After five books, I find that I no longer like or have any sympathy for either the heroine or the hero and cannot face the thought of another book ful...moreAfter five books, I find that I no longer like or have any sympathy for either the heroine or the hero and cannot face the thought of another book full of sickly sweet soliloquys about how lovely and wonderful Seth is and how cute he looks in his quirky t-shirts with his messy hair, which one might expect from a love-sick pimply teenager but not from a millenia old denizen of hell, for crying out loud. In fact, I could barely drag myself through this last instalment, skipping whole chunks and pages along the way.
The shining beacon of goodness that is Seth never really did it for me (even Dante's style was more of a turn on) but now he has gone from merely pathetic to just plain detestable.
There is no real character development with Georgina. She is pretty, she loves wallowing in misery of the o woe is me variety and she loves Seth but can't help cheating on him from time to time. There is nothing else to her and it doesn't look like there will be. The woman does not learn, despite having lived for millenia and having reapeated the same patterns over and over again the entire time.
Moreover, it has now become pretty obvious where all of this is heading and the big reveal, when it does come, will, I am pretty sure, be somewhat underwhelming, if only for the fact that it is now at least two books overdue.
I am undecided whether to read the last book when it comes out. On the one hand, I am so fed up with Georgina and Seth, that I really don't want to go anywhere near it. On the other hand, having read 5 of the books in the series, I feel I may as well trudge through it just for the sake of completeness so I can draw the curtain on the whole thing (so to speak) never to go back to it again. (less)
I wanted some good old smutty fantasy escapism this weekend, so I picked this up as it sounded right up my street. The idea of the book was intriguing...moreI wanted some good old smutty fantasy escapism this weekend, so I picked this up as it sounded right up my street. The idea of the book was intriguing. Immortal warriors each possessed by a demon and struggling against the wrath of the gods. Where, oh where, did it all go wrong?
The characters were just flat. There was no depth, no complexity no anything to cause even the slightest flicker of interest. The hero spends the entire book with a hard on and PMSing like a bitch. The heroine, Ashlyn, somehow manages to fall in love with the hero knowing absolutely zilch about him, having been locked away in a dungeon within minutes of meeting him and having spent most of her time with him after that in a near comatose state. And the author has no talent whatsoever for writing the smut. There was no imagination, no build up, it was almost like reading a sex manual. I spent most of those scenes completely bored with not a twitch of excitement on the horizon.
And to top it all off there were just completely glaring inconsistencies and very little logic in the book. For instance, the hero spends some time at the beginning moaning about the fact that he cannot be killed because it would be so tempting to end it all once and for all. Well, that turns out to be complete bull, doesn't? Also, WTF is the heroine stumbilng about in the woods at the beginning when everyone else (delivery men, women chasing Paris, Hunters to name but a few) seem to be able to find the front entrance without too many problems and, I assume, don't have to track the wilderness in order to do so.
I'm going to give the next book a go just in case this is the case of the first pancake always being lumpy (plus I don really want to judge an author on the basis of a single book, it's possible she was just finding her feet with this one) but it had better get good pretty damn quick as I don't think I'll have the patience for the heroes' brand of bipolar broodiness for much longer.(less)
Hmmmm... What's with the guy on the cover? He's supposed to be an immortal warrior housing the demon of death, not a teenage emo boy. And where are th...moreHmmmm... What's with the guy on the cover? He's supposed to be an immortal warrior housing the demon of death, not a teenage emo boy. And where are the scars?
Anyway, the book was better than the first one but only barely. Some thoughts:
- I liked Anya overall. The way she talks is very reminiscent of Kresley Cole's heroines, who are usually brilliant and funny. She's a bit immature and needy and has no self respect but at least she was sorta entertaining and the nicknames she gives Lucien are probably the best part of the book.
- Why, why why the orgiastic party at the beginning? They are millenia old immortals, not sex starved frat boys. Doesn't characterise the heroes very well, as far as I'm concerned.
- The first interaction between Anya and Lucien was just mortifying. If a man you make a pass at says no, that doesn't mean bend over and start rubbing yourself on him, Anya. The way Anya behaves throughout the first three quarters of the book is more than a little stalkerish and I'm pretty sure would qualify as sexual harrasment.
- If Lucien thinks killing Anya, a goddess, is such a piece of piss (which he seems to at the beginning) why are they all such push-overs for the other gods? Why not try to kill Cronos? Why have they never tried to force the issue with the Greeks to reverse their curse in all those thousands of years?
