Wednesday 14 November 2012

A Review for A Twisted Ladder & The Tangled Bridge by Rhodi Hawk

A Twisted Ladder
Posted by Guest Reviewer Melanie
Release Date: August 31st, 2010
Finished Date: October 30th, 2012
Publishers: Tor Books
Source: For Review 
Format: Kindle 
Pages: 544
Buy : Amazon UK / Amazon US / The Book Depo

Psychologist Madeleine LeBlanc has spent her whole career trying to determine the cause of her father's schizophrenia. She always felt that if she could unravel the disease’s origins, she could cure the man who left her and her brother, Marc, to practically raise themselves on the Louisiana Bayou. When Marc takes his own life, Madeleine embarks on a shocking journey into her family’s history—fraught with dark secrets, conjured demons, and a powerful relative who puts Madeleine’s own life and property in peril.  The only way to she can save herself is to face the ghosts of the past, the dangers of the present, and the twisted ladder that links them all together.

The Review: This was strange and confusing story for me but also compelling and intriguing at the same time. It was very much psychological and dealt with the intricacies of the mind, leading to mental health, neuro science and ESP threads being used which were quite complex and at times confusing but the way they were used in the story really drew me in. I think the synopsis said it all really, I’m at a loss as how to explain it all because I don’t fully grasp what was going on so bear with me while I try to give you a decent explanation.

The setting is Louisiana at two different times – one in the early 1900s and then in modern day- but dealing with the same lineage. In modern day Louisiana we find Madeleine LeBlanc, having been brought up in poverty and abused by the only parent in her life, she discovers she has a trust fund, old family money and uses that to become a psychologist in order to deal with her Father’s life long battle with mental illness, he is the reason she chose to pursue her profession and which way she has decided her research will go. One day, her brother commits suicide and sets off a chain of events that drastically changes Madeleine’s life, for she discovers that her Father and brother aren’t her only family…. She meets Chloe her 115 year old great grandmother and true matriarch of the LeBlanc family. So now we are treat to two stories running alongside each other, that of Madeleine, her family & life and also that of the origins of the LeBlanc family, heavily featuring Chloe. In modern times we see Madeleine’s life go from bad to worse as she tries to keep her father lucid after he runs off and shuns his meds, deal with her brother’s suicide and the execution of his estate, fending off some unwanted advances from a former friend and possibly succumbing to mental illness herself. The only thing she has at this point in time is her budding relationship with Ethan, a neurosurgeon. As she tries to get to the bottom of her predicament she turns to Chloe for answers, wondering why she never knew of the woman before but then the reasons start to become apparent as a family curse reveals itself and she becomes embroiled in a murder case that will bring with it startling revelations & shocking consequences for those involved. Meanwhile, interspersed throughout the book is the LeBlanc story, at first told from the original Creole settler – Madeleine’s great grandfather Remi’s pov- which then blends into Chloe’s pov. As we read their story we find a lot about the history, the hardship, the values of these people & living life on a plantation. We see how Remi & Chloe begin a taboo life together, start a family together and eventually get married. We see a young woman, known for ‘river magic’ become powerful and keep a plantation afloat as a proud man spiral into the depths of supposed mental illness as Remi becomes the first to succumb to the ‘river devils’. We are taken through decades with this family and their struggles, we see how power can distort a persons’ life and how ‘magic’ can drive a person to do unspeakable things which ultimately results in the breakdown of the family. When we fast forward all of these years, the legacy is still felt, nothing seems to have changed in its basic form but is Madeleine about to change that?
So as you can see, there is a LOT going on in this book and at over 550 pages it’s quite a read. What I did like about was that we are dealing with the same family, we still meet some of the older players and as we get a glimpse into the history, we get clues as to what is going on in modern day life. I liked the storyline, loved the idea behind it and loved the setting and background. I loved all of the skeletons in the closet and I was really engrossed but because all of this information needed to be put across, it really bogged the book down and made the pacing slow…. I get why, don’t get me wrong but seriously this is a long book. I liked the whole ESP type angle and what it did but I have to be honest, I didn’t truly get it – I went with the flow but I don’t feel it was explained well enough, I understood what they could do with it, how they could use it, how different people expected it to be used in different ways but not the how and the why – and I think for me… I needed that! Other than that though it was a very enjoyable dark, psychological mystery/thriller and not something I read every day so it made a nice change. 
The Tangled Bridge
Posted by Guest Reviewer Melanie
Release Date: October 30th, 2012
Finished Date: November 5th, 2012
Publishers: Tor Books
Source: For Review 
Format: Kindle 
Pages: 528
Buy : Amazon UK / Amazon US / The Book Depo

Psychologist Madeleine LeBlanc is desperate to escape the madness that has followed her family for a century.  She’s struggling to adjust to her new-found power and to stick to the pact that protects her sanity.  

