Kuroshitsuji, or Black Butler, is composed of one part serious historical fiction, one part supernatural horror, one part fanservice, and five parts u...moreKuroshitsuji, or Black Butler, is composed of one part serious historical fiction, one part supernatural horror, one part fanservice, and five parts uncut crack.
Twelve-year-old Ciel Phantomhive is the last of his line, and the Earl of Phantomhive, following the death of his parents in the fire that claimed the family mansion. He lives alone, but for his servants: one whom doesn't do much of anything, three whom fail at everything they attempt, and the titular butler, Sebastian. In his own words, Sebastian is "one hell of a butler."
Literally. Sebastian is a demon, contracted to Ciel to serve him until Ciel meets his goal: the death of all who conspired to kidnap him and murder his family. Until that time, Sebastian is happy to serve his master in any manner required, whether it be shining the tea service, hunting down murder suspects, or ever-so-politely eliminating all threats to Ciel...other than himself.
The art can be gorgeous, even if it occasionally descends into chibi, the relationship between Sebastian and Ciel is a beautiful study of loyalty and sadism in equal measures, and the plots careen wildly between deadly serious (like a Jack the Ripper arc) and dreadfully frivolous (pretty much anything to do with Ciel's cousin/fiancée, Elizabeth), and occasionally both at the same time.
If you don't mind mental whiplash and a few gratuitous art pieces of Ciel and Sebastian in...suggestive poses and attire, this is definitely a series worth trying.(less)
Jack is back, and there's nothing like almost killing your best friend to screw your head back on straight. Since there's no shortage of people waitin...moreJack is back, and there's nothing like almost killing your best friend to screw your head back on straight. Since there's no shortage of people waiting to unscrew it again, though, it doesn't stay straight for long.
Being the twelfth book in a series that's been running since the mid-nineties, it's hard to remember that all the events have taken place in just over a year—that's not a lot of time to go from being a live reporter to an undead nightclub owner and stand-in mob boss—and the author spends some time reflecting on Jack's changes in this book.
This would have been a four-star review, but for the change in storytelling. It's not the first time the author's juggled perspective, but the mixture of Jack's first-person voice and Kroun's third-person threw me a little.
All I can add is that my love for Charles Escott grows with every passing novel.(less)
While the writing is perfectly lovely, the message is rather skewed.
Borrowing against the method of Scheherazade, Keturah, lost and dying in the fore...moreWhile the writing is perfectly lovely, the message is rather skewed.
Borrowing against the method of Scheherazade, Keturah, lost and dying in the forest, bargains with Lord Death for another day via an unfinished story of how a girl found her true love. As the girl in the story was, in fact, Keturah, she is granted twenty-four hours to find her love, at which time her life would be spared, or else she would have to accept her death. She is also warned of an upcoming disaster to her village.
Returning with these weighty matters on her mind, she promptly...worries about baking pies to win the heart of someone she doesn't much care for, and half-heartedly tries to speak to the local lord's son about the prospect of plague.
Her grandmother and two friends stick by her as the rest of the small English village begins to shun Keturah for her weirdness and possible association with fairies or worse, and they serve as examples of love in different forms, with the friends firmly denying that they love the men that they—very obviously—love. These lessons are important for the ending, as Keturah confesses the love she's denied herself, but her conduct to that point is questionable.
She bullies someone who loves her into making greater and greater sacrifices on her behalf and she willfully leads on someone she has no interest in. She wants to save her village, but she has no qualms about breaking hearts. In spite of her pain at being virtually outcast by the people she's trying to help, she fears and avoids the strange woman who helped her.
All that aside, the one thing that bothered me more than anything else: I could see the ending telegraphed from the very start. I knew how it was going to end, although I read in hopes that I'd be mistaken. I wasn't.
Chicago, 1936. Jack Fleming wakes up dead and can't remember how he got that way.
A fun homage to the hardboiled novels of the era, fast-paced, fun, an...moreChicago, 1936. Jack Fleming wakes up dead and can't remember how he got that way.
A fun homage to the hardboiled novels of the era, fast-paced, fun, and gritty all at once. This is an excellent start to the series and features one of my favorite opening sentences for sheer eye-catching surprise:
The car was doing at least forty when the right front fender smashed against my left hip and sent me spinning off the road to flop bonelessly into a mass of thick, windblown grass.