Brutus’ Book of the Month: Bridge of Bones by Richard Gleaves

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Brutus is a big fan of the Headless Horseman! He’s waiting at Austin Pets Alive for a haunted house to call his own.

Halloween may be just a memory but lucky for you, Brutus and I celebrate this spooktacular holiday all year round! Some may think it’s strange that I prominently display my Department 56 haunted village throughout all four seasons, but I scoff at their provincial ways.  After they swap their jack-o-lanterns for tinsel and twinkle lights, I’ll still be reading Sleepy Hollow-themed books underneath the glow of my faux Haunted Mansion candelabra.

23390914Without further ado, Brutus would like to bring you a review of the second installment of the Jason Crane Sleepy Hollow series – and boy is it a doozy! Wow, where to begin? This book is huge, and there’s SO much ground to cover.  How about I start by introducing you to the fearless and loveable hero, Jason Crane?  I applaud Richard Gleaves for bringing all of his characters to life in a way that only a few masterful storytellers can pull off. Jason is a hapless hero who appeals to anyone who hasn’t won the genetic lottery. A decendent of none other than Ichabod Crane, he’s long, lanky and rather awkward around girls. But what he lacks in good looks and social graces, he makes up for in bravery and wit.  It’s a good think he’s got a lot of true grit because in this next adventure, he’s got more obstacles than the Hobbit and Harry Potter combined! Okay, that may be an overstatement, but the dude’s got some major problems.

The story unfolds in the aftermath of Jason’s near-death encounter with the Headless Horseman. The town is in an uproar after he shattered the door of the old Dutch church. The townsfolk hate him so much, even his teachers are giving him the boot from their classrooms. To say that he is persona non grata would be an understatement. After his beloved grandmother’s untimely death, Jason is left under the care of his evil guardian, Hediwig (sorry about butchering his name, but that’s one of the drawbacks of reading via audio.) His family fortune is being siphoned into a nefarious political campaign and his grandmother’s old house has turned into a scene from Hoarders. Chips are down.

Things go from bad to worse when Jason and his crush Kate discover that they have been saddled with the Witches Curse. Isn’t it bad enough that they are both tortured by unrequited love?  Oh and they’re being hunted down by an axe-wielding horseman from beyond the grave.

This book may be long, but I finished it in a weekend because it’s one heck of a ride. I learned so much about the evil powers that control the Sleepy Hollow boneyard, and the evil entity that ultimately controls the Headless Horseman.  Murderous ghosts and malevolent witches are unsettling, but the most frightening thing about this book is the evil that lurks within Hediwig’s soul.  This is more than just a cat-and-mouse adventure story. It’s also a terrifying character sketch of the mind of a sociopath. There were points when Hediwick tried to fight his dark madness, yet his weakness was no match for pure evil. That, my friends, is far more frightening than a Headless Horseman lurking in the woods on Halloween night.

I’ll stop right here to save you from spoilers.  But I will leave you with one tip. I highly suggest “reading” this one of audio. The narrator is the best in the business, and it’s a lot of fun listening to the book while walking around a spooky trail at dusk. Happy reading—or listening—my friends!

Short & Sweet Sunday: The Hollow by Jessica Verday

In honor of Sunday – a day I reserve for reading and lollygagging – I bring you a short and sweet book review! For more of my “Short & Sweet” reviews, go here.  

The gist:  (From Goodreads) After the death of her best friend, Abbey feels abandoned and alone. She tries distracting herself by creating perfumes, but true distraction comes in the form of Caspian, the “total hottie” she meets in the Sleepy Hollow cemetery. Abbey quickly falls head over heels in love with Caspian, although she struggles with his mysterious and elusive demeanor. Just as things seem like they are back to normal, Abbey makes two discoveries: she finds Kristen’s secret diary that reveals she was hiding something from Abbey, and she learns Caspian’s true identity. On the verge of a breakdown, Abbey’s world slowly begins to unravel when she realizes Sleepy Hollow may hold more truth than legend.

Why I read it: I’m a HUGE fan of Washington Irving’s Legend of Sleepy Hollow, so any book or movie that touches on this Halloweenie masterpiece really sparks my interest. How could I resist a gothic mystery involving a creepy cemetery, an alluring ghost boy and the headless horseman?!? It’s like this book was tailor made just for me!

The perks: Despite its many flaws, this is a fun little Halloween read. The new spin on the legend of the headless horseman is entertaining…although Washington Irving is most likely rolling around in his grave. I liked the spooky atmospheric graveyard, where Abbey would spend her days reminiscing about the good times she had with her best friend. Apparently the two weirdos liked to hang out at Washignton Irving’s grave, where they would tell ghost stories about the Headless Horseman and giggle about boys.

The drawbacks: The love connection between Abbey and Caspian seemed forced. I can’t put my finger on it, but I just didn’t feel the heat radiating off of these two star-crossed lovers. They’re just so nice and sweet and polite …yawn. I don’t mean to sound harsh, but it felt like the author wasn’t really feeling it, but she had to fuse them together to appease her swoony teenage readers. While I’m at it, I should also add that the editor should have been more heavy-handed with the red pen. The story would have moved along at a much quicker pace if it wasn’t bogged down with superfluous details about Abbey’s day-to-day motions like mixing scents, organizing her uncle’s office or working on a science fair project. As for the mystery, Abbey’s obsession with Caspian eclipses her interest in her friend’s disappearance. If you’re looking for clues and red-herrings you won’t find them in this book.

This book is best pared with: A steaming mug of apple cider and a glowing jack-o-lantern. I know it’s crazy to be thinking of Halloween in April, but what can I say?  I’ll say it loud, I’m a Halloween freak and I’m proud!

Soundtrack pick: Paramore–Haunted

Overall: To quote Randy Jackson: It was just OK for me, dog. I’m not itching to jump right into the next book, but I’ll probably get around to it. The author really didn’t crack open the case of the missing best friend until the very last chapter, so I’m hoping she’ll get down to business in the next book. Plus I want to figure out what the heck is going on with Caspian’s inexplicable link to the Headless Horseman!