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My Brother's Keeper

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My Brother’s Keeper is the eleventh stand-alone novel by award-winning American author, Tim Powers. In March of 1846, aspiring author, Emily Bronte is walking with her big mastiff, Keeper on the Yorkshire moors when she encounters a seriously injured man. He seems to know of her father, the curate at Haworth, and insists he doesn’t need her help, which turns out to be so.

She later learns that he is one of the Huberti, a French Catholic cult intent on stopping the predation of lycanthropes in the North country, and has just killed a regent werewolf. After this, her widowed father, Patrick reveals some shocking facts about the family’s history with these creatures.

It's perhaps an interesting idea, to take all the known facts about a famous nineteenth Century literary family and entwine into their lives werewolves, ghosts (of people and dogs), a pagan goddess, rituals, men who wear eye parches and carry parallel-bladed dioscuri knife, an entity that takes form using crows, a devil’s head, and something nasty in under an inscribed slab in the church.

The story is told from multiple perspectives: mostly Emily’s, and her brother Branwell’s, with some contributions from members of the Obliques, and Keeper the dog. Powers depicts Branwell as a thoroughly weak and dissolute character, devoid of literary talent, selfish and easily tempted by the promise of importance, while Emily is smart, feisty and resourceful.

Powers probably really enjoyed the irony of having Branwell telling Emily: “I’m not like you -- I ache at anonymity, insignificance! Oh, I’m sorry, but -- you’re content with the fact that a hundred years after you die, nobody will remember Emily Brontë. Or Anne, or Charlotte ... But I wanted to live on, I hoped even physically! -- for a hundred years, more, and have influence, power, respect.” Powers does manage to give readers a reason for the scarcity of further completed works by the sisters, and a mechanism explaining the early death of three of the siblings.

Would the story have the same draw without the Bronte name so liberally scattered throughout? Is it better that all those tropes on the Pride and Prejudice and Zombies bandwagon? Hard to say if you haven’t actually read any of those. It has a decent plot, with plenty of drama and action at the climax, so lovers of fantasy and the supernatural might enjoy it, but I think Bronte lovers are less likely to.
This unbiased review is from an uncorrected proof copy provided by NetGalley and Head of Zeus.

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Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for my copy of this arc

I really wanted to love this book more than I did unfortunately. It wasn’t what I expected and I expected more from it. I would definitely give this author another go though

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The first time I ever read Jane Eyre, I was enamoured. And despite this, much to my own fault, I have never bothered to pick up Wuthering Heights, even knowing there’s a good chance I’d love it. I will remedy this eventually but I think this shortcoming and my lack of knowledge about the life of the Brontës may have been to my detriment while reading My Brother’s Keeper.

I enjoyed the various traditional gothic elements and even the more outlandish werewolf tropes but I feel like I may have missed the depth of who Emily is as a character. And while I love a gothic read, this lost some of its magic by trying to emulate traditional gothic when the elements that worked best were the soul-sucking ghosts and the incorporation of pagan mythology.

Recommended for readers who like a bit of fantastical chaos with their historical retellings or haunting werewolf horrors as there were some great body-horror descriptions.

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My Brothers Keeper by Tim Powers. I don’t know what fever dream I was in when I read the blurb of this but I must totally have blacked out. The Brontë sisters have to do a series of mad shit to stop their brother being turned into a werewolf. Told you I must have blacked out. I hate fantasy but I weirdly loved this. Emily is just stomping round the moors with her dog, doing bad girl shit. It’s an insane story but I think it’s brilliant and the lore is really captivating and I could follow what was going on. The characters were mad but brilliant and the big conclusion was literally fever dream inducing. My take away from this I have literally no idea what I was thinking.

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As Victorian Studies graduate, I was expecting a lot from this novel. Unfortunately, I was disappointed. It is a supernatural, werewolf story with Brontë sisters dragged into it. I felt like a famous name/setting was used to promote a weak book.

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Le tenía algo perdida la pista a Tim Powers, pero cuando vi que en My Brother’s Keeper volvía a la “historia secreta”, un subgénero en el que creo que se encuadran sus mejores obras, no lo iba a dejar escapar.

Partiendo de la base de que no conozco la vida de las hermanas Brontë, pero sí algo de su obra, pensé que el punto de partida era muy bueno al iniciar la lectura. Y no se puede negar que el autor de Buffalo ha llevado a cabo una exhaustiva labor de investigación para aprovechar los sucesos que se conocen de la familia y explicarlos con un toque sobrenatural, pero quizá el propio desarrollo de su vida, prácticamente recluidas en su casa, hace que los escenarios y algunas de las situaciones se tornen repetitivas.

También resulta un cambio interesante que el enemigo al que se enfrentan en esta ocasión los protagonistas de la historia no sean lamias o vampiros, como en muchas otras obras del autor ( Hide Me Among the Graves sin tener que remontarnos mucho) si no hombres lobo. Aunque al final no tiene tanta importancia el oponente, más bien nos atrae la forma de enfrentarse a él y los sacrificios que habrán de llevar a cabo para librar a la tierra de su yugo.

