on July 15, 2018
A Tale of Two Worlds
It starts by throwing the reader into a Parisian fashion boutique, where Mme Fabron converses with customers on one hand, but also has the gift of Second Sight which explains the human (?) thoughts at the beginning. So, is The Devourer ‘just’ another ghost story?
Nothing as simple as that! Chelser took me into a Paris that no longer exists, into a society with 19th century attitudes, into the Cité’s narrow streets and alleyways before Baron Haussmann had completed his public works program.
The background of this novel - be it fashion, codes of conduct or locations- was very well researched.At this point, I might as well have turned to other books on the trials and tribulations of that era, but the writer did not stop there.
Within a few dozen pages I was immersed in customer service of a fashion shop, a marriage of broken dreams, a grieving mother and a murder. Soon there was a glimpse into a world of which the citizens of Paris were mostly unaware. And that was where the mystery started, where nobody and nothing was as it seemed, where I was persuaded to pity a monster, feel compassion for a beast and in the end smile at a major character death. Having tissues nearby had been a good idea.
What lies between is something I would heartily recommend any prospective reader to find out for themselves, including trying to figure out the tiny nod to one of Victor Hugo’s novels at the end. Btw, the scene works well without that knowledge.
For me, ‘The Devourer’ is one of the books where one reading is not enough as it offers so much to discover.
A word of advice: to appreciate the difference in the description of two different worlds takes some concentration, Do not let yourself be deterred, it is well worth reading.
Res Arcana: The Advent of Choice
on July 15, 2018
Bedtime Stories of a Different Kind
27 short stories, none more than five pages: their titles short, sharp and to the point. Each story was headed by a drawing of an appropriate tarot card, the book’s title already pointing to mysteries and/or cards in a tarot pack.
At first I thought all of the stories would be set in some mystical medieval alternate universe. Quite on the contrary. I was taken into the time before our time, into more recent historical settings, into the present and the future. Chelser took me on a ride not only through time but also through space, settings, situations.
Some stories baffled me, others left me uneasy, but none left me unaffected. Each of them gave me a different perspective. I find it a sign of a good writer when they can take me into new worlds within the space of a few pages, and make me curious as to what might have happened before the setting of the story begins.
I am not sorry to have downloaded the book, and might even suggest it to a friend who likes these kind of short stories.
The Kalbrandt Institute Archives - Book I: Hauntings
on July 24, 2018
This was the first book of the author that I read. A friend had recommended it because they know I like stories of the unexpected.
There were five stories, each of them set in a different period of time, ranging from the 17th to the 21st century. They were linked by the story of Eva Novotná, a young psychic starting her first job.
Not wanting to spoiler anyone, let me say that all five stories were unusual in their own rights, either by their solutions or their settings.
Kalbrand Institute Archives: Hauntings contains hardly murder, some mayhem, neither gore nor dirty linen, but stories with a darker edge, unruly ghosts and a mysterious Institute with an even more mysterious person at its head.
I hope there will soon be a follow-up, because Chelser made it easy for me to develop a taste for their story-telling.
My –admittedly minor- quibble is that having become engrossed in Eva‘s story almost from page one and wanting to know how she develops in her first job, my suspension of disbelief was briefly brought to a halt by the first of the hauntings.
Therefore it is 4.5/5
A recommended read.