This is the first time I’m giving up on a review copy. I’m a fairly determined reader. I’ve finished many books that I found to be tedious, badly writThis is the first time I’m giving up on a review copy. I’m a fairly determined reader. I’ve finished many books that I found to be tedious, badly written, or stupid (sometimes all three). But I can’t finish The Age of Ice, and I’m not going to try again later. Either I ran out of the determination I showed before, or this book is so boring it defeated me.
I was drawn in by the unusual premise – a Russian noble conceived in a palace made of ice finds that he’s immune to cold and has a weirdly long life-span. His story unfolds across Russian civil conflicts in the eighteenth century, a doomed Arctic expedition, and the Napoleonic Wars (which is where I stopped). It traverses Russia, Serbia, Paris and Afghanistan (I didn’t get that far). It’s two centuries long (but I couldn’t endure one).
What I expected was one of my favourite types of novel – the weird and wonderful creature you find at the intersection between literary and genre fiction. The blurb certainly gives that impression, throwing around words like “thrilling”, “stunning”, “original” and “genre-bending”. But as any reader will quickly find out, the blurb is wildly misleading. It places emphasis on the wrong plot points – the ice palace in which a disgraced nobleman and a humpbacked woman conceive Alexander and his twin brother, the boys’ idyllic childhood, and the brothers’ contrasting personalities. The conception and childhood however, are dispensed with in a couple of pages. Alexander and Andrei’s relationship is prominent at first, but Andrei dislikes his brother for rather vague reasons, buggers off out of the plot to live his own life, and then dies early on after a brief reappearance.
My genre-related expectations were also dashed. The fantasy or magical-realist aspects of this story – Alexander’s immunity to cold, his longevity and his inexplicable relationship with ice – just aren’t interesting. The historical aspect – described as “rigorous” in the blurb – is mind-numbingly dreary. The dense detail might be better appreciated by more dedicated fans of historical fiction (the research that went into this must have been rigorous, at least), but I found it suffocating.
Alexander’s fateful romantic relationships were the only things I found intriguing. Besides being immune to cold, his body can freeze others and form enduringly cold, hard ice. His flesh gets colder when he feels worked up or emotional, making sex and any kind of close physical relationship a serious problem for him. But these relationships get far less page time than such riveting content as Alexander slogging through the snow, Alexander taking the temperatures of dead fish, Alexander whining about being Old Man Frost. At one point I was so bogged down that I couldn’t remember the point of the characters’ current journey and didn’t care.
I could spend another month trying to drag my way through the rest of this, but I can’t take it anymore. I’m done....more
The Shining Girls is the third of Beukes’s novels, and I think it’s now my favourite too, trumping Moxyland. Beukes writes with a very snarky, edgy stThe Shining Girls is the third of Beukes’s novels, and I think it’s now my favourite too, trumping Moxyland. Beukes writes with a very snarky, edgy style that I loved at first but tired of in Zoo City. The Shining Girls feels more mature, more refined, and offers a better story as a result. That’s not to say it doesn’t have that signature style or that Kirby isn’t smart-mouthed and bold enough to stand-up to her counterparts in Beukes’s earlier novels; it’s just toned down in a way that feels more natural and helps the story flow.
Mind you, it takes a fair bit of concentration to keep a firm grasp on the narrative, because the time-travel aspect means there’s a time shift with almost every chapter. The chapters are short too, keeping you on your toes. The key is to take note of the names, dates, and locations that comprise the chapter headings. I tend to ignore most chapter headings as unimportant, but I quickly learned that these are vital. The story is composed of multiple POVs in various times. Harper’s story begins in November 1931 but constantly moves between that time and 1993 as he hunts the shining girls. I think his story is actually relatively linear, but it doesn’t feel that way because what he experiences as linear time involves multiple time shifts, while the House itself is a atemporal space – a place that exists in all times and no time.
