review: Affinity by Sarah Waters

72929{Source: GoodReads.com}

Lyrical, gripping, melancholy, heartrending and sensual – Affinity is one of Sarah Waters’ best novels, and also one of her most depressing. I believe even Waters herself admitted to being eager to escape from the dank, grey walls of Millbank Prison.

Affinity is the story of Margaret Prior:

description

Margaret is “lady visitor” recovering from a suicide attempt due to the death of her father and the death of her romantic hopes. She is counseling female prisoners who have found themselves heading toward a dark path.

While at Millbank, Margaret meets a young “medium” named Selina Dawes, and her beauty, stillness and mystery intrigues Margaret, bringing her back to the prison day after day to visit with her.

description

Desperate and filled with longing, Margaret is convinced by Selina to help her escape from Millbank, and in true Waters fashion, nothing is as it seems. Margaret’s final thoughts are truly heartbreaking, because you know she had finally imagined herself free, in love, unconstrained by “false boundaries” — and yet the dream was never quite what Margaret believed.

‘It is a world that is made of love. Did you think there is only the kind of love your sister knows for her husband? Did you think there must be here, a man with whiskers, and over here, a lady in a gown? Haven’t I said, there are no whiskers and gowns where spirits are? And what will your sister do if her husband should die, and she should take another? Who will she fly to then, when she has crossed the spheres? For she will fly to someone, we will all fly to someone, we will all return to that piece of shining matter from which our souls were torn with another, two halves of the same. It may be that the husband your sister has now has that other soul, that has the affinity with her soul—I hope it is. But it may be the next man she takes, or it may be neither. It may be someone she would never think to look to on the earth, someone kept from her by some false boundary…’ – Selina Dawes

review: Try Not to Breathe by Holly Seddon

trynototbreathe {Source: GoodReads.com}

Thank you to NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine – for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

I can’t BELIEVE this is Holly Seddon’s first novel! It’s engrossing, raw, mesmerizing and utterly unputdownable. I was so entranced with this mystery that I actually snapped at my husband when he interrupted my reading. I put off chores so I could finish it. It’s THAT good.

Try Not to Breathe is the story of Alex Dale, a journalist teetering on the brink of disaster. Every morning, Alex writes freelance stories. Every afternoon, Alex gets blind drunk and often wakes up with urine-soaked sheets. It’s a devastatingly accurate depiction of severe alcoholism, and Seddon doesn’t sugar coat it. Alex is truly without a friend in the world – her only friend, her only love, is drinking.

But then – one day, while researching the work of a doctor who specializes in comatose patients, Alex stumbles upon a patient she recognizes. Amy Stevenson, a young girl who was attacked and left for dead over fifteen years before – now in her thirties, frozen somewhere in the quagmire of her own mind. Alex sets out to unravel the mystery of Amy’s attack – hoping to track down the person(s) responsible and in doing so, find some kind of redemption – personal and professional.

I absolutely adored spending time with Alex. After all, perfect characters are boring. Alex is a messy disaster of a person, and yet. You just can’t help rooting for her to get herself together and find the truth. The mystery is riveting, the peeks into Amy’s drifting, vanishing life are heartbreaking, and the surprise twist at the end actually *surprised* me. Excellent, excellent work.

5 enthusiastic stars. I can’t wait to read much, much more from this author. She’s off to a fantastic start in her professional writing career.