Cover Image: The Blade Between

The Blade Between

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This is definitely a case of my low rating not being a good reflection of the book - but of me. 
This is actually a very well written, interesting, lyrical book - and it's the reason I'm giving it 3 stars. I think a lot of people will find this book interesting and that it makes an interesting statement and leaves you thinking well after you are done.

But it felt very much like Magic realism (or maybe sci-fi realism? Is that a thing?). And I'm not a fan - trying to understand how someone scheduling photo shoots with someone they can't possibly be or the salt water in the mouth and the flooding in houses. Getting on board with the overarching them definitely involved suspending some disbelief and somehow, I just never got there. I wish I'd loved it more, I thought so many pieces were interesting on their own, but with the magic realism mixed in, I just couldn't make the full leap.
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Thanks to HarperCollins and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this in exchange for an honest review!

Themes of gentrification, police involvement, the effects of bullying and homophobia, how a community can effect individuals, and how social media can be destructive.

You may be saying to yourself, wow this sounds interesting! And it is! For about 50 pages or so until it starts wearing out its welcome. All of these themes are done in a clumsy manner with as much subtlety as a car crash. It honestly pulls from the story and the feeling sets in that the author had too much to say with not enough story to cover it. 

Let's cover the characters in brief. Ronan is highly unlikeable (using Grindr as a weapon). Dom is too passive throughout. Attalah is a flip-flop (mostly during the 3rd act).

The supernatural/fantasy element feels completely unnecessary and doesn't really add much to the plot. And when you get an explanation of it all in the last few pages it's extremely unsatisfying.

The last act is so rushed that once you hit the last chapter you wonder what the big deal was building up to this event.

Pretty disappointed in this one and not entirely sure if I would read more from this author.

One last thing...

"...blade sticking between my ribs." This will haunt me for days.
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The Blade Between tried to do a lot of things.  Too many things.  It seemed to jump around but never finish anything it started out to do.  There is the sadness of changes to somewhere you use to know.  The anger of gentrification.  The pain of relationships.  And then there is the supernatural.  All of it was promising.  None of it seemed to be fully fleshed out or to deliver what it promised in the end.  I think this could have been a longer and more developed story.
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THE BLADE BETWEEN - SAM J. MILLER

This is a story about the harm gentrification of in a small town in New York. And how it harms and pains those being pushed out of their homes. I struggled with this book a lot mainly because the execution is flawed. But first, the good, the pain around the gentrification and the disgust and rage against the gentrifiers is very well described, especially in a small post-industrial town. I think the relationships between the characters are also believable, especially the side characters. The author is good at dropping in a variety of characters POVs to move the plot.

However, there were many things that just didn't work for me. But my main issue was that the supernatural element driving this story is not fleshed out. It's not clearly described and it doesn't make much sense to me. I didn't feel any of the dread from the build up from the supernatural, either. As a result, all the driving energy for the plot and the main character doesn't have clear motivation. I could speculate as to maybe what the author was going for, which has a lot of potential, but for me it fell short.

Thank you to @Netgalley and @Ecco for the e-copy in exchange for an honest review of this book.
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Well, that was quite a ride. I thought the premise was incredibly unique and was eager to see how the whales would tie into everything. While there were the brief flashes of whale hunting and how the town made it's living off of that industry, I felt that connection needed to be much more fleshed out than it was.  I was drawn in by Ronan and his relationship with Dom, but I could not understand why Ronan was so hellbent on saving the town when it was repeatedly stressed how much he hated living there. I felt like that plotline came out of nowhere and again, for me, the attempt at that connection to propel the story forward failed. It just wasn't believable. The other thing I didn't buy was how Ronan created a gay character to intimidate and bully others to get information when multiple times throughout the story he reflected on how painful and traumatic it had been for him to be bullied for being gay when he was growing up. 

I will say that I thought the author did an excellent job of exploring gentrification and showing how that unfolded. Everything else just didn't quite fit for me.

Many thanks to Ecco and Netgalley for providing an ecopy in exchange for my review.
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Ronan Szepessy told himself that once he had left the small town of Hudson, NY, he’d never returned. But he is inexorably drawn back to the town and the people who had made his life miserable. What he finds is not the sleepy town he’d left but a town overrun (in his mind) by rich City dwellers who are buying up property like it was going out of style and gentrifying it into something unrecognizable. The people who call the town their hometown are outraged at the changes and want them to stop. Even the forces that live beneath the town’s inherent hatred of change, including, apparently, the ghosts of dead whales, are angry. Ronan must stop all of it before it destroys the town and its people,  including himself.

The main character is a complex gay man who is driven by his anger and his meth addition. The plot is also complex and sometimes convoluted and tries to be too much by spanning too many genres. 

While this book was not my cup of tea, I think people who like the author’s previous books may find this book fascinating.

