The Book of Lamps and Banners (Cass Neary, #4) by Elizabeth Hand

The Book of Lamps and Banners by Elizabeth Hand

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Cass Neary #4 was worth the wait! In the first 50 pages it hit all my buttons for “ancient occult book thriller” and didn’t let up on the thriller for a moment. I was surprised by the challenges and unexpected changes of location Cass experienced along the way, which made for a really exciting and fresh read. I was not surprised that Cass was hitting bottom in this book, and I was rooting for her the whole time, not only to find the book but to decide to take care of instead of destroy herself. Hand uses the titular book to both introduce the is it/isn’t it supernatural element of the story and to dig out Cass’s trauma and force her to confront it and the ruin it’s wrought over decades of her life. The ending perfectly straddles that line between confronting the harsh reality of the present and being hopeful about the future.



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The Likeness (Dublin Murder Squad, #2) – Tana French

The Likeness by Tana French

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Tana French is masterful at character work, as always, keeping me right on the edge of like and dislike for nearly every character in this novel, in a deliciously gratifying way. I was swinging wildly between sympathy and suspicion the whole time, and she just kept turning those screws. Even on the occasions when the “big reveal” or turning point moments seemed to drag on for just a little too long, I realized afterwards (sometimes immediately, sometimes not for another chapter or two) that what I was experiencing was impatience for relief from the excruciating tension and the emotional payoff, not frustration with boring or overblown writing. And she always got to the emotional payoff, even when it didn’t come at the expected moment. The complexity of Cassie’s mental and emotional landscape, the messiness and strain of the situation she’s in, the pendulum of her desires and goals, all imbued with a twist of the Gothic, made for one satisfying read.



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