Here are the other books I read in 2017, some real winners here.
The Elementals, by Michael McDowell. Avon books 1981.
The Elementals are weird...things that inhabit some beach houses in the south. They've been linked to a well-off family for generations and they move in the sand. Inevitably the well-off family returns to their haunted summer home. Why? They just do. Which makes perfect sense in this slow-burner. The local charms color the novel in a great way that keeps the pages turning while the dread mounts.
The Ruins, by Scott Smith. Alfred A. Knopf 2006
The Ruins, like the Elementals, was listed by...some website as one of the top 100 horror novels. It didn't disappoint like the movie adaptation did. The monster vines that inhabit an ancient...Aztec? Mayan? ruin are frightening, but the flawed characters that are trapped are the real delight. Facing the monsters, we are truthful with ourselves, and this yarn by Scott Smith is no exception. These characters are just bad enough for you to pass up on them as irl friends, but not bad enough to cheer for their horrible and apparently eminent deaths. No boringly black and white characters here, just red-blooded humans, which is certainly verified once the vines start snacking.
The Clan of the Cave Bear, by Jean Auel. Bantam 1980
Jean Auel's classic tale of a human woman raised by neanderthals is best for its setting, though the main character certainly stands on her own. The prose on the other hand leaves on wanting. Part of the problem is justified in the neanderthals form of sign-language communication, in which telling is necessary over showing. Still, the prose was merely a means to an end, and not good enough to be transparent. The overall arc of the story too wasn't fantastic, but I did enjoy spending time with a group of neanderthals raising a human girl, and I have thought about reading the sequel from time to time when that nostalgia kicks in. If you like strong-female protagonists and/or mammoth hunts, this could be for you.
Europe at Midnight, by Dave Hutchinson. Solaris 2015
The universe traveling story continues with the same gloomy characters and gleaming prose (though perhaps not quite as spectacular as in the first volume). Book 2 of this series also suffers from a set of expectations, whereas in the first book one of the pleasures was to try to figure out what the heck is going on. Actually, there's plenty of that in this volume as well, perhaps too much, as a good, thick multi-verse is fleshed out for the rest of the series. Perhaps I felt the growing pains reading this one, still I find the series an exciting and unique read. Unfortunately I don't read books quick enough or in this case, close enough together to really remember the intricacies of what is going on. Still, I plan on re-visiting the dystopian societies for more eccentric adventures...someday.