Cover Image: The Blade Between

The Blade Between

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Member Reviews

This was an interesting book. I’m not sure what genre it was marketed as, but it leaned more horror and paranormal than I expected.

Its mashes a lot in the plot: gentrification, social justice, sexuality, and ghosts. It might be one too many things to cram into a story.

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I went into this with high hopes, it sounded like something I’d love. It sounded almost Lovecraftian….but it’s not! At 27% I just couldn’t continue. Why should I keep reading a book about a city that the characters who live there hate so much? I wasn’t invested in any of the 3 main characters. The ”hauntings” were weird. I know “new weird” is a recent genre of fiction but I don’t remember seeing this described as that but this wasn’t horror. I have Blackfish City by this author on my kindle, I’ll give it a shot at some point but not anytime soon.

Thanks to the publisher for the e-arc I received via NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion (sorry that opinion is negative).

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The Blade Between was a totally unexpected queer, dark fantasy. It was very reminiscent of Stephen King, but gayer. I enjoyed the imagery and the poetic prose throughout the story. It was beautifully written, but also sickening and horrifying at times. I can't say I enjoyed the characters or their choices, but I enjoyed the story, the themes surrounding gentrification, racism, homophobia, and the acts of rebellion to fight for justice.

This was a pretty fantastic book.

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I've listened to almost 4 hours of this audiobook and (a) I'm struggling to follow what's going on with the POV switches, (b) I don't care at all about any of the characters, in fact, Ronan makes my skin crawl, and (c) there's a lot of sexual content that just seems vulgar, and this is coming from someone who regularly reads a wide variety of romance. Based on some other reviews I've read, none of the above gets better. This is the first book by this author that I have attempted and it will probably be the only one.

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Wasn’t really for me. I was intrigued by the “ghost story” premise of a small town’s past and present, but I lost interest halfway through and was speeding/skimming through the end. The cast of characters became hard to follow, especially on audio, since there were multiple characters where the same character would be narrated by different people. I also think I must have missed something and lost hold of the plot, because at some points I had truly no clue what was going on, or where certain plot points were going. I’ve seen pretty good reviews for this, so it’s most likely that it just missed the mark for me.

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Real Rating: 3.5* of five, rounded down

Whale ghosts.

Seriously. Whale ghosts! Go get the book already! What's that about the plot? Oh, okay: Ronan, our out and queer protagonist, comes home to Hudson, New York. He was roundly hated for being his gayboy self, but Things Have Changed and, well, I myownself call someplace homophobically stuffed turning into Boystown-meets-the-Tenderloin a Martha-Stewart level Good Thing. The whale ghosts, um...they are...weird, as expected. That was okay with me, too, since I like the cli-fi elements of the read.

We parted company when Ronan gets involved with his <I>married</i> ex-lover. I've been in that car crash and I do not like that trope.

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I had to finally DNF this book. It simply did not work for me. Miller is a good writer and the storyline started out interesting and then it lost me mid way through.

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I really tried with this. I got to 40% and just didn’t have any connection with or concern for the characters. Too many ancillary characters started getting introduced, too. Plus, I’m not much of a fantasy fan. So the dreams, blended worlds, whale-powers, just wasn’t jiving with me. But the writing was great and the author can really create a world and atmosphere.

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Sam Miller has written another amaxing book! Romen has to return home to care for his ailing father, although he promised never to return. As the city continues to change and modernize from the old city he knew, Roman learns he l9ves his city enough to fight for it. While all of this is going on, there are also ghost threats, plots to murder, and love triangles.

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The Blade Between is a very unique and fascinating book. There are so many intertwined themes here that you’d think they’d tangle to the point of being impossible to pin down. But they aren’t. Each theme is given its due time and everything resolves in a way that feels both poignant and satisfying.

Explored are gentrification, eviction, homophobia, racism. commercialized animal murder, classism, technological warfare, small town culture, hate, vengeance, and exploitation. Each one of these thematic elements is flayed open, pushed and prodded, and examined in glorious detail. Hudson is a small industrial town with gargantuan troubles.

Based on what I’ve read about him, it seems that Miller might be a tad whale-obsessed, and I think that worked in his favor here. The idea of whale ghosts seems outwardly insane, but it ended up working so well. Sort of like how the whales going to space thing in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home probably should have been ridiculous but somehow worked (it did. hush).

The idea that hate manifests as a blade wedged between the ribs is going to live with me for the rest of my life. What a beautifully uncomfortable and appropriate metaphor that is.

I think that for those many of us who have been forced to sit back and watch ourselves and our neighbors get priced out of our homes, neighborhoods, and even entire cities, The Blade Between is going to hit HARD. I know that aspect of it certainly did for me.

The Blade Between is a story mired in trauma. All of the main players are people who have lived and breathed hardships their whole lives. And to see the town that harbored those difficulties taken over wholesale by moneyed hipsters is too much for them to bear.

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This was a weird supernatural story. There is also a lot of heavy introspective going on. Not sure it was really my cup of tea. The one thing I liked was the historical facts that were woven into the story.

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Perhaps this book just wasn't for me. However, I will still hit some good points about this book.