Kirby’s story begins in 1974, when Harper first contacts her. We see her as a child and a teenager, but usually as the scarred (literally and figuratively) 25-year old in 1993. The 1993 narrative is also told from Dan Velasquez’s perspective, as he tries to help Kirby out of his growing respect and affection for her. Then there are several minor POVs, including the shining girls and a junkie named Malcolm who tails Harper in the hope of getting some cash for his next hit.
It sounds overwhelming, but it easy to adjust to. The characters are distinctive and memorable, and there was only one chapter where I was confused about the POV. It’s not essential to understand everything in strict chronological order anyway; the most important events will come together smoothly. Beukes also employs an elegant tactic, using the objects in the House as narrative devices that tie the stories together: “Shining stars linked together through time. A constellation of murder”. The House is an atemporal space where the objects are always present, even when Harper takes them out. We see the links when objects in the room turn up in the shining girls’ stories, or when Harper takes an object from one girl and leaves it with another. Besides their practical narrative function, the objects are also just a pleasure to spot, like putting a puzzle together.
Twelve-year-old September is tired of her life in her parents’ house, so when the Green Wind alights at her window and offers to take her to FairylandTwelve-year-old September is tired of her life in her parents’ house, so when the Green Wind alights at her window and offers to take her to Fairyland on the back of the Leopard of Little Breezes, she accepts immediately.
From the start, September finds that Fairyland is nothing like what she could even have begun to expect. She nearly drowns when she arrives, and then has to choose between one of four unappealing paths – to lose her way, her life, her mind or her heart. Losing her way means going back the way she came. She doesn’t want to lose her life or her mind, so she choose to lose her heart, since “[a]ll children are heartless” (5) anyway, as hearts are heavy and it takes a long time to grow one.
On her journey, September agrees to retrieve a witch’s spoon from the evil Marquess who rules the land. The Marquess has introduced all sorts of rules and bureaucracy in an attempt to tame the world and make it more hospitable to children. She has even forbidden the fairy folk from flying, and had their wings strapped down with chains. She insists that fairy folk are too mischievous and dangerous by nature so
I fixed all that, September. Do you have any idea how difficult it was to invent bureaucracy in a world that didn’t even know what a ledger was? To earn their submission, even to the point of having their wings locked down? But I did it. I fixed it for children like you, so that you could be safe here and have lovely adventures with no one troubling you and trying to steal your soul away. I do you didn’t think you had charmed them all with you sparkling personality, child. (126)
The Marquess blackmails September into retrieving a magical sword in the midst of a periods forest. Luckily, September has friends to accompany her. She met a dragon-like creature called a Wyvern, who believes his father was a library. His name is A-through-L, and he has an encyclopaedic knowledge of any subject beginning with the letters A through L. September also earns the devotion of a tattooed, blue-skinned boy named Saturday who will grant you a wish if you wrestle him nearly to death.
Obviously, this is not your usual fairytale or a typical children’s fantasy, even though it has all the magic and wonder of one. But it’s the exactly the kind of thing I love and look for in a Valente novel. Nevertheless, I got off to a bad start. While I fell in love with Valente’s writing in works like The Habitation of the Blessed (2010) and Silently and Very Fast (2011) it has a very childish quality here that I immediately disliked. The abundance of detail that I normally find so enchanting about her style, here seemed excessive and irritating.
I’m not so easily dissuaded though, and I kept reading hoping I’d just get used the style, or that the book would hook me once the plot was in full swing. And, happily, the book kept growing on me until, by the end, I was completely and utterly enchanted by it.
Valente has written a lush fairytale full of strange creatures and places. It’s strongly reminiscent of Alice in Wonderland with a nod to Narnia, particularly The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Valente’s stories often have a metafictional aspect to them, and there are quite a few comments about stories in general and this one in particular. September embarks on her adventure having read stories where girls are whisked away to other worlds, and she worries that she’s not ill-tempered, smart, brave or talented enough for this journey. She understands what’s expected of her too, because “What is a child brought to Fairyland for if not to thwart wicked rulers?” (139).
