Four authors were asked to write novellas based on this sentence: “A stranger comes to town, offering to raise the townsfolk’s dearly de3.75/5 Overall
Four authors were asked to write novellas based on this sentence: “A stranger comes to town, offering to raise the townsfolk’s dearly departed from the dead—for a price.” Despite having the same inspiration, each of these stories is very different from the others, which makes it a great collection.
Suffer the Children - Kelley Armstrong 3.75/5 - a nice story of a small isolated village in Canada, historical period unknown. Pretty much what one's mind might conjure on its own from the inspiration sentence given, so not incredibly original, but it had some nice twists and good characters.
Pipers by Christopher Golden - 3.75/5 - I've never read anything by Golden before but I like his style, so I might check out some of his other books. Nice twist right at the end of this novella.
A Bad Season For Necromancy - David Liss - 4.5/5 - what a pleasant surprise this was. 18th century England is one of my favorite settings, and Liss has just the right style for an authentic feel. Loved it.
Alive Day - Jonathan Maberry - 2.5/5 - well now I know not to read any of Maberry's Joe Ledger series. This one was not up my alley at all, too much military. It also deviated fairly widely from the "inspiration sentence". I did enjoy the historical bits.
Well that took forever. It had its moments, but overall was not great. There are just too many Mayfairs, and though Rice delineates them as well as thWell that took forever. It had its moments, but overall was not great. There are just too many Mayfairs, and though Rice delineates them as well as they possibly can be, having to juggle them all really takes away from the forward motion of the plot. So many characters' stories seem truncated. The ending was a surprise, and quite hasty considering how much time Rice spends on everything else. To be honest much of this book was a drag to get through and not very enjoyable. I found myself slightly skimming a lot of it, which is to say I didn't spend as much time savoring it, though I more or less read every word. It took me months to get through, I never felt like I wanted to pick it back up. I'm pretty disappointed with it. I'm disappointed what Rice did with Rowan and Lasher's characters especially. Meh....more
A part of me wants to give this book 3 stars, but I just can't. Why not, you ask? Well...
I realized very early on while reading that this book wasn'tA part of me wants to give this book 3 stars, but I just can't. Why not, you ask? Well...
I realized very early on while reading that this book wasn't going to be what I expected (or wanted) it to be. I wanted a DaVinci Code/Historian type thing, a fast-paced thriller none-the-less full of research and deep mythology. Instead it was a run-of-the-mill horror story that echoed the plot of some movies I've seen. Yes, there were plenty of references to Paradise Lost, and yes, there's a demon, but I felt like I might have gotten more actual demonology from a UF series.
The writing itself was decently done, but the storytelling was problematic. Despite the author's use of the present tense, and a looming deadline--which if missed, all would be lost--there was no sense of urgency in either the writing or the protagonist's actions. I mean, he's in Florida, and, realizing he needs to get to Canada (at this point there's probably two days left, though that is an estimate because the author never makes note of the actual time/date even though it is so important), the protagonist decides to drive a car rather than take an airplane. That's more than a 24 hour drive, trust me, I've done it. And he even stops to play tourist at Niagara Falls on the way, even though his daughter's soul--supposedly the only thing he cares about--is in jeopardy. What the hell.
The entire plot revolves around a videotape that contains proof that demons exist. Everyone in this book seems to think that if released, this evidence will change the whole world. I think that's really naive. Most people these days wouldn't believe it's real, even if it's verified up, down and sideways. Or they wouldn't care either way. The only people who would find such a thing valuable are the people who already believe, or want to believe. So this world-shattering item that is the focus of the story is actually pretty lame, and makes the whole journey seem random and pointless--or at least, only significant for the protagonist and his family.
And then there's the ending. The protagonist's dead best friend suddenly returns as an angel to save the day, he gets his daughter back, and the message is that love can overcome evil. Deus ex machina + trite = Do. Not. Like.
