A quick, entertaining read that provides fans of the series some one-on-one time with a favorite character. For curious readers, this short could alsoA quick, entertaining read that provides fans of the series some one-on-one time with a favorite character. For curious readers, this short could also serve as an introduction to Swendson's world and writing style....more
In Ghostly, Niffenegger presents ghost tales she finds particularly diverting (accompanied by her own strange illustrations). While not all of her choIn Ghostly, Niffenegger presents ghost tales she finds particularly diverting (accompanied by her own strange illustrations). While not all of her choices struck a chord with me, I'm still pleased with the end result.
Alas, that also means I've found more authors to delve into.
Oh, bother. -----------
"The Black Cat" by Poe. Beware alcohol. If you do drink, beware the vengeance of cats.
"Secret Life, with Cats" by Niffenegger. Events conspire to bring a lonely woman peace and solace and companionship...but it all goes very wrong. Disturbingly, surprisingly wrong.
"Pomegranate Seed" by Wharton. Gentle, yet unsettling. The mild, nagging worry that something is awry and won't someone just admit it before I go slowly mad? Shades of Rebecca- No, strongly-hued swashes of Rebecca.
"The Beckoning Fair One" by Onions. Oh, I thought it would never end.
"The Mezzotint" by M.R. James. Delightfully creepy. If this is a fair representation of James' work, I can see why John Connolly listed him as an influence. There's something so fascinating in the easy way the characters accept the unusual events, the way they are touched by them yet not devoured.
"Honeysuckle Cottage" by Wodehouse. Marvelous stuff. I'm a fan of Wodehouse in general, so I was happy to find him here. This unorthodox haunting is gleefully described, but the more I think on it the more unnerving it becomes.
"Click-Clack the Rattlebag" by Gaiman. Despite my familiarity with the tale, it's still brilliant in its simplicity and efficiency. Great atmosphere.
"They" by Kipling. Can't do any better than my notes: Interesting events. Tiresome descriptions of roads roads and roads. Ending - huh??
"Playmates" by Burrage. I enjoyed the slow unfolding of this one. Though none of the characters were particularly likable, I found myself genuinely curious about what might happen after the close of the story.
"The July Ghost" by Byatt. A strange, depressing, clunky story of the futility surrounding grief - how both the mourner and her helper are trapped by it.
"Laura" by Saki. So brief. So mischievous. So worthy of the big, loud "Hah!" that escaped me.
"The Open Window" by Saki. Also brief, with an amusing twist. Teenagers are nasty things.
"The Specialist's Hat" by Link. Interesting and quirky, but unfortunately all too vague at the end. (Probably the same notion that's prevented me from picking up one of her novels.)
"Tiny Ghosts" by Giacalone. Amusingly odd instead of chilling, with an endearingly direct narrator.
"The Pink House" by Curtis. The storyteller wasn't engaging - especially on the heels of the easy, conversational style of Giacalone's writing. Plus, the twist could be seen from far, faaaaaar away.
"August 2026: There Will Come Soft Rains" by Bradbury. Very affecting. Quite possibly my favourite, and a wonderful closer....more
Night Music: Nocturnes Volume 2 is filled with tales of horror and dread, interspersed with kinder moments of laughter and wonder. At the close, thisNight Music: Nocturnes Volume 2 is filled with tales of horror and dread, interspersed with kinder moments of laughter and wonder. At the close, this juxtaposition feels...necessary. It further shores up Connolly's themes of life as cyclical, of all possible paths existing at once, of all causes having wider effects than we imagine. The multiverse is vast and filled with terrors - but terror is subjective.
Beginning with The Caxton Private Lending Library & Book Depository, we are offered a booklover's dream - with a dash of the nightmarish. We follow a main character (whose solitary habits hit rather close to home) as a chance encounter leads to an astonishing discovery - and to more power than he can be relied upon to handle wisely. It's a lovely story overall, though the conceit is one I've come across a few times now. Connolly makes it his own through his marvelous turn of phrase, forcing thoughtful reading as opposed to a speedy devouring of pages. I may be directly responding to the furious pacing of the last book I read, but Connolly's style of prose demands savouring. And possibly tea.
Finishing up that pleasant work, we move on to something far more tricksy, entitled The Blood of the Lamb. We are thrown in mid-scene, offered quick details that very efficiently create a atmosphere of anxiety within a house normally defined by love. There's some humor here, alongside some genuine awe. But moreseo, there's ambiguity - usually not that much of a problem, but this is the one tale I wasn't satisfied with.