This is so much more than an echo of the works that inspired Valente though. Like the best rewritten fairytales, she builds on them in interesting ways. Unlike Alice in Wonderland for example, the novel considers why September – and other children – might want to escape to Fairyland for reasons other than simple curiosity, and despite the many dangers. At first it seems like September is just bored and irritable, looking to do something other than wash teacups. But she’s also unhappy at home – her “father ran away with the army” (19) and her mother is always working, no doubt struggling to make ends meet.
By spending time away from her mother however, September is given the chance to appreciate the practical things her mother – an engine mechanic – has taught her.
she was her mother’s daughter, always and forever, and felt sure whatever she set her hands to would work. Once, they had spent a whole afternoon fixing Mr Albert’s broken-up Model A so that September would not have to walk every day to school, which was several miles away. September would have been happy to watch her mother shoulder-deep in engine grease, but her mother wasn’t like that. She made September learn very well how a clutch worked, what to tighten, what to bend, and in the end, September had been so tired, but the car hummed and coughed just like a car ought to. That was what September liked best, now that her mother was not about and she had the freedom to think about her from time to time – to learn things, and her mother knew a great number of them. She never said anything was too hard or too dirty and had never once told September that she would understand when she was older. (158)
September’s skills, ingenuity and acquaintance with hard work are essential as she frequently encounters demanding obstacles and great danger. She understands that this is necessary:
There must be blood, the girl thought. There must always be blood. The Green Wind said that, so it must be true. It will all be hard and bloody, but there will be wonders, too, or why else bring me here at all? And it’s the wonders I’m after, even if I have to bleed for them. (49)
And she does bleed, many times. Her body is changed in ways that are far more scary than simply shrinking or growing as Alice did. One of the creepiest but most memorable moments is when she encounters her own Death, who appears to her as a small creature. Rather than run away, September cradles her Death in her arms and sings it to sleep.
Another way in which September differs greatly from Alice is that her actions and adventures have real consequences for herself and others. It’s not just a dream, and after a while you sense the gravity of what’s going on. Even though September is like Alice in that she goes from one bizarre encounter to another she always plays an active role and what she says and does matters to other people and the plot. She can’t just leave one thing behind and completely forget about it as she moves on to the next.
It was the gravity of this story that ultimately won me over. I think it was about midway through the novel, when September has to deal with something particularly threatening and scary, that I really started to enjoy the story. It’s still a children’s tale, but not a patronising one. September might be in a fantasy world, it very real to her and her friends, as is the quest she embarks on. She has to make sacrifices, face up to uncomfortable realities, and make choices that I would never have to want to make myself. The were several occasions where this book had me on the verge of tears.
It’s not all dark and desperate though; the novel is full of the delights you’d expect in a fairy world and more – whimsical customs, magical baths, strange mouthwatering food, pookas, spriggans, live bicycles who run (or rather, cycle) in herds, and a key who races after September because it knows she will need it. It’s lovely read for people who love modern, elaborate fairytales and stories that can be both grave and delightful. I recommend it.
Finn Darby’s wife and grandfather died on the same day. While Finn misses his beloved Lorena, he doesn’t really miss his grandfather Tom – a tight-fisFinn Darby’s wife and grandfather died on the same day. While Finn misses his beloved Lorena, he doesn’t really miss his grandfather Tom – a tight-fisted, alcoholic, racist, abusive old bastard. Tom Darby created Toy Shop, a long-running newspaper comic strip, and refused to ever let Finn – an aspiring cartoonist – have anything to do with it.
But Finn went against his grandfather’s dying demand, resurrected the strip, updating it for a modern audience, creating new characters and selling merchandising rights. It’s more successful than ever. Most of the money goes to his Finn’s long-suffering grandmother but Finn has become fairly wealthy too.
Then, after a terrorist attack kills half a million people in Atlanta, Finn starts blurting out things in a strange, disturbing voice that he can’t control. Eventually he realises that his grandfather is speaking through him, and that the terrorist attack has somehow allowed the dead to return by inhabiting the bodies of the living. At first they can only blurt random words and phrases, but it’s not long before the hitchers’ influence begins to grow. Finn’s grandfather wants Toy Shop back, but it’s not all bad. Finn quickly realises that he can contact his dead wife, and he finds her in the body of a waitress named Summer.