- Lucien has so little personality it's startling. I barely remembered him from the previous books. Other than that he smells of roses and is usually level-headed there doesn't seem to be much else to characterise him. His astounding stupidity, maybe. He supposedly permanently disfigured himself (how's that even possible, shouldn't he have healed without any scarring? the explanation given is not very convincing) after the woman he loved (he's only been with her for a few months FFS!) died, in order to stop other women being interested in him in that way. Talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face! And no, it doesn't prove that he can love and feel deeply, just shows that he has the emotional maturity of a 17 year old (I guess, he is well matched with Anya in that respect). I suspect he only did it so he can do all the angsty "she cannot possibly find me attractive" internal agonising.
- The hair trigger response Anya and Lucien have to each other is irritating . Her hair brushes his cheek and he is about ready to explode in his pants. A couple of blow jobs later and he goes from wanting to kill her to eternal love and devotion and sacrificing himself and all his friends for her. I know this is PNR but come on! Also, constantly dashing away in the middle of sex to escort souls to hell/heaven is a bit of a downer plus doing so in the nude is somewhat creepy.
- I found myself constantly skipping over pages and paragraphs. I skipped over the entire of Reys/Danika passages and most of Paris/Sienna.
I think I am done with Showalter for the time being.(less)
I didn't realise there was a difference between Night Huntress and Night Huntress World so it was a bit annoying that I picked this up thinking it was...moreI didn't realise there was a difference between Night Huntress and Night Huntress World so it was a bit annoying that I picked this up thinking it was the first book in the series and it's not. Well, it is, in a way, but not really. I should have left it when I realised and waited until I got the Night Huntress books, I suppose, but I thought I'd give it a go to see if it's worth getting the Night Huntress books.
The beginning was a bit abrubt. It pretty much just got straight into the story, whereas it would have been nice to get a bit of background, some build-up, something on the heroes. I suppose that's a function of this not being the first book in the series (not really, anyway). I'm not sure I was completely sold on the demon needing a human to find another human premise but I did like the interaction between the hero and heroine. He is all gorgeous and superior vamp and ex-nobleman and she has vamp-phobia due to them having offed her husband (I presume, although the book is a bit hazy on the details - it seemed that it was vamps thoughout the book but a couple of times it is implied that it may have been some other kind of monster?) and both are fighting a losing battle against their attraction to each other. A bit of reluctant attraction is always nice and there are glimmers of humor here and there. The Dracula porn movie reject comment was comedy.
Minorish tic, the language she uses is a bit weird at times. The constant use of the word "bloke" grated me and I hate the name Denise. Others, like it "cost a lot of quid" and all the references to "sods" (a word I haven't heard anyone use ever, I don't think, either swear properly or why bother at all) were also weird. I thought all these blokes, sods and quid may have been an attempt to make the hero sound a bit more English but, if it was, it didn't work. Some silly expressions as well, e.g. "tiger-coloured eyes" (what, you mean orange with black stripes?).
Overall, the book wasn't bad but it wasn' great either. It dragged on a bit and there was something very detached about the writing. I can't really put my finger on exactly what it is, but at no point did I find myself completely absorbed in the story. I will try the Night Huntress books as, I suspect, those may be better.(less)
Based on the author's name and the title I was fully expecting a neo-gothic monstrosity of red velvet, dripping blood and undying love. This sort of t...moreBased on the author's name and the title I was fully expecting a neo-gothic monstrosity of red velvet, dripping blood and undying love. This sort of thing:
Ironically, the book does feature some red velvet and lots of blood, yet it was surprisingly good nonetheless.
This is the story of Dante "Danny" Valentine, a talented necromance and ass-kicking bounty hunter, who is hired (read forced) by the Prince of Hell himself, Lucifer (the Devil is dressed in black jeans and t-shirt, is barefoot, androgynously beautiful and has an "amazing corona of golden hair" but his surroundings are, at least, appropriately resplendent in red velvet, crimson, mahogany and leather bound books) to hunt down and kill a rogue demon, Vardimal know in the human world as Santino, and to retrieve a demon artefact, referred to as the Egg, stolen by him. In order to help her accomplish this task, Danny is assigned a demon familiar, Tierce Japhrimel, the Devil's Assassin and, possibly, oldest child (Lucifer refers to him as "my eldest" at one point). As it turns out, Danny has her own score to settle with Santino who has killed her best friend Doreen several years previously and is, by all accounts, a sadistic serial killer.
