Tag Archives: Kasey’s Picks

Falling in love with books, again! This time, it’s paranormal

My quest to immerse myself in romance novels continues! Last time, I focused on historical/Regency romances. Today, I bring you paranormal romance: vampires, werewolves, gods, and so much more!

I’ve got to be honest, I’ve had a hard time finding paranormal romances I could get into. It’s not that I’m not interested in this stuff – I am a diehard Buffy fan, after all, and I did enjoy the whole Twilight saga, almost despite myself (100% team Jacob, by the way). The thing I have learned about paranormal romance is that it very often takes place in large, complicated worlds that make it hard to just step into as a casual reader. I don’t want to get invested in a whole series, because that’s just not what I’m looking for in romance – I want worlds that I can dip into when I feel like it, without having to remember too much politicking. Continue reading

The VVitch is my new horror fave

Cover image for The Witch: the silhouette of a person with long hair standing in a moonlit forestA little late to the party, I know, but I finally got around to watching Robert Eggers’ directorial debut, The VVitch (which I’m just going to be calling The Witch from here on out)! And it is very very good, slow-build horror.

The Witch takes place in 1630s New England, where a family is being banished from their Puritan community for theological differences. William, Katherine, and their four children set out alone to try to eke out a living in the wilderness. Katherine has a fifth child, but the baby is stolen, and ultimately the family descends ever deeper into a spiral of fear and suspicion (of the woods surrounding them, and eventually of each other as well).

The movie explores many complicated themes, including the effects of long-term isolation on the human psyche, the power of faith, and ultimately with the kinds of fear and paranoia that can result when people seek desperately to explain the hardships life throws at them. It’s a story that could have played out the same way regardless of whether there really is a witch out there in the woods, and for me that’s where the real horror lies (though I also loved the unabashedly uncivilized and otherwordly glimpses we get into the witching world!)

The Best Kind of People, by Zoe Whittall

Cover image from Zoe Whittell's The Best Kind of People. The title is written in cursive no a chalkboard with white chalk, and there is a red Giller Prize logo in the upper right-hand corner. I have read (and enjoyed!) most of Zoe Whittall’s novels, but I almost passed on The Best Kind of People, because the premise of ‘school teacher accused of sexual abuse of students’ is one I’ve seen more than enough of for a lifetime. But, the book was short-listed for the Giller Prize this year, and I decided to give it a shot.

I am so glad I did!

Whittall’s treatment of this subject matter, which is simultaneously extremely sensitive and (in my opinion) massively overused in all forms of fiction, is nothing short of ground-breaking. At no point does the novel give in to the prurience so often present in these kinds of stories – we never hear any details about the sexual misconduct in question. Instead, The Best Kind of People centres itself around the experiences of the family of the man accused, in particular his sixteen-year-old daughter Sadie (who is only a few years older than the girls her father is accused of assaulting) and his wife Joan, neither of whom can reconcile the accusations with the man they know and love.

Ultimately, the novel is a masterful examination of the ways in which our society responds to these kinds of crimes, particularly when the perpetrator is respected person with a great deal of privilege. Sadie and Joan find themselves variously vilified, ostracized and supported by various community members – including support from people they wish would stay well away from them – all while desperately trying to sort through their own feelings, and what it will mean for their lives if their respective father and husband is indeed guilty.

This is a deeply emotional novel, full of well-drawn, complex and realistic characters. Well worth a read!

If you’ve already read and loved The Best Kind of People, check out some other great books from Canadian women, or take a look at other  Scotiabank Giller Prize nominees and winners.