Together with Summer and an ageing British rocker named Mick Mercury (a combination of Mick Jagger and Freddie Mercury, I assume), Finn tries to understand the hitchers and the afterlife they come from. It looks like they’re here to stay, but can they be allowed to?
Hitchers is a quick, light read, but even if that’s what you’re looking for, you might not appreciate it in this book, especially if the ideas in the plot are what intrigued you. On the one hand, the story incorporates a lot of serious ideas and situations, but it’s mostly handled in a superficial and sometimes amateurish way that wastes the premise. Also, it features Toy Shop cartoons that all suck.
Let’s take the existence of hitchers, to start with. They’re all people who either really, really didn’t want to be dead or have unfinished business. Finn’s grandfather was vicious, Lorena incredibly vivacious, and Mick’s hitcher has… actual unfinished business. It’s pretty boring, but the ghosts’ existence is more important to the plot than their reasons for hanging around, so fine. What bugged me more was that everything the characters need to understand about the ghosts and the afterlife come from one book. Summer is a hippy who just so happens to have this book – a tome by an Indian mystic named J. Krishnapuma. And Krishnapuma is spot-on about everything. It’s so very lucky for everyone in the kind of plot device that should be reserved for children’s adventure stories.
The situations that the hitchers create are much more serious though, and McIntosh plays around with some interesting and disturbing ideas. The ghosts are basically always present in the bodies they inhabit. It’s like looking out silently through someone’s eyes. After a while, instead of just blurting out a few words, they take full possession of the body. Neither the ghost nor its host can control when the ghost speaks, when it takes over the body, or for how long. During possession, the body’s owner becomes the viewer.
The issues of privacy and control are the most obvious ones here, and Finn’s situation is particularly scary because his grandfather is a thoroughly hateful bastard. Finn’s relationship with Lorena raises a different set of disturbing problems.
Of course, Finn can only speak to Lorena through someone else’s body. A body that Lorena is involuntarily hijacking. Finn and Summer become friends, so Summer is at least understanding and co-operative when it comes to giving Finn a chance to spend time with his wife, but this quickly becomes far more complicated. For example, when Lorena takes over Summer’s body, they kiss and touch in physically intimate ways that Summer hasn’t consented to but experiences because she’s still inside her body. Then, Finn finds himself increasingly attracted to Summer, which Lorena picks up on because she’s watching all the time.
It’s a weird love triangle with two bodies and three people (four, counting Finn’s grandfather, although he doesn’t care about the romance), but it’s one of the issues that I think was handled too lightly. Yes, the characters agonise over it, but it feels a bit superficial. At the end, the whole thing is dealt with in a way that I found far too easy and dismissive.
The plot as a whole suffers from a similar problem. For a story featuring a terrorist attack that kills half a million people, uncontrolled possession of the living by the dead, some very bleak depictions of the afterlife, and personal struggles to deal with grief, Hitchers is just too relaxed and simplistic even when it’s supposed to be serious.
The Krishnapuma book that explains everything the main characters need to know about the hitchers and the afterlife is one example of this. Finn’s grandfather is another – technically Finn got rich by stealing his work, but Tom is such a vile person that you could never muddy the moral waters by taking his side. McIntosh also avoids the most interesting complexities of hitcher possession. There’s only one glimpse of a cross-gender hitcher. Except for Tom enjoying having Finn’s young, healthy body, there’s nothing about the experience of having a body notably different from your original one (male/female, child/adult, able/disabled, black/white, etc.). And although Finn, Mick and Summer are always listening to news reports about the hitchers, there’s no mention of anyone seeking out their loved ones as Finn has. This is the best thing about the hitchers, but also the most morally conflictual because of the way it affects relationships. Why then, is this most interesting of plot points restricted to Finn, Lorena and Summer?