One of the things I enjoyed most in this book was the dark and gritty atmosphere of the futuristic world where fantasy blends with sci-fi and shamans, ancient Egyptian gods, demons, golems and so on are generously interspersed with plasguns, hovercraft (even one that can become invisible), datbands, flying slick boards and the like. It is a world where Christian religion has been discredited (the demons do not form part of the Heaven-Hell dichotomy but are instead alien beings occupying a different dimension who"modified" (and possibly created?) mankind as part of their own genetic experiments) and people with various psychic abilities (psis) are recognised and trained so that their powers can be harnessed for the purposes of society. A 70-day war is mentioned, after which the Parapsychic Act (which seems to regulate and grant citizenship to psis, though its significance beyond that is not entirely clear) was introduced.
This is a very fast action-driven story and the author does not pause along the way to explain the jargon and the way her world operates, leaving you to work things out for yourself from the context, which may irritate some readers but I found I quite enjoyed this sparse brushstroke approach. It was sufficiently engaging to hold my interest throughout this book and enough was left unexplained to make me look forward to reading the other books in the series to make sense of all the info we are given.
The other big plus of this book is the relationship between Danny and Japh. I loved the interaction between them and there was just enough subtlety in the build up to make it believable. Not so keen on the glowing green eyes but, I guess, one can't have everything and it looks like they will be phased out anyway.
I did have a few niggles (other than the glowing green eyes), by far the biggest being that Saintcrow seems to get stuck on certain expressions and repeats them ad nauseum. I was getting a bit sick of Dante's emerald winking, rings spluttering and knuckles going white from grabbing on to the hilt of her sword, her being told to "breathe, just breathe" constantly, everyone's eyes being dark and liquid and lips peeling back from teeth and so forth. (less)
Hmmm. This book was frustrating. It was much better than the first in many respects yet much more irritating in others.
The writing seems to have impro...moreHmmm. This book was frustrating. It was much better than the first in many respects yet much more irritating in others.
The writing seems to have improved considerably though there is still a lot of repetition. Dante's thought pattern sure is circular. She goes round and round and round with the same old "Japhrimel is dead/I can't love Jace/my hand is cramping/I don't want to think about anything" crap until you almost start feeling dizzy. It gets very tedious.
Being in Dante's head is a bit like riding on one of these:
One of the problems was that this didn't have the break neck speed of the first novel, so you actually got the time along the way to contemplate the characters, their actions and the reasons behind them.
Dante is a frustrating character. She is very self-absorbed, self-deluding and a bit of a coward to boot (despite the showy heroics). She will go out and fight villains and catch criminals but is completely unable to face anything affecting her own life and will bury her head in the sand and avoid facing things for as long as she can. Perhaps, this is understandable given her history (and we do get a lot of back story on her childhood in this book, which was good), but chapter upon chapter of her not doing very much other than going round and round and round in her head with the self-delusional bullshit was frustrating.
I detested the way Dante treated Jace. She was a bit of a prick tease in the first book gallivanting naked around Japhrimel (it's not like he will care, he is a different species from me. is he blushing? nah, must be seeing things again.) but this was much more morally suspect. I suppose this is yet another facet of her inability to face things. She knows that she will never return his feelings, yet she continues to string him along, allows him to move in with her, sleep in the same bed as her, tag along on her bounty hunts. Now, he is a big boy and can choose for himself but I still cannot condone this passive cowardly stance that she has, particularly given that she supposedly cares a lot for him as a friend (view spoiler)[and given that he dies for it (hide spoiler)].
There are also a couple of WTF moments, the biggest one by far being when she "destroys" the urn and torches down her house because (a) it is a very childish, not to mention selfish and irresponsible, action and (b) even an imbecile would realise what is going to happen as soon as she has done it. (view spoiler)[There is no subtlety to the resurrection, it just happens. And that was a huge disappointment. I would have much preferred for her to wrap up her past in this book and spend the time in the next book researching demons, her own nature and trying to resurrect Japh so that it would actually mean something instead of being some half-baked half-assed how fucking stupid are you accident. (hide spoiler)]
The ending made me cringe. They ride off into the sunset in a hover limo. Seriously.