I don't much care for the art in this book. Besides the lack of color, it just seems hasty and scratchy. It's hard to tell the difference between theI don't much care for the art in this book. Besides the lack of color, it just seems hasty and scratchy. It's hard to tell the difference between the characters, especially the men, they are so similarly drawn. Color would help a lot with this issue. There's also a lack of time demarcation, often you don't realize a week or more has passed until some character mentions it, or all of a sudden two characters are "in love", even though it seems like they met a day or two ago. Speaking of the love stories, they are often cheesy and downright cliché. It's hard to take Maggie's speech about "Glenn and I are in love, daddy, and there's nothing you can do about, I'm old enough to do what I want!" seriously. And Andrea sleeping with Dale is just gross. If I wasn't a fan of the tv show, I'd have given this one 2 stars....more
WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS A COUPLE OF SPOILERS. (But if you read this review, you won't want to read the actual book anyway, so it's no loss.)
If IWARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS A COUPLE OF SPOILERS. (But if you read this review, you won't want to read the actual book anyway, so it's no loss.)
If I didn't know better, I'd think this was book was written by a 15-year-old. The writing is very simplistic, like a children's book, with uncomplicated sentence structure and repetitiveness--I mean a LOT. There was a bare minimum of character background information or setting description. Some people might call this type of writing "stark", but to me, stark writing has a kind of poetry to it, and this was decidedly unartful.
This is my first book by Melvin Burgess, but he's supposedly very good at writing YA books. I'd never have guessed. There was a lot of supernatural in this book, but the least believable part were the characters. These kids are supposed to be in university, but they never do homework, go to class, or even talk about class. They don't even mention the fact that they are all missing their classes (or, since the story takes place in the late fall, EXAMS) during their adventure. The only time the school actually appears in the book is when Coll--the sexually promiscuous nerd--uses a school lab to make poison without being noticed by anyone.
In fact, these kids managed to torture monsters, transport and bury bodies, and destroy property without anyone else in town noticing at all. Coll uses multiple tools in her parent's garage to beat on a vampire for over an hour without waking anyone in the house. That's one sound-proof garage.
These characters just aren't nearly as scared as they should be. They take breaks in the middle of world-ending evil to go on holiday, party and get drunk. They should be frightened out of their wits and fearing for their sanity, not cracking jokes, watching movies and getting in on with each other. One of them had the gall to complain that their housemate Ivan had drank all the beer "as usual" just hours after Beth was forced to strangle him to death. And nobody even flinched. There were no psychological consequences to any of the bizarre and violent things that happened to these kids.
The relationship that developed between Coll and Louis was ridiculous. She's had a crush on him since grade two, and he's never been interested. According to the narrative, he suddenly sees something in her behaviour during this crisis that changes his mind, though I'll be damned if I know what it is. If I spend ten-plus years just not be attracted to to someone, seeing them display a bit of bravery isn't going to miraculously swoop me off my feet. All those things Louis found unattractive about Coll are still there, and once this is all over, opportunities to be brave (or whatever it is he now sees in her) are going to be few and far between.
Who is this book written for? I would hesitate to call it YA, due to all the references to sex, and the drinking and swearing. Hunger is like a children's book starring young adults with 18+ themes. So maybe the intended audience is adults who read at a fifth grade level.
The plot idea isn't horrible, and I liked that instead of Louis's God swooping in to save the day, he actually finds out there is no God. That was a nice twist you'd never get from an American YA author.
In some ways, this book reminded me of Anne Rice's The Witching Hour -- it was long, full of histories, and the supernatural element was delayed in arIn some ways, this book reminded me of Anne Rice's The Witching Hour -- it was long, full of histories, and the supernatural element was delayed in arriving, and sparse in actual appearance. Unlike Rice's story, however, The Accursed is peopled with many actual historical figures (e.g. Woodrow Wilson, Upton Sinclair, Jack London, Grover Cleveland, Mark Twain, Teddy Roosevelt) and set in Princeton, New Jersey in the years 1905-6. There were dozens of characters in this book, to the point where, unless you have a great memory (which I decidedly don't), you'll become confused about who people are, what happened with each of them, and their relationship to each other. I needed one of those character maps, like this one I found when I read Middlemarch, or perhaps even a physical copy of Pearce van Dyck's "Scheme of Clues" -- for even the characters needed a map to keep track of what was going on.
I can't imagine the amount of work it took to put this book together. Oates herself must have had some sort of massive outline. I have no idea how historically accurate the details and characters are, but I'm sure that, even supposing artistic liberties, Oates must have done a huge amount of research.
