The second volume is completely different from the first part. From a highly developed underwater world we went on to a medieval story above the water...moreThe second volume is completely different from the first part. From a highly developed underwater world we went on to a medieval story above the waterline.(less)
"The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" for kids - and set into the Victorian Age. Sounds completely bogus? It is - but in a rather pleasant way. The s...more"The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" for kids - and set into the Victorian Age. Sounds completely bogus? It is - but in a rather pleasant way. The space-piracy-adventure takes place in a British commonwealth that truly has a claim to be called "Empire". It includes several colonies on the moon and planets like Venus and Jupiter - where Queen Victoria stashes her convicts instead of Australia, or Mars, which has been conquered by means of harmony-inducing spores released into the air. To get an idea of the setting: Queen Consort Albert's Great Exhibition is in progress (so far so good) and people living in houses that float in space rid their dwellings of free flying crumbs and dust by letting their herds of hoverhogs roam. Hoverhogs are little winged piglets propelling themselves forwards by farting with their behinds and sucking up dirt particles with their snouts. The moon is inhabited by walking and talking fungi and giant moths. And space is not empty but filled to the brim with fauna like an ocean. The set of characters is very stereotypical. I am a little annoyed by the science-crazy Dad, who is oblivious to his sons frantic warnings until he is being swallowed by a monster (Reminds me of stupid Silas Heap) and the ignorant, racist and insensitive sister, who is forever complicating matters either by fainting, by blurting out uncalled for prejudices or by simply insisting on this or that. In addition to those two the quite mature eleven year old narrator is sometimes a little bit too passive. The combination of the outrageous ideas bursting forth throughout the story and the detailed, old-fashioned, comical illustrations is fun. If you strip the plot of the unusual creatures and mechanisms, the story is somewhat predictable though. I enjoy reading the book, but I still have to decide if I would like to read the follow-up "Starcross" or not. Note after reading the added interview with author and illustrator: The characters are stereotypical because the novel is a parody of the "victorian adventure writing". Oh well. Silly me!(less)
Rumpelstiltskin and the Industrial Revolution End of the 18th century, somewhere. Seventeen-year-old, down-to-earth Charlotte Miller has taken over the...moreRumpelstiltskin and the Industrial Revolution End of the 18th century, somewhere. Seventeen-year-old, down-to-earth Charlotte Miller has taken over the family's wool mill Stirwaters after her father's death. She stubbornly refuses to believe in the stories circulating among the mill-hands and villagers about an ancient curse, which is supposed to be the cause for the string of misfortunes happening to the Millers and the mill - including the fact that none of the previous owner's sons managed to reach adulthood and that renovations of the mill building tend to undo themselves almost overnight. Eventually, facing pecuniar pressure - i.e due to Pinchfield, the new mass-producing cloth factory in the neighboring town, her father's debts being collected by the bank, mysteriously destroyed cloth stocks and broken mill equipment, Charlotte is forced to overturn her scorn for her employees' superstition. In order to save her beloved mill and the welfare of all her workers' families she strikes the first bargain with Jack Spinner, a strange fellow, who turns a room full of hay into gold thread and asks only for a cheap ring in return. When Charlotte repeatedly has to rely on Mr Spinner's services, the fate of the mill turning worse and worse, and gives birth to her first son, she decides, she has to break the mill's curse once and for all - or she will lose her child like all the Miller mothers before her.... My opinion: Mrs. Bunce weaves a true thriller. The pull the mill has on Charlotte is chilling as is the rich and pretentious uncle Wheeler who installs himself in Charlotte's household right after the father's death. The story is exasperatingly gloomy and keeps the reader out of breath. But what I like best about the book is that the fairytale I've known magically lost it's black-and-white taint: Rumpelstiltskin aka Jack Spinner is not depicted as entirely evil or mean without a reason. In the end you are able to understand his motives and even to feel compassion for him. Satisfactory, don't you think?(less)
Magic under glass was rather short, it was romantic, it had an automaton with a soul inside (which I loved) and it held my attention without fail. I a...moreMagic under glass was rather short, it was romantic, it had an automaton with a soul inside (which I loved) and it held my attention without fail. I actually resented having to go off the train at the terminal stop.(less)
It's kind of a cross between Cinderella and The Little Mermaid - or, to be more precise, one of those fairytales dealing with a fisherman lured into t...moreIt's kind of a cross between Cinderella and The Little Mermaid - or, to be more precise, one of those fairytales dealing with a fisherman lured into the sea by a terrifyingly beautiful sea creature. Rather sad, but featuring a strong heroine and concluding on a satisfying note.
Later clarification on the sadness part:
The writing is good. I just do not feel well, when I am constantly pitying an almost angelic heroine - and screaming in frustration for her the rest of the time.
Adrianne's father had been stable master. He died and his wife fell into depression, leaving her 12-year-old daughter to manage the household including their servants. Adrianne did not know how to proceed and ran into debts by continuing to pay everyone instead of sacking them and selling the house. She got blamed for losing her family's house and fortune later by her mean aunt. Her mother never stood up for her daughter after she recovered. The mother and the aunt work as seamstresses and Adrianne works her ass of as a cow-shed-muckeress. The aunt sees to it, that good-for-nothing Adrianne does not get new shoes or dresses and shortens her food rations to punish her for her supposed nightly pantry-raids - which are in fact done by the pampered nine year old sister Cecily, who is the aunts favorite and who never admits she is to blame. Cecily's every whim has to be accommodated. Additionally Adrianne is ridiculed and gets threatened by the village boys and her old rival, pretty Cora Lynn, who tries to gain the affections of Adrianne's best childhood-friend Denn, whom Adrianne secretly loves. On top of all that Adrianne gets marked by a mermaid as her prey, when she saves her sister, who went to the shore to have a good sulk (Naturally mother and aunt sit at home wringing their hands as Adrianne braves the storm and the waves and are reluctant to pay the doctor, when Adrianne falls into a short coma.)
You get the drift? Cinderella comes in many shapes. (less)