On the plus side, I was still very much impressed with the complexity of the world that Saintcrow created. We get quite a bit more detail in this instalment and it is impeccably thought out. There is a historical, legal and even scientific context which is integrated into the story (although some of it is delivered as part of a couple of "research" essays and a glossary at the end, which some might consider a lazy approach, but I actually quite enjoyed that part, it certainly read very authentic). Nichtvren (vampires) and werecain (werewolves) make an appearance and we get a better understanding of the nature of some of the other types of psionic ability.
Overall, I still think this was a compelling and worthwhile read and am planning to continue on with the series. I am particularly interested to see how things will develop with Lucifer, who remained on the periphery throughout this instalment and how Dante, and her relationship with Japhrimel, will develop. I'm hoping there will be a lot more of her exploring her new half-demon powers and kicking ass, instead of moping about feeling sorry for herself and avoiding thinking about things.
The Dante Valentine hunting season is open an all bets are off.
Throughout this book I wanted nothing so much as to slap someone upside the head. And l...moreThe Dante Valentine hunting season is open an all bets are off.
Throughout this book I wanted nothing so much as to slap someone upside the head. And let me tell you, there were plenty of candidates needing some serious slapping in this book, including the two main characters and the author. Ranting and spoilers ahead.
After Danny and Japhrimel rode off into the sunset at the end of the previous instalment, I was expecting to see lots of hot sex (they did have several months' worth of catching up to do) but mainly I was expecting Japh to do a lot of explaining about what the fuck he made Dante into. Well, guess what? Not so much of the hot sex (it is referred to but it is all fade to black and here they are laying tangled stroking each other's faces scenes) and Japh says no, he is not comfortable talking about Fallen and hedaira. And Danny just accepts that and attempts to do her own research on the subject instead. Now, any sane person would see that there is some serious slapping required right there. He changed her , modified her genes for Christ's sake, without her informed consent might I add, and now he is not comfortable talking about it? Are you fucking kidding me?
It gets worse, though. As soon as the cheesefest idyll of the first few pages is over, it turns out that while he was stewing in the jar for a few months, Japhrimel has become an abusive, controlling, jealous asshole of epic proportions. Being crispy fried does not appear to have done any good to his character. His actions and motivations in this book basically come down to I am stronger, wiser and older so what I say goes. I don't have to discuss anything with you or tell you anything, I just expect you to trust me blindly and do what I say and, if you don't, I will force you. He dangles her by the scruff like a naughty fucking puppy and tells her to fucking obey. And guess what, she does not cut off his balls and feed them to the fucking hellhounds, she pretty much does as he says and apologises.
This, apparently is Dante Valentine's character development. She carries on loving a man who has made it clear that he most definitely does not consider her an equal, who will treat her as an imbecile child and is prepared to use force on her (other than the dangling episode, he does a lot of dragging and restraining throughout). Most of her internal whining (and it is still as repetitive as ever) comes down to he is not telling me things, he wants to leave me, how will I stand it, my heart is breaking, what am I gonna do. And in the end all is forgiven because he didn't agree to kill her and "Everything's going to be all right. He's here."
Way to go there Lilith. Other than, possibly, Charlaine Harris, I don't think I have ever seen an author fuck up her characters this much. You are not writing "Living with the Devil: a frank and unflinching look at abusive relationships", you are writing "The Devil's Right Hand", an urban fantasy with a strong(ish) romance theme. You romanticising this shit is really not fucking on.
Another candidate for slapping is Lucifer himself. For various reasons but mainly because one would expect the Lord of Hell to fucking man up and stop letting all these demons escape from Hell left right and centre or, if and when they do, to deal with it himself, instead of making stupid fucking bargains.
And it is all such a shame. Because in terms of plot and momentum this was much better than the previous book (which is why I gave it two stars rather than one), interesting new characters are introduced and the world building with its mixture of futuristic sci-fi and magic is still pretty good. We travel from Tuscany* and Venice in the Hegemony to freetowns of Prague and Sarajevo, see more of the Nichtrvren and Werecain and learn about other species (Swanhilds, Kobolds and Anhelikos, the latter being particularly fascinating) that inhabit this world, yet all of this is overshadowed by the abusive relationship between the main characters, the repetitive writing and a certain amount of discontinuity from the previous books (e.g. all of a sudden we find out that Doreen was Dante's lover, not just her friend, which, I am pretty sure, was never mentioned in the first book).