This story touches on just about every social issue you can think of -- racism, women's rights, sexual "deviance" (mentioned only as "the unspeakable"), politics, socialism, religion...sometimes I found myself wondering why this book had to be about everything. In some cases, the issues were inseparable from the lives of the characters. But I felt like the socialism issue, and the parts of the book covering the characters of Upton Sinclair, Jack London and the like might have been unnecessary, adding more bulk to the already complex and over-populated story.
Many of Oates' characters were well-written and life-like, in that they inhabited grey areas, had many faults, and saw the world in their own particular way. Woodrow Wilson and Upton Sinclair especially struck me as people who had the best intentions, but were trapped by their own sets of rules that caused them to suffer, because they couldn't see outside their own perspective. It evoked a measure of sympathy in me to see how they were confused and angry when their rigidity of thinking and/or acting failed to create their desired results. Many characters in the book suffered in this way at some time or to some degree, causing schisms in relationships. However, I was also irritated by their blindness to their own faults, the blame-shifting, and of course the various prejudices. I appreciated that Oates made her characters human in this way, as none of them were wholly good (except perhaps for the angelic Annabel and the progressive Wilhelmina), or wholly evil (except, of course, the agents of The Curse).
Oates' writing is expressive and detailed. As a result, the pace of this book is rather slow, but most of the time she manages to keep it interesting, creating a very non-romantic picture of this time and place in American history. The character of Adelaide Burr made me grateful that I am not living with my own chronic illness in her time, sheltered and isolated from information by lack of technology and antiquated sexist ideas. This book does not hold back in its depictions of elitism, racism, sexism, and every other kind of prejudice that was in existence (and being questioned) at the time. Even the narrator, writing in his old age in the 1980's, showed symptoms of discriminatory attitudes.
Speaking of the narrator, he was the one thing I didn't like about this book. I found him to be intrusive, and little more than a device to excuse certain aspects of the book. He introduces himself as a "historian, not a literary stylist", which gives him (i.e. the author) the right to info-dump with impunity, in footnotes (I hate footnotes, especially in novels), and in small chapters between story events. He even suggests the reader skip certain parts if we aren't really interested in the details, but of course you can't do it. His whole presence felt like the author trying to excuse her own perceived faults in the narrative -- unnecessarily, in my opinion. In fact, his repeated intrusions only served to jerk me out of the story and make me realize that he was, at least in one significant instance, privy to details that he couldn't possibly have known (the incident of Pearce van Dyck's visitation by an agent of The Curse impersonating Joseph Bell -- the inspiration behind Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes). In effect, the one major fault in the novel is the very device meant to smooth over the rest of them (which in my mind, don't exist).
The ending of this story was written as an all-caps sermon by the original instigator of The Curse, and left us with a grand twist that I found quite interesting, and rather amusing. I will not spoil it, but I will say I'm kind of shocked that I haven't seen any outraged response to it online. Though certain aspects of the mystery remain incompletely explained (such as "The Bog Kingdom"), and certain characters had a bit of a "quick and tidy" conclusion, I felt it was a satisfying, if unusual, ending.
If you like "long reads" and early 20th century American gothic (and/or history), this book is probably for you.
Goodreads says this book is 128 pages but it was only 39 on my e-reader, in a reasonably-sized font, so I guess there were a lot of illustrations in tGoodreads says this book is 128 pages but it was only 39 on my e-reader, in a reasonably-sized font, so I guess there were a lot of illustrations in the original. It took less than an hour to read, and ended up being pretty decent....more
3.5 stars. It's hard to rate a book that leaves you with powerful feelings at the end, but was not that great most of the way through. Full review: htt3.5 stars. It's hard to rate a book that leaves you with powerful feelings at the end, but was not that great most of the way through. Full review: http://bit.ly/16CjVHA...more
I really expected big things from this book and all I got is the well-earned knowledge that I don't like Dan Simmons's writing. Review: http://perpetuaI really expected big things from this book and all I got is the well-earned knowledge that I don't like Dan Simmons's writing. Review: http://perpetualspiralreviews.blogspo......more
The story is interesting enough, but it was hard (for me at least) to relate to the characters, which is important if you are going to be afraid for The story is interesting enough, but it was hard (for me at least) to relate to the characters, which is important if you are going to be afraid for them. Full review: http://bit.ly/XkDi59...more