In terms of the broader social effects of the terrorist attack and the hitchers, there’s one scene that stands out for me as the book’s failure to deal with difficult problems. After a night out, Finn and Summer are attacked and nearly murdered by religious fanatics who believe that people with hitchers are evil. Afterwards, this problem disappears from the plot, and Finn, Mick and Summer carry on as usual, as if there weren’t psychos trying to murder them in the streets.
At the end, the main plot is resolved far too quickly and conveniently, giving the impression that the author had just gotten tired of the whole thing. And honestly, it doesn’t feel like a story that’s worth your time. So much weight has been lifted from it that you feel like you’re getting something lesser than it should be. Easy reads are great, but not when it feels like an easy way out.
I didn’t expect to get a copy of this from Penguin Books SA, and I wasn’t even going to read it, since paranormal romance is not my thing and I hate tI didn’t expect to get a copy of this from Penguin Books SA, and I wasn’t even going to read it, since paranormal romance is not my thing and I hate these lame pretty-girl YA covers. However, I’ve been away on a holiday of sorts, and found that I was too distracted to focus on more demanding reads, so I told myself to stop being a snob about this and just give Unearthly a shot. At the very least, I would learn a little more about the current trend of YA romances featuring mythical beings.
In Unearthly, the beings are angels and angel-bloods (human/angel hybrids). Sixteen-year old Clara Gardener is a Quartarius, a ‘quarter-angel’. Her mom Maggie is a Dimidius – a half-angel. When the novel opens, Clara is shown her ‘purpose’ – a vision of her reason for existing, her destiny. The vision shows a raging forest fire and a mysterious, beautiful boy she has to save. Using clues from her vision, Clara and her mother figure out where it’s supposed to take place and, along with Clara’s younger brother Jeffrey, they pack up their things and move to Jackson Hole, a small town in the forests of Wyoming.
At Jackson Hole High School, Clara learns that the boy she’s supposed to save is Christian. Christian Prescott.
The blurb about Jesus and his brother Colin on the Goodreads page for this book has to be the most misleading blurb I've ever read. It's all mostly trThe blurb about Jesus and his brother Colin on the Goodreads page for this book has to be the most misleading blurb I've ever read. It's all mostly true, but it has a much, much smaller role to play in the novel than you would expect. Colin has about five lines and Jesus only comes in at the end.
What this book is actually about it the mystery of who killed God and why, and it all plays out on earth. The famous genre detective Lazlo Woodbine (who some call Laz) is on the case. It's a briefcase this time, at least until he's forced to drop it when Eartha, God's wife, hires Lazlo to find her husband. The briefcase has been picked up by Icarus Smith, a young 'relocator' whose dream it is to relocate things until the world has been put right. Inside the case are some devastating secrets and the means to change the way people see the world.
It's all thoroughly ridiculous, which of course is what you're looking for (or should expect) when you pick up a Robert Rankin novel. It didn't work for me in this case though. It was funny at first, then degenerated into "Ok enough now" and finally "Jesus Christ, just get on with it". The gags are repeated way too often and it's all a bit boring. It's not dreadful, but if you're thinking of reading it, keep browsing....more
Seventeen-year-old Ananna of the Tanarau is the pirate daughter of pirateThis review was initially published on my blog, Violin in a Void
Seventeen-year-old Ananna of the Tanarau is the pirate daughter of pirate parents, raised in the violent, seafaring lifestyle of a pirate. She dreams of one day captaining her own ship, although that seems unlikely now that her parents have arranged her marriage to the son of another pirate clan. Tarrin of the Hariri. Tarrin is “the most beautiful man [Ananna] ever saw” and looks like a god from a temple painting, but Ananna distrusts beautiful people and when Tarrin shows his disdain for her family name, she decides to run away. Ignoring Tarrin’s warnings that his family will send an assassin to kill her for this insult, Ananna steals a camel and disappears into the city.