My thanks to Ecco and Edelweiss for an eARC.
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I wasn't sure if I was going to enjoy this book for the mystical/supernatural aspects but I really did enjoy this read. The author did not rely on the paranormal and instead used it as a tool to build the story further. Once I started to get into the book it was a quick read because I wanted to know what was going to happen.

There wasn't a character I didn't like in the book. They were all believable, enjoyable and relatable. I think the author did a great job of making the reader want to be apart of their circle. The character worked well with each other and you could imagine it being just like a small town.

The only thing is it was long. I think the author did a great job of building up the story but then the end just seemed a bit quick and not as well described as the rest of the book. I think because it was long I was expecting a bit more at the end, like did the blade between stick around for those who were left?

I would recommend this book and read other books from this author.
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Trigger warnings: Arson, stabbing, suicide, eviction, drug addiction, sexual assault (implied)

The city of Hudson, New York is rich in a history that’s about to be erased by the gears of gentrification and corporate interests. The community fights back, but it isn’t until the whale gods and ghosts of Hudson’s past join the fray, feasting on hate and unleashing violence upon this already-tense community.

It’d be ridiculous to say that every new Sam J. Miller book is my new favorite Sam J. Miller book because they all hit the same highs for me as a reader in their own unique ways.

But holy heck, did I enjoy this one.

I couldn’t keep my eyes off the unfolding horrors and thoughtfully-crafted exploration of gentrification, drug addiction, surviving homophobia, lost love, sordid history, ghosts, and community organizing blended so seamlessly. The precise language that’s consistent throughout all his works is present here, and there is no stone left unturned.

I found Ronan’s arc so painfully compelling. He skipped town to pursue a photography career in New York and decided years later to return to a place that’s foreign to him. In terms of trying to save his father’s butcher shop, which feels like the last vestige of Hudson before the corporate invasion, he makes such an attempt. And then forces beyond his control imprint on that attempt, which involves catfishing on Grindr (an element I enjoyed far too much).

I could not keep myself together as the terror unfolded. There’s more pedestrian terror of him trying to mentor a gay high schooler who isn’t out to his pastor mom, and then the supernatural horror of an entity he accidentally summons. You simply can’t look away from how badly and unintentionally this man fucks up. It all goes about as well as you’d expect, but I found the ending particularly cathartic.

His relationship with Dom, Attalah, and Dom and Attalah hurt in the ways of “what could have been” and “none of us are really the people we were in high school, except we sort of are.” The way their love is both tough and tender depending on the scene, and sometimes in the same moment. The complexity here is such a thing to behold because it felt so realistic. What I found most interesting is that, with the exception of a few, none of the characters fell strictly into a camp of “good” or “bad.” They’re all trying to survive in the best and only ways they know how.

An absolute treat for those who loved Hex and want something a little more thoughtful with a specific perspective on how gentrification is wreaking a terror we know on small town communities with a layer of supernatural fear which makes it all viscerally unsettling.
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A vivid and powerful unpacking of themes including home and connection within the framework of broader mysteries and ghosts (and ghost whales!).
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THE BLADE BETWEEN by Sam J. Miller is a unique novel about a man, Ronan, returning to his hometown to deal with his past, city developments and the supernatural. Right at the end of Part One I was intrigued. However getting further into the book while the plot was interesting the writing didn’t wow me. The part I loved the most was all the characters names. I read most of this book in one day as I was curious to know how it would all end but I wouldn’t read this book again.
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A small town’s abrupt change by losing the spots of local stores to the new hipster owners, floating whales, increasing pressure and blowing hateful energy ! What a complex, creative but also a little confusing story! The author’s profound love to the whales made him use them as important spiritual addition to this story as he did at his previous work. 

I loved so many unique, inventive, different things about this book which waltzes between different genres including horror, mystery, thriller, dysfunctional family drama, thought provoking approach to the small town’s bullying, narrow minded people’s attitudes towards the LGBTQ community and of course the hero’s main motivation that feeds him to take action to the newcomers was deep hate growing inside of him for years and years. 

But one thing still confuses me: the MC Ronan, 40 years old, NYC photographer specialized on erotism on his work. He is gay and he never gets approval of the people of his small town Hudson. He got abused by his school friends. Even his father never understood him, refusing to visit him for 20 years. And now he is sick. He needs to be taken care of. 

  So Ronan goes to his old town to look after his death but the place is extremely changed after being invaded by new artsy community. This place was once upon a time whaling town , corrupted by crime, gambling and prostitution but as new comers start to build a new community and social circle, they opened antique shops, trendy restaurants, galleries. Eventually the local store owners start to lose their shops including Ronan’s father who has to close his butcher shop. 

 So Ronan teams up with his old crush / police officer Dom and his wife Attalah to get their town’s back.