El personaje de Branwell, el hermano menos conocido de las Brontë, resulta insoportable. Es cargante, obsesionado consigo mismo, egoísta y toda otra serie de epítetos, el causante de gran parte de los males que asolarán a su familia. No obstante, Powers refleja muy bien lo que es el amor fraternal mostrando los extremos a los que es capaz de llegar Emily para salvar su alma, ya que su cuerpo poca salvación tenía ya.

La coherencia y la lógica interna del libro requiere de la complicidad del lector, ya que el escritor estadounidense aúna tradiciones paganas con ritos cristianos y protestantes, sobre todo haciendo uso de esa sabiduría popular que protege del mal de ojo y de los espíritus fantasmales, deviniendo en una serie de rituales cotidianos de los que no se habla, pero que nadie se salta.

En general, My Brother’s Keeper no alcanza el nivel de las mejores obras de Powers, siendo menos ambiciosa y redonda, pero no deja de ser una novela escrito con oficio y entretenida.

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A brilliantly dark and vengeful gothic twist on the Bronte family, I absolutely loved this! A real page turner with a fast paced and exciting plot that kept me up reading all night, with great world building and fabulous character descriptions - I could really picture what Tim Powers was describing.
A great read that I would definitely recommend picking up!

Thank you to Net Galley and the publisher for the eARC

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My Brother’s Keeper follows the Brontë sisters with a unique twist of fantasy and supernatural. Go into this book with an open mind and I believe you will enjoy it! Very well written and very clever - will not be for everyone but then isn’t that the case with most books?!

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So not quite what I was expecting when I requested this book. How to describe it…possibly Brontë’s on crack maybe. So I was expecting dark moors and a gothic story which I certainly got in spades. I loved the nods to the stories that the sisters and Branwell made up as children and the descriptions of their lives in the rectory but I wasn’t expecting the fantasy element and I love a decent werewolf story. A interesting fantasy but not sure if it needed to be based on the Brontë family. You’ll have to read it yourself to decide. Many thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the ARC of this novel in return for an honest review

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A page turning fantasy romp based around the Bronte family in Haworth - father Reverend Patrick, his wayward son Branwell, and his three daughters who would go on to become famous authors: Charlotte, Emily and Anne. If you discount the fact that it plays ridiculously fast and loose with the truth (think werewolves, ghosts, secret pagan societies and a beheaded corpse under a slab in Haworth church that wants to reunite with its head) it's an interesting read if sci fi and fantasy are your kind of thing. Just don't expect to learn anything new about the Bronte Sisters.

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Tim Power is master of fantasy and a couple of his books are in my top ten ten. That said I knew I wasn’t going to rad a book about historical Bronte sisters but a mix of alt history, horror and fantasy.
Even if it’s not the best book by this author it was an entertaining story that kept me hooked.
The storytelling is as good as usual, the characters are a bit weak.
Entertaining and intriguing
Many thanks to the publisher, all opinions are mine

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Was very excited to receive a copy of this wonderfully gothic, chilling and unexpected retelling of the Brontë family! I loved the intense atmospheric writing that entwined fantasy and horror and kept me hooked!
An extremely well written and clever story but be prepared and don't expect this to be a close to reality retelling of their lives because this story really has .. bite .. and is full of twists, turns and werewolves. I was fascinated by the characters created and wasn't at all phased be the fact that the literary works of the Brontë family were, although mentioned, not a priority in the story .. it was an interesting and completely wild story that I am sure lovers of gothic fiction with a fantasy element will love!

I have to confess I did find it a little slow in places but pushed through those bits and focused on the story overall!

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Being a Bronte fan this book appealed to me but although I've attempted to get through this I'm afraid I'm going to give up. I'm sure it will appeal to many but it missed with me.
Thanks to Netgalley & the publisher for letting me try to read this book.

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I was looking forward to reading this fantasy novel because it was follows the Brontë sisters but really struggled with it throughout. Personally for me it was a hard read and very complicated. I couldn’t keep up with the characters and what was happening.

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So beyond excited to be hosting one of the last stops on the ‘My Brother’s Keeper’ Bookstagram tour! Over the last month, some AMAZING accounts have been featuring this beautiful title by Tim Powers and now it’s finally my turn.

This book screams half-spooky Halloween vibes so is the PERFECT read for this time of year. It’s cozy but a little unsettling while still being a thrilling story.

Powers takes the much loved Brontë sisters and turns them into incredible, unique, and individual characters that all service the story in their own right.

An incredibly thrilling read, you’ll LOVE every minute of this action-packed mystery, with a touch of Brontë warmth.

Many thanks to @headofzeus for providing me with a review copy and for facilitating this amazing tour! Check out my Instagram story to see which other accounts My Brother’s Keeper has stopped at!