The next, A Dream of Winter, I found immensely satisfying. Incredibly brief, it's proof of Connolly's storytelling skills. He has a knack for getting into your head, laying out the creepy, then transforming it all into a bittersweet moment...before he slaps you with a parting chill down your spine. Delicious.
The Lamia, on the other hand, is nothing so restrained or refined in its emotional prodding. It's a blunt tale of appetite and horror and vengeance. To what lengths will these various beings go to get what they want, what they need?
A similar question is asked in The Hollow King, but with love and the fear of loneliness introduced into the equation. While the main character of the previous story struck me as largely justified, my only thought after this one was "what acts of madness."
Madness certainly features heavily in The Children of Dr. Lyall. We know of the main character's fate from the onset, but then the story unfolds in a mild fashion. This ratchets up the tension as we're left increasingly curious to discover for ourselves how and why and what on earth happens after? What choices led to this moment?
And it's the nature of choices and possibilities and the very structure of reality that's explored more fully in The Fractured Atlas. Five interconnected tales of the occult. Five encounters that emphasize the power of the written word to both create and destroy. Some installments I liked more than others, but taken as a whole they present a deeply unsettling series of events - one that forces the reader to reconsider everything that's preceded it.
It seems a little strange then to embark on the certainly disturbing yet more familiar ground of a folk tale: Razorshins. Anyone versed in folklore and urban fantasy will probably find this far less disturbing. But...maybe that's just me. I take shivery delight in the sorts of stories that explain the sounds in the woods and the reasons the fire needs to burn all night.
In contrast, On the Anatomization of an Unknown Man (1637) by Frans Mier takes us out of out of the woods and into the horrors born of modernity. There are still shadows and darkness and things that tear man asunder, but here it's all in the glorious name of Science!
(Ah, Science, and its vast wonders inspiring the need for a cautionary tale or two to keep people from...overstepping. After all, we do not need folks recreating a rampaging T-Rex for shits and giggles, now do we?)
(Hmn. I may have watched Jurassic World recently. I may also have been struck by the fact that B.D. Wong is all over the evil scientist roles lately.)
A Haunting. Lovely. Sad. Sweet. A little depressing, but at the same time breathtaking.
Which leads directly into Lazarus, which is horrifying. However, because I am a definite fan of the almighty Buffy the Vampire Slayer, this story falls on the predictable side. Sing with me! "I touch the fire, and it freezes me / I look into it, and it's black / Why can't I feel? / My skin should crack and peel / I want the fire back."
Speaking of iconic characters, the last short is Holmes on the Range. Back to the Caxton Library, for more talk of multiverses and fragments of reality and the consequences of our actions. But here it's discussed in a lighter, more whimsical fashion that keeps us safely tucked away from villainy. After so much despair and sinister doings, the return to humor and (more accessible) logic is so very welcome.
To complete the volume is I Live Here, wherein Connolly gives us background on his "fascination with the uncanny." It's funny, if a little long, and offers the author's opinions on many works of horror and fantasy. (I was unsurprised to find out that he's watched Doctor Who.)
Thirteen sections, all of which are fascinating in their own right. All of which will leave you pondering what a strange and overpopulated place John Connolly's imagination must be. I confess I don't think I'd want to live there. But it is a marvelous place to visit....more
Highly entertaining story - so nice that I don't think it rightly deserves the honor of being review #666. Heh. Should have held off for something morHighly entertaining story - so nice that I don't think it rightly deserves the honor of being review #666. Heh. Should have held off for something more horror-filled.
It's lovely to see Toby and Tybalt just being. In the fast-paced, perilous world they inhabit, it's not often we get to see them peacefully enjoy each other's company. Here - at least for a little while - they feel free to laugh, and tease, and get to know one another. The only undercurrent is the typical nervousness experienced by anyone and everyone who has ever been faced with falling in love.
Even when their peaceful night is interrupted, they are so in sync that it's not so much a bother as it is an added reason to appreciate every quiet moment they can. They are without a doubt meant for each other. ...more
Meh. A decent concept, but rather hastily slapped together. Although I knew it was a short story, it would've benefited from being a little more drawnMeh. A decent concept, but rather hastily slapped together. Although I knew it was a short story, it would've benefited from being a little more drawn out....more
A fun look at the start of Agatha's career - both as a PR exec and as an amateur detective. Ambitious and daring from the very beginning, 26-year-oldA fun look at the start of Agatha's career - both as a PR exec and as an amateur detective. Ambitious and daring from the very beginning, 26-year-old Agatha is determined to prove herself. By the end, even the man-on-the-street knows her face and the fact that she is not to be trifled with. ...more