Regular Guy Book Review: Titus Groan by Mervyn Peake

Titus Groan is completely different from any fantasy book I’ve ever read. It’s surreal, poetic, brutal, and brilliant. Its characters, who have all wrapped themselves in different kinds of madness, plod and scramble their way through the seemingly endless sprawl of Gormenghast Castle. They vie for power, plot vengeance, and engage in long-followed but nonsensical rituals.

Author Peake’s wild, weird imagination puts this book in the echelon of The Lord of the Rings, while being completely different from it in every way. There is no quest here, no magic to speak of, no curious non-humans, and not even an obvious protagonist.

Titus Groan is engaging and wonderful, if you don’t mind your fantasy a little dark and twisted. It’s also the first book of a series.

Recommendation: Buy it. This is an odd sort of masterpiece every fantasy reader (and writer) should expose themselves to.


 

Regular Guy Book Review: City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett

I’m seeing a trend in fantasy stories with extensive world-building. While many of them reveal the world through the usual quest for the Magical Thingamajig, the more recent trend is to reveal this strange world via the investigation of a murder. A detective must visit a number of dangerous places and confront strange characters (just like the folks on a quest).

I love this trend, and City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett is the best example I’ve come across.

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Review: The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier

The Night GardenerThe Night Gardener is great and reads like a classic that’s been around for 50 years. I was shocked to find out it was published in 2014. It feels like the kind of book that’s been on shelves forever, next to A Wrinkle in Time and Something Wicked This Way Comes. It’s good, creepy fun for kids.

Two young orphans get jobs at an old mansion that’s shadowed by a massive, dark tree. New mysteries appear in every chapter with forbidden rooms, darting shadows, and at night, things do a lot more than go bump.

The two orphans must face the darkness inside themselves before they can hope to deal with the spirit that haunts the mansion and the poor family trapped there.

Recommendation: Buy it. It’s fantastic. If you have a kid, absolutely get it. It’s aimed at grades 4-6, so decide how badly you want to scare your kid.