Boy, this was a tough read in terms of subject matter. This author takes a crime scenario (this time pedophilia which is terrible in and of itself) an...moreBoy, this was a tough read in terms of subject matter. This author takes a crime scenario (this time pedophilia which is terrible in and of itself) and then manages to turn the knife and make a bad situation much, much worse. Not only does she write physical cruelty and brutality but also psychological brutality--there is no dressing up or sugar coating the awful situations. The author seems to like getting across that the worst part may not be the murder itself but usually is the terror and suffering inflicted beforehand.
Leading man Jack Caffery is a bit of a hard pill to swallow as well as he has more faults than he does redeeming qualities.... I find I want to like him but then he'll say/do something that has me becoming that irate individual shaking the book. I felt more frustrated with him this time around than I did in the first.
I don't really know that, for me, this is the sort of series I could recommend around as it seems this author is trying to keep this as "realistic" as possible--there are no white knight shining moments, no happy endings. I feel I'm left frowning at the end of the book, feeling uncomfortable and largely unsatisfied with a bitter taste in my mouth.
However, I do want to read the 6th installment which means I'll have to get through the rest of the books. Yikes. Wish me luck.(less)
When I try to think about how I would like to describe this book, the first word that pops into my mind is "cute". I feel like the author had a very i...moreWhen I try to think about how I would like to describe this book, the first word that pops into my mind is "cute". I feel like the author had a very intriguing premise and her take on magic in the early years of the French Revolution and I wish she had taken more time to go deeper. It could be that this is aimed at children and I was hoping for something with the finesse of a historical/fantasy aimed for an older audience... As I was reading this I felt that the potential was there but that she somehow missed going that extra step to make it truly engaging and in-depth. (less)
The term "historical novel" should be used extremely loosely in the case of this book.
I should also note it was no small miracle of will (compulsion)...moreThe term "historical novel" should be used extremely loosely in the case of this book.
I should also note it was no small miracle of will (compulsion) on my part that I was able to grit my teeth and finish this book.
I don't bother with summaries in my reviews as there's always the back/inside cover/sometimes-helpful-blurb-in-the-description-section-on-websites that will likely detail it better. Allow me instead to inform you what this novel is not.
1.) This is not a mystery. We are informed of the killer fairly early on and are dogged with his insipid presence throughout the book through italicized passages. For emphasis, presumably. Being Whitechapel in the year 1889 it should not surprise the reader to find that there is actually more than one murderer afoot. I'll try not to spoil anything (how could I though when they author does it himself so well?) Basically I can only believe that the asinine connection to the Ripper presence was the author's misguided attempt to ride on the Ripper's notorious laurels. It's certainly what drew me in initially when I glanced at the summary of the book.
2.) This ultimately has nothing to do with the Jack the Ripper though boy does the author try. Too hard in my opinion. Why did the author bother? The information he utilized was cursory at best. Maybe he presumed we already knew enough facts about the Ripper (or Saucy Jack as he insisted on calling him, which is fine except it was used like a given name for the Ripper) Except, I'm sorry, I've seen those photographs, I've read the reports, in fact the Ripper interests me greatly so I find I'm unable to suspend my sense of disbelief when you have not one but two characters that have managed to survive (well for a period of time in one case) having their throats slit to the bone. I'll be delving well and deep into the spoiler-y sort of zone if I get too much into it but how does that even make sense? There is so much muscle and sinewy, not to mention, you know, a major artery or two. I understand it is possible to survive having one's throat slit if the cut isn't deep, or isn't both of the major arteries and if the circumstances are right, if help is immediate and stellar. Shall we look at the date again? Shall we look at the district of London this little tale takes place in?
3.) This will not show an accurate picture of Victorian London in 1889. I mean, at this point why even bother setting this in England? I think the author became a little geographically confused, thought himself in New York for all the abundance of brownstones that made their startling appearance. This story, beyond the echoes of the Ripper failure, had no need to be set in London. In fact, I would've been a lot more forgiving if this had been set in say, New York or Boston or Chicago. Certainly the London geography was.... bizarre at best. Not to mention Inspector's wife's obsession with preparing mock turtle soup. Let's not forget the killer commenting on he prefers to abstain from electricity. On his salary it seems unlikely he would ever be able to afford it. Gas lighting I will give.
I think I've warn myself out with all of this griping but I'm sure my point has come across.
