Full disclosure: I couldn't finish it. I forced myself to read to page 100 and then decided I would rather do just about anything than read this book.Full disclosure: I couldn't finish it. I forced myself to read to page 100 and then decided I would rather do just about anything than read this book. I took it to the playground to read while the kids were on the flying fox, and at one point I decided it was more interesting to stare at the sky than read this book.
Half of the problem was the writing: It was clunky in a way that seemed designed to appeal to a tween audience (e.g. when the eponymous narrator informs the reader that all vampires have red hair and all humans with red hair have some vampire ancestors: "OMG! I knew it! I knew I had some vampire blood!"). The humour is heavy-handed and gimmicky and thus not remotely funny (e.g. the demon who colonises her living room and then spends all day and night watching TV buying crap on the Home Shopping Network until she convinces him to turn into a cat and then drugs him with catnip).
The second half was the unappealing characters. It's hard to like a main character who opens the book by ensnaring and then killing her friend, simply because she's told to by some bossy triumvirate of vampires (one of whom is her grandmother) for whom she works as an assassin. She spends the next 75 pages periodically regretting it. Are we supposed to feel sorry for her because her cold vampire grandma made her kill her friend? No, it just makes her even less appealing, because she never has the balls to stand up to vampire granny. (At least, not by p.100.) Then she heads off on an undercover mission to infiltrate the cult headquarters of vampire granny's political opponent, and we keep getting told that the cult leader, who is described as being like a televangelist and super creepy, makes her "panties wet," and sorry, that's where Ms Wells lost me, because how can I relate to a heroine who is sexually attracted to a cross between Pat Robertson and Tony Robbins?
Not only is this not a keeper, it's also not a book I would give away to anyone, because I frankly don't think I know anyone who would like it. (I hope I don't know anyone who would like it.) Straight to the recycle bin....more
What a pity that this is out of print. It's a very erudite version of steampunk. On one level, it is a series of chapters* that span the time period fWhat a pity that this is out of print. It's a very erudite version of steampunk. On one level, it is a series of chapters* that span the time period from 1899 to 1903. Each of the chapters stand alone, and perhaps in a previous life, they were short stories. Each chapter is its own self-contained mystery which is solved by 1,100-year old vampire and detective, Sebastien de Ulloa, and 50-ish former bombshell, Lady Abigail Irene Garrett, who is not only notorious for her liaisons with powerful, married men but also a formidable forensic sorceress and Detective Crown Investigator.
Sebastien is leaving Spain and his court for the New World, at that time the English colony of New Amsterdam, and travels only with his companion Jack, a 16-year old boy who was raised as Sebastien's ward after he was bought at a young age from some sort of slavery/indenture situation and then freed by Sebastien. Now Jack is a jealous lover who feeds Sebastien not only for the pleasure he gets from it but out of love for his vampire. The first mystery is solved by Sebastian and Jack: that of a murder on the dirigible taking them to New Amsterdam. In New Amsterdam, Sebastien encounters DCI Garrett, aka Lady Abby Irene, when they are working on a case together, and they collaborate on future cases after that.
When these individual mysteries are strung together, they tell a broader story about the political intrigues between the murderous home rule-espousing local Lord Mayor of New Amsterdam; Duke Richard, who represents the English crown and won't leave his wife (to whom he owes his political power) even as he flaunts his affair with Lady Abby Irene in front of her; Prince Henry, heir to the throne of England; and the French Prime Minister, who is about to dive into a proxy war against England by supporting the home rule faction in the colonies.
The broader scope of the book also tells a story about the evolving relationships between a vampire and the members of his "court" who all love him -- and, increasingly, each other -- and the difficulties that Sebastien has dealing with the fleeting lives of the humans he loves, and the fleeting love of another vampire he has given life to.
"Mortal lifetimes were a mercy to love, Sebastien thought. It could endure that long."
As gorgeously written and erudite as it is, it's also compelling, often a page-turner, yet at other times you can enjoy reading slowly and savour the prose. Beautiful.
Recommended for: people who like their mysteries well-written.
*The chapters have poetic titles that stretched my English vocabulary skills, and I wish I'd looked up what the first and fourth meant before reading:
1. Lucifugous: light-avoiding, according to my dictionary, as in owls, bats, and -- you guessed it -- vampires (that part isn't in my dictionary)
3. Wane (I didn't need to look up 2 or 3, thank god)
4. Limerent: limerence is, according to Wikipedia (which we know is never wrong), a neologism coined in 1977 to denote the "involuntary state of mind which seems to result from a romantic attraction for another person combined with an overwhelming, obsessive need to have one's feelings reciprocated." It is thus perhaps connected to the urban dictionary definition for limerant (which is how I originally mis-typed it), defined as "A floaty, manic, excited, feeling that often arises after meeting or spending time with someone who you are recently attracted to."
5. Chatoyent: an optical reflectance effect seen in certain gemstones e.g cat's eyes and star sapphires
6. Lumiere: French for light, here referring to Paris, the city of lights (where the court spends this chapter) as well as the new technology that character Dr Tesla uses to light the city with electricity....more
Slow and pensive but also very appealing. An unusual kind of vampire story. The beginning, which revolves around the mystery of Ariella trying to figuSlow and pensive but also very appealing. An unusual kind of vampire story. The beginning, which revolves around the mystery of Ariella trying to figure out what her dad is and what is the mysterious work he does in the basement, is more appealing than the second half of the story, when she goes off in search of her rather irritating mother who abandoned her at birth (or did she? -- there's a mystery there, too). I liked it enough to keep, but wasn't curious enough about what would happen next to pick up the sequel. Hubbard's writing is beautiful, spellbinding....more
This is an extraordinary book. Comparisons with Tolkien are unfair: Rothfuss is better.
It's the sort of book that you'd have to think twice about befThis is an extraordinary book. Comparisons with Tolkien are unfair: Rothfuss is better.
It's the sort of book that you'd have to think twice about before recommending to young, aspiring authors: on the one hand, it will teach them what it looks like to create characters that are both heroic and believable, a romance and love story that isn't informed by patriarchal undercurrents of male domination and virgin fantasies, good and bad guys who are not simplistic black and white, and an underlying philosophy that is deeply thought-provoking. On the other hand, reading this might make any realistic aspiring author give up, knowing that they can never write anything that approaches Rothfuss’s tale.
If I’ve interpreted Rothfuss’s Goodreads.com author page correctly, it appears that the man slaves away for paltry pay at some midwestern university. Do they realize what an extraordinary writer they have in their midst? Why hasn’t some place like Princeton snatched him up to teach one tiny seminar a semester and write the rest of the time, ala Joyce Carol Oates?
I can't thank Sophie enough for recommending this. Best book I've read in the past 5 years – at least. ...more
Quote: "Spin the parasol three times and repeat after me: I shield in the name of fashion. I accessorize for one and all. Pursuit of truth is my passiQuote: "Spin the parasol three times and repeat after me: I shield in the name of fashion. I accessorize for one and all. Pursuit of truth is my passion. This I vow by the great parasol."...more