Friday, August 15, 2014

Curse Of The Chupacabra by Michael Hebler

★★★ 
After the chupacabra leaves the town decimated, Suzanne eagerly takes advantage of the chance to start a wholesome new life. She finds families to take in children orphaned by the event but one willful girl refuses to leave her side. Through their travels, Suzanne soon realizes her past is difficult to leave behind and that the creature is still stalking them. This is the second book in the Chupacabra series.

Curse of the Chupacabra is a western story with great world building and character development that ends with a thrilling conclusion. This was a definitely a different reading experience than the previous book. There are less characters so the omniscient narration was easier to adapt to. World building and character development were given more emphasis allowing the story to feel more western. It elaborated on the complexity of killing the chupacabra as well as how it chose it victims.

The story has less action in the first half of the story and the threat of the chupacabra is pushed into the background. It causes Suzanne more psychological distress rather than direct confrontation. In the first book, I was more empathetic to the plight of Drake and the chupacabra as a result I never felt that the main characters were actually in danger from the chupacabra in the first half of this story.

Even with the threat of the chupacabra lessened I still found it to be an engaging and well written western story. Suzanne previously worked as a prostitute and ran scams for the harsh madam in a town devastated by the chupacabra. She embraces her second chance at life with blind faith and naivete that leads to situations were her newly formed morals and perceptions are continually tested. These situations created dynamic character conflict that overshadowed the threat of the chupacabra in my mind.

I liked that her young charge was rebellious and in direct confrontation with her goals to leave her past behind. Their chaperon relationship had a lot of conflict but I liked that they began to care and trust each other more as the story progressed. I initially didn't care much for the main characters but they slowly grew on me to the point of where I became emotionally invested in their welfare.

New characters were introduced and I enjoyed reading the parts with the traveling theater troupe the most. Raul/Yuma was developed a bit more as a character making me feel more at ease with his presence as something more than just a token character. The journey component of the story added a sense of adventure and gave it an episodic quality. The world building was developed and showcased more. It gave a better sense of the era, culture, language, weaponry and the different locations were wonderfully described.

Around the 70% mark of the story, a defining moment altered my perception of the chupacabra. I finally realized that none of the characters were safe from the chupacabra. The rest of the story was fast paced, action packed, and established itself as a horror story firmly in my mind. The story ends with compelling cliffhanger that promises the curse of the chupacabra is not completely at an end.

Related Posts:
Night of the Chupacabra (Chupacabra, #1)
Legend of the Chupacabra (Chupacabra, #3)

Monday, August 11, 2014

Night Of The Chupacabra by Michael Hebler

★★★ 
Years have passed since Drake and his family were attacked by a mysterious creature that left him horribly scarred and his once happy life in shambles. Drake arrives at a small town in hopes of reuniting with his wife but the town keeps its secrets close and the creature is still hunting him. This is the first book in the Chupacabra series.

Night of the Chupacabra is a fun and suspenseful western story. It took me a few chapters to adjust to the omniscient narration. The story has elements of horror but the violence is more action oriented rather than descriptively gory. It shows a different rendition of the chupacabra that has a more mystical origin without a specific preference for its blood source.

The story was an interesting and different reading experience for me. All the characters were flawed but their deception and hostility towards the main character creates a story where he desires retribution. At times the presence of the chupacabra is eclipsed by the other characters' animosity. I liked that the main character had to be wary of not only his connection with the chupacabra but also the remaining townspeople. A lot of characters die in suspenseful action scenes devoid of excessive gore and dark undertones. It was somewhat reminiscent of films where the slasher villain becomes the antihero and I had fun reading the story for this reason.

Due to my ethnicity, I'm always apprehensive of any type of media that portrays Native Americans. Though I question the need for one character to represent two different ethnic groups, the presented chupacabra origin mythos narrowly avoids being offensive by being vaguely simplistic and bound within western stereotypes. I did roll my eyes but I'll admit the chupacabra's connection with its hunter made for interesting drama and I liked the complexity connected to killing it.

Overall, I enjoyed reading Night of the Chupacabra it was an engaging and suspenseful western story where both the creature and the people were at times equally monstrous.

Related Posts:
Curse of the Chupacabra (Chupacabra, #2)
Legend of the Chupacabra (Chupacabra, #3)

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Assassin's Apprentice by Robin Hobb

★★★★★ 
Fitz is the bastard son of the beloved king in waiting. Fitz is quickly cast aside and given to the stable master to raise. Preparing for the future, the king decides to have Fitz trained as an assassin and tested for a magical ability passed through the bloodline. With a new threat to the kingdom and power plays constantly in motion, Fitz has numerous opportunities to implement his new skills but he soon ends up becoming a target himself. This is the first book in the Farseer trilogy.

Assassin's Apprentice is a memorable fantasy novel with rich descriptions. It has an interesting narration where at the beginning of each chapter there is the sense of a much older Fitz relaying the story before quickly settling into the younger perspective. The story unfolds gradually through interlaced storlines that follow Fitz from childhood through adolescence and into young adulthood. It has an episodic quality that lends itself to epic high fantasy.

The story has a cast of noteworthy characters with great characterization and interesting backstories. I liked how the various mentor relationships were formed and tested throughout the story. Fitz's assassin and magic training were intriguing and had engaging storylines where each mission tests his loyalty and resolve. I liked that Fitz struggled with his endeavors and that there was a sense of growth as well as setbacks throughout the story.

The descriptions are rich and vivid creating an immersive reading experience. It has great world building with a diverse range of cultures, societal structures, politics, and locations. The different magic systems were portrayed wonderfully and allowed for further characterization. The first magic system was telepathy with animals and explored the mental bond formed. I adored the animal personifications especially because it remained subtle characterization rather than full blown anthropomorphism. The second magic system was a mysterious ability accessible by a limited group of people of royal descent that had interesting consequences.

The end of the book felt a bit slow because a new location and culture were introduced. However it makes up for it with a clever deadly ploy that ties up loose ends while setting the foundation for the next book. Overall, I enjoyed reading Assassin's Apprentice and I look forward to reading the rest of the series.

[Disclaimer: I won a copy of this book through Goodreads First Reads]