I was hoping for so much more. It is smart and well researched book, but it left me empty and unsatisfied. I just wasn't invested in the characters. I...moreI was hoping for so much more. It is smart and well researched book, but it left me empty and unsatisfied. I just wasn't invested in the characters. I expected something more riveting especially from such a dark and delicious subject as the mysterious Dracula. (less)
Faber creates an incredibly developed, detailed and grimly portrayal of life in late 1800's England from the perspective of a prostitute. The writing...moreFaber creates an incredibly developed, detailed and grimly portrayal of life in late 1800's England from the perspective of a prostitute. The writing is flawless and story telling classic. Even though this is a long read, it moves well and holds a reader's attention. The character's are flawed and memorable which makes the reader feel invested in their imagined lives. There has been much discussion about the ending, but after contemplating I think it fits perfectly. It provokes discussion and makes us ask questions. All in all the author stays committed and true to the story all the way through and does not give into cheap wrap ups or happy endings. I admire the work immensely and would highly recommend the read to those who love exploring all the layers of literature and period writing.(less)
Pros: Setterfield's character Miss Winter refers to herself as a subplot in her own story. I think this is accomplished both thematically and through...morePros: Setterfield's character Miss Winter refers to herself as a subplot in her own story. I think this is accomplished both thematically and through clever story telling. Miss Winter is a writer who twists fairy tales making them more bizarre or gruesome than the original. In a similar parallel, Thirteenth Tale follows a like thematic format with hints of various well known fairy tales woven with familiar classics such as Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights which evoke a relation between scenic imagery and the psychology of the characters. Although not directly referred to, I also thought the story mirrored another great classic, 'Great Expectations,' and found this interesting. However, I do not think the reader has to be acquainted with these classics to enjoy the story, but it is a bonus.
Cons: There is so much going on in this novel, with subplots, thematic references and characters lives that I think it loses some of its strength. The author intends for the reader to be keep in the dark, but at times I felt wrongfully mislead in deceptive directions and got lost or found myself asking 'so what?' Also, there is a lot of retelling that occurs, which is especially annoying in the introduction of Hester's diary. Towards the end, more attention is given to Shadow the cat than to Charlie who we later find out is a lead character in creating this horrid tale of circumstance. The ending quickens, which is a relief from the lull in the middle, but I got the feeling the author did not want or know how to end with the natural conclusion. Instead, we are given a few more chapters of after thought. We are told this is done because readers often wonder what happened in the not so happily ever after. However, it's too neatly wrapped up and I think discredits all the effort the author originally made and the journey we went on in the first place. It felt more like a summary than an ending. (less)
I had a hard time putting this book down, not because it was action packed or particularly fast paced, but because the development, sincerity and enga...moreI had a hard time putting this book down, not because it was action packed or particularly fast paced, but because the development, sincerity and engaging voice of the main character at both stages of his life was refreshingly flawless. The voice remains true and believable throughout the entire narrative and is well developed giving me a clear picture of who Jacob Jankowski is and why I should care. Because this is achieved, I am fully invested in his world and experiences. Like wise, the supporting characters are dynamic and interesting, but even given their deformities, whether physical or psychologically, they never over shadow the main character.
The book provokes thoughts on treatment and intelligence of animals, economy, marriage, class, race, healthcare, friendship and family. As well as, it forces us to take a hard look at how our culture deals with the elderly.
"Sometimes the monotony of bingo and sing-alongs and ancient dusty people parked in the hallway in wheelchairs makes me long for death. Particularly when I remember that I'm one of the ancient dusty people, filed away like some worthless tchotchke."
