This list will most likely be a strange one for a lot of people reading this. Mostly because, each and every one on here has a big fan following and, for some reason, I just couldn’t get on with it. I’ll do what I did for my most loved books post by posting the cover, the blurb and a little bit as to why I didn’t like it. Unlike my other post, I shall not be posting covers of the whole series as, I’m sure you can imagine, book one was where I ended things if a series followed it.
All of these were listened to as audio books, so I grabbed the covers from audible.
Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke:
Genre: Historical Fiction
For me, this will easily go down as one of the most boring books I ever read. I found myself excited after reading the blurb which committed the crime of promising excitement and delivering only tedium. For the entire 32 hour audio book I felt like nothing happened other than my developing a willpower to stay awake that even a god could not match.
The year is 1806. Centuries have passed since practical magicians faded into the nation’s past. But scholars of this glorious history discover that one remains: the reclusive Mr Norrell, whose displays of magic send a thrill through the country. Proceeding to London, he raises a beautiful woman from the dead and summons an army of ghostly ships to terrify the French. Yet the cautious, fussy Norrell is challenged by the emergence of another magician: the brilliant novice Jonathan Strange. Young, handsome and daring, Strange is the very antithesis of Norrell.
So begins a dangerous battle between these two great men which overwhelms that between England and France. And their own obsessions and secret dabblings with the dark arts are going to cause more trouble than they can imagine.
The Gunslinger by Stephen King:
I was going through my Stephen King phase and got so excited to see he had a long-running series out there. That excitement died very early on and I didn’t even manage to get through half the book before giving up (back when I DNF’d things). I just felt like the author was writing as though the reader had an intimate knowledge of the character and world as a whole right out of the gates. I did not and so found it hard to follow and just didn’t bother trying.
In this first novel in his epic fantasy masterpiece, Stephen King introduces listeners to one of his most enigmatic heroes, Roland of Gilead, the Last Gunslinger. He is a haunting figure, a loner, on a spellbinding journey into good and evil, in a desolate world which frighteningly echoes our own.
In his first step towards the powerful and mysterious Dark Tower, Roland encounters an alluring woman named Alice, begins a friendship with Jake, a kid from New York, and faces an agonising choice between damnation and salvation as he pursues the Man in Black.
Twelve Kings by Bradley Beaulieu:
I remember thinking I’d really enjoy this one, actually starting to and then … that’s as far as my enjoyment went. I finished it and still didn’t really feel anything for it. It just felt average and, no matter how vivid the writing was or how good a scene was, I just never felt much for it. Maybe I was just going through a phase? Or maybe it was just never destined to tug on my interest. Whatever the reason, I left feeling as though I neither enjoyed nor disliked it. To me, it was like it never happened.
In the cramped west end of Sharakhai, the Amber Jewel of the Desert, Çeda fights in the pits to scrape a living. She, like so many in the city, pray for the downfall of the cruel, immortal Kings of Sharakhai, but she’s never been able to do anything about it. This all changes when she goes out on the night of Beht Zha’ir, the holy night when all are forbidden from walking the streets. It’s the night that the asirim, the powerful yet wretched creatures that protect the Kings from all who would stand against them, wander the city and take tribute.
It is then that one of the asirim, a pitiful creature who wears a golden crown, stops Çeda and whispers long forgotten words into her ear. Çeda has heard those words before, in a book left to her by her mother, and it is through that one peculiar link that she begins to find hidden riddles left by her mother.
As Çeda begins to unlock the mysteries of that fateful night, she realizes that the very origin of the asirim and the dark bargain the Kings made with the gods of the desert to secure them may be the very key she needs to throw off the iron grip the Kings have had over Sharakhai. And yet the Kings are no fools – they’ve ruled the Shangazi for 400 years for good reason, and they have not been idle.
As Çeda digs into their past, and the Kings come closer and closer to unmasking her, Çeda must decide if she’s ready to face them once and for all.
American Gods by Neil Gaiman:
This is another novel I feel promised far more than it delivered. It was enjoyable, but large portions of it felt so drawn out and as though they were simply there to pad the word count out. It had some great characters (I’ll always love the two in the mortuary home) but it just had such blandness to it that, considering there was also a lot of good in there, simply should not have been. Also, my main gripe is that it was building up to some huge prize fight and everything should have gone off with such a bang! But … all we got was a whimper. Probably one of the more underwhelming endings I have come across (And I have read A LOT of Stephen King, so that’s saying something).
