Review: The Secrets of Life and Death by Rebecca Alexander

The Secrets of Life and Death

I received this as an arc from Netgalley for an honest review.

4.5 chocolate kisses

I am very hard put on how to write this review because this novel is unlike anything that I have ever read before.

It is both a historical and a contemporary novel. That was the easy part.

From the beginning, I had a sense of unease that I can only describe as the feeling I had while watching the movie ‘Alien’ for the first time at a midnight show the night it opened. Later I was to find out that the sound track had channel where they used the sounds of someone trying to catch their breath. So the novel had a delightful tension all the way through it. I just knew something bad was going to happen in the present and the past.

The story developed slowly with the historical and the contemporary meeting with a crescendo. It was excellently done, the characters well drawn and the world building – all I can say is that I am very glad I did not live in 16th century Eastern Europe. The world was a visceral experience, at times I thought perhaps I could even smell the odors from the author’s description.

Quite fab story and I would read this author again. I have a little hope that she will continue with these characters in another story, but there is no cliffhanger and as a stand alone it is fine.

There is some romance, just enough to keep me happy that there was a connection on that level. And in fact, I liked the amount just fine and prefer it at this point in my reading life.

I enjoyed this book because both the historical and the contemporary dealt with the unseen in the spirit world very differently than a normal paranormal or urban fantasy story. The was an awareness that this is not just a normal day, that they were delving in dangerous things and this gave it an edginess that I liked. Maybe it goes on my religious paranormal shelf, but that is not quite right either.

Also, this was a refreshing look at a historical character who was known as a monster and how she came to be that way. This was very satisfying and intriguing because it was a culmination of entitlement, curses, magic that was interwoven into the very fabric of the time and the juxtaposition with historical and contemporary was very telling in how much of the unseen is discarded in contemporary approach to puzzles. It is more empirical – for better or worse.

I recommend this book to people who like dark fantasy.

Cover Him With Darkness by Janine Ashbless

Cover Him With Darkness

5 chocolate kisses

arc received from edleweiss

This book was an unexpected delight. For me it is pure fantasy as I do not believe in Fallen Angels but the ‘what if’ aspect was excellent.

I suppose this could be considered erotica, but I just didn’t feel that it was. The nature of the story of fallen angels and human women was about desire and however conflicted the female lead in the story was, it was a large part of the interaction.  So it was a romance which was graphic at times.  But for some reason this did not bother me.  I think the reason why was because there was soooooo much more going on in the story.

I thought this was a well crafted story that always kept me guessing and I was just not certain of anything until the last page. Great reading and I highly recommend it for people that like dark, speculative, religious fantasy or just dark fantasy.

It is not a traditional love story in regards to it be consistent.  What I liked about it was that the characters had to work through their feelings which were complicated and they had to struggle with their choices.

The worldbuilding was lush and the author was able to describe the scenery to the point that the reader felt they were actually in Montenegro and to be honest, I would like to visit there because as it was describe, I found it very beautiful.  The scenes in the States were not so clearly drawn, but I am familiar with cities there and this author did not need to waste words in that regard so I did not take that as a negative.

Another large positive for me was the sense of Good versus Evil and what that actually was.  It was not so clear cut as other books that I have read in the genre.  The only thing that stood out for me as ringing near truth was that fact the humans and ‘angels’ both have to obey and the results of not doing it played out a bit in the story.  But there was nothing definitive beyond a certain choice and the rest of  it is pretty much left wide open for other books in the series.

It it a romance?  I would say yes, but not one like I have ever read before and that was indeed quite refreshing and I was on the edge of my seat all throughout it.

This is a very adult book for mature audiences.