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Smashwords book reviews by hellweiss

  • Widdershins on Dec. 02, 2017

    "Widdershins" is the first book in the "Whyborne & Griffin" series. I won't go into a summary, the description on the book link is perfectly okay to get a general sense of the story setting. I haven't read anything by JLH before, so it was something of a gamble when I purchased the first three books. The lovecraftian elements, combined with the stuffy demeanor of a victorian gentleman, offset by the story playing out in USA during the high time of the exploration and industrialisation, instead of London (which would be my default expectation when the moniker "victorian" is used) - it works unbelievably good to build an atmosphere of foreboding and secrecy, whithout tipping into another extreme of torture porn. While I found Whybornes constant inner put-downs somewhat too much, in this I admit that my assessment might be somewhat subjective, being familiar how endless the spiral of self-hate can seem. Which made the ending all the more satisfactory when he finally showed the spine of steel, when needed. The supporting character of Dr. Putnam was a nice touch, and I appreciated having another person to dilute the secretive dynamic that the protagonist couple tend to fall into, considering the story setting. All in all, recommend and would buy again.
  • Threshold on Dec. 02, 2017

    The second book in the "Whyborne & Griffin" series. The titular couple untertakes a journey out of Widdershins on a case they are reluctant to pursue. The lovecraftian elements take more of a backseat this time, while the era of pioneers and exploration of US moves into the foreground. Whybornes stuffiness, worth of a true english gentleman of a victorian era, takes up a notch, to balance out the ingredients to the success formula of the first book. Personally, I liked having a more US-flavored version of the story, so to speak, I have read enough bad Sherlock Holmes/Victoriana pastiches and as they are numerous, they are also mostly unsatisfying. It comes at a price of having Whyborne need to work somewhere completely opposite of his comfort zone, and seething with jealousy as another roadblock, so for a long stretch it is the story is somewhat flabbergasting as to where is it going. On the other hand, I imagine, it is true to how flabbergasted the characters must have felt, confronted with this particular mystery. I feel like I would have needed at least another 50 pages worth of background information, like, what were these creatures? were they truly defeated or was it just a temporary setback? what about the pictogramms, didn't anyone think it might be prudent to go back and try copy them, in case something similar happened again? what happened to the surviving miners? was the altercation with Fenton all there is as a resolution to Whybornes conflict with his father? So I am actually a bit on the fence about the sequel, because I actually liked it even more than the first one, but it also feels less like a complete novel than the first one, so I will stay with the five stars. The deeper characterisation alone is a worthy read, since we get more insight into Griffins background and what pitfalls lie hidden behind his suave worldly persona, and see Whyborne grow more as a person he aspires to be, despite being plagued by his own insecurities.
  • Baby Duties on Dec. 30, 2017

    The writing itself is good, but I just can't stand any of the characters. The baby daddy won't consent to adoption, but can't even for one second take a step back from his unreasonable demands and temper and has the nerve to make play guilt games. The new boyfriend is a manipulative asshole whose only purpose in life seems to be shit-stirring. The baby momma, instead of throwing both assholes out of her life and go to court to regulate the fathers visiting rights, just flounces indecisivly around and lets everything happen to her. Also, just because she decided against adoption doesn't mean that her parents also signed up on stopping their lives and playing babysitter around the clock. Her friends at school didn't even realise that she stopped eating lunch and seem to not even notice that she doesn't around with them anymore, that is how much they care about her. The girls parents seem to think that disapproval and limiting contact with boys will somehow do their daughter good? (What, like she is going to forget the biggest mistake she made in having unprotected sex? Or like having zero experience with relationships firsthand somehow helped her learn to deal with a pressuring boyfriend and to say no? Also, if her getting pregnant was such a big deal, why didn't they help her get an abortion or a pill for afterwards? That doesn't exactly speak of trusting family relations.) They also seem to have developed plot predicting powers, since they dislike the new bf when they haven't seen his shitstirring in action, but already had more than enough experience with the ex-bfs shit. I also can't help but wonder how long the baby daddy would insist on denying adoption, if the baby would have been installed in his house with his ex barging for a visit in whenever she had time, instead of the other way around. Because he honestly shouldn't be allowed to make decisions that have long-reaching consequences for at least two other people, esp. if he is going to constantly be a whiny selfish bitch and raising her stress levels any time he opens his mouth and so distressing the kid. Full disclosure: I managed to get only to page 120 and not further, because I hated everyone in the story so much. Maybe the story picks up after that, but somehow I doubt it since the characterisation had already been set.