Goose – Dawn O’Porter
- Murder in Mississippi – John Safran
- Elianne – Judy Nunn
- Divergent – Veronica Roth
- Insurgent – Veronica Roth
- Allegiant – Veronica Roth
The Messenger – Markus Zusak Fragile Things – Neil Gaiman
- The Mammoth Book of Angels and Demons
- NOS4R2 – Joe Hill
Hades – Candice Fox
- Last Night at Chateau Marmont – Lauren Weisberger
- Thirteen Reasons Why – Jay Asher
The Maze Runner – James Dashner The Scorch Trials – James Dashner The Death Cure – James Dashner A Long Way Down – Nick Hornby
- More Than This – Patrick Ness
If someone were to ask me which genres I don’t read, my top three would be:
- straight romance
Romance because the sole focus of our heroine can’t just be a man (or a woman. But I am yet to read an LGBT romance. Do they exist?) It’s the 21st century, for crying out loud! Horror because I hate being scared. I don’t like the idea of paying hard earned money on an emotion that I hate.
And crime because the stories often strike me as pointless. We all know that the first suspect will never be the right one. We know there will be red herrings and we know that the detective is usually a hardened son-of-a-bitch with a secret that made them that way. But Hades is different. Hades is amazing. Hades is flawless.
Let’s start with the POV. We have multiple stories woven into this one novel. We have Eden Archer, Hades Archer, Jason Beck, Martina Ducote, and Frank Bennett. Eden’s POV is written in a different font, written in past tense and is italicised so we automatically know that there’s something different about her story, which it that her story mostly takes place in the past. As for the rest of the POVs, they are written in third person, present tense. Frank Bennett’s is the only POV written in first person (still present tense). Why do I care so much? Well, because it means that it is possible for something to happen to the main character. With so many POVs, it is possible for someone else to tell the rest of the story. You know how you’re reading a book and your favourite character gets him/herself into a sticky situation and you feel like they’re going to die? BUT you check how many pages you have left and know that something’s going to save them at the last minute? This feeling doesn’t happen in Hades. Frank gets stuck lots of times and it is entirely plausible that he could die. [SPOILER] Of course, he doesn’t, because Hades is the first book in a series and so we can’t lose our hero so soon, but you get what I’m trying to say, right?
Fox has a way with the grotesque. She made me feel repulsed and intrigued at the same time. I wanted to look away from some scenes and yet I couldn’t. The story-telling was just too good. I mean, check this out:
The boy vomited, gurgled, fell limp again. Hades knelt over him in the gravel and dust, his heart raging as it had not done in some time. He reached down and wiped the strands of matted black hair from the massive wound in the side of the boy’s head. Clotted flesh and frayed skin, the beginnings of bone underneath.
He lay the ruined doll out on the table. Hades looked down at the boy, inspecting him like a butcher with a slab of meat, noticing the bulbous joints where cartilage strained and contracted, the limp feet and curled hands.
When I read that scene I literally had to look away from the page. I also groaned with disgust and then buried my nose in the pages and kept reading. Fox is a goddess. And this is her debut novel. I mean….what?!
Characters have always been a problem for me in books. In so many books where plot drives the story, characters fall to the wayside. They become stock characters who only act as plot devices. This does not happen in Hades. Every single character is unique, flawed (some more than others), and so vivid that you feel as though they’re standing right behind you. One night, when I got caught up in the story, I went to the bathroom at around midnight. I tiptoed and looked over my shoulder because I was so sure that the murderer was watching me.
Even better than this is that we are given two villains. The main one, the murderer, and a secondary one. And we hate him just as much as we hate the murderer, maybe even more so. The murderer is sick and believes what he is doing is right. Like Valentine in The Mortal Instruments. The secondary villain is just callous, cruel, and despicable. Seriously, I hate him. I want to give you this quote. It’s not going to make sense and I’m not going to background it because it ruins part of the story, but you need to read this. It struck me as one of the worst things a character has said in any book I’ve ever read. And he’s not even the murderer!
“One of [our daughters] was going to die anyway. One of them was going to die. We didn’t do anything wrong. We didn’t kill anyone else’s kid. We just switched them, that’s all. We just switched them. They belong to us and we can do what we goddamn want with them.”
