Month: August 2020

Book Review: Death at High Tide by Hannah Dennison

I was excited to learn than author Hannah Dennison has a new series coming out, and the first book, “Death at High Tide”, did not disappoint. The premise is simple: two sisters go to visit an island hotel that one of them may or may not have inherited. What ensues is much more complicated as the inheritance is questionable and the body count rises.

I loved the concept of setting this series on an isolated island that can only be accessed at certain times of day due to the tides. The whole isolation aspect gave the story a slight Gothic air, which I very much enjoy and seldom (if ever before) see in cozies. The descriptions, of both the landscape and the hotel itself, were just detailed enough to enable me to “see” everything, without bogging down the narrative at all.

I also enjoyed getting to know main characters Evie and Margot. Evie was likable and intelligent, with just the right touch of vulnerability in keeping with a new widow. Margot initially came across as pushy and entitled, but I gave her the benefit of the doubt, as I’ve read other books by Ms. Dennison and trusted her not to offer up an irredeemable major character. Sure enough, as I got to know Margot better and understood what her life had been like up to this point, I liked her more. I imagine we’ll see lots of character growth from her in future installments. One other note: I appreciated her traditional morality and strong views about the sanctity of marriage. It’s rare to find this in any genre these days, so kudos to the author!

The mystery itself was interesting, and was made even more so by the limited suspect pool provided by the island. Despite the relatively small number of people involved, there was plenty of room for doubt, suspicion, and clue-hunting. The author did a fabulous job of expanding on the old “closed-room mystery” sub-genre, and doing so in a unique and fascinating way. Early on, I suspected that the villain was up to something, but it didn’t cross my mind that this person could be the killer until near the end. I love a mystery that keeps me guessing, and this one did just that.

Honestly, I loved everything about this story, and can’t wait until the next book comes out.

Five out of five chunks of perfect sharp cheddar!

Book Review: The Living Dead by George A. Romero and Daniel Kraus

Wow! I don’t think I could start this review any other way…just…WOW! This book is amazing, horrifying, terrifying, and oddly realistic (if you assume the zombie apocalypse is a real thing).

As most people know, George Romero was a genius and a visionary. What you may not know is that Daniel Kraus is, as well. Despite the fact that the two men only met once, long before this collaboration became a reality, it was written as a true meeting of the minds between the two. Romero left a partially completed manuscript; Kraus was asked to finish it. Instead of just using what he’d been given and finishing it however he wanted, Kraus spent a lot of time re-watching and reading everything by Romero he could track down. As new resources came to light, changes were made to the storyline. While adding his own artistic touches, Kraus went as far as possible in making sure that Romero’s original vision for the book still shone through. I can’t say enough positive things about the integrity with which Kraus tackled finishing this book, or about the truly impressive final product.

Now, a bit about the actual book: Yes, it’s pretty much what you’d expect from a Romero zombie novel. There are lots of zombies, and lots of gory, terrible things happen. However, there’s also plenty of character development along the way, as people cope with and adapt to the apocalypse. The story is told from multiple perspectives, with various different storylines that sometimes intersected, and sometimes went their own way. I enjoyed some characters more than others, but feel that everyone could find one (or more) to connect with as you read. Despite the fact that the plot is pretty much all action, all the time, there’s time to get to know the major players in the story, and come to appreciate their past experiences, personalities, and reactions to what is happening around them.

The Living Dead is so much more than a typical zombie horror novel. It’s also a commentary on the human condition, and speaks to actual issues that we’re facing today. Place yourself in the shoes of any character, and try to honestly evaluate what you’d do in that situation. Hopefully we can all walk away from this book with a desire to be better people.

Each individual storyline is compelling on its own, and is made even more so by its integration into overall plot. All the details are right, and the things that happen seem realistic given the situation. There’s a lot going on here, and I won’t go into detail to avoid spoilers.

Suffice it to say that this book is truly a work of genius. I highly recommend it to any fans of horror, Romero, post-apocalyptic fiction, and anyone interested in a fresh perspective on human nature.

Five out of five chunks of sharp cheddar!