I've been a fan of Lani Lenore for nearly a decade, when she published her stories on fictionpress.com and fanfiction.net, and when she decided to pull her stories, rewrite, and publish them, I immediately got my hands on her work.
In The Nutcracker Bleeds, a dark retelling of the Christmas tale of The Nutcracker, we are thrown into a world where toys come to life during the night, and are thrust in the midst of a war between toys and mice. When Olivia and her maid Ann are shrunk due to mouse magic, they are forced to find their own roles in this world: Olivia as Queen of the toys, and Ann, a wayward girl who might be the catalyst to everything.
The plot is definitely the star of the show. It never stops being a thrilling ride, there's always something happening. This makes it a quick read, despite its crazy length (600+ pages on the ebook). It is almost overwhelming, the amount of action that's flung in your face.
Their foe comes in the form of the Rat King, who has a limited supply of magic, and in order to replenish his magic levels enough to turn back into a human, he must eat either tiny Olivia or tiny Ann. Thus, his army of rats and mice are constantly on the lookout for the girls, and kill any toys that come in their way.
Olivia is nonplussed about the whole situation, so sure that her toy guards will protect her in her fortress of books. Not only that, but she pines after her brand new nutcracker, Armand. Armand is a curious character. Made of wood, but with the heart of a human, he was transformed into a nutcracker by the Rat King many centuries ago. His mission is to defeat the Rat King and become a human again.
The cast of characters is massive, and it's so fun to see all the interactions between all the characters. There's a puppet who carved himself a wooden phallus; a glutton of a toy who gorges on food that rots within him; and an androgynous doll who lusts after Armand, so much so that he plans on replacing Armand's head with his own.
There are multiple threads of narrative, and they all interweave nicely, and get tied up in interesting--though sometimes convenient--ways. Ann and Armand's endings felt too good to be true, and I think that was my main disappointment.
I found this an engaging read, and it saddens me that so few people know about Lani Lenore and her work, so I've decided to give away my copy of The Nutcracker Bleeds.
The writing is very amateurish, but man, it's so fun to be back in Rapture. This is a great book for fans of the series, it gives a more in-depth viewThe writing is very amateurish, but man, it's so fun to be back in Rapture. This is a great book for fans of the series, it gives a more in-depth view to the world, and to Andrew Ryan's political views. The progression of his objectivism, slowly turning into the very man he once despised, it's a great insight. I wish it showed more about Eleanor and Subject Delta, but ah well, beggars can't be choosers....more
4.5 stars. The writing was wonderful, so rich and vibrant. Whilst being written only 30 years ago, it feels authentic, like a real Victorian Gothic. If4.5 stars. The writing was wonderful, so rich and vibrant. Whilst being written only 30 years ago, it feels authentic, like a real Victorian Gothic. If I hadn't checked the year it was written, I would have completely assumed that it was written in the 1800's, and that Susan Hill was besties with the Bronte sisters.
The story itself was compelling. It was somewhat dull, at times--mostly when Arthur wasn't at the house--and for that, I'm taking away half a star, but the writing kind of makes up for it. You have no idea how many times I wanted to put this book down out of sheer terror. At first, I had wanted to read it at night, to get a great experience. It's a good thing I didn't. I read this on the train to and from Uni, surrounded by people, and I was still scared shitless.
I really can't wait to watch the movie. I'd love to see what they did from this novella (my copy was only 160 pages long, despite what Goodreads seems to think. And even though it was so short, the writing was so rich that it took me a couple of days to get through it.)...more