Monday, October 18, 2010

The Joy of Spooking: Unearthly Asylum by P.J. Bracegirdle

Sequels are tricky things, what with the balancing act of preserving what made the first book good while creating a fresh story. The more I enjoyed the first book in a series, the more anxious/hopeful I feel as I approach the second. A good first book could be a fluke, after all. As you can see here, I loved the first book in the Joy of Spooking trilogy, FIENDISH DEEDS. I will not keep you in suspense: the second book more than realizes the potential of the first to kick off a fantastic trilogy. Now I'm conflicted, because I can't wait for the third book, SINISTER SCENES, in Summer 2011, yet that will be the end of the series!

In FIENDISH DEEDS, we met Joy, a morbid yet likable young denizen of Spooking, her decaying hometown perched on a hill outside the perfect, cookie-cutter suburb of Darlington, where she attends school with the insufferable Darlings. Joy adores everything about Spooking and is convinced that her favorite horror writer, E.A. Peugeot, was writing about Spooking in his chilling tales. When the presumed bog of his stories is threatened by the ambition of the mayor's assistant, Octavio Phipps, she springs into action. In UNEARTHLY ASYLUM, Joy is out of sorts because her little brother/sidekick is occupied with a new friend and her mission to prove that Spooking was the home of Peugeot runs into a major obstacle. Meanwhile, Phipps has a new plan to destroy Spooking, involving the creepy old asylum (the possible setting for Peugeot's story, "The Asylum"). When her beloved pet frog turns up on the wrong side of the asylum wall, Joy mounts a rescue operation. Will she make it out in one piece? Will she find proof of Peugeot's presence in Spooking? Will she uncover the secrets of the strange asylum? Good heavens, you don't really think I'd answer these questions, do you? Go read the book.

The snappy dialogue and clever wit of FIENDISH DEEDS continue in the second book. I was delighted to find that Joy was not only as delightful as she was in the first book, but Bracegirdle has added new dimension to her character. In the first book, her loyalty to Spooking was unwavering; in the second, she begins to see that decay may also have a downside. She also considers the possibility that she might be mistaken about Peugeot having lived in Spooking. Phipps, Joy's nemesis, is also fleshed out further. We learn more about his past and the source of his hatred for Spooking. His interaction with Joy is a delight. As Joy's mother decides to send her to a psychiatrist, attitudes toward mental illness are touched on.

A sample of Bracegirdle's witty phrasing: "Her already excitable character had become impossibly effervescent, and like a shaken pop bottle, she seemed about ready to explode." (p. 158)

For more information about UNEARTHLY ASYLUM, now available in hardcover, see P.J. Bracegirdle's website
Like P.J. Bracegirdle on Facebook!

Source disclosure: I received a review copy of this book.

You want to read this book, don't you? Of course you do! Here's how to receive your very own, brand-new copy of UNEARTHLY ASYLUM (and since I expect you'll love Joy as much as I do, I feel moved to throw in a paperback copy of FIENDISH DEEDS if you haven't yet read it):

1. For one entry, comment on this post and tell me whether you've read FIENDISH DEEDS and/or your favorite mystery/horror story/novel.
2. For three entries, "Like" P. J. Bracegirdle's page on Facebook and post below that you did (yes, I WILL check, and I will be annoyed if you try to put one over on me).
3. For three entries, follow my book musings on Twitter and tell me that you did.
4. For three entries, follow this blog and tell me you did (or already do).
5. Come back every day this week and comment on posts - each genuine comment (no, "I'm commenting!" does not count; say something insightful or, at the very least, entertaining) will add one entry.

Yes, you CAN win with only a comment on this post...but don't be shy about upping your odds.

UPDATE! I was in a car accident this week, and am therefore spending my free time car-shopping. Therefore, you now have an extra week to enter the contest. Creepy Halloween entry deadline: 11:59 pm EDT on Sunday, October 31! Retweet or post on your own blog for an extra entry. Don't forget to include some way of contacting you.


elvi said...

Hi! I have read Fiendish Deeds, and I bought Unearthly Asylum at the Paragraphe event last Thursday, but I'd love to give these two books to another reader to spread the Joy (sorry, bad pun...).

I 'like' Paul's facebook page, and I am now following your book musings (bonus for me, finding someone new and interesting to follow while entering a contest!)

You can direct message me on twitter @3lvi if I should happen to win.... :-)

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Ooh, you make it hard to say no to this -- and I'm not in my office, either, where the TBR mountain range often reminds me of how hard I'm trying (And failing, but we won't dwell on that part) to get caught up on what's already in the house.

But I'm going to say no need to enter me. And thanks for the e-mail. I've got this posted at Win a Book, so hopefully you can share the love with a whole slew of folks.

lisa :) said...

I'm not familiar with this series or author, but it sounds great! I think my all time favorite horror novel is Bram Stoker's Dracula but in terms of recent stuff, I was really impressed with Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill. It was delightfully creepy!

Great blog you've got here and I'm now following! I can be reached by email at herbookself AT gmail DOT com :)

GBK Gwyneth said...

Have not read "Fiendish Deeds" ... as it goes, I'm not much of a mystery person.

I follow this blog and Allison's twitter.

I retweeted the tweet about this contest and posted on facebook too!

Kimba said...

I am excited to hear tell of a new tale from Joy! I really enjoyed Fiendish Deeds and am looking forward to cracking the spine of Unearthly Asylum.

I currently "like" P. J. Bracegirdle.

Have just begun to follow you on twitter (am I the only person who joined just to follow authors they love - oh, and I don't even own a cell phone).

Oh and I shall follow you and not just to get a chance at the book (though I want one), but I am enjoying your blog!

JenL said...

I just heard about your blog from my friend Gwyneth (GBK Gwyneth, above) and am so glad to have found it! You'll be one of my daily blog reads now!

Crossing my fingers that I win the book! It sounds great - I'm off to get the first on for my nook now!

Tara said...

Hi! I am a huge fan of horror books, so this is a toughie. Stephen King is one of my favorite authors, but his books do not actually SCARE me that much. Suffer the Children by John Saul was probably the book that left me feeling the most creeped out and disturbed.

I have not read Fiendish Deeds, but I would love to read both of these books. They sound fascinating. I am a follower of your blog on My Yahoo! and have just become a follower of you on twitter (my username is bag_of_bones). My e-mail address is allisontb [at] hendrix [dot] edu.

I'm excited for Halloween!

a real librarian said...

I haven't read Fiendish Deeds yet, but we just got Unearthly Asylum in as a new book at my library! It looks amazing, so I just put Fiendish Deeds on hold! Can't wait to read it!


minishoes1 said...

No I have not read Fiendish Deeds,but would love to! This giveaway book sounds great! I know my sister would want to read it too!
I follow.
I like Dean Kootnez and John Saul books. Thanks! jacquecurl1(at)gmail(dot)com

minishoes1 said...

I commented on the post aug 10-Greening with Sam and Avery. jacquecurl1(at)gmail(dot)com