Review | Blood Sisters, Jane Corry

35580277Years ago, three young girls are walking to school when a terrible accident ends up killing one and seriously injuring another. The third, Alison, grows up to be an artist and gets a job teaching art in prison. Her younger sister, Kitty, sustains a brain injury and ends up living in an institution, still cognizant of the world around her, but unable to talk and unable to remember anything about that fateful day. While working at the prison, Alison begins receiving death threats that refer to the day of the accident and make her realize that the past is catching up to her, and someone is out for revenge.

Blood Sisters is a good thriller that, like Corry’s earlier novel My Husband’s Wife, uses the psychological effects of trauma as the jump-off point for a twisty suspense story. In this book, the secrets mostly revolve around the events of the day of the accident, and similar to My Husband’s Wife, the twists got a bit much at the end, as lies upon lies upon half-truths are revealed. In particular, one of the major reveals about the accident hinged on the police making a major oversight that, forensically, didn’t quite make sense to me. I won’t post a spoiler in this review, but this Q&A on Goodreads is about this very snag. There is also a reveal about one of the prisoners that seemed a bit overdone; the way that storyline ended felt sudden and I didn’t really understand the motivations of the characters around it.

That being said, I loved the relationship between the sisters, and wish it had been developed further. I liked how Alison’s career as an artist is somewhat linked to her past with her sister, how she feels connected to her sister even when they weren’t getting along, and how her fear over the truth coming out leads to her having somewhat cruel thoughts about her sister’s chances at recovery. I also thought Kitty’s storyline was strong. I loved how Corry portrayed her frustration at the people around her constantly misunderstanding her, and I liked the research into communications technology for non-verbal individuals. But most of all, I loved her romantic subplot, and how it ends up showing how much of her personality from childhood is still part of her. Often, when minor characters in fiction have disabilities, they’re portrayed with an angelic light and are mostly geared towards eliciting sympathy. While Kitty started out somewhat like that, I like that she turns out to be just as complex a character as she was before the accident.

Blood Sisters is a solid thriller that felt somewhat tighter than My Husband’s Wife, but likely because the reveals mostly revolved around a single incident and because the characters didn’t change quite as much, it also felt slower and somewhat less compelling.

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Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada for an advance reading copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Review | My Husband’s Wife, Jane Corry

31227076Shortly after her honeymoon, Lily gets assigned her first case as a lawyer: appealing the conviction of a man, Joe, who was convicted of murdering his girlfriend. Socially awkward and good with numbers and data, Joe reminds Lily of her brother, and she finds herself feeling a connection with him despite her determination to keep their relationship professional. Lily’s husband Ed is an aspiring artist, and despite being newly married, the couple is already becoming emotionally distant and Lily is beginning to fear that Ed is cheating on her with his ex. Down the hall from Lily and Ed live nine-year-old Carla and her mother. When Lily agrees to take care of Carla on weekends when her mother is at work, she unwittingly lets the girl into the secrets of her marriage, and twelve years later, Carla returns to Lily’s home to seek revenge.

My Husband’s Wife is an exciting and compelling thriller about the ways in our experiences in childhood can affect us all our lives. I especially love the character of Lily, who started off an an overweight, plain, insecure woman but then developed into a formidable force in the legal world. Her jealousy at the beginning over Ed’s ex-girlfriend was a bit much, and it was only as more of the characters were revealed later on that I realized where her insecurity was coming from. I couldn’t quite understand Joe’s appeal to Lily, as I found him an untrustworthy manipulator from the beginning, but I think Corry did a good job of revealing later on why his similarities to Lily’s brother had such an effect on her.

The book takes its time in unveiling the various truths behind each character’s experience, and as a result, my sympathies switched between the characters throughout a lot of the book. The ending had a few too many twists in the reveals, which is an odd critique of a thriller, but there was a point where it felt like the author was a magician unveiling trick after trick from her hat with full-on jazz hands.

Otherwise, this is an entertaining thriller and a fun read.

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Jane Corry’s new thriller Blood Sisters will be published this January. Keep an eye on this blog for my review!

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Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Review | Solomon’s Ring (Daughters of Light # 2), Mary Jennifer Payne

34230722In this sequel to Finding Jade, demons have crossed the rift into the real world and twin Seers Jade and Jasmine must deal not just with demonic forces but also with Toronto mayor Sandra Smith, who appears hell-bent on sowing fear to justify her protectionist policies. Solomon’s Ring ramps up the action and fleshes out the real-world elements only hinted at in Finding Jade. Despite its supernatural elements, the novel feels very much rooted in the real world.

Toronto is one of the final remaining cities surviving the ravages of climate change. The city has historically been welcoming to refugees from around the world, but a series of violent incidents have given rise to a fear that some of the refugees may actually be climate change terrorists, using Toronto as a platform to advance an environmentalist agenda. In response, Mayor Smith argues for the need to close Toronto’s borders and increase domestic security, and institutes policies to increase surveillance of refugees. This should all sound uncomfortably familiar to readers; Solomon’s Ring holds up a rather unflattering mirror to things being said and done today.

Solomon’s Ring expands slightly on the mythology around the Seers’ powers and shows us Seers more confident and comfortable using these powers. The book also begins to show the links between the demon plot and the real world one, as demons play a role in the real world political drama. A magical object has the potential to at least alleviate the real world conflict, and the Seers must go on a quest to return this object to its rightful place. I love that Payne keeps the climate change piece realistic — regardless of how the villain’s plot turns out, some issues like climate change and people needing to leave their homes behind will not be magically resolved.

I also enjoyed seeing the dynamic between Jade and Jasmine develop, and particularly Jade’s insecurities about her place in the real world after so many years. Jasmine is selected by the mayor to head her youth task force, and while neither twin really wants to be a tool for the mayor’s propaganda, I can understand why not being picked alongside her sister would shake Jade’s confidence. I can also understand why Jade chafes against her mother’s overprotectiveness, and how afraid she is to confront what she went through in The-Place-in-Between.

Beyond Jade, however, and to a lesser extent Jasmine, the other Seers aren’t well-developed at all. Rather, they’re defined mostly by their birth order (older twins are headstrong and younger twins are more thoughtful) but otherwise feel interchangeable, which makes it difficult to care when they’re in danger. Worse, the Seers, and in particular Jasmine and the other older twins, make many stupid decisions that put themselves in unnecessary danger, only so something big can happen to advance the plot. For example, despite the dangers of a new type of demon and terrorist attacks, the Seers decide to go out late at night to do extra training or walk around the city to fight bad guys but with no actual strategy in mind or urgency to do so. Still, the energy and excitement as they fight is palpable, and the book is a fairly quick, fun read.

Solomon’s Ring ends on an exciting note and promises readers an exciting Final Battle in the next book.

Blog Tour Schedule

Check out the other stops on the Solomon’s Ring blog tour this week!

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Thank you to Dundurn Press for an e-gallery of this book in exchange for an honest review.