* The names of places and languages that Saintcrow uses are all slightly modified, e.g. American is Merican, Italian is Taliano, Tuscany is Toscano, Venice is Venizia and so on. To be honest, I am a bit ambivalent about this. It seems to be done just for the sake of it and I am not sure that place names/language evolve in this way.
I really enjoyed the first book in the series, the second was frustrating and this one is just infuriating. I'm wondering if I should cut my losses and drop it. I suspect that I probably won't. I'm more than half way through and I do want to see what happens. I dragged myself through worse books before (this attitude of soldiering on to the end no matter what is completely irrational, I know that, but still can't seem to help myself). What I would really like is for Dante to acquire some POWER so that she can show Japh what's what, cut off his balls and make him eat and re-grow them very slowly and very painfully. Or just put him back into the crispy fried jar for a few years to think about his behaviour. I doubt this will happen, though. (less)
OK, so what can I say about this that I have not said about the previous instalments? Not much, I'm afraid. And that's not a good thing.
Pacing is sti...moreOK, so what can I say about this that I have not said about the previous instalments? Not much, I'm afraid. And that's not a good thing.
Pacing is still good (though action scenes are becoming more and more confusing), world building good, plot ok (while I do have some beef with the whole Gabe and Eddie dying sideline as it seemed completely unnecessary and irrelevant, the overall story arch developed nicely here) but it falls flat on its face in the execution. Japh is still an abusive control freak. Dante is still a whining imbecile. And the repetition. Oh holyjesusmarymotherofgod, the constant repetition.
I have actually done a count for this one so, Ms Saintcrow's editor, please take note:
• in fifth place we have the emerald on Dante's cheek which is mentioned 7 times, with emeralds altogether (there are 3 necromances plus Lucifer and Eve all with emeralds on their faces) being mentioned 18 times;
• in fourth place we have a tie between Dante's molecule-drip nail polish and black-diamond flames of a demon's aura with a respectable 8 mentions each;
• in third place, Dante's rings winking, swirling, sizzling, rolling, spitting and sparking 18 times;
• in second place, things glowing green are mentioned 36 times, mainly Japhrimel's eyes which have turned from radioactive green to laser green.
In case you need an illustration, here's one of the first results that Google image search comes up with for "glowing green eyes".
• And finally, in first place, mentioned a mind boggling 76 times, ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the mark. It pulses, it twists, it burns, it flares, it heats, crunches and flushes. 76 times. All I can say is if you are using this book for a drinking game, do not go with the word mark unless you want to end up at the hospital with a serious case of alcohol poisoning. (less)
This series had such promise. It started off well with a fast paced tale of a necromance on a quest against all odds to complete an assignment for the...moreThis series had such promise. It started off well with a fast paced tale of a necromance on a quest against all odds to complete an assignment for the Devil and avenge her dead friend and, as it turns out in later books, lover. Dante was the kind of no nonsense, tough and practical heroine that, if not necessarily easy to like, at least does not get on your nerves immediately. Japhrimel was the enigmatic and surprisingly likeable (despite his radioactive eyes) demon assigned as Dante's familiar to help her on her task. And the endless repetition was easy to forgive due to the fantastic world-building.
This is a truly fascinating world that Ms Saintcrow has created. One that I have not seen before. Slicboards, hovercraft, plasguns, datbands and other sci-fi attributes here co-exist with shamans, demons, vampires (Nichtvren), werewolves (werecain), gods, magi and so on. It is a futuristic dystopian world that was transformed due to the insurgence (referred to as the Awakening) in the number of people with psionic abilities and the gradual exploration, acceptance (all be it reluctant and grudging) and development of those abilities and there is political social and economic history and theory to underpin this world which is glimpsed as the story unfolds.
I guess my biggest problem with this series is that Saintcrow takes a strong and independent female character and, essentially, destroys her, for no good reason whatsoever. A journey of empowerment and self-discovery this is not. Dante gets attacked, mind-raped, controlled, manipulated, restrained, subdued, eviscerated and so on (she even has a hovercraft smash into her and blow up!) until all that is left is a hollow shell of a person, unable to interpret anything logically or to trust anyone, barely able to function at all amid the nightmares and the shock of her experiences. And there is no bigger message on the nature of war or oppression or anything meaningful to justify this. There is no greater good that is achieved through her suffering. Dante is merely a pawn, of Lucifer, Japhrimel, Eve, basically anyone who has the slightest inclination to try to manipulate her, in a game that is not her own, is barely relevant to her at all bar her relationship with Japhrimel and (view spoiler)[ in the end, it is not even her that strikes the killing blow (don't even get me started on the whole Anubis and Sekhmet inhabiting her body to stop Lucifer killing her, just one massive what. the. fuck. there (hide spoiler)].
