While I completely comprehend that today is Halloween, I haven’t been into horror books this week! If you are looking for some thrills and chills Open Road is having a $3 book sale on some spine tingling reads for the movie enthusiast. I am definitely going to be digging into some Lois Duncan! On another note, I have some spine tinglers for those of us that enjoy mystery shrouded in historical context.
“The Kitchen House” by Kathleen Grissom
The story starts with a fire and a hanging body. The scene is vivid and startling and will leave you guessing until the very end of the book. “The Kitchen House” chronicles the life of two women: Lavinia and Belle are two women living in the same kitchen house of a Virginia Plantation. Belle is the illegitimate daughter of the Captain, the frequently absent master of the plantations. Lavinia was orphaned on board the Captain’s ship when her parents die on route. To pay off her parent’s passage, Lavinia, must serve in the kitchen house with the slaves of the plantation. Despite her white skin and Irish background, Lavinia forms a deep bond with Belle, her surrogate mother. Yet, this bond seems as though it cannot last. Lavinia, who slowly works her way up into a close bond with the mistress of the plantation, finds herself moving into a position of authority, while Belle must reconcile her rightful place as part of the family with the realities she cannot change. As Lavinia becomes more and more accepted into the big house, her choices become impossibly difficult.
I so easily get caught up in sweeping historical dramas, that I find myself aping the accents I hear. The combination of fantastic plotting and delicious description makes this book quite the engaging read. And my rough Irish/southern accent is getting quite good thanks to the audiobook. The novel is quite well-researched and thoroughly believable. While it is a period piece, the problems and struggles are very much recent. Characters struggle with addiction, sexual abuse, infidelity, abusive husbands, and childhood traumas. I found myself at turns gasping and laughing, and I think you will delight in this novel!
You’ll like this if: you are a fan of “The Help,” “Gone with the Wind,” and the antebellum south.
Quote: “That day I was awakened to a new realization and a line drawn in black and white, though the depth of it still had little meaning to me.”
“The Mercy of Thin Air” by Ronlyn Domingue
We begin in Jazz Era New Orleans with a girl named Raziela Nolan. At the height of her prime she is beautiful, personable, and is loved by a fantastic man. She leaves it all behind, however, in a tragic accident that leaves her family and loved ones guessing. Fast forward to 75 years later and we meet Amy and Scott, a married couple with secrets and baggage of their own. The two stories intertwine as Razi finds herself haunting the couple as she navigates the world of the “in between.” The story features secrets, family drama, and saucy tales of love and redemption.
I really loved reading how the stories unravel. There are so many questions that will keep you guessing until the end of the story. And the fantastical imagery of the “in between” world mixed with 1920’s New Orleans is well-balanced by the modern day couple and their struggle to redeem their relationship. I have yet to recommend this to a friend without them telling me that they loved it. It’s one of those tear-jerker books that won’t leave you embarrassed to show the cover.
You’ll Like this if: You’re interested in a mix of real world drama, historical fiction, and fantasy. It’s not too fantastical but it has just enough ghosts to keep things interesting.
Quote: “There’s nothing worse in this world than watching someone’s heart break.”