The humour has James all over it but it also informative, warm and accepting, no matter who you are. With pictures! (Not like photos of willies, drawn...moreThe humour has James all over it but it also informative, warm and accepting, no matter who you are. With pictures! (Not like photos of willies, drawn cartoons (sometimes with willies)). I especially liked the holy text interpretation section. I hope it makes it into many schools and into the hands of those who need to know it's all OK. Full review to follow.(less)
No one paid much attention to the Georgia Flu at first, thinking it was localised to Russia. Day One, it arrives in Toronto. One week later, civilisat...moreNo one paid much attention to the Georgia Flu at first, thinking it was localised to Russia. Day One, it arrives in Toronto. One week later, civilisation is collapsing. The death rate is estimated at 99%. Year Twenty, a band of travelling musicians and actors perform to the scattered towns of the survivors. This is the world now, few even remembering when planes flew and electricity brought light to the dark.
I read this excellent post-apocalyptic tale in a day; one of the things that kept me glued to the pages was the mystery of the dog. How did one of the same breed and name come to be there? This web of connections is a defining feature of Station Eleven. We are told the story of a man who died the day Georgia Flu hit North America, but he did not die from the plague. We know he is connected to Kirsten, one of the Travelling Symphony, but why is his backstory so prominent when he is no longer alive?
The motto of the Travelling Symphony is “survival is not sufficient” taken from an episode of Star Trek. I liked that the story focused on a time after the chaos of the plague had subsided and people had found ways to live to some extent. That maybe they could start to think about doing more than just surviving and the arts being part of that. They perform Shakespeare, plays from a time of a different plague, that also prove more popular than more modern offerings. Maybe they provide one small connection to the lost past.
Of course, after society collapses there will always be less than good people who rise up and take advantage. Sometimes the symphony meet these people on their travels. They would normally avoid these towns in future; their philosophy is to not get involved in the politics of others. But sometimes that’s easier said than done.
The title comes from a series of comics, produced on a small scale, which struck a chord with Kirsten who was given them as a child. They serve as a connection to the before but the content shares characteristics with the after. As a side note, the UK cover is in the same hues as the comics (and is so much more inviting than the US offering).
The narrative jumps around between Year Twenty, which is the present and various points in the past. Much of it in the before but as the story progresses and the connections start to snowball, some of the immediate after is revealed. It’s not a story of heroes but of normal people, working out how to live their lives when nearly everything they know is gone.
It’s been four months since Mater Viae passed through from London-Under-Glass and claimed her throne. In those four months, the city has sickened and...moreIt’s been four months since Mater Viae passed through from London-Under-Glass and claimed her throne. In those four months, the city has sickened and its occupants divided. London is on the brink of a civil war like no other.
If you’ve not experienced Tom Pollock’s London yet, go and get yourself a copy of The City’s Son right this minute. The third book does not disappoint at all and I can’t remember the last time a trilogy has delivered so well in every single book.
From the opening pages, the streets are closing in, literally as windows and doors are disappearing, leaving nothing but brickwork and the fading screams of those trapped inside. The outlook seems bleak for both the city and Beth, who now must feed off sickly streets. Loyalties are divided and refugees are camping out in Selfridges, one of the last safe havens from a city that is slowly consuming itself.
Tom’s characters don’t come out of their adventures unscathed. It’s not just their inner selves that are transformed, but when bad things happen in this world, they also have physical impact. Pen still holds her scars from the Wire Mistress (who you can expect to see more from in this book) and has another chance to address her internal scars. Beth’s transformation is more fantastical, but comes with many new challenges.
And there’s loss. Not just of the city they call home, the streets lost to a malignance, but also to those they hold dear. Beth visits the baby Pavement Priest that is all that is physically left of Fil and she carries his stolen memories in a flask. Pen learns how her parents, who no longer remember her, think they are going insane. This is a world of tough decisions, unknowns and living with the consequences.
There’s a nod to some of the creatures from the past, some who side with them and others that see the Mirror Mater as their true Goddess. Alliances are shifting, and not always in the direction that you expect. It feels a much more familiar world by now, less of a learning curve getting to know Tom’s stunning world-building.
The ending is dramatic and emotional. I was so thrown by one bit with the cats, where I was thinking aww, isn’t that lovely, only for the scene to pan out and be something else. It really manages to play with your heartstrings if you’ve come to love this world and the characters.
I’m not sure I was ready for it to end. Pitched as a trilogy, Our Lady of the Streets does feel like a conclusion but this world is so multi-layered and creative, it’s going to be hard to let go. Despite the hardships, I was left with a feeling of hope; that something will live on beyond the pages. Beth and Pen, the Railwraiths, London-Under-Glass, the Pavement Priests and Gutterglass are so real to me that they can’t stop existing, in the corners of our imaginations and in the bricks of London Town…
Make sure you don’t need the bathroom when you start reading Say Her Name. There’s some seriously creepy moments all interspersed with nuggets of wisd...moreMake sure you don’t need the bathroom when you start reading Say Her Name. There’s some seriously creepy moments all interspersed with nuggets of wisdom and wit from the newly crowned Queen of Teen. The story still manages to touch on a number of real world issues without them being the focus.
It’s interesting to see a horror story with some compassion for the ghost, whether or not they’re doing evil things, they are supposed to be troubled spirits. Maybe they had a tough time in life. I liked that Bobbie investigates who Mary was and the events that trapped her in the mirrors.
As always. James’ characters feel like real people, the kind that you went to school with (or are at school with now). They’re easy to relate to even if they are at a private school. They’re all imperfect, even those who might like to project otherwise.
The ending, from the main characters’ point at least, all felt a little too easy. After Cruel Summer, which is brilliant, I suppose I was expecting something else. That’s my only fault of this otherwise entertaining and unsettling read.(less)
Twelve-year-old September is lonely and bored in Omaha where there are no adventures to be had. When the Green Wind turns up at her window on a leopar...moreTwelve-year-old September is lonely and bored in Omaha where there are no adventures to be had. When the Green Wind turns up at her window on a leopard that flies, she accepts his invitation to go to Fairyland. But all is not well in this magical world; now ruled by the Marquess who shackles creatures in chains and demands her laws be followed. Being a good and kind girl, she soon offers to retrieve a spoon that was stolen, a spoon that is now in the possession of the Marquess.
There’s a little bit of Narnia and a dash of Oz in this otherwise original and creative fairytale. It’s full of charm and the most amazing, fantastical creatures. In fine fantasy adventure style, September is on a journey which leads her to strange lands and even stranger people. It feels like a fine fairytale for grown-ups (though younger readers with good reading skill will also be charmed, I’m sure).
My favourite characters included A-Through-L (Ell for short) the Wyverary; that’s a cross between a wyvern and a library. Though Ell had only read from A to L and therefore couldn’t answer questions on subjects starting M to Z. Also the soap golem, whose story is so sad but also gives September some wise advice like to not be ashamed of her naked body. I loved the fact that the story included some great morals that weren’t preachy and felt just like part of the story.
Oh that little lantern. It was so expressive in its simplicity and I felt so much for it. There are so many characters it feels like it should be too many, but somehow it all works. Each had their part and the style meant they didn’t need to be fully evolved individuals.
I liked that it looked at fairytales from different sides. Does anyone stop to think what happens to those children who stumble into other worlds only to have to go back to their monochrome lives? It cannot be an easy psychological adjustment. Especially if, like the children of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, you’ve grown into adults while you were gone, only to be thrust back into children’s bodies.
If anyone tries to tell you girls don’t have adventures, give them The Girl Who Navigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making. It’s simply wonderful.(less)