There are a LOT of issues addressed throughout the book, everything from discrimination, social justice, social media, and more. I can absolutely get on board with addressing issues facing society today. For me, however, it was a bit too much for one book. As an empath, it was just too overwhelming and was stress inducing.

I did enjoy the more supernatural/magical realism aspects of the story as well as the atmosphere.

It did read like a bad YA in many ways for me. But again, this is just my perspective.

Thank you NetGalley and Ecco Press for my review copy.

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This was too much. The author was just trying to do too much. What's with the whales?? There are too many characters and not enough development. I hated the protagonist, who is so incredibly angry but going back to the place that made him so angry. I don't know, I just wasn't into it.

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This book wasn't for me. It did seem that the author see from personal experience, which made the characters real and sympathetic. However I found the introduction of the supernatural, which I was excited about, to be rather clunky and actually distracted me.

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Thank you for the chance to read this book in exchange for honest feedback. I was able to get a copy of this book at my library. This book is very heavy in its aims to tackle complicated, dynamic content and themes. It is written in a unique prose style that will be enticing to some readers, while others may find it hard to connect or follow depending on personal tastes. There is so much going on in this book (I won't spoil but here are some overarching themes: homophobia/discrimination, racism, socioeconomic issues, etc). In my view, I had some trouble really connecting with the book due to the writing style, which was a type I've never really come across before. However, this book will be a good read for some, as it is unique and definitely not a fluff piece.

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This was a difficult book, which I didn't want to finish at about 50 pages, but pressed on. The ending was pretty good, bit more reminiscent of a B grade horror novel then anything else. ( I used to like B grade horror novels...) The thong is, the author needed to make a choice about this book's direction, and I am not sure he ever committed. The ending was solidly horror, but so much meandering had led up to that point, you were afraid it would meander again.

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After finish reading this book, I realised that I never read any book in this genre until this. but I must say I enjoyed reading this book. this book was filled with horror but with little reduced size horror and weirdness. Some characters are likeable in some way, but most of them are not. As its the first time to read this kind of read, I was agitated about the developing plot most of the time while reading.

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When I say this book was extremely weird, I mean that in the best way possible. Such an insane story, with so many different elements. Very original, yet not too much craziness and action to the point where it gets confusing. It was just the right amount of weird and I have never read a story like this. I would venture to say that the genre is definitely more sci-fi than anything.

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Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for an eARC of this book.
Not really my cup of tea despite some fantastical elements that were interesting. Plot is too drug out. Characters are not particularly interesting or likeable. I'd give this one a pass.

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Let's get this over with straight out of the gate: this reads like bad YA. Every sentence, every situation, every plot "twist," every element of fantasy, and especially every character is rendered in the broadest, most simplistic strokes possible here. That language is hammy, insistent on telling you rather than showing you what the characters are like, what's going to happen. There are so many over the top expository lines about plans and schemes and hate that you couldn't possibly roll your eyes at all of them. Conversely, the dialogue is (whale) bone dry: if there is a distinctive voice among any of these characters I did not see it. When characters talk their lines are either so unimaginative they might as well not even have been put down, or so hackneyed it seems impossible a real person could ever voice them aloud. So many times I felt compelled to double check the ages of these characters because it felt impossible to me that these inauthentic, stilted conversations were meant to be had by adults. But then, considering that these characters were little more than traits occasionally listed off to the reader in asides I guess it does actually check out that a not fully realized character would have a not fully realized conversation.

This quality, of not being fully realized, exists also in the central conceit the book is founded on: that Ronan, who hates Hudson, decides to save Hudson. We are given a lot of lines about Ronan's hate - towards the homophobes that made his life hell as a kid, but more so towards the invaders for invading his town - but there is nothing truly compelling, or frankly logical, about the leap Ronan makes from avoiding Hudson for decades to deciding to save it. I needed something more than his entitlement as the "butcher shop prince" or whatever to believe that those two hates wouldn't ultimately cancel each other out. I needed him to do more than just list off the establishments he used to like in town; I needed to see what it was that made Hudson special, instead of just being told time and time and time and time again that Hudson is special. Above and beyond all that, I needed Hudson to be a character in its own right. I needed for Miller to do more than just list off what felt like every. single. street. name. every. single. time. a character was walking around Hudson (side bar: why do authors writing about small cities like to do this? a street name, unless it's very famous, does not confer the descriptive quality you think it does, gang). I needed to understand the principle motivation of these characters, so that I would actually care about all the damage that was being done.

As for the supernatural elements: honestly, those were the most believable parts of the book. You can buy a creature like Tom saying the lines he does, and you can roll with whales in the sky (even though the reasoning behind their magical connection with Hudson is so thin it's transparent) much more easily than you can connect with a character whose only discernible personality trait is how much he likes to repeat how full he is of hate. I can't say I ever fully bought into the supernatural things here either, but of all the elements in the book they were far and away the best written.

There's more I could go into (like the way Dom is obviously bi or pan, but is only ever called gay; like the ridiculous blow up over the open marriage - which again, read like a spat between teens; like the OTT turn the book took with Jark Trowse; like how I was supposed to believe this town would rally around the death of a black queer kid) but it's probably better if I cut myself off here. Wouldn't want a blade to form between my ribs or anything.

Definitely a disappointing, lackluster read. I'd give this one a miss.

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