Size Doesn’t Matter (199): A Strange Scottish Shore; Blackbird House

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Size Doesn’t Matter (199): A Strange Scottish Shore; Blackbird HouseA Strange Scottish Shore by Juliana Gray
Narrator: Gemma Massot
Length: 12 hrs, 18 mins
Series: Emmeline Truelove #2
Published by Penguin Audio on September 19, 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Mystery, Time Travel, Historical
Format: Audiobook
Source: Publisher
AmazonThe Book DepositoryAudible
Goodreads
three-half-stars

The acclaimed author of A Most Extraordinary Pursuit brings a dazzling voice and extraordinary plot twists to this captivating Scottish adventure...

Scotland, 1906. A mysterious object discovered inside an ancient castle calls Maximilian Haywood, the new Duke of Olympia, and his fellow researcher Emmeline Truelove north to the remote Orkney Islands. No stranger to the study of anachronisms in archeological digs, Haywood is nevertheless puzzled by the artifact: a suit of clothing that, according to family legend, once belonged to a selkie who rose from the sea and married the castle’s first laird.

But Haywood and Truelove soon realize they’re not the only ones interested in the selkie’s strange hide. When their mutual friend Lord Silverton vanishes in the night from an Edinburgh street, their quest takes a dangerous turn through time, which puts Haywood’s extraordinary talents—and Truelove’s courage—to their most breathtaking test yet.

Before reading A Strange Scottish Shore, I decided to re-listen to A Most Extraordinary Pursuit, which remains a most extraordinary book, by which I mean out of the ordinary. A Strange Scottish Shore is, indeed, strange. I’m really enjoying this series, but holy cow this one of the weirdest historical fantasies I’ve ever read.

Fair warning that there are going to be unavoidable spoilers for the first book in the series. Even as it is, I’m going to have to spoiler tag some things, because books this weird are hard to discuss without spoilers.

Though I know these things happen, I was disappointed by the change in narrator. Massot’s narration lacked the crispedness of Barber’s, which really fit with Truelove’s character. Nothing much to be done about it, because Barber was no doubt busy, but I’m sad just the same.

Anyway, Truelove and Silverton continue to have chemistry like whoa and to be an absolutely excellent ship. There’s a brief moment at the start where it looks like they’re going to be apart for much of the book, but Gray’s written historical romances, and she wouldn’t play us like that.

Like the first, the plot’s tied around a myth and Max’s time travel powers, about which they learn something new: View Spoiler » So yeah that’s all a spoiler and it is SO weird to me how that all goes.

The ending’s also really open for there to either be more books or not, but there had better be more because that was not a satisfying place to end. Also, I still want the book that investigates Emmeline’s ability to talk to ghosts, because that has in no way been dealt with yet, which j’accuse.

Basically, this series is weird but shippy and delightful. I still think that if you find the idea of a straitlaced heroine who is visited by the snarky and judgmental ghost of Queen Victoria appealing, you should absolutely read these.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:


Size Doesn’t Matter (199): A Strange Scottish Shore; Blackbird HouseBlackbird House by Alice Hoffman
Narrator: John Lee, Xe Sands, Amy Rubinate, Paul Michael Garcia, Bernadette Dunne, Tavia Gilbert, Cassandra Campbell, Hillary Huber
Length: 5 hrs, 45 mins
Published by Blackstone Audio on June 23, 2014
Genres: Magical Realism, Short Stories, Historical
Format: Audiobook
Source: Purchased
AmazonThe Book DepositoryAudible
Goodreads
two-stars

With incantatory prose that sweeps over the reader like a dream ("Philadelphia Inquirer"), Hoffman follows her celebrated bestseller "The Probable Future" with an evocative work that traces the lives of the various occupants of an old Massachusetts house over a span of two hundred years.

In a rare and gorgeous departure, beloved novelist Alice Hoffman weaves a web of tales, all set in Blackbird House. This small farm on the outer reaches of Cape Cod is a place that is as bewitching and alive as the characters we meet: Violet, a brilliant girl who is in love with books and with a man destined to betray her; Lysander Wynn, attacked by a halibut as big as a horse, certain that his life is ruined until a boarder wearing red boots arrives to change everything; Maya Cooper, who does not understand the true meaning of the love between her mother and father until it is nearly too late. From the time of the British occupation of Massachusetts to our own modern world, family after family s lives are inexorably changed, not only by the people they love but by the lives they lead inside Blackbird House.

These interconnected narratives are as intelligent as they are haunting, as luminous as they are unusual. Inside Blackbird House more than a dozen men and women learn how love transforms us and how it is the one lasting element in our lives. The past both dissipates and remains contained inside the rooms of Blackbird House, where there are terrible secrets, inspired beauty, and, above all else, a spirit of coming home.

From the writer that "Time" has said tells truths powerful enough to break a reader s heart comes a glorious travelogue through time and fate, through loss and love and survival. Welcome to Blackbird House."

*sighs heavily* Blackbird House was absolutely not the book for me. TBH, I was bored to tears pretty much the whole way through.

Something I did not realize going in, considering that the cover of the print book says “A Novel” is that, actually Blackbird House is more of a short story collection where all of the stories are linked to one house throughout the years. I tend to be iffy on short story collections at the best of time, and I likely would not have chosen this as my second Hoffman (the first being Practical Magic obvs) if I’d known.

Even more than the format, however, the stories themselves are the absolute opposite of Christina bait. The stories are super depressing. People’s family members die, a horse drowns in a fucking pond, ships tentatively sail and then decidedly do not end well. The most emotionally satisfying thing to happen is when a wife kills her abusive husband and the whole town decides to pretend he just ran out on her (though the whole town also pretended they didn’t know he was beating her so).

These stories really just aren’t at all what I enjoy reading. Readers of depressing short format fiction (which sounds like a dig but you do you—I know that works for some people, but I need sunshine and rainbows or bloody-minded fantasy personally) will no doubt be impressed but wow bad call by me.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

 

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