She hides out for a short while, but the assassin comes after her as promised. They are fighting it out in the desert when a snake appears. It’s about to bite the assassin and save Ananna’s life, but she’s so shocked and scared when she sees it that she kills the snake, saving the assassin’s life instead and activating a curse. The good news is that Naji, the assassin, can no longer kill her – the curse forces him to protect her from harm because every time she gets hurt or even finds herself in danger, he experiences physical pain. So of course if she dies, he will too. Ananna is not obliged to hang around, but after seeing the suffering that she could cause by leaving Naji, she decides to travel with him and find a way of ending the curse.
Ananna and Naji’s world is rich with magic and bursting with the potential for adventure. Naji comes from an elite order of assassins who reside in The Mists, a mysterious Otherworld that exists in the same space as the normal one, but is invisible to it. Naji is skilled in the magic of blood and darkness and can move unseen by leaping from shadow to shadow. Ananna has always been untouched by magic, although her mother is a water witch and tried her best to teach her daughter the craft. Instead, Ananna takes after her father and frequently recalls his advice in times of trouble. She’s a quick-fingered thief, is deadly with a blade and perfectly at home when running a ship.
Her quest with Naji takes them across the desert, the ocean and to a magical floating island. They fight magical beings and cutthroat pirates, proving to be deadly young warriors. Although Naji has to protect Ananna in order to protect himself, she has to look after and save him a lot of the time as well, especially after he’s incapacitated from using too much magic or suffering the pain incurred by Ananna’s injuries. I was surprised but pleased to find that Clarke didn’t entirely romanticise the idea of Ananna as a pirate by glossing over the violence of her lifestyle for the sake of a YA audience. At seventeen, she’s familiar and comfortable with violence. She’s kills people, she’s used to being cut and bruised, and she doesn’t make a fuss about it. That’s not to say it’s a violent book – it still has a very gentle YA feel. The characters don’t make a big deal of the violence and none of it is very graphic, so the tone remains light.
There’s a delicate touch of romance to the story, but that doesn’t quite fulfill the promise of “growing romantic tension” advertised in the blurb. Any attraction between our two protagonists is completely one-sided. The story is narrated by Ananna, and she finds herself drawn to Naji in the same way that any seventeen-year-old girl would find herself attracted to a mysterious guy who she spends a lot of time alone with. He’s also perfect for her in terms of looks: Ananna distrusts very good-looking people, but although Naji is handsome, his face is marred by an ugly scar, so Ananna sort of gets the best of both worlds with him. Naji however, remains taciturn throughout the novel, and the only romance he acknowledges is the one that once existed between him and a river witch named Leila. He doesn’t smile, he barely speaks to Ananna unless he has to, and doesn’t show any interest in her beyond their quest. He’s not mean, but he’s more like an estranged brother than a potential boyfriend.
I was surprised that the feisty, garrulous Ananna didn’t make more of an effort to get Naji talking. Because Naji, for completely inexplicable reasons, flat out refuses to give Ananna any proper information about the curse that’s changed both their lives, where they’re going to end it, and what they’ll have to do to achieve that. And like Ananna, Naji is also being chased by people who want to kill him, but he doesn’t provide the details. In contrast to her tendency to be hot-headed and smart-mouthed, Ananna is willing to just follow Naji around and wait to see what happens, even though she could easily coerce him into telling all. I’m not sure why Clarke makes her characters act this way. Normally when authors make characters withhold information, it’s to force them to maintain a sense of mystery that could easily be lost. But this is not a mystery novel and it doesn’t need the suspense. When Naji does eventually reveal tiny bits of his plans and the details of how he was cursed, it makes no real difference to the story. So why hide these things in the first place? If anything, they could have given the story a greater sense of purpose.
This is one of many small problems that spoil the book. Ananna generally speaks well of her parents, so it’s unclear why they basically sold her off in marriage at the age of seventeen. After running away, Ananna expresses sadness at leaving her parents as well as frustration regarding the arranged marriage, but she never thinks about this extremely troubling issue for very long. After activating Naji’s curse, you’d think she’d be calculating enough to realise that having a skilled assassin to protect you is very useful when there’s a clan of pirates out to murder you, but she lets her pride and her temper get the better of her and almost leaves to fight her battles alone. The problem with the Hariri doesn’t end up being nearly as dire as expected though – after the fight with Naji and another battle out in the desert, they practically disappear from the plot. The story mostly concerns the quest to end Naji’s curse, but it moves very slowly. There’s plenty of action and adventure so it’s not boring, but this basically fills up the long spaces between the very brief pieces that actually move the main plot along.
