Book Reviews: Pride v. Prejudice by Joan Hess and The Door by Andy Marino

Pride v. PrejudicePride v. Prejudice
A Claire Malloy Mystery #20
Joan Hess
Minotaur Books, April 2015
ISBN 978-1-250-01195-4
Hardcover

As a Jane Austen lover, I was curious to see how this book compared to hers. Here’s what I think.

JA Three or four families in a country village (plus assorted visitors)

JH Check. Claire Malloy gets involved with two families, one sundered by murder. Mysterious strangers dart in and out. Claire really gets around that village.

JA Lying, cheating, secrets and plots.

JH Check. It seems like everyone has secrets and is plotting or has plotted something nefarious.

JA Wit and humor.

JH Check. Despite the gravity of the situation–Claire believes a woman about to be tried for murder is innocent–
she is incapable of being anything but her funny, snarky self. And then there’s Claire’s teenage daughter Caron. Of the Capital Letters. And assorted others, lawyers, suspects and deputies.

JA Characters like Mr. Collins and Lady Catherine that you love to hate.

JH Check. Among them, Prosecutor Edwin Wessell, whose pride in his own judgement and prejudice against Claire make her determined to prove him wrong.

JA Romance. Oh, Darcy, oh, Elizabeth! And Bingley and Jane are kind’a cute, too.

JH Claire and Peter? Married love at its best.

Conclusion. Pride v. Prejudice may not be the classic Austen’s is, but it is darned good. It has depths. It has laugh-out-loud humor. I recommend it highly.

Reviewed by Marilyn Nulman, October 2015.

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The DoorThe Door
Andy Marino
Scholastic Press, April 2014
ISBN 978-0-545-55137-3
Hardcover

Where do we go when we die? An age old question, an utterly unique interpretation.

The two member Silver family is beyond eccentric. Twelve year old Hannah and her apparently hapless mother Leanna exist together in the sprawling Cliffhouse. Their lives, however, are quite separate with Hannah essentially orbiting Leanna, tuned to her many moods easily identified by the state of her fingernails and cuticles and counting “big-girl” glasses of wine.

Because of her unconventional upbringing, it isn’t particularly surprising to find that young Hannah is quite the quirky kid. She has two distinctly different voices in her head, not-so-affectionately dubbed “the old woman” and Hannah’s very own “twin sister”. Meticulous rituals are required to descend stairs and maneuver hallways. Room entry may require a password and the “three” share a secret language they call “Muffin”.

The reason for the peculiar life-style was difficult for the intelligent, ever inquisitive Hannah to accept. The Silvers were the Guardians of the lighthouse. Obsolete for decades since ships no longer sailed the waters surrounding the mammoth structure, the need for guardianship seemed a bit superfluous to Hannah’s thinking. Besides, there was a ridiculous design error with the lighthouse. A door. That could not possible go anywhere. Silly.

Tragedy comes with a lightning strike and everything changes. Hannah has only one choice. Walk through that door to nowhere. Nowhere, being The City of the Dead. Unlike any concept considered, Mr. Marino tugs the reader along like a sibling stubbornly choosing each path in a choose-your-own-adventure story.

As Hannah, emphatically not dead, plows through The City streets, single-mindedly determined to right a wrong, the reader is immersed in a clever kaleidoscope. The scenery isn’t the only continuous change. Characters Hannah once deemed trustworthy must now be watched with suspicion. Those she was wary of may well serve as her true friends, with only her best interest in their hearts. Or not.

It is impossible to think. Information is inconsistent, often contradictory. The environment assaults all senses and –Hannah’s most horrific realization—she is losing her memory of the Cliffhouse with its useless lighthouse and why she is even here in the first place.

This page-turning, mysterious, fantastical journey will be widely received. Avid young readers yearning for something different will welcome this tale that, much like The City of the Dead, has many thought-provoking layers.

Reviewed by jv poore, March 2015.