The Waking Forest by Alyssa Wees. 1/5
Written with a Gothic sensibility and lush and formal language, this book is like a lovechild of The Virgin Suicides, Hans Christian Anderson, and every banal YA about Girls With Powers who are also, unfortunately, not very intelligent. Characters are described to the nth degree, everyone is Mysterious and Dark, dreaming is waking and waking is dreaming and visions are reality and reality is—who cares? I suppose this was intended to be “darkly beautiful” with intrigue and secrets at every turn, full of magical animals and magical people and non-magical people and some kind of ideas of what is Just and Fair, but it’s a hot, boring mess.
The Crate by Deborah Vadas Levison. 1/5
If ever a book needed a developmental edit, it’s this one. The author attempts to tell the story of how traumatic it was–or wasn’t, maybe? for her family to find out that one of their hired handymen had killed his partner and left her in a crate under the deck of their country house. Along the way, the author tries to connect this trauma with her parents’ experiences in the Holocaust. It doesn’t work, and the author comes off as naive, privileged, and not terribly bright. The other figures in the book–her husband, her brother, her kids, and even her parents–are all one-note creations and the story itself is surrounded by badly out-of-chronology anecdotes that confuse the timeline and are totally irrelevant. This might have made a good magazine article, pared down to its essentials and written well, but as a book it’s not worth the time it takes to slog through it.