If you are to survive, you must believe.
Shadow Moon has served his time. But hours before his release from prison, his beloved wife is killed in a freak accident. Dazed, he boards a plane home where he meets the enigmatic Mr Wednesday, who professes both to know Shadow and to be king of America.
Together they embark on a profoundly strange road trip across the USA, encountering a kaleidoscopic cast of characters along the way. Yet all around them a storm threatens to break.
The war has already begun, an epic struggle for the very soul of America, and Shadow is standing squarely in its path.
Salem’s Lot by Stephen King:
I described this in my review as ‘enjoyable but average’. I also mentioned how, King of Horror though he may be, he certainly is no king where vampire stories are concerned. It felt like a jumbled mess where too much was happening at any one time and finished off with an ending that gave the reader zero pay off. Reading a King novel is like flipping a coin. You either get awesome everything or mostly great with a terrible ending. For me, this one landed on it’s side, so it had very little of either.
Turn off the television – in fact, why don’t you turn off all the lights except for the one over your favourite chair? – and we’ll talk about vampires here in the dim. I think I can make you believe in them.
Stephen King, from the introduction. Salem’s Lot is a small New England town with the usual quota of gossips, drinkers, weirdos and respectable folk. Of course there are tales of strange happenings – but not more than in any other town its size.
Ben Mears, a moderately successful writer, returns to the Lot to write a novel based on his early years, and to exorcise the terrors that have haunted him since childhood. The event he witnessed in the house now rented by a new resident. A newcomer with a strange allure. A man who causes Ben some unease as things start to happen: a child disappears, a dog is brutally killed – nothing unusual, except the list starts to grow.
Soon surprise will turn to bewilderment, bewilderment to confusion and finally to terror….
The Necronomicon by H. P. Lovecraft:
This is one of those books that, if you’re a fan of horror, you HAVE to read. No matter how many good or bad reviews you here, you need to read it. It’s like a right of passage. Personally, I thought it was terrible. The writing is dry and uninteresting. Lovecraft has the pace of a snail where his writing is concerned (and not even an excitable snail). He did, however, have a great mind filled with great ideas. He just did not have the skill to put them down dynamically on paper. In fact, I’d go as far as saying his slow pace negates any horror/creepy feel you may otherwise have gotten from these truly wonderful ideas. That being said, there will be stories in there for everyone, but I find it hard to believe that many folk will think everyone was even half-decent.
Originally written for the pulp magazines of the 1920s and ’30s, H. P. Lovecraft’s astonishing tales blend elements of horror, science fiction, and cosmic terror that are as powerful today as they were when first published. This tome brings together all of Lovecraft’s harrowing stories, including the complete Cthulhu Mythos cycle, just the way they were when first released. It will introduce a whole new generation of readers to Lovecraft’s fiction, as well as attract those fans who want all his work in a single, definitive volume.
The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon
This one is easily, for me any way, the most over-hyped, boring novel I have ever worked through. The only parts I felt were fairly decent were near the end and that was mostly for the revelations to certain characters I enjoyed, not the battles or the main story. I just felt hard to get any sense of feeling or attachment to many of the characters. In fact, one of the main characters was so thoroughly unlikeable that I found it hard to believe Shannon was trying to push him as a good guy. I’m glad I read it because of how many people were talking about it and how awesome it sounded. If I hadn’t read it, I’d always be wondering what I was missing. In my case, the answer was ‘not much’.
A world divided.
A queendom without an heir.
An ancient enemy awakens.
The House of Berethnet has ruled Inys for a thousand years. Still unwed, Queen Sabran the Ninth must conceive a daughter to protect her realm from destruction – but assassins are getting closer to her door.
Ead Duryan is an outsider at court. Though she has risen to the position of lady-in-waiting, she is loyal to a hidden society of mages. Ead keeps a watchful eye on Sabran, secretly protecting her with forbidden magic.
Across the dark sea, Tané has trained to be a dragonrider since she was a child but is forced to make a choice that could see her life unravel. Meanwhile, the divided East and West refuse to parley, and forces of chaos are rising from their sleep.