But an innocent little boy is being hunted—by Madeleine’s half brother and her great-grandmother, Chloe, and by the demons they control.  The boy is a threat to their bloodline, to their very nature, but Madeleine cannot let his young life be callously destroyed.

Thrust into an age-old battle of dark versus light, Madeleine dives deep into the history of her family and into the vast paranormal underworld of New Orleans, a world seemingly controlled by her great-grandmother.

The only way to stop Chloe lies past the tangled bridge that could lead to great power…or total destruction.

The Review: The Tangled Bridge was another compelling read for me, just the same as the first..

This time around we find Madeleine trying to take control of her life and mind, trying to bring some structure and routine so that her ‘river devil’ will let her lead as normal a life as possible. Things start to unravel for her though when her dreams take her to somewhere a murder has taken place, the perpetrator is clearly being ‘pigeoned’ which can only mean one thing….. Zenon can do ‘pigeonry’ from his comatose state and he is very effective. Madeleine finds out that he has stepped up his hunt for their ‘enemies’- the Lumen- and has a particular target in mind, a young blind boy who is the brightest of them all, ‘staining’ everyone he touches. Zenon gives her an ultimatum to kill the boy but she can’t do it, he is a pure soul, totally innocent plus only Zenon, Chloe and the ‘river devils’ see his existence as a threat – so Madeleine decides to protect him, to help him in any way she can…. But can she resist her demon - Severin- and go against her briar born nature and let the child live? In desperation she turns to her great grandmother Chloe, only to be betrayed in the worst possible way and as we go back in history and read of Chloe’s Briar children crossed with Madeleines struggles, we may very well have underestimated the elderly lady and her treachery as she shows how she will stop at nothing to control the ‘briar’…… Thing is..she has competition and age definitely isn’t on her side.

I really enjoyed this instalment of the series, It’s refreshing and different from the usual books I read, it gets me thinking, challenges my imagination and stretches the idea of what the mind could be capable of, parts of it are still quite a complicated and an unusual plot for me but I’m more than happy to just go with it… I don’t completely understand what’s going on with the briar and the river devils but hey, I didn’t totally get the tv series Lost but that didn’t mean I wasn’t glued to each episode. I like where the storyline is going, as I said for book one – there is a LOT going on, when we’re not with Madeleine and her troubles, we’re with the LeBlanc children of old in the 1920’s & 30’s and I find that I really enjoy the back and forth. We always assume we can learn from history and not make the same mistakes but history looks to be repeating here and as Madeleine goes through things, we find her ancestors going through similar situations. The books run into each other brilliantly story wise, I like that we didn’t lose the bad guy because of his predicament and I like what was done with him, it’s very interesting to see what he’s doing and where he’s doing it from…. He’s quite a sinister character and I would’ve liked something from his pov again to maybe understand him better. There are a couple of power struggles set up and I find that interesting too, you are definitely in for a shock when you find out about what lengths Chloe will go to, to obtain power over the briar – I seriously underestimated this character, Madeleine has definitely got her work cut out for her stuck in between those two – they’re ruthless! I appreciated that more effort was put into explaining the paranormal aspect in this and feel I understood things a bit better but I expect to continue finding more and more about it as we go. I loved the introduction of a couple of new characters, particularly Bo & Gaston and the things they brought to the story. I can see a few threads have been brought up in this and I’m very interested in seeing how they play out because they could have major repercussions. I find myself wanting to know more about the Lumen and what they do, do they know they’re like that? Do they know why the ‘Briar folk’ want them dead? Or are they oblivious to everything? This book really gets me thinking, especially as we delve into the mind and it’s capabilities plus I love the setting because it isn’t just about the location, it’s also the people and their way of life and beliefs – it really engrosses me- so I’m definitely looking forward to more of this dark & mysterious, psychological thriller.

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