I shouldn’t be drinking coffee as I write this, because every time I see that quote, it makes me want to throw up.
Oh! Probably the most beautiful thing about this story was the lack of red herrings. We never find the detectives chasing down a wrong lead. I hate red herrings. Unless they can be properly pulled off, they’re just a waste of story. I think Fox agrees with me because there weren’t any. Instead we see Bennett and Eden (who, I should mention, is Frank’s partner) building a case slowly, the picture of the murderer gradually emerging. Of course, the reader knows who the murderer is, where he’s going and what he’s doing because of the simultaneous story lines, but this does not detract from tension in any way. In fact, it adds to it, because we can see how close Frank and Eden are to the murderer at any given moment and watch him slip away, unbeknownst to our main characters.
There’s also the secondary mystery of Eden Archer. We, as readers, have a picture of her and her brother, Eric, given to us by Eden’s POV, but we have to watch Frank slowly realise who Eden really is. And it’s beautiful.
It seems as though there’s a lot going on in this story, and that it could end up being really confusing, but Fox juggles every single aspect of this story with aplomb. I was never confused. Every part of this story is separate and symbiotic at the same time. We can see how each component works on its own but how they all add to the main storyline. I’m gushing, but Fox really is amazing.
Two more points and I’m done raving, I promise.
#1: We get this awesome character quirk for Frank all through his POV. It stems from this one quote on page nine:
My mother had been a wildlife warrior, the kind who would stop and fish around in the pouches of kangaroo corpses for joeys and scrape half-squished birds off the road to give them pleasant deaths or fix them. One morning, she brought me home a box of baby owls to care for, three in all, abandoned by their mother. The men and women in the office made me think of those owls, the way they clustered in the corner of the shoebox when I’d opened it, the way their eyes howled black and empty with terror.
From then on, Frank refers to his other officers, those nameless extras who actually are plot devices, as “the owls”. Fox takes the formless officers and gives them form, gives them an identity and a physical appearance without ever having to describe them in detail. That, my dear bloggers, is true literary genius.
#2: This book is Australian, a point made obvious by the above quote. But it is not overly so. It takes place in Sydney (which most of you have heard of. Fun fact: neither Sydney nor Melbourne is the capital of Australia. When it came time to name a capital, both of these cities wanted it so badly that the government got sick of their bickering and made Canberra that capital city. The more you know.) but the story could take place anywhere. All that’s different is a bit of the slang, the place names, and that I could actually picture some of the places because I’ve been there. And so, this book shouldn’t isolate those of you not from here. I know we have a funny way of talking, but Fox tones this down a lot. Probably out of courtesy to you guys, and yet the book still sounds Aussie enough to not offend her fellow countrymen and women.
I don’t think it will come as a shock to you, but I give this book:
The only drawback this book has is that sometimes Frank’s character dips into the female method of storytelling. Now I can hear some of you scream “but feminism!” and that’s fair. BUT during my Creative Writing course we learnt that men and women tell stories in different ways, whether they are aware of it or not. Women focus on details like clothes and wallpaper, men focus more on what actually happens. So when Frank started telling me what people were wearing I got a bit iffy, because I doubt a man would have noticed the colour of a woman’s shirt, or what shoes she was wearing. This is a prime example of when studying literature ruins reading. This is the US cover of Hades. Just, you know, so you guys know what to look for in your local bookstore
I also want to encourage all of my followers from other countries, particularly the US, to buy this book (that link is a link to the Amazon page for Hades. I’ve done the Googling for you! You guys in the US get this book in January, so that’s plenty of time to preorder). Aussie literature is vastly underrepresented on the world stage and I believe that Candice Fox deserves international recognition. So please, please, please buy this book (oh, look, there it is again!). The great news for you guys from overseas is that Hades probably won’t cost you as much as it cost me, given that your currency is so much stronger than ours. (I bought something from a UK website the other day and learned that $1AUD is worth 50c in GBP. I mean…ouch).
Now I just have to wait until December for the second book, Eden. I knew that I should’ve held off on reading this book! The wait is going to be excruciating.