If I had to give a 'con' to the book, it would be toward the ending when the author simplifies Jacob's journey with a 'run away with the circus' solution. However, this does not disappoint and in a way is the logical path and most appropriate ending given the character's circumstances and alternative. It is the happiest it can get.(less)
Pros: A completely engaging story from start to finish. A core group of developed characters mingled with history grounded in a 'real-life' account tha...morePros: A completely engaging story from start to finish. A core group of developed characters mingled with history grounded in a 'real-life' account that brings the era alive through the eyes of average citizens. Although heroic in their survival, the characters in the story are not over-played or over-sympathetic or fantastic. Instead, the story rightfully depicts the life of several people during a time of war, each having their own unique story and coping skills that is beautifully developed through friendship, community, love and morality, as well as humor. The heavy, and otherwise dreary themes are lightened, but not cheapened by the use of clever comic relief that is refreshing and inserted in just the right spot to make a heart-wrenching story tolerable. Instead of being drug down by the topic, the story is uplifted and inspiring without taking away from the seriousness of the subject or historical period.
Cons: I'm having a hard time finding anything to write in this section of my review. Although in my opinion, it is not truly a con, I will say that the story is a bit predictable. Given that it is told through letters, it is forced to go along a fairly predicable course, which leads to an obvious outcome. However, this did not take away from the wonderful story, mostly because it was interesting and did not need twist plots and action surprises to keep me hook. However, if you're hoping for a final plot twist, it's not coming -- it will end how you think it will end, but it still feels right and in my humble opinion, agreeable. (less)
After March 4, 2011 a new edition will be issued. The 2nd edition displays a new front and back cover, author's note, sneak peek at sequel and is proo...moreAfter March 4, 2011 a new edition will be issued. The 2nd edition displays a new front and back cover, author's note, sneak peek at sequel and is proofed by Editor, Robert Helle.
An intriguing and fresh historical fiction novel chronicling the life of the infamous mass murderer known throughout history as the Blood Countess. The Countess Elizabeth Bathory is a descendant of Vlad Tepes, otherwise known as, the Impaler and most notable for being the inspiration for Bram Stoker's Dracula. However, I believe it was his ancestor, Elizabeth Bathory, who should get much of the credit for the character's dark immortality. It was she was rumored to have bathed in and drank the blood of virgins in an attempt to preserve her eternal beauty.
Dandelions In The Garden is book one, in a two-part series told from the point-of-view of the main character, Amara Borbala who becomes Elizabeth's life-long companion, confidante and accomplice. (less)
Another smart Victorian novel that does not disappoint. Brightwell craftily depicts Victorian London from behind the draped curtains of middle-class s...moreAnother smart Victorian novel that does not disappoint. Brightwell craftily depicts Victorian London from behind the draped curtains of middle-class society. This is a book that holds actual thematic weight and not just a promising plot. Through the weaving and interaction of characters the class line is drawn, but also crossed, which gives the story a classical feel and is probably due to the author’s schooled background in literature studies. Even though class separates the characters, secrets connect them, which places them all on a similar level of sorts. This idea had me thinking long after the story was finished and for that gem, I think it is intelligent and worth the reading time invested. I am a bit surprised this novel does not have higher ratings on other sites.
The story begins with Jane and although she remains a primary focus, Mina emerges to equal attention. This is an interesting topic for discussion, but had me asking for a moment, ‘Is this Jane or Mina’s story?’ There was a slight shift in importance when I believe the character’s story (Mina) could have been told without lessening the emphasis on the heroine Jane. Also as a reader, I found myself a tad cheated when it came to Sarah. I was taken in by the description of her and I kept waiting for this wilily maid to play a bigger role, but she never did. I was baited on the build up and was kicked out in the cold when her fate was so quickly swept a side.(less)
Each character is craftily composed and unique in voice and detail. The story rings with classic telling and is reminiscent and ambitiously echoes the...moreEach character is craftily composed and unique in voice and detail. The story rings with classic telling and is reminiscent and ambitiously echoes the possible influences of the Bronte sisters and Austen. I found myself emerged in the story and attached to the various characters. Koen does a beautiful job of chronicling the life of Barbara while presenting the realities of marriage, money, title and hardships. Whereas in some historical fiction, the plot becomes secondary to the research, Koen uses history to drive the plot and coincidentally carry her main character towards a journey to the new world. In addition, the inclusion of the story (read by the characters) of Robinson Crusoe works to foreshadow the tale and adds thematic depth. It contributes a pleasant opposition to the idea of domesticity and the lure of a fresh start in a new land. It also represents the individual dreams and spirit of the youth in the household, including the desire to escape through adventure rather than sit idly praying in a chapel in the country. It is the old way or tradition, verses the new generation and idealized hope of promise.
