I was going to start my review by saying that this is a ‘marmite book’– you’ll either love it or hate it, but actually I felt quite impassive about it. Whilst I knew there wasn’t any romance, that there would be no HEA and that I was heading into the very depths of darkness and depravity, I did expect a cohesive story that lead me from A to B. Call me old fashioned but I also expect the blurb to have somerelevance to the plot too.
I never felt as though this was ever really a story. It didn’t really contain any of the things I’m looking for in a book – connections, purpose, entertainment, thrills. There was very limited character building and the only character we ‘hear’ from (Joce) felt quite inconsistent. The story was also full of contradictions – at one point it was suggesting all the 3 had been picked and taken by Pater, then we discover they are all his natural children.
There wasn’t really any flow or build to the tale either. It felt as though both the beginning and end had been removed, leaving behind a random section from the middle to read. As though the author had arbitrarily picked a number of really bad things to write about and then just loosely tied them together. As though the entire purpose was to shock and push boundaries just for the heck of it.
I’d heard great things about this book (and series). Indeed I read it as I know a few of my ‘go to’ authors are writing their own books in this world. I also recently read Martyris, Yolanda Olson’s offering in the Cavalieri Della Morte series. Despite being quite a strange read, I loved that one so had high expectations for this. However as well written, as twisted, dark, evil and malevolent as this was, it neither entertained nor evoked emotion in the way I needed it to.
I’m an avid reader and have found quite a large number of indie authors whose work I adore. I’ve been lucky enough to become an arc reader for many of these writers. Those books make up the majority of my reviews on this blog.
Over the last few years I’ve found my reading tastes have changed and as a result I have dropped out of some arc teams, whilst joining others. I’m now generally reading books by authors who write on my wavelength. This has meant that my average rating has increased from 3.5 to almost 4.
Now last week I grabbed a book in KU which was a follow up to one I had read a couple of years ago. I loved the first book, and enjoyed the story line in the second one, but other factors led me to DNF it rather late in the day.
So this left me in a quandary. Do I blog about this book? After all it wasn’t an arc so there’s no obligation to. Or do I post my honest findings of a book that I picked up for virtually free? Well I do claim that this is a place for honest book reviews so I AM going to share with you my review of what was a rather problematic story.
THE BLACK DOOR by JL Massey – 1.5 stars
There were parts of the book I really enjoyed, but by about 68% I was just so hacked off by some of the characters that I DNF’d it. Usually this would be an automatic 1 star but good writing pushed it closer to a 2.
I’m probably going to sound like some uber feminist by the end of this, which believe me I’m not. However this book perpetrated that idea that any woman who puts her own needs and wants first MUST be a bitch, which really disappoints me given the author is (I presume) also female.
So lets start with the ‘hero’ Colby. He seemed ok at first, if a little hard to pinpoint what his exact character was meant to be. However his continually treating Becca like a mushroom (keeping her in the dark and feeding her s**t), keeping secrets and repeatedly lying by omission was just not on. He was a douche of the grandest order and really didn’t deserve Becca. In fact I spent a chunk of what I read hoping Becca would wise up, dump his ass and take up with Sledge, who appeared to be the only decent male character in the book.
Colby ‘I want you in my life forever’ manipulated and manoeuvred Becca like the worst of abusers. He kept two humongous secrets. #1 – legally they were married (even though there had been no ceremony but as FBI he’d managed to fiddle the paperwork) and #2 – he’d been married before!
Now Becca understandably was a little upset by secret #1, so what did our big hero do? He sulked because Becca wasn’t overjoyed by the news and then threw himself at one of her only friends!!! Then when a clearly upset Becca went off with Sledge he thought she was being unreasonable and out of order. No apology for his dickish behaviour. No Becca was a bitch because she didn’t allow a man to walk all over her. Secret #2 she just took in her stride, she only found out via eavesdropping a conversation when he was drunk but was fine with it. Why when he demanded total honesty from Becca?
Don’t get me started on Calvin. Every time that guy breathed I wanted to shoot him. He repeatedly told Becca she was a selfish bitch, even after knowing that she’d had to fake her death in order to stay alive! Even knowing that SHE HAD BEEN SEX TRAFFICKED, REPEATEDLY RAPED, ABUSED, BEATEN and was no doubt suffering from PTSD. No because poor little Calvin had been so traumatised by how upset his partner Jackson was by Becca’s ‘death’ (Jackson and Becca are siblings).
Excuse me you poor little tiny wiener of a man but this is a girl who had recently been rescued from the most horrific and traumatic abuse you could ever experience. Not surprisingly she was struggling a little with life and not really thinking straight. But clearly Calvin believes sympathy is only found in the dictionary between shit and syphilis because he certainly didn’t have any for an abuse survivor who was still massively traumatised.
I wanted to demand he walk a mile in her shoes THEN he could judge her. Yeah that guy pissed me off big time. Especially as he was a fairly selfish ass himself, as were many of the MALE characters. But apparently it’s OK for the man to be a selfish prick, but if a woman ever puts her own needs first she is a bitch.
Becca I really loved, as I did Petal. Two strong, independent and tough women who owned their choices. They, along with otherwise a decent story line, are what kept me reading as long as I did. However I read for relaxation and enjoyment, sadly this wasn’t giving me either of those things, hence the eventual DNF.