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Preview — Under the Poppy by Kathe Koja
Under the Poppy (Under the Poppy #1)
Under the Poppy is a brothel owned by Decca and Rupert. Decca is in love with Rupert but he in turn is in love with her brother, Istvan. When Istvan comes to town, louche puppet troupe in tow,...more
It's the 1870s, and Brussells' hottest brothel is Under the Poppy. Club owners Decca and Rupert have though of everything: opium-addicted whores on swings, rent boys in costume, mute piano players, unrequited gay love, horny Gepettos...
I'm sorry, Stefon, horny Gepettos?
You know that thing where a master puppeteer uses his skills to create puppets so lifelike that a prostitute can't tell they aren't ...more
First, the book received some acclaim (and even an award) because it deals with homosexual love, but I feel that the book only lightly touches upon this because the author is not comfortable enough (or brav ...more
Whore. This is the most used word in this book. It's used casually. It's used with a wink. It's supposed to make the book edgy. It fails.
Recently, this is one of my most hated words, and it makes me hate books which use it so casually. Especially - I'm sorry - if the author is a woman and employs it in the narration. Seriously, it's counterproductive. It's lazy, callous, and traitoro ...more
The rhythm and tone is stunning. The characters are delightful. I was even prepared to love the book regardless of the ending, but the ending was fabulous.
It's a thick read, though. This is not a fluffy book.
(I know ...more
How did I even end up with this book? Do you know what it’s about? Puppets. Puppets! Fucking puppets man. I hate puppets. The creep me the hell out. And ‘Under the Poppy’ is just crammed full of them. In the literal sense, in that there is traveling genius puppeteer Istvan who has created and stolen a whole troupe of puppets with which he performs well received (and oft times risqué) shows all across 1800s Europe. But also in the metaphorical se ...more
Under the Poppy is a wonderfully beautiful, dark, lush neo-Victorian novel set during the 1870s. First, in a brothel, and then in Brussels. We meet the owners of the brothel Under the Poppy: Decca and Rupert, and then Decca's half-brother Istvan shows up. Istvan is a fantastic character, fo ...more
Under the Poppy is a mesmerizing, dark and erotic historical novel for adults. It's almost like a decadent dream that lingers somewhere between fantasy and reality. Once you start to read this novel and surrender yourself to its world, you're instantly hooked by the story.
There are several different elements in this novel. In my opinion Under the Poppy is an unforgettable story about love, unrequited love, lust, lovers, romance, friends, sex, eroticism, desir ...more
I didn't really expect to. To be honest, love triangles and brothels, I dunno, it sounded like something that could get on my bad side pretty qui ...more
Looking around on GoodReads it's clear that this book evokes strong reactions both ways in many people. And I too am riven by indecision about it. The writing is absolutely exquisite; Koja is a mistress of the evocative phrase, the perfect description. It's a delight to read her prose. This delight may be the only thing that got me through the whole book, and even then I skimmed ...more
Kathe Koja has been doing this for twenty years now. Actually, a little more; her first novel, The Cipher, kicked off Dell's ill-fated, but brilliant, horror line Abyss. If I remember correctly, it was published in April 1991. Yes, I'm a big enough fan to be reasonably certain about that. The Cipher was unlike anything I'd read before, a perfect blend of horror, surrealism, and existentialism I came to call “horror-of-absence”, for lack of a mo ...more
I am another reader who usually sticks to science fiction and fantasy. This is neither, apart from being set in a world/place/time that is not quite ours.
First, be aware that it's densely written and a slow read. That's not to say it isn't well written, There are some hundred-word sentences with not one word that doesn't belong. And only very rarely did I wonder if Koja was thinking "Look what a clever writer I am."
The writing perhaps mirrors the ...more
I've re-read this book more times than I can count. It's one of those books where you find new meaning and insight with each read. I find myself feeling sympathy with characters (Decca, Benjamin) that I used ...more
It will get one more try. Third time has been the charm with several books that have turned out to be treasured favorites. But something m ...more
As with all her other work, Koja explored the complexities that arise at intersections of power, sex and emotion deftly while littering her text with adjectives in a way that leaves a close reader stated but not overwhelmed. The characters are wonderfully dark, secure in themselves and their actions and proceed towards what ...more
Under the Poppy is about the characters that toil in a brothel in 1870's France. There is Rupert, a mysterious, tough-as-nails former vagabond that manages the Poppy's affairs. Istvan, a master puppeteer that makes his puppets seem to come to life on their own, and Decca, the second-in-charge who sees to the finances and other details of the Poppy's business. There is also a colorful cast of prostitutes, stagehands, and customers who ...more
Final Verdict: 3.75 out of 4.0
4 – Plot/Story is interesting/believable and impactful
If you can imagine a marriage between the coy, tongue-in-cheek, clever mysteries of Agatha Christie and the melancholic, whimsical, romantic lyricism of Shakespeare, then perhaps you have an understanding of what Kathe Koja has created with Under the Poppy. The place is 1870s Brussels, amidst what one assumes is the beginnings of the Franco-Prussian War (at least, thi ...more
Koja is also a prolific author of short stories, including many in collaboration with Barry N. Malzberg. Most of her short fiction remains uncollected. Koja's novels and short stories frequently concern characters ...more