First Impressions

Title: Her Fearful Symmetry
Author: Audrey Niffenegger
Publisher: Scribner
Date of Publication: September 29th, 2010
ISBM: 9781439169018
Julia and Valentina Poole are twenty-year-old sisters with an intense attachment to each other. One morning the mailman delivers a thick envelope to their house in the suburbs of Chicago. Their English aunt Elspeth Noblin has died of cancer and left them her London apartment. There are two conditions for this inheritance: that they live in the flat for a year before they sell it and that their parents not enter it. Julia and Valentina are twins. So were the girls' aunt Elspeth and their mother, Edie.

The girls move to Elspeth's flat, which borders the vast Highgate Cemetery, where Christina Rossetti, George Eliot, Stella Gibbons, and other luminaries are buried. Julia and Valentina become involved with their living neighbors: Martin, a composer of crossword puzzles who suffers from crippling OCD, and Robert, Elspeth's elusive lover, a scholar of the cemetery. They also discover that much is still alive in Highgate, including—perhaps—their aunt. (From

Her Fearful Symmetry isn’t exactly the type of genre I usually read. Sure it has a ghost in it, but it’s not a fantasy or paranormal romance, but once in a while you have to get out of your comfortable little bell jar, and read something else. I’d heard a lot about it, and read a few articles about it in Locus (Locus is the leading magazine on SF, and fantasy books) so I decided to give it ago. Oh and it centers around Highgate Cemetery in London…I love Highgate!

Elspeth died while Robert was standing in front of a vending machine watching tea shoot into a small plastic cup. Later he would remember walking down the hospital corridor with the cup of horrible tea in this hand, alone under the fluorescent lights, retracing his steps to the room where Elspeth lay surrounded by machines. (Her Fearful Symmetry, p. 3)
Friends of mine can attest to how deeply this book moved me from just reading the first few lines. I literally broke down crying on the train, while I was on my way to work. I was to be as objective as I can, but the memory of knowing exactly where you were, when somebody you love dies, is such a powerful emotion that objectivity is impossible. Almost eight months ago I held my Dad’s hand as he took his last breath in a hospice bed. Needless to say this book has, in a matter of a few days, become very personal to me.

Emotions run high as the novel explores the lives of six people closely connected to Elspeth – her sister, brother-in-law, twin nieces, lover, and neighbor – while she becomes accustomed to her new existence as a ghost.

There is so much to explore in this book that reading it once would not do it justice. I’ll have to read it twice before I review it…and I can’t wait.  

Time is a cruel Mistress. Although, I work in a book store I don't have as much time to read as I used to. I commute two and a half hours every day, so I've fondly started to refer to my books as "my train books". I always have a minimum of two books with me, and my Kindle, at all times plus my blog notebook.

People say the first impression is the most important, so I want to add my first feature to the blog - First Impressions. I'll aim to post my impressions of the books I'm reading after the first five chapters.

Harper Collins just released the first 20% of Jeaniene Frost's Eternal Kiss of Darkness, the second book in her Night Huntress World spin-off series. It seems fitting I start with that one...especially since I love the Night Huntress books.

An immortal war has been brewing in the darkness...and now one woman has stumbled into the shadows.
Chicago private investigator Kira Graceling should have just kept on walking. But her sense of duty refused to let her ignore the moans of pain coming from inside a warehouse just before dawn. Suddenly she finds herself in a world she's only imagined in her worst nightmares.

At the center is Mencheres, a breathtaking Master vampire who thought he'd seen it all. Then Kira appears - this fearless, beautiful....human who braved death to rescue him. Though her burns for her, keeping Kira in his world means risking her life. Yet sending her away is unthinkable.

But with danger closing in, Mencheres must choose either the woman he craves, or embracing the darkest magic to defeat an enemy bent on his eternal destruction. 

To tell you the truth, I never really liked Mencheres. I can't put my finger on it, but something always seemed off about him. In the interview I did with Jeaniene Frost she calls him "unfathomable", I couldn't agree more. Perhaps it's his age that does it? Mencheres is, after all, a centuries old Egyptian, master vampire with an inconceivable amount of power. No matter how I felt about Mencheres I still looked forward to reading the book...and then I saw the book trailer for it. The phrase "hook, line and sinker" is the best way of describing my reaction to it.

From the beginning of Eternal Kiss of Darkness Frost starts stripping Mencheres exterior, and with every page we see a little more of his hidden depths. Yet, like with some many other things it takes a woman to get to the core of things.

Enter Kira Graceling. She's a fighter and a protector - to her detriment perhaps. Although, she just a mere human she has just as many hidden layers as Menchers.

My first impressions are very simple; this could very well be the best of the Night Huntress World, both in the main series and the spin-off series. I have high expectations for Mencheres's background story. I love Ancient Egyptian culture, I'm intrigued to find out how Jeaniene Frost tackles the aspects of that.

I can't wait to 'get to know' Kira better. From only reading the first 20% of the book I think so could take the spot at the top of my favourite heroine list.

Only 12 more days until release day.