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I love authors that risk weird combinations so juxtapositions of strange creatures and real people/ events are right up my street. Here we have Howarth in 1846 and the Brontë family, before their literary fame. Living in a parsonage on the edge of the moor is a widowed rector, his three daughters and their brother Branwell. This is a time before their literary success, for now they are unknown and simply scribbling stories for each other and their strange imaginary world. Sadly, in just a few years they’ll be dead and they’ll be known all over the world. The author imagines a chance encounter between a wounded man on the moor and Emily, the middle Brontë sister.

The author has created a great atmosphere and uses the real life setting of the moors to his advantage. The misty moors create a perfect background for this pagan story where a dark secret is haunting the this family and the countryside around their home. Branwell has always been the difficult brother, dissolute and rather embarrassing to the family rector. What he doesn’t know is that there is something lurking in the Brontë bloodline, something that puts them at risk, body and soul.

For years, Patrick has been keeping his family safe from a pagan curse and something terrible that’s buried in the church, under a stone slab. The man, called Alcuin Curzon, is the catalyst for the siblings to learn about their family inheritance, the darkness in their bloodline. There is also a devilish cult, using magic and lycanthropy to further their terrible aims! I loved this magical gothic element, but it was balanced with some real life evil aims too. I also loved Emily’s part in the novel. The author depicted her as Branwell’s main helper (or keeper perhaps) and she copes well the ghosts, the fairy world and the werewolves. Having been depicted as the weak, sickly sister in a lot of novels it was great to see her being more active and the person her brother depends on. She does have help from the addition of her bull mastiff, Keeper.

The only drawback to this novel, for some readers, might be the combination of the Brontë family and all this magical stuff. However, I happily suspended my disbelief and waded in. The different elements were well combined by the author, even if the odd action sequence raised the eyebrows a little. In between there was a lovely contemplative feel and an epilogue that brought a lump to the throat too. All in all an unexpected novel that really shakes up the quiet, Victorian Brontë household. It’s a household that a lot of readers will be familiar with and the author plays on that familiarity to create surprise and elicit a wry smile from the reader.

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This book wasn’t at all what I was expecting and took me out of my comfort zone into the realms of fantasy. I’d been drawn to the book by the lure of the Yorkshire Moors, Haworth and The Brontës, and the book certainly captured the essence of Yorkshire and the Moors, providing a perfect background for this gothic tale. If you enjoy fantasies full of werewolves and strange religious cults then this book certainly delivers.
Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an e-arc in exchange for a review.

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Bronte meets the supernatural was the premise of this book and sadly it didn't live up to my expectations as the characters fell flat for me and it didn't work overall. I've read other reviewers who enjoyed it however, so give it a go.

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A Widowed Parson lives on the moors with his 3 daughters and a son. The name may be familiar, Bronte...

This is a story before they were authors and when one of the sisters comes across a fatally injured man on the moors, she opens the doors to a sinister family secret with blood pacts, ancestral mistakes, spirits and werewolves....

I loved the idea of this book but the execution felt a bit lacking and the story had me intrigued but now dying to know more. Ultimately a good story and the darker themes fit very well into the creepy moor setting that we know from this time

Thanks to Head of Zeus for the early copy of this book, all options are my own

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A widowed preacher and his family, including three daughters and their promiscuous brother Bramwell, reside in a parsonage on the moors' edge. Even though Charlotte, Emily, and Anne will be celebrated in the future, they are currently unknown, their future brilliance hidden. They will all pass away in a matter of years, and it will be middle sister Emily's coincidental encounter with a severely injured man on the moor that puts them on the road to their doom. There is a dreadful secret buried beneath a monument in the church, a dark legacy in the family Brontë tree, and an old pagan secret that stalks the moors. Their very souls are on the line in addition to their lives.

My Brother’s Keeper attempts to do what many writers have done, put a supernatural spin on timeless classics with the likes of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and like that, My Brother’s Keeper is just as bizarre. From werewolves on the Yorkshire moors to demonic possession, there is a lot going on in this book but unfortunately, the different plots fall short of making it a compelling yet peculiar read.

Tim Powers' other books have a similar take by including a famous historical figure and adding them into a world filled with the supernatural. As someone who isn’t all too familiar with the Brontë’s, this book could have been an interesting take, but fell short of any sort of promise. Had the book been written from another perspective, maybe Bramwell as he entangled his family with demonic entities it could have been different, but Powers struggles to find any real identity to the characters. Had they not been based on real historical figures; I doubt it would have made much of a difference.

One of the main issues of My Brother’s Keeper is that there is no real voice for each of the characters, they all blend into one another and with the author coming in and out of different times in the characters lives, it can be difficult to get into the rhythm of the book. When there is some promise of an intriguing plot, the author adds another memory or discussion that feels more like a school project than a seasoned author.

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