Then the book ends without resolving anything. This didn’t bother me too much. The end approached without the characters having made any real progress in dealing with the curse, so I assumed the bulk of the story was being saved for the sequels. But mostly it didn’t bother me because this is one of those books that I don’t feel much of anything for. It’s just a quick easy read to pass the time and, in my case, finish a reading challenge. I couldn’t help but notice the flaws, but they didn’t elicit more than a shrug. Naji and Ananna’s adventures were enjoyable and I liked them both, but I’m not particularly interested in finding out how they solve their problems, so I won’t be reading the sequel. But at least I didn’t hate it, and this review was a lot easier to write than most....more
Creepy and compelling at times, but ultimately Niceville feels like two loosely-connected novels forced into one, forming an unsatisfying mix of crimeCreepy and compelling at times, but ultimately Niceville feels like two loosely-connected novels forced into one, forming an unsatisfying mix of crime and horror.
Faustus Resurrectus is the debut novel of author Thomas Morrissey, and the first in a planned series featuring Donovan Graham. Donovan, I think, willFaustus Resurrectus is the debut novel of author Thomas Morrissey, and the first in a planned series featuring Donovan Graham. Donovan, I think, will make a nice protagonist for a series of occult thrillers. He’s part scholar, part man of action. He knows krav maga, he’s worked as a bouncer, and he rides a motorcycle. He currently works as a bartender in an upmarket restaurant, so we can probably assume he’s good at talking to people. And he’s got a sensitive side, as he shows when he’s with his fiancée Joann.
Of course, he also knows quite a bit about the occult, religion, mythology, and the Faustus legend in particular, as does his friend Father Carroll. Morrissey makes full use of this. The novel features loads of information about things like the materials used in rituals (from fertility rituals to Satanic ones), the symbolism behind the number 13, and the history of resurrecting people from the dead. Donovan and Father Carroll also discuss the Faustus legend on many occasions, quoting from both the Marlowe and Goethe versions of the story. It’s pretty cool.
Westlake Soul is an ambitious project for a writer – a novel about a person who is unable to move or speak. It’s written in first person, from WestlakWestlake Soul is an ambitious project for a writer – a novel about a person who is unable to move or speak. It’s written in first person, from Westlake’s perspective, so the entire story rests on his fragile shoulders. The challenge, I’d say, is to make something interesting out of this limited position. I have to say kudos to author Rio Youers, because for the most part, I think he did a good job.
Historical drama, mystery, fantasy and metafiction – this makes Nevermore cross-genre fiction, but unfortunately it doesn’t combine these genres as flHistorical drama, mystery, fantasy and metafiction – this makes Nevermore cross-genre fiction, but unfortunately it doesn’t combine these genres as fluidly. The result is that it reads like a historical drama interrupted by a murder mystery, with fantasy wandering around aimlessly throughout.
Good words for describing this book include “whacky”, “zany” and “preposterous”. It’s a totally tongue-in-cheek sci-fi caper, composed of equal partsGood words for describing this book include “whacky”, “zany” and “preposterous”. It’s a totally tongue-in-cheek sci-fi caper, composed of equal parts action, humour and ridiculousness. It’s full of kooky sci fi tropes like death rays, giant bugs, and evil geniuses. The characters have names like “Blug”, “Kreegah” and “Snarg”.
It’s also intentionally, amusingly narrow-minded. Pretty much all the aliens come from the moons or planets in our solar system, and can speak English. They might look outlandish, but they’re still mostly based on stuff you could find on Earth – Mollusk is an octopus, the Saturnites are some kind of rock-people, the Venusians are reptiles with feathers.