Super Secret Society Speculative Fiction: London Séance Society, Backpacking through Bedlam, and Kaiju Preservation Society

8 Mar

London Séance Society
by Sarah Penner

London Seance Society is by Sarah Penner, the bestselling author of The Lost Apothecary. It has a little of everything: mystery, romance, supernatural elements, and nonstop drama. This is a novel with many twists. You will be wondering throughout who are the trustworthy charterers and who are the villains. Set in the Victorian era during the height of Spiritualism it is the tale of both charlatans and true believers along with those caught up in their machinations. Leanna Wickets joins renowned spiritualist Vaudeline D’Allaire in attempting to solve the murder of her sister as well as the death of Vaudeline’s friend, The President of the exclusive male only London Séance Society. As they struggle to survive their investigations of the spirit world as well as mortal men, romance between the two begins to spark. This is a gothic tale with a modern sensibility, which kept me guessing till the end. For those fascinated by the time period, there are some interesting bonuses at the end including historical notes, instructions on making a candle, and Victorian funeral cookie and punch recipes. I received early copies of London Séance Society and Backpacking Through Bedlam through Netgalley and the publishers in order to provide our readers with honest opinions about the titles.

Backpacking Through Bedlam
by Seanan McGuire

Seanan McGuire’s InCryptid series just gets better and better with each book. The Price Family were once part of the Covenant of St. George, monster hunters who first set about to rid the world of dragons and who then began to remove anything they deemed “unnatural” even non human, sentient beings, who are harmless. Now the Price family are at odds with their old allies and parts of their own family tree, working as cryptozoologists trying to preserve the creatures, their family once hunted. Different books in the series follow various family members. Backpacking Through Bedlam follows Alice as does the previous book in the series Spelunking Through Hell; I would definitely recommend reading that book prior to this one. Alice became a bounty hunter in order to get access to the magic she would need to find her husband who was taken and hidden by the Crossroads in another dimension. The previous novel deals with her quest and this one takes a peak at what comes after the happily ever after in a moving and poignant way, beyond what you might expect from a series with Gothic Lolita Shapeshifters and ghostly babysitters. Though there is humor and fun in the books, the deep family relationships including those by birth and found family are the heart of the novels. Included, as have been in previous books, is a bonus novella dealing with other members of the Price family, in this case “The Mysteries of the Stolen God and Where His Waffles Went” which gives more insight into the lives of the Aeslin Mice, who co-habitat with the Price family and worship them as deities.

Kaiju Preservation Society
by John Salzi

The Kaiju Preservation Society was a book we read as part of the Hoboken Public Library’s Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Discussion Group in February. Much like the InCryptid series, it manages to weave in some humor with its fantastic elements; several times it had me laughing out loud. I enjoyed it even more than Redshirts, another book we read as part of the discussion group, which is also a fun read. The books starts just as the Covid-19 Pandemic is starting to be felt in New York. Jaime is out of work and willing to take just about anything to make ends meet. Little could our narrator expect that their flight to Greenland was only the beginning of their adventure. Jaime learns that there is another dimension where the Kaiju from Japanese Monster Movies are real and they must now aid in their study and preservation (in the novel Jamie’s gender is never defined by the author). The novel takes a satirical look at our current society, which adds some depth for me, to what is overall a terrific popcorn book; though I know one other reader felt some of those moments felt a bit forced. Fans of Jurassic Park, Pacific Rim, and of course Japanese Kaiju films will enjoy. Next Month the Discussion Group will be reading The Daughter of Doctor Moreau.

Written by:
Aimée Harris
Information and Digital Services Manager

An Audiobook, You’ll be Glad You Checked Out: I’m Glad My Mom Died

1 Mar

My children are fans of Jennette McCurdy in her various Nickelodeon roles (roles she despised), so it was perhaps inevitable that I would listen to her biography, I’m Glad My Mom Died.  

Fortunately, I had the presence of mind to not listen to this book with my kids, because, watch out, as the title implies, this book is dark.  Like pitch-black dark.  It’s really a remarkable tale of Jennette’s abuse at the hands of a family member (her mom) and the erosion of her own identity to fulfill her mother’s wishes.  And the hits keep coming!  When you think, “this is terrible,” another thing comes along and you’re like “this is more terrible.”  And that happens from the beginning to the end of this book!  

I listened and didn’t read this book which I feel is the appropriate format because Jennette narrates her own tale.  I think if you are triggered by familial abuse you may want to either steer clear of this book or read it, that may make it more palatable.  Ultimately, this is a tale of recovery, because Jennette has been doing the work to get better.  This book is Exhibit A. 

Written by:
James Cox
Special Collections Manager 

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