 I had hard time to understand Ronan who acts hateful against this new community so much as we consider his own people never approve his sexuality and acted so mean, abusive. And his way of creating a fake gay male account to get more information from gay community via online dating service was also quite hateful move! 

 This logic didn’t work with me but the action packed parts when the hell breaks loose were so entertaining! Second part of the book was more likable for my taste even though the whales’ invasion parts are a little exaggerated, I had so much fun.

I cut my points because of the MC’s confusing manners and exaggerated hateful thinking against the people. The creative ideas, world building, big fight between new comers and locals, fantasy elements are the strengths of the novel I truly enjoyed. 

I’m giving 3.25 stars to differentiate this book from my regular Switzerland, mediocre reads! It’s still good, smart, unique, filled of clever imaginative ideas. I couldn’t resonate with hero and his motives. That’s why I gave a little lower point. 

  But hands down, the author is brilliant and I’m looking forward to read more works of him sooner. 

Special thanks to NetGalley and Harper Collins Publishers / Ecco for sharing this reviewer copy with me in exchange my honest opinions.
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what an amazing book I love the book every minute of it it was so interesting there's so many twists and turns it remind me of Moby Dick because of the well references to the book everybody had a plot in this book when you read a chapter and then and in the next chapter you would all tie together and how these people in this town were so dysfunctional because they were upset about people coming up from New York to the Hudson and they were getting pushed out because they never went to school they were never educated and they had open crisis as well and the mayor was going to be a new mayor was going to be electric he wanted to put this big swelling work a lot like work living complex in the town didn't really want it but there's a there's a history to this town because it was a Wellington at first and when that one way they did industrial type not went away so people were pretty much left with nothing but the interesting character was Ron he came back he was a famous photographer but he was also gay so there's this going on and then he meets up with Don who's the police and he is bisexual and his Armada didn't really know this but there was like things going on to really upset these new people in town now Ron was quite evil because he had a friend who was talking to him when he was dead but he was from there originally and then he had this other guy named Tim Tom who was a seller who got killed because he was gay in the 1870s and he would put this profile of bothering either on Grindr or tender and he did a lot of mean things on there he's like exposed people's secrets and then you had wick who was the pastor who was who was the pastor she was a pastor and that was her son but he was gay and he had a lot of problems and he was just trying to figure out where he was going to but there was so many twists and turns in this especially when they did the different attacks and they would base it on Wells but everybody used everybody in this town no matter who you were lady at child protective service was doing meth and she had clients and she would make these clients do these crazy things and it was so interesting how you can eliminate people when they're so desperate it's a great book highly recommend it to read it
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No soy una lectora habitual de novelas de terror, no me gusta pasar miedo innecesariamente. Sin embargo, cuando vi que la siguiente obra de Sam J. Miller, un autor que cada vez me gusta más, se encuadraba dentro de este género, tuve que vencer mis reticencias para ponerme a leer.


Quizá sea debido a esta falta de costumbre por mi parte, pero me pareció que la novela iba adentrándose en el terreno de lo desconocido y lo espiritual de una manera tan gradual que al principio parecía totalmente realista. Es cierto que algunos detalles ya daban idea de que algo especial estaba pasando en Hudson, como las canciones de la radio que van cambiando según quién las vaya escuchando, pero como digo al principio solo asistimos a la vuelta al «hogar» de Ronan, un joven fotógrafo que huyó el pueblo hostigado por los homófobos.

Tras leer algunas de sus obras, comienzo a distinguir un patrón en la forma de escribir del autor. Una de las obsesiones de Sam J. Miller es la fotografía, como ya pudimos ver en Destroy All Monsters y aquí somos de nuevo testigos de la transformación de la realidad cuando se ve a través de una lente, aunque de una forma muchísimo más sutil y me atrevería a decir que elegante. También aquí vuelven a aparecer las ballenas que tuvieron cierta relevancia en la estupenda Blackfish City, aunque en este caso sea en un terreno mucho más espiritual.

La prosa fluye de una forma estupenda y la caracterización de personajes es simplemente maravillosa, con un elenco que en ningún momento quita protagonismo a Ronan, pero que lo complementa de una forma muy acertada.

Sin embargo, el libro no acaba de cohesionar. Entiendo la crítica que Miller hace contra la gentrificación, la homofobia y el racismo y como la violencia y el miedo va in crescendo provocado por los propios habitantes de la ciudad, pero me parece que el libro cojea quizá donde debería residir su principal fortaleza, en la propia historia «mágica» del lugar. El uso de las nuevas tecnologías para extraer los trapos sucios de los lugareños en una campaña contra el próximo alcalde, a través de Grinder y Tinder es impecablemente actual, pero que las fuerzas sobrenaturales implicadas en la trama no sepan como controlar su poder… es un poco traído por los pelos. La resolución final parecía bastante evidente una vez expuestas todas las piezas pero al menos deja la historia cerrada.