As of this moment, I think this will stand as one of the worst, if not the worst books I have read this year. If I could give this a negative 5 star rating I would. A dreary 1-star don't-bother-using-this-book-for-anything-other-than-fire-fodder. Though I only have myself to blame for slogging through this disaster, I hope you will take my advice and read something else.(less)
If I had read this as a thirteen year old I still wouldn't have...more**spoiler alert** What did I just read?
Why did my curiosity override my common sense?
If I had read this as a thirteen year old I still wouldn't have found the plot acceptable. Not only did most of the Elena parts leave me with Dumbo's refrain "you can fly, you can fly, YOU CAN FLY~~" trilling through my head I'm just left wondering... why? I don't even understand why this series took the direction it took. As I've said before, Dark Reunion was pretty bizarre but at age thirteen I was able to (somewhat) suspend my disbelief.
Not so now.
It's like LJ Smith read some manga/watched some anime (and possibly j-horror), reread her books and thought, "hmm, I'd like to see Elena and the gang face off with some psuedo-anime villains." Not even the good kind though. It's like she took the potential weirdness-capacity that anime villains tend to boast and then just left it at that: face value without any depth or rounding character. Petty, pathetic, trite and underdeveloped. The plot was all over the place, completely flailing and flopping about like some sort of schizophrenic rainbow-wing loving... I don't even know what. Words fail me in the face of just how awful this book was.
Stefan is absolutely self-righteously prissy, hypersensitive and boring (well, I always thought he was, even when I read the original 4 books back when I was thirteen) but I was surprised by how boring Elena has become now that she's some weird angel-human-carebear-thing---speaking of, how can she truly be classified as human when she keeps delving into the weird angelic-tropes? Elena, you may think you're Sailor Moon, but you're not. You're really not. Damon was also sadly disappointing... I don't really understand Smith's need for redemption of everyone and everything. It's not necessary and it just makes me thinking of Dorothy and friends skipping along singing "follow the yellow brick road".
Vaguely disappointing when one considers that the brunt of these letters were already published in the House of Leaves. There are 11 new letters and a...moreVaguely disappointing when one considers that the brunt of these letters were already published in the House of Leaves. There are 11 new letters and a foreward in which the author (through the Information Specialist) essentially praises the cleverness of his own writing. I've also come to the conclusion that Poe probably pulled the material for her House of Leaves songs from Pelafina's letters. (less)
I bought this book thinking that, as I enjoyed the Wondermark comics I might like this as well.
If I could give this a negative rating I w...moreI bought this book thinking that, as I enjoyed the Wondermark comics I might like this as well.
If I could give this a negative rating I would. As it is I think it a miracle I even brought myself to finish this book. If I wasn't part of a book-reading challenge I would've chucked this book across the room a long, long time ago. (less)
Oddly (or maybe not) while reading this I couldn't help thinking of parables and the Giving Tree in particular when thinking of Prince Myshkin. Rather...moreOddly (or maybe not) while reading this I couldn't help thinking of parables and the Giving Tree in particular when thinking of Prince Myshkin. Rather than giving himself physically (as the tree did in the aforementioned) he instead made gifts of his understanding, his desire to see the good in others rather than the glaring bad, and in the end his simple wordless empathy when he strove to comfort those "less fortunate". Which leads back to the irony of the tale as Prince Myshkin, perhaps the most deserving of empathy and sympathy (which he receives little of as most scoff and scorn him), is considered an "idiot" by the standard of the day what with his bouts of epilepsy (he was returning from a stay at a sanatorium in Europe at the story's opening) and also by his guileless, in many ways naive, idealism in the face of the scandals and corruption in Russia's high society.
What's most fascinating to me about this story are interactions with the prince, the ways in which the other characters are in part drawn to, charmed, repulsed and baffled by him in turn. There is the mad, obsessive, passionate Rogozhin, the rival (but also first friend of the Prince on his return to Russia). There is the cunning (or downright crazy), flighty, indomitable Nastasya Filippovna, the beauty of the tale who revels in her own ruined reputation. Then there is Aglaya, the other beauty, the one who reviles the prince as much as she comes, perhaps, to love him in the end (though in my mind I think she may have wanted to make a pet of him, her own resident spectacle) These characters are all deeply flawed and it is rather like watching a train crash. A very good read, though my review can't give it the justice it deserves. (less)