I liked Finding the Lost much more than I liked Burning Alive. I obtained a much better sense of the world and the storyline, which is expected. MoreI liked Finding the Lost much more than I liked Burning Alive. I obtained a much better sense of the world and the storyline, which is expected. More importantly, I felt a much greater connection to Andra and Paul. I admit a big part of my problem with the first book was the way a death of a character I really fell in love with was handled. But I honestly think it's also due to the fact that the author feels more comfortable with her storyline in this book, and the romance and the overall storyline are better integrated. I think the sexy/sensual elements were very well done, hot but romantic. I definitely felt the chemistry and the connection between Paul and Andra, despite the short time frame.
Andra and Paul were for the most part likable characters. Andra is tough and strong, but she isn't too hardheaded to be sympathetic. She's definitely a good match for Paul, even though she fought it more than I liked. I did get frustrated with how Andra seemed to reject her bond with Paul, but I could also understand why she couldn't give it the focus it deserved. So much of her life was about helping her sister, and finding lost children, because she couldn't let go of the guilt of her self-attributed failure to protect her sisters when they were attacked by the Senestryn. She carried that guilt like a weight on her shoulders that affected everything. Honestly believing she didn't deserve any happiness for her own outside of seeing her remaining sister, Nika, alive and well. So when she kept dissing Paul, I would feel upset with her, but I understood why. Also, I realized that it was due to Paul's unwillingness to be honest with Andra about how crucial their bond was to his well-being and life. He didn't want to put that pressure on her, and he had been rejected in the past by a bondmate, so he was sensitive to rejection and insecure about a woman wanting to stay with him as his bondmate. I got pretty frustrated with him for being so reticent about his vital situation. Maybe if he had been more honest, Andra wouldn't have made those stupid bargains to wear his Luceria for such a short time. That annoyed me, but I realize the problem wasn't just with Andra. She really didn't understand what she was doing to Paul by setting those short bargains.
As far as the action/suspense elements, I really liked them, but I felt that the story lost some cohesiveness towards the end, with some anticlimatic aspects that lessened the intensity of the storyline. It didn't ruin the story for me, but it didn't resolve as strong as it started in that regard. Overall, I am developing a strong connection to this story and series that I didn't feel with the first book. I can see why my sister is so enamored of this series now.
I admit a huge part of my liking for this story is the ancillary characters, such as Logan, Madoc, Nika, and Tynan, the other healer who helped Nika at the Sentinels home base. I have to say that Ms. Butcher writes heroes very well. They are very appealing, and strong, sexy, and I felt a lot of sympathy for their plight. I loved Paul and I thought he was a nice mix of alpha and beta, very endearing and sexy in his willingness to take care of Andra, and his honorable nature. However, I feel like I am going to love Madoc even more. He's definitely the tortured, edgy, scary type hero that I loved. I think his book with Nika is going to be very good indeed. I'm honestly looking forward to all the forthcoming books, and I especially want to read more about the Sanguinar people, because I find them very alluring and interesting.
I still have some questions about some aspects of this series, but I feel that reading the subsequent books will enlighten me about those. I have to say that I am glad I kept reading this series. I still feel grief about what happened in the first book, but I think I am at the stage where I can keep reading without that ruining the series for me. Happily, I can give this book four stars....more
This review is hard to write. Not because I can't think of enough wonderful things to say about this book, but because there are so many things I loveThis review is hard to write. Not because I can't think of enough wonderful things to say about this book, but because there are so many things I loved about it. I am very glad that I had the experience of listening to this book on audio. Hearing Mr. Gaiman read it is icing on the scrumptious cake. He has a beautifully expressive, soothing, and emotive voice. He wrote it, so he has the advantage of knowing exactly what emphasis to put on the different lines and passages, and how he wants the various parts read.
I had never read Neil Gaiman before this year, and it has been my pleasure to discover him. He is a wonderful fantasist, blessed with the understanding of the joy and the awe that fantasy inspires in a reader. In this case, he manages to take a very dark subject, death, and give it a sense of whimsy and beauty.
The idea of an orphan growing up in a graveyard seems morbid, however this book doesn't read that way at all (except perhaps the parts with the ghouls, but that was on purpose). Instead of reading about a lonely, abandoned child stuck in a place of death, I felt the warm, loving way the graveyard and its denizens adopted the orphaned toddler, raising him into a lovely young man. I felt as though I grew to know all the folks in the graveyard, as if they were members of a large, eccentric family. I loved how Mr. Gaiman would introduce a new ghost by what his/her tombstone said. It was just the right touch. This and the abundant personality of the ghosts helped me to avoid descending into sadness at the realization that these were all departed folks lingering on the mortal plane. It felt natural to me. That takes talent.
Similarly the whole idea of a murderer looking for an innocent child to finish what he'd started so many years ago could have been excessively dark. It was dark, but the darkness doesn't overwhelm this story, not knowing that the Bod is far from alone in the world. He has a strong wall of protection around him, in the forms of his ghostly family, his guardian Silas, his sometimes babysitter Ms. Lupesco, and the graveyard itself. And Bod grows into a young boy/man with quite a good head on his shoulders, a good heart, and one who is resourceful enough to deal with his very evil pursuer(s), and to learn from his missteps in the complicated world of the living.
