex Beech, a 10-year-old boy. Ridden by guilt, Jess is ready to shuffle of this mortal coil herself, when she is visited by Alex’ ghost who tells her that he was already dead when the fire started, but he seems to be confused about what happened. Jess promises him that she will find out what really happened. Easier said than done as she is still an inmate in a high security prison.

Fellside isn’t bad, but I was far from loving it as much as I loved all his other stuff so far. It is a decent read, but it didn’t leave me as excited as The Girl with All the Gifts or The Unwritten.

The book cover showing a dead branch in front of a foggy blue background. In the distance we can just make out a big building.
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NOS4A2 (Joe Hill)

NOS4A2 (or alternatively NOS4R2) is a novel by Joe Hill.
Finished on: 19.5.2019

Content Note: fatmisia, ableism

When Vic was a child, she learned that she has a special ability that leads her find lost things. That very same ability brings her to Maggie who has the ability to predict the future with scrabble tiles. She warns Vic of a man, Charles Manx, who abducts children in his Rolls Royce Wraith. When Vic goes looking for Manx, their fates become twined together – until Manx even comes looking for Vic’s son.

There were a couple of things that bothered me about NOS4A2 but overall it was a really good read that reminded me more of Stephen King than Hill’s other novels.

The book cover showing the title as a license plate written in blood.
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