Cover Image: An Ordinary Violence

An Ordinary Violence

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_An Ordinary Violence_ is a dark read driven by grief, trauma, and violence. After a major life change, Dawn moves from Toronto back to her hometown to live with her father and her brother Cody, who is recently released from prison and has a sinister friend Tyler almost always by his side. Tyler and Cody seem to be creating a darkness enveloping the area, forcing Dawn to track her brother and face her past. At times this read is a bit confusing, but achieves in leaving the reader unsettled.

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1/5 Stars

TL;DR - Slow, confusing, and barely supernatural. I’m still not sure what I just read, but I am sure that I struggled to get through it and definitely didn’t have a good time. Huge letdown.

Big thanks to House of Anansi Press Inc., Spiderline, and NetGalley for providing the ARC for this book in exchange for an honest review!

***Trigger warnings for: alcoholism, an alcoholic parent, copious amounts of alcohol consumed on-page, drug use, depression, racism, death of a parent, stabbing, and domestic violence.***

‘An Ordinary Violence’ by Adriana Chartrand is the story of Dawn, a 29 year old woman who moves back to her hometown and has to navigate the grief and guilt of her past, as well as adjust to having her brother back in her life after he’s released from prison. Normally, here is where I’d describe where that goes off the rails into horror territory, but…it really didn’t. The train to Spookytown never left the station, and I've got a headache from the exhaust.

I went into this book with high hopes - I’ve found that horror by Indigenous authors is often on another level of weird and terrifying that I truly enjoy, and the premise was interesting. However, this book delivered on none of the promises laid out by the blurb, and I am exceedingly salty.

This book has little to no plot, and just as few vibes. Pretty much nothing happens, and even less is explained. It’s told in two timelines - Dawn’s past and present - that weave together with little structure, oftentimes slipping into the past with no warning, which I found confusing and frustrating. Because of this, the pacing is incredibly slow, and nothing of note really happens until about 72% of the way through the book. The writing itself is good, but it just goes on and on about a whole lot of nothing, and I quickly found myself frustrated, waiting for something, anything, to happen. I can maybe see the argument that her narration being all over the place is indicative of her potential mental illness, but even then, it’s not done in a way that strikes me as meaningful, just meandering. I kept waiting for the horror elements to show up, but by the time they did, I couldn’t find it in myself to care because I was so bored and jaded.

The blurb promises a “dangerous supernatural network”, “spirit realms [entwining] with the living”, “uncanny occurrences”, etc etc, and I’m just wondering…where are they? Am I reading the same book as all these 5-star reviews? I had to go back to NetGalley halfway through to check that yes, this book is listed under horror, because there’s only a few little blips of strangeness going on for the majority of it - otherwise, this reads like contemporary or literary fiction. The horror element (and that’s being generous) doesn’t really show up until the aforementioned 72% mark, and even then, it’s incredibly brief and nothing is ever explained. After 200+ pages of what reads like a non-supernatural character study, it was jarring to have something weird show up at basically the end of the book. It’s a shame, because the thirty seconds of “horror” was actually something really cool that I would have liked to see in a story fully dedicated to it, but nope, just a jump scare and it’s gone. And then none of it is explained, there’s nothing tying it all together, it’s just left completely up in the air. Why?

There are so many strings of ‘?????’ in my notes because genuinely have no idea what the point of this book is. I appreciate the conversations it includes about racism, the dismissal of Indigenous women who go missing, complex family dynamics, etc, but I really feel like all of these messages would be much better served in a book that’s supposed to be wholly about them and not trying to also be a horror story. What it ended up feeling like was a book about these things with a brief, underwhelming, underdeveloped-bordering-on-nonsensical horror C-plot tacked on at the end. Maybe I’m missing something critical, but I just do not understand the reasoning behind this book.

Final Thoughts:

Yikes. I’m really disappointed, and wholly confused. Did not have a good time, and won’t be bothering with a hard copy or a backwards glance.

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Thank you to Netgalley for the advanced reader copy.

The writing in this book was unexpectedly gorgeous. The plot seemed a little hazy and dream like at times but the writing was what made me stick to the story. Overall, a nice eerie and haunting read for the fall season.

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Adriana Chartrand needs to keep writing!
I enjoyed this book very much, and found it hard to put down. Very descriptive and I was immersed in this world. I liked how the story unfolded. Would be nice to have a sequel.

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I requested this one because it might be an upcoming title I would like to review on my Youtube Channel. However, after reading the first several chapters I have determined that this book does not suit my tastes. So I decided to DNF this one.

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The unique premise pulled me in, but I really considered DNFing multiple times. The author seems talented (especially in certain descriptions), but the story felt disjointed. I was confused half the time, and the supernatural elements fell flat for me. I was left with more questions than answers at the end.

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Thank you to Netgalley and Spiderline for the e-arc in exchange for my honest review.

The synopsis to this book seemed very intriguing but after starting I found it to be a little slow and the flashbacks were hard to follow. (I have seen other people say the same thing.)

Just because I didn't enjoy it doesn't mean you might! Please give it a try - it just might not have been for me.

