Even if I’m dead, my life isn’t over yet.Josephine M. Burgeois
This book is one of horror, but it excels at keeping the horror vague and creeping. The horror elements are of the more psychological variety – more often than not the creepy things are heard or felt, but not seen. This is the difference between a shocker that heavily relies on it’s own images to scare you – and true horror that instead relies on the images you create in your own mind. This book is off the second variety, and it does this kind of creeping uneasyness really well.
You can easily identify this book as being about horror by the raven with it’s bloody eyes on the cover. (By the way, the raven is male and his name is Val. You might be going to like him.)
Lores of old often associate ravens with dark things, with blood and murder. That has to do with the fact that ravens are completely black – and that they’re carrion birds, often found on battle fields after the mayhem, picking at eyes and bits.
So ravens are often used in literature to signify dark things (just ask Edgar Allan Poe). Then again, other parts of mythology associate ravens with things not so dark, just think about Hugin and Munin. (For those of us that don’t remember their Nordic Folklore: those are the names of Odin’s ravens.)
Of course, I keep talking about ravens because they are playing a role in this novel.
The atmosphere is well written, and Ian does a great job blending different elements together: There’s a journey reminiscent to Alice in Wonderland (in an American Horror Story style), Norse mythology (I mentioned the ravens already) and Greek mythology (who would have thought the Styx runs under Baltimore?).
What’s really a letdown for me is the heroine. I can’t get behind her, as her actions and reactions are quite often of the kind that makes you slap your forehead. It’s like some of these movies where the first idea of the stupid teenagers is always – and with utter reliability – to split up.
What Joey does is often the equivalent to that. I’m sure Ian intends for her to be a Rebellious Young Lady With An Attitude, but Joey’s taking the RYLWAA too far. I mean, come on: When Charon tells you not to stray from the path – or not to touch the waters of the Styx – then you simply do it. Rebelling for rebellion’s sake is just stupid.
And the way she behaves around the people in her life makes her attitude bordering on asshole levels. There’s a line between being flippant and being outrageous, and our girl Joey here is walking firmly behind that line. In fact, she’s so far out, she might not even recognize that line anymore. That being said – this does not diminish the entertaining part of the novel, but those moments of cringe are making it harder for me to identify with her, which meddles with the immersion.
I’ve already mentioned Baltimore, so it’s confession time: I have to admit that it took me quite a while to get the Bodymore joke in the title. At first I thought it had to do with the body shop Joey is working for, but I think it’s just a word play with the word Baltimore. Having never been to Baltimore myself, I might be doing this book injustice by describing it’s horrors as preternatural. Maybe Baltimore really is like that, with the Styx running underneath it.
Who knows? Not me. But the murder rate is actually way up high.
Another thing that keeps me from a higher score is the fact that this plot is kinda slow paced. I think we actually spend a little too much time in Joey’s head, and there are really lengths in the plot. This story would work better if it were cropped a little. And the ending was, well, I’m not going to tell, but as endings go, I find it mildly irritating.
After all is said and done, I can recommend this book for genre fans. Just be prepared for the attitude and the occasional waiting periods.
The review on Goodreads was rounded up to 4 out of 5 stars.