The first half of the story might seem a bit disjointed and although it gives a historical background to the scandalous sexual exploits of the elite at the time, it really is not terribly important to the core plot of the story. However, it does provide a basis for what was acceptable. Some readers might be discouraged by the length of the novel, but in defense, the meandering scenic descriptions are in step with the classic authors and possible influences mentioned above.(less)
For the first time in history I think I'm actually hoping the movie is better than the book. This was a difficult book to rate because although it's n...moreFor the first time in history I think I'm actually hoping the movie is better than the book. This was a difficult book to rate because although it's not bad, for me, it was just 'Ok.' I believe it will translate to the silver screen easily and with the use of special effects will take this two-dimensional, bit flat read, and breathe some life into it. I understand working with a well-known historical figure can be difficult because everyone already has an idea or image in their head, but I was hoping for Abe to be more personal and enduring -- or even dislikable. However, all the characters were just barely developed and the relationships were stale and platonic. Given the passionate idea for the book, it simply lacks much passion.
Also, I must address the repetition of statement sentences used and not in a way that make any sense. It seemed as if during edits certain sentences were tagged to be moved, and where, but the original was never deleted. I picked up on this three times in the book. These were not catch phrases, but entire sentences repeated later on in different scenes as if it had been pasted, but not previously cut. I ignored the first, hummed at the second and by the third just thought it was rush to market mistakes.
As others have commented, there is gore and that is about the only stimulating excitement the reader can expect. As far as resurrecting history, yes it's there in a summary sort of way never really getting into the grit anymore than you probably learned about in school. At times, the book hinges on spilling over into something with promise, but to my disappointment was never given the kiss of life. The ending drops you like a bad date. It is as if the author decided, 'everyone knows how this is going to end, so why bother.' Abe has some premonitions, Booth plots, but the reader is left to, you know....fill it in yourself.
In my opinion if you're going to write a mash up, let it fly. You're already going to piss off the purists, so why not at least entertain the target audience? Instead, this book is going to sit somewhere in between the wonderful world of mediocre and become one of those that people pick up and set down during vacation travels. I say wait for the movie and hope the screen writer works some magic.(less)
This story manages to fit neatly into four genre categories and does it amazingly well! While reading, my imagination portrayed the story in black and...moreThis story manages to fit neatly into four genre categories and does it amazingly well! While reading, my imagination portrayed the story in black and white form with dashes of color, mostly red, which is significant to the gay character. This is not due to a lack of development, but rather should be taken as a compliment to the author’s talent to imprint emotions into the scene without directly stating or over dramatizing. I felt a connection to each character and grew to care about them all, even the ‘bad’ guys because their humanity coupled with history sparked a touch of sympathy. The lead character is an inspirational female, not for her overtly heroic antics, but for her ability to cope and face challenging situations. Thematically, the story builds on many levels, and for me the most convincing is the sense of bravery. Every character at some point and to some degree shows bravery and compassion, which makes this a moving and deeply human historical tale worth exploring.
I don’t want to give anything away, but the ending was a bit too easy of an escape especially given the power of the foe the lead character faces. However, I am eager to read A Night of Long Knives (sequel,#2) to see where it picks up. Perhaps my questions or reservations will be answered. Please take into consideration I’m really picking to find one small flaw. I almost hate to mention it because the book was craftily constructed and I do not wish to tarnish this jewel!(less)