Book Review: Haunting The Deep (Adriana Mather)

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Plot: Samantha Mather knew her family’s connection to the infamous Salem Witch Trials might pose obstacles to an active social life. But having survived one curse, she never thought she’d find herself at the center of a new one. 

This time, Sam is having recurring dreams about the Titanic . . . where she’s been walking the deck with first-class passengers, like her aunt and uncle. Meanwhile, in Sam’s waking life, strange missives from the Titanic have been finding their way to her, along with haunting visions of people who went down with the ship. 

Ultimately, Sam and the Descendants, along with some help from heartthrob Elijah, must unravel who is behind the spell that is drawing her ever further into the dream ship . . . and closer to sharing the same grim fate as its ghostly passengers

*Slight spoilers*

There are so many reasons for disliking a novel. It could be that it is poorly written, it could be the main characters are reprehensible. It may be too far out of your usual genres. It could be too drawn out, or simply too unrealistic. With me, it can also be because I was in a bad average weekly mood*. Did I have to send too many “as per my last email” emails? Perhaps wearing my socks that sneak into my shoes that I can never throw away? Things like that influence my love and dedication towards finishing a book. I admit that I was mostly grumpy reading the first part of the book. I went on holiday, read some stupidly silly Nora Roberts, and returned refreshed and willing to finish Haunting the Deep. I finished up with a better opinion of it than I had in the beginning.

After the amazing reading experience of How To Hang A Witch, the first book in this series, I was so ready to return to Salem, Sam, and hopefully a lot more of Elijah. Elijah makes an appearance, though not as often as I would have preferred. Jaxon with the unfortunate X is still present, and he continues with forcing himself to be the third part of a love triangle that only he created – Sam is clearly not interested in him. He’s the master of the friendzone, and while I do feel some sympathy, he has some moments in this book where he really started to work on everyone’s nerves.

The Salem Sisters or Circle or whatever they are named returns as well and generally makes Sam’s life easier by not leading a witch hunt on her or by being general bitches. It’s quite a turnaround, but they are more her friends than anything else this time around.

Our main protagonist, the heroine Sam, at times seems to have regressed emotionally. Her responses are all drama, meltdowns and despair. I get why she wouldn’t be her old self right now – being nearly submitted to death by strangulation by your own stepmother, having a comatose father, falling in-love with a ghost and having a town believe you are an evil witch all in the space of one year would upset even the hardiest of folk. Then when all seems to recover, waking up on a sinking ship with no recollection of your true self and waking up to remember all that, well I get it. However, her coping mechanisms seems to be more broken than the Titanic in this book and I hope if there are more of these novels she becomes a bit tougher.

Haunting The Deep takes place in two of the coolest historical places – Salem and on the Titanic. The Mather family seems to have some truly interesting historical events in their family history – they have been in some crazy times. Although being on the Titanic is no-one’s idea of having fun, it does pose interesting history to the reader. And, readers of this blog, as Sam finds herself increasingly trapped on the Titanic with the clock ticking towards doomsday, we have to ask ourselves, can she and her friends survive AGAIN?

I liked that Sam was more settled into Salem in this book, even though her father is so against the town and any magic. The Descendants are a whole lot more pleasant, and while it takes away some of the Mean Girls vibe of the first novel, it was nice for Sam to have friends that understood her. They really need to find a way to make Elijah more solid (as in, not ghost), at some stage, because it seems that the world is deprived of much beauty and a sarcastic personality if only Sam can see him.

This book is worth reading if you enjoyed the first – it is an easy read and the characters are still entertaining. I will definitely revisit the pair at a stage, and I would be so happy if a third book can be released in the series. Now, onward with my gigantic reading list!

Rating: 7/10

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Book Review: The Dressmaker (Kate Alcott)

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Plot: Just in time for the centennial anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic comes a vivid, romantic, and relentlessly compelling historical novel about a spirited young woman who survives the disaster only to find herself embroiled in the media frenzy left in the wake of the tragedy.

Tess, an aspiring seamstress, thinks she’s had an incredibly lucky break when she is hired by famous designer Lady Lucile Duff Gordon to be a personal maid on the Titanic’s doomed voyage. Once on board, Tess catches the eye of two men, one a roughly-hewn but kind sailor and the other an enigmatic Chicago millionaire. But on the fourth night, disaster strikes.

Amidst the chaos and desperate urging of two very different suitors, Tess is one of the last people allowed on a lifeboat. Tess’s sailor also manages to survive unharmed, witness to Lady Duff Gordon’s questionable actions during the tragedy. Others—including the gallant Midwestern tycoon—are not so lucky.

On dry land, rumors about the survivors begin to circulate, and Lady Duff Gordon quickly becomes the subject of media scorn and later, the hearings on the Titanic. Set against a historical tragedy but told from a completely fresh angle, The Dressmaker is an atmospheric delight filled with all the period’s glitz and glamour, all the raw feelings of a national tragedy and all the contradictory emotions of young love

Rating: 7.5/10

The Dressmaker focuses on the following issues: The sinking of the Titanic and the grand ineptitude that lead to it and the disaster that unfollowed; the true nature of the human beings on board that couldn’t help but be exposed while faced with such horrific events, the aftermath of the sinking of the ship, the suffragette movement (briefly); the class system that was so debilitating to the lower class and a love triangle for the main heroine.

Is it too much to address in one book? I didn’t think so. I had a great deal of fun with this book. It’s well written and the main character is endearing. I liked Tess enormously – she was determined to be something and work hard for it. She didn’t expect any favors, she just wanted a chance. Lucille and Cosmo were the most disgusting examples of privilege in this book – even though Lucille seemed to have some redeeming qualities a few times, she was haughty, overly privileged and cruel. Cosmo seemed like the lesser evil, but obviously he was just as pompous and power hungry as his spouse. I also really liked Jim Bonney – he was pure and honest and hardworking. Jack Bremerton was an interesting character, one who I thought would turn out devious but never really transformed into anything like that.

What I really liked was an insight to how people dealt with being in full survival mode on top of an “unsinkable” ship. I’ve always wondered, and assuming that everyone would act like Jack Dawson / Rose is naïve – fear makes people reveal their true core nature. Most people acted cowardly, and I’m not really sure we are allowed to blame them, not having been in that situation and witnessing what they have witnessed.

I also really loved the character development of Tess Collins – her character sets out as this naïve and determined girl who somehow still believes that the upper class will end up treating her well because she has some talent. Everything that held her stable is destroyed with the witnessing of the Titanic disaster, the following aftermath and the less reputable actions of her Madame both onboard and on mainland.

The end of the book concluded nicely, with Tess realizing what was important and making decisive moves that meant she could live with her choices. I might also add for those worried that there really isn’t any melodrama involved, both with the love triangle or any other part of the story. It is simply a nice read that asks important questions in an unimposing way, and I stupendously glad I read this novel.