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Gorgeous, evocative, chilling... but so bleak. Be sure to have something comforting lined up for after you finish this one!

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Thank you to Netgalley for providing an arc in exchange for an honest review.

I think I may have read this at the wrong time. It's just an incredibly bleak story. And there's nothing wrong with that it just got me a bit low. I really enjoyed the slow build and the aspects of cosmic horror in it as well.

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An Ordinary Violence centers around an indigenous woman named Dawn who currently lives in Toronto. Dawn’s brother Cody was sent to prison seven years ago for a violent crime and Dawn has not spoken to him since. When Dawn’s life is suddenly changed, she is forced to return to her childhood home that harbors a lot of traumatic memories for her.

Soon after Dawn’s arrival Cody is released early from prison. Along with Cody is a new friend who is the leader of a dangerous paranormal network. In hopes of figuring out what the two are up to she follows increasingly sinister leads until the lines between our world and the supernatural, and what's right and wrong begin to blur.

An Ordinary Violence is a slow-burn Lovecraftian horror story. It's a very dark, atmospheric tale that's super creepy. The author is clearly a gifted writer and this story flows with beautiful prose. I loved the family drama elements and the authors explanation on the lasting impact of colonialism on indigenous people. The only issue I had was there are a few mysteries that were never explained. But overall I really enjoyed An Ordinary Violence and I highly recommend it to all horror readers!

An Ordinary Violence will be available on October 31. Many thanks to House of Anansi Press and NetGalley for the gifted copy!

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4.5 I’m going to be thinking about what this book means for a long time. I feel like it would be perfect for a book club. I love how to reaches into Native American thinking and identity subtly. Elements of mystery, family drama, even some horror are found here, but I wouldn’t shelve it under any of those. The writing absolutely pulled me in. It’s beautifully crafted and simultaneously stark. I love it. My brain melted into the story slowly, without meaning to. Very well done. I want to re-read this with others.

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Absolutely loved this book. I couldn’t put it down once I started reading. I especially enjoyed the writing!

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In An Ordinary Violence, Adriana Chartrand crafts hypnotic prose that perfectly match the protagonist's, Dawn, immobility. Throughout the novel, Dawn passes from moment to moment, event to event, slipping backward and forward in time with little fanfare. The plot is submerged in hopelessness and desperation, creating an atmosphere that felt more gothic than strictly (or classically) horror.

Despite the hypnotic, slow-burn movement of the novel, something in the pacing was a bit off, which takes the punch out of some of the revelatory moments. I think this might partially stem from the underdevelopment of the "dangerous supernatural network" from the description. It's there, but what IT is, isn't clear.

Chartrand's prose are the true star of the novel, buoying readers along with Dawn as she observes and tries to make sense of what's going on around her.

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Indigenous horror is quickly becoming a subgenre that I can’t stop reading. This story reminded me of Annihilation and anything by T Kingfisher (terrifying). This answers the question of how well do we know the people who offer to help? What is the result of things that seem too good to be true?

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4.25 stars.

An eerie cosmic horror fever dream! I think this book will do really well once the horror fans get ahold of it. I’m definitely going to purchase a copy. It’s so unsettling and I would HATE the sense of dread and confusion that Dawn is experiencing. The imagery is creepy but not SCARY, it’s all about the icky vibes.

My one regret is not waiting until I had time for a binge read to read this. I was so interested I kept reading it any chance I got in small sittings because I didn’t have a large amount of sit down time - but this would’ve been a perfect one to two sittings read, and it would’ve increased the atmosphere a lot.

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Thank you to NetGalley for providing a review copy.
I wanted to like this book so badly. The synopsis sounded super interesting and the cover is gorgeous. Ultimately, it all fell flat for me. The plot (what plot there is - this book is definitely character driven) moves glacially slowly, meanders, provides glimpses,
meanders some more and never really gets anywhere or has any kind of payoff. Despite the fact that the book is character driven, I finished it feeling that I knew absolutely nothing about these people, and didn't care what happened to them at all.

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First things first: this is a very bleak read. Everything from the plot to the setting is bleak and has an overwhelming miasma of despair.

As the story progresses, the characters and their backgrounds offer more sadness.

However, despite the distinct lack of hope in the story, it’s a good one. The slow build up creates a read that is extremely atmospheric and, as it tiptoes into cosmic horror, surprising.

Overall, I liked the book – even as I didn’t always enjoy it. I think I needed just a hint of lightness somewhere.

• ARC provided by publisher

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This was an excellent book that drew me in from the beginning and kept me wanting to turn the page. It was a slow burner that gets under your skin and stays there through the book. You know something is going on.
My only complaint is I feel the description of the book gives too much away. I would not put in the detail on Tyler and let it unfold as the story progresses

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Chilling and truly fascinating. I can't believe this is a debut! I loved everything about it and will be recommending it highly to readers of horror especially.

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I liked the story and the premise, however, it was a little hard to get through the beginning. Some parts of the story felt forced, specifically, the parts where the narrator was having visions or flashes to her past. I did enjoy the book overall, and I'm very interested to see how this author continues to grow.

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