Saturday, November 30, 2019

The wife by Alafair Burke

On the outside Angela and Jason Powell have the perfect life - he is a professor of economics with a best selling book and his own consulting firm, and she is a stay at home mom.  Jason is not shy about being in the spotlight, he does media appearances and has a successful podcast, and his consultancy firm is doing well enough to have great clients and has attracted some interns too.  Having grown up poor, Angela appreciates the comfort they live in, and mostly stays in the background and out of the spotlight.  Their marriage isn't perfect, but they love each other and their son Spencer.  

That love and faith in her husband is tested when one of the interns from his office comes forward and accuses Jason of inappropriate behaviour.  Suddenly their whole life is under the spotlight - but for all the wrong reasons.  Suddenly every interaction Jason has had with women is up for discussion in the media, and then another woman comes forward with more allegations against Jason.  Trying to protect her family and her marriage, Angela does everything she can to support Jason, even taking advice that seems to be against everything she is trying to do.  It seems that everything is fair game for Jason and his defence team, including Angela's own story which was told to Jason in confidence between man and wife.  As more secrets are revealed, Angela has to wonder how much she really knows about her husband and their own relationship.

The wife is a delightfully convoluted novel that takes you from one point to another through a series of secrets, revelations, conspiracies and other twists and turns.  Angela and Jason start as two ordinary characters, but as each chapter peels back more layers of their story you come to realise that you don't really know that much about them at all, and that they don't know as much about each other as they think.  Angela seems like a typical na├»ve housewife caught out by a husband with a wandering eye, but she has faced and overcome great challenges already just to be alive.  Jason seems like a great husband at first, but it slowly becomes clear that he is quite self centred and focused on himself rather than the family.  Saying anymore will ruin the twists and discoveries that made this such great reading, but if you have read her other works you are going to love The wife.

If you like this book then try:

Reviewed by Brilla

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Sea witch rising by Sarah Henning

Sea witch rising is the sequel to Sea witch, and while you can read them separately you will enjoy the series better if you read them in order.  This review also contains ***SPOILERS*** for what happens in Sea witch.

It has been decades since the girl who was once Evie became the Sea witch - feared and loathed by the people of the sea and the land alike.  She has been kept prisoner in her cove of black water, her only real company the people who died and became anchored in her polypus garden.  When a young mermaid named Alia comes to her and asks to strike a magical bargain Evie knows what the cost will be for both of them, but it is a bargain she makes none the less, sending the mermaid to try and claim the heart of her Prince.  Evie should have remembered that mermaids lie and that a heart can be blind, because close behind the first mermaid comes her twin sister Runa - who is desperate to create a bargain of her own to save her sisters life.

Life on the surface is even harder than Runa expected, and knowing the life of the Prince is the cost of her return to a mermaid Alia refuses to save her own life - even when she realises that he doesn't love her and her life is doomed.  Forced to act Runa makes a decision that will change both their lives, and sets in motion a chain of events that will either save or doom the land and the sea.  For decades the power of magic has been flowing from the land to the sea, the death of countless witches tipping the balance of power in favour of the ocean and the mermaid King who rules them all and Evie is starting to understand exactly what that means for her - and for everyone else.  The time is coming when Runa will have to make the ultimate choice, and the choice she makes has the power to save or destroy two worlds.

I absolutely adored Sea witch and was a bit worried that any sequel would fall flat because we all know a version of the little mermaid and the Sea witch is always painted as a sinister character rather than a sympathetic one - but I shouldn't have worried at all.  Sea witch rising was just as good, if not better than Sea witch, with the same attention to detail in terms of character building and cultural references.  For someone who has Scandinavian heritage it was a real treat to enter a world that felt right, that had a sense of history and culture.  As with the Sea witch there is more than one layer to the story, you have the main characters and the main storyline, but there are other characters and storylines that work together to create depth and connection to the story.  

This series has been a real treat, and I hope that we see more of these re-imagined traditional tales from Henning because she has a real knack for keeping true to the ideas of the stories, while breathing a fresh spark of life into them and making them her own.

If you like this book then try:

Reviewed by Brilla