I think it's already been decided that I'm a Laini Taylor fangirl. I can't help but fall for her gorgeously lush writing. But that said, there's alway...moreI think it's already been decided that I'm a Laini Taylor fangirl. I can't help but fall for her gorgeously lush writing. But that said, there's always a slight worry with me when I pick up something different by an author - what works in longform may not work in short; her prose is gorgeous, but how well would it adapt to novella style? Clearly I needn't have worried. Taylor's writing is as gorgeous as ever, and she packs a lot of punch into stories that are short and sweet - perfectly-sized to devour in one sitting.
Each of the stories has a distinct feel, which is especially nice in a set centering around the same thing (so it doesn't feel like three successive "I just read that"s), but they all flow into one another and work together as a whole. Through the three stories, Taylor gives different sides of the same coin, using the central theme of the power of a kiss to explore very different worlds and characters, and their reasons for - and reactions to - a kiss. My favorite would of the three would probably change on any given day, purely based on mood, because they are all fantastic and memorable. But I think there's something bright and vibrant - and deeply melancholic - about Goblin Fruit that instantly appeals to me. Plus: goblins. (And I've already said how I feel about them.)
Her prose, as always, is evocative and gorgeous, creating elaborate, memorable worlds out of thin air. It is enhanced by the accompanying artwork, which is fricking fantastic. Each story is preceded by a series of illustrations that aren't simply scenes from the story, but rather scenes in addition to the story. Sort of artistic prologues to each of the three novellas; Jim Di Bartolo didn't just illustrate the story, he expanded it. The color palette is great, the whole thing feels very unified and cohesive, and the art, rather than being distracting or tacked-on, really adds a layer. It's an extra little something to pore over and savor, along with the gorgeous writing.
In Jane Greensmith's Intimations of Austen, I've found something that I generally feel lacking from Austen spin-offs and sequels. It's hard to put...more4.5
In Jane Greensmith's Intimations of Austen, I've found something that I generally feel lacking from Austen spin-offs and sequels. It's hard to put my finger on, but it's a pleasurable something. I think it's in the fact that, where many writers strive to "sound like" or feel like Jane -- and fail -- or imitate her characters in a sort of cardboard way, Greensmith chooses instead to give us embellishments on the characters and stories that we love, but in her own style and her own voice. Her stories don't just recycle what Austen wrote, they play off of them and expand them, taking them in new and interesting directions. They are short and sweet little snippets of maybes and what-ifs.
Greensmith often adapts a darker, more somber tone than some may like to see on their beloved Austen, but I think she also shows great insight into the stories, characters, and more importantly, the time and realities of the era. It also seems like her stories are the result of real ponderings, philosophical think-sessions brought on during rereads of Austen; they read like they've been mulled over and considered, not as if they are writing prompts (Imagine Darcy has synesthesia: go!) or challenges to distort Austen and see what comes out. They touch on or answer some of the things I've wondered myself when I reread Austen, or the odd little train-of-thought pieces that crop up and lead you somewhere that you were expecting to go, but maybe always knew you would. You find yourself confronting what-ifs, like what would happen if Darcy had been forced to promise not to propose to Elizabeth, or confronting real possibilities, like how does Fanny trust Edmund's love is real, and does she learn to speak up? Things that I've always asked myself when reading Austen are present in this book in really interesting ways, sometimes sublte with a kicker, and sometimes head-on.
Perhaps one of the things I found most impressive was the little links or overlays within the Austen realm. The twists and plays on one Austen story have implications for another, and this interconnectedness was really enjoyable; there were great "aha" moments. I need someone else to read this, because they are the kinds of things I want to discuss. I am so itching to get spoilery on you, but I absolutely won't do that, because the twists and revelations are what make these stories what they are. But I feel like this would be such a great book to read with fellow Jane-lovers and discuss over tea (or margaritas). [So if any of you read this book and want to have virtual tea/booze time with me...:]
So if you're in the mood for embellishments on the stories you love, I'd say pick this up. At 9 short stories and just over 100 pages, you certainly won't regret the time spent, and I think it will have you thinking long after you close the book.
You never really know what to expect when you go into a collection like this. Well, I mean you know one thingto expect, but as for the quality of the...moreYou never really know what to expect when you go into a collection like this. Well, I mean you know one thing to expect, but as for the quality of the actual storytelling, it's a gamble. Fortunately this was a gamble that paid off, because I found myself consistently surprised with the quality of the stories. Yes, each one revolves around some sort of otherworldly/supernatural (smutty) relationship, but for the most part, it seems like all of the authors chose to focus on layering their stories and injecting as much depth and interestingness to the stories and characters.
A lot of people are put off by short stories, I think (and this used to be true of me) because they don't connect - there's just not enough time, not enough text, and so things end up falling a little flat for them emotionally. Many times a reader will say of a short story, 'It was good but I wish it was full-length' or 'There just wasn't enough' ... they are left unsatisfied, feeling as if they've just begun when it ends. But there are a good number of stories in here that I actually found myself connecting to, sometimes rather quickly, and I have to praise that. One in particular, "Cover him with Darkness" by Janine Ashbless, I found very intriguing and perfectly complete as a short story - I didn't want anything else from it. I just thought it was really well done, well-suited to the format, and intriguing. The same is true of "Painted" by Anna Meadows and "Dolly" by Charlotte Stein. All 3 of these stories are completely different with a different feel, but they all had a completeness to them, and a story I loved following.
One other thing I found interesting and a little unexpected was that the stories that most appealed to me and felt the most interesting and complete (and the least cheesy) were the ones that didn't have to do with vampires or weres. It's not necessarily that the vamp/were stories were bad, necessarily, but with few exceptions, I found myself caring about them less. I did really enjoy editor Mitzi Szereto's "The Blood Moon Kiss" which is one of the vamp stories, and is a fun, somewhat tongue in cheek take on vampire culture and a certain popular television show. But the standouts for me were the unexpected ones: artworks come to life, little wax voodoo dolls that could have been very creepy but were somehow sweet, fallen angels or gods or god-knows-what - there was a nice spread of creativity and world-building throughout the collection that I really appreciated.
The only real drawbacks for me were just things that aren't to my taste. Romances and dynamics that just don't appeal to me. (I'm sorry, but I am just not a fan of complete submission, of anyone, to anyone. Collars and cages - aaaand I'm out.) But this I think was actually probably a good thing in its own way because it shows that there really is a little something for everyone.
I think the foreward from Kelley Armstrong (yes, that Kelley Armstrong) was a nice surprise that really seemed to get at the heart of the collection and the somewhat gothic feel of the whole thing. These stories are about atmosphere and Otherness, and amping up the latant sexual tension of the gothic classics into something more palpable. Really well done.
[Side note: If you're wondering if you want to venture to read a book labeled 'paranormal erotica romance', I would employ the cock-test I used in my review of and Falling, Fly sometime back: how do you feel about the word 'cock'? If you just cringed, skip this. If you sat up straighter and said 'where?' go out and grab a copy.](less)
3.5, sometimes a 4, if I'm in the mood. It really is a cute little book, and the writing is much better than I thought it'd be. This is the closest I'...more3.5, sometimes a 4, if I'm in the mood. It really is a cute little book, and the writing is much better than I thought it'd be. This is the closest I've ever come to a bodice-ripper.(less)