The Artsy Engineer, Seraphina, and a mini-review of Shadowscale

sscaleAre there any Seraphina fans out there? I just finished reading Shadowscale and was reminded of how much I love the concept behind this book. (Very mild spoilers for Seraphina follow).

Seraphina is half-dragon, half-human. So she has this wonderful, human artistic side that she pours into her music. But her half-dragon side is brainy, analytical, intellectual. It’s a perfect band-nerd dichotomy that she struggles with every day.

As an artsy engineer myself, I struggle with this dichotomy every day, so I identify intensely with Seraphina. It’s what made the eponymous first novel so compelling for me, and it got me through the somewhat rougher second novel, Shadowscale, too.

All-dragon types should avoid Shadowscale, as it has some plot inconsistencies and other technical issues. On the other hand, those of you who loved Seraphina’s garden in the first novel will love exploring it further. And my half-dragon, half-human, mixed up engineer friends out there will love it most of all.

Readers: Any half-dragon / half-human types out there? Or is it just me and Seraphina?

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Review: The Killer Next Door

killerI enjoy reading a strong debut novel.

But I really love reading a great second novel. That’s what I got in The Killer Next Door, by Alex Marwood.

It starts with a house. A house in a seedy, almost-ready-to-be-trendy-again neighborhood in London, divided up for six tenants. We meet the tenants one by one, along with the landlord. Marwood has thrown six completely different people together, each one unique. It’s a recipe for personality clashes and drama.

They all have two things in common, though. In one way or another, they are all killers. And they are all running from, or afraid of, something.

So instead of the plot being about their differences, we watch four of the six tenants grow closer together, and learn more about their similarities. Because of their secrets and their fears, they can’t call in the police. As the bodies begin to pile up, they must rely on each other to eventually find a way out of their situation, and out of the house which has become a prison to them.

Oh, and the debut novel I mentioned? The Wicked Girls was one of my top ten reads in 2014. (Thanks to Sow_girls Many Books for the recommendation.) It is completely consistent in style with The Killer Next Door, while still being a unique novel. If you like one, you’ll like the other, and they’re unrelated so you can read them in any order.

Have you read either book? What did you think?