I truly love this book. The mood, the story, the writing, and the narrator. It will definitely go on my favorites shelf. I think I shall have to get me a paper copy, because this is definitely one for a reread.
This second volume in the Hellboy series is menacing and intensely creepy. People familiar with the first film by Guillermo Del Toro about Hellboy wilThis second volume in the Hellboy series is menacing and intensely creepy. People familiar with the first film by Guillermo Del Toro about Hellboy will recognize some elements of the story, but a good bit of the story was also adapted to the animated film "Blood and Iron." I think that as dark as both film adaptations are, the source material is moreso.
Hellboy managed to overcome his origins through sheer force of his self-determined will in Volume 1, Hellboy, Vol. 1: Seed of Destruction. He is challenged yet again, because forces of evil want him to take his role as the bringer of the apocalypse. Back to cause more trouble is the spirit of Rasputin and his cadre of Nazi devotees. In this volume, their plan is to gain control of the remains of notorious vampire Vladimir Giurescu and use his vampiric nature to create a super-army to help bring on Ragnarok. Rasputin has a grander final plan in mind that gets his group even closer to the desired end-time apocalypse. When Giurescu's remains are stolen from a museum in New York after the murder of its curator (a man with past Nazi connections), The Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense sends small teams in various directions to investigate and eliminate this threat, with tragic results.
Mignola mixes in a surprising amount of folklore and mythological traditions, from Eastern European vampire lore, to the Greek mythology of Hecate, not to mention some Russian origin Baga Yaga elements. It works very well. Let's not forget a bit of Lovecraft thrown in. I can tell you my stomach was fluttering as I read this story. There is something deeply creepy about the characters who truly believe in their dark plans for humanity and the world, that they would have so many followers who fully ascribed to such perverse beliefs. While intellectually we know that Hellboy is practically invincible, the triumph of good does not feel like a guarantee.
The artwork is beautiful as always, the colors mainly confined to a mix of red, tan, black, and gray. It might seem monochromatic, but it works very well for this book. There is an appreciated harmony between the script and dialogue and the artwork, making for excellent storytelling.
While I found this graphic novel very unnerving, I can't deny its brilliance. Dark folklore with a good dose of horror, classic and cosmic in a congruous final product makes for an appealing graphic novel for fans of these genres.
If you've watched the Hellboy movies, I highly recommend checking out the graphic novels....more
Baltimore, or, The Steadfast Tin Soldier and the Vampire uses the story within a story narrative very successfully. Three of Lord Baltimore's close acBaltimore, or, The Steadfast Tin Soldier and the Vampire uses the story within a story narrative very successfully. Three of Lord Baltimore's close acquaintances, Doctor Rose, Demetrius Aischros, and Childress all meet at a pub, awaiting Baltimore. They each tell their story about how they came to meet Baltimore and when they became aware of the unnatural evil that exists in the world around them. Interspersed is the narrative about how Henry, Lord Baltimore, came to be the formidable vampire hunter who is nearly as frightening as the creatures he hunts.
As a huge fan of Victorian horror and ghost stories, I enjoyed the narrative device, which reminded me of MR James's ghost stories and William Hope Hodgson's Carnacki tales. Except this is a lot darker in content. Baltimore is a hero who lives in the dark, on the edge of despair, with everything he loved having been destroyed by the same vampires he hunts. He is definitely a tragic figure, seething with anger and rage. Yet, he's still sympathetic, which is a feeling underlined by the fact that three of the narrators are men who are still loyal to him, despite having seen him at his worst. For all his rough edges, he is definitely needed in this world in which the Red King continues to afflict his deadly plague on humanity, and his minions go from town to town, spreading destruction.
The stories that each of the men told were creepy and disturbing, a melange of weirdness and horror, with a vintage feel. They have an air of dark nightmares, in which you question the reality. However, you know that it happened, because that is why these men are meeting together. They are survivors of those nightmares, and in different ways beholden or loyal to Baltimore. Each character is distinctive, their narrative fitting their personality and worldview.
As the name indicates, the story pays homage to the Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale, The Steadfast Tin Soldier. Baltimore saw himself as that soldier. A man who had a loving family and a loving wife when he left home to fight in the Great War, but lost everything. He is that soldier moved around a battlefield by an indifferent creator, who feels nothing for his suffering. Like the soldier, his beloved is forever denied to him, but still he fights. This allusion is achingly poignant and beautiful, a needed element in this story of unrelenting darkness and despair. That is not to say that good does not conquer, but the cost is extremely high for those who fight on the side of the light.
Baltimore, in the end, was a good book. Mignola illustrates it with his woodcut/engraving-styled, black and white drawings. They add somewhat to the narrative, but they are so stylized, it's not the same as a graphic novel, in which the illustrations help to tell the story. However, they bring to mind the woodcuts you might see in a Fairy Tale collection, such as Andrew Lang's fairy books. I could see that as a deliberate choice on Mignola's part. One of the other things I really appreciate about this collaboration is that you cannot tell which author is writing which part. It's a seamless finished product, demonstrating much appreciated creative harmony between Mignola and Golden.
Once again, I'm glad I was able to get this from my library, since these kinds of books are too pricy for my budget. It's definitely worth reading, especially for fans of the above authors and those who enjoy classic horror literature and fairy tales. Although it's dark reading, it was imaginative and involving. I'd recommend it.