The Blade Between es una novela que no me arrepiento de haber leído, pero de la que esperaba más.
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Thank you NetGalley and HarperCollins for letting me read this unpublished ebook. Well, I’ll start by saying that at least I liked this story better than The Arrest or The Pumpkin Farmer, which are two of the last three books I’ve read. Ronan is a young, gay man who is an up and coming photographer in NYC. He wakes up on a train and realizes he's back in his hometown of Hudson, NY, an old seafaring city. Ronan has a few problems. He also feels a lot of hate toward the people - “outsiders,” who have been buying up all the real estate and driving the long-time residents out. Here in Maine, we call them “Summer People.” Lucky for Ronan that his best friend from high school, Dom, is still in town and is now a police officer married to another high school friend, Attalah, and the three of them quickly become reacquainted. There’s a lot of stuff going on, everybody seems to have a plot and secrets and there’s lots of hate floating around. Ronan doesn't realize it at first, but he can see dead people and one of them is telling him that he has to spread the hate around in order for the outsiders to leave. He has visions of whales floating through the sky and they’re speaking to him through his dead friend, Katch. There is definitely a story here and the writing and characters were likeable enough for me to continue reading until the end, but sometimes there was too much of a story – so many different characters doing so many different things – that it could be confusing trying to keep track of who was who. Also, the whole idea of slaughtered whales from hundreds of years ago becoming mystical and people running around the city killing each other with harpoons, while wearing whale head coverings, was just too far-fetched for me. Contains gay sex and lots of violence. Definitely not for kids.
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I felt a bit indecisive about this book, I loved the setting, the whales, the conflict between old/new residents but I wasn't very interested in the main characters and I disliked a lot of their dialogue. So all in all I can't say I liked or disliked the book or the style of writing.
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DNF - 30%. I tried but I’m out. The truth is this book isn’t for me. I can’t give it just 1 star because it does have some great complex characterization (Ronan - protagonist) that I enjoyed, but here’s why I’m out. Ronan hates, HATES Hudson, a homophobic hellhole he endured and left. Now he’s returned because he’s doing a photo shoot for a guy who.... uh is actually dead. And now Hudson is a gay Mecca of sorts! That part, cool as heck, but then he starts a love affair with his married ex, and there’s this whole thing with this revolving around whales... like the dead whales of the past are up to all this? Ehhh that’s some mysticism and I’m just NOT feeling it. I think if it was better described, better billed as a nature/mysticism type of book either id have passed or read it expecting that, and wasn’t fond of what I found.

Thank you Netgalley and publisher for the ARC of this book.
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*DNF* The premise of this book is certainly interesting (I mean, who doesn't like reading about dystopian themes in a literal pandemic), so I thought it would be right up my lane! Even more, it featured a variety of characters from different backgrounds. Sadly, despite offering a wide range of characters I found these characters relied more on generalizations and common stereotypes instead of being focused on constructing engaging characters. I felt the dialogue tried so hard to be edgy that any grasp on the narrative was forgotten.
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I requested this on a whim because I wanted to get out of my comfort zone.

This was a little too much out of my comfort zone.

I understand that the narrator is supposed to be unlikeable, one of my favorite books is Lolita so I understand and I liked the book until about page 150 when I realized that I wasn’t even halfway through the book. 

I felt depressed reading it and I struggled towards the end because I was trying to find a ways to not read the book but I knew that I needed to finish.

The supernatural stuff was almost a homage to Joe Hill and Stephen King which didn’t bother me but the darkness surrounding the supernatural stuff effected me too much.

And whale ghosts, that got weird for me.
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Sam Miller does it again! Ronan Szepessy has avoided visiting his home town of Hudson for years. He was taunted and misunderstood and a child, and now he can't face his father's failing health. But when he finds himself back in Hudson even though he can't remember why he boarded the train, he quickly becomes enmeshed in town politics as locals try to push back against the New Yorkers who are taking over their small town. Ronan learns first hand that you can't go home again, but you can't ever really leave either. A strange and timely book.
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What an interesting book! I loved the atmosphere, it was so vivid and creepy. I also loved the premise. The beginning pages of the book, which outline that premise, are what sucked me in: The idea that the town of Hudson is built on blood and suffering. The tale that follows is a sort of revenge tale, where the whales who've been slaughtered in the past, and whose blood the Hudson economy was so reliant on, rise up! They intertwine with the spirits of both the living and the dead Hudson residents who have been forced out literally and figuratively by New York City transplants -- the artists and other hipsters are the villains here. The legit locals are given strength and superpowers in their quest and plans to exact revenge. 

This sounds bizarre and it was! But, it was just what I needed at the time. A great escapism story, with a sound, ghostly yet weirdly happy, resolution. 

Thank you for the opportunity to read and share my thoughts on this book!
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