Combine that with the problematic nature of the relationship between the two protagonists (much of the manipulation, control and damage that Dante suffers is a result of Japhrimel's actions and, I am sorry, but I will act in what I deem to be your best interests, whether you will or not, while keeping you in the dark about everything that's going on, controlling everything that you do and physically overpowering you whenever I deem necessary and I am justified in doing so because I love you, I protect you and I know best just does not cut it for mes an excuse) and the mind-numbing repetitiveness of the writing and, I'm afraid, the main feeling that I am left with about this series is disappointment. It could have been so much more, but it just wasn't. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Viy is a story written by Nikolai Gogol which is most often classified as horror. I'm not sure I necessarily agree with that classification, although...moreViy is a story written by Nikolai Gogol which is most often classified as horror. I'm not sure I necessarily agree with that classification, although it does feature a bumbling main character who comes to a sticky end at the hands of a bloodsucking witch and a horde of other demonic creatures. Gogol himself styled it as a folk tale re-telling.
The titular Viy is a creture of Ukrainian folklore, a demon in the form of an old man with his eyelids and brows reaching down to the ground. If the eyelids are lifted, nothing can hide from Viy's gaze and he is able to kill and destroy villages and whole towns with his eyes.
At the start of the story, three seminary students from Kyiv's Bratsky Monastery set off for home on their summer vacation. They veer off the main road to try to find shelter and something to eat for the night. They come across a remote farmstead where an old woman reluctantly lets them in but separates them to spend the night each in a different place. Khoma Brut, our main hero is put into an empty sheep pen and is just about to drop into a dead sleep when the old woman enters and all the fun begins.
Gogol's language is very rich and colourful and he has a particular gift for treating his characters with so much humour that even though most of the story happens in a dark church at night with the hero under attack by a dead body and other unpleasant things, it reads as a comedy.
I really enjoyed the story overall and would recommend it to anyone interested in the Ukrainian/Russian folklore, as well as any fan of Gogol. There is also a fantastic Russian film made in 1967 which is based on it, available on youtube with English subtitles. You can see the first part here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pjiB6a...(less)
If I had to sum up this book in one word, that word would be fun. This is not a message book or a portrayal of anything. It is just an exceptionally e...moreIf I had to sum up this book in one word, that word would be fun. This is not a message book or a portrayal of anything. It is just an exceptionally entertaining urban fantasy with a feisty queen of witty come backs heroine and a dark mysterious sex god of a hero with tortured past, no thinking required. It was precisely what I was looking for.
The heroine, Charley Davidson ("There's a certain responsibility that comes with having a name like Charley Davidson. It brooks no opposition. It takes shit from no one. And it lends a sense of familiarity when I meet clients. They feel like they know me already. Sort of like if my name was Martha Washington or Ted Bundy.") is a grim reaper. Or rather, she is the grim reaper. She sees the dead, the dead see her (apparently, she is very bright) and she helps them to cross to the other side by passing through her:
"...my job was to lead people into the light. Aka, the portal. Aka, me. But it didn't always go smoothly. Kind of like leading a horse to water and whatnot."
Charley works as a private investigator and also helps the police (namely, her Uncle Bob and her dad before him) to solve crimes (it is much easier to do that if you can ask the deceased who killed them) and every night for the past month she has been having wet dreams featuring a dark stranger who materialized out of smoke and shadows.
At the start of the book, Charley is woken up from one of those dreams and is thrust directly into a murder mystery which will lead her to several near death experiences, some discoveries about the world and her purpose in it and Reyes Farrow, a man she has only met once before but who has left quite an impression.
Charley's character is what made this book for me. She posesses that rare gift of which I am eternally jealous and appreciative. And that is humour. Charley is a hoot. And while Darynda Jones does go too far at times (Charley telling Garrett Swopes, aka Mr. tall, dark and skeptic, the names of her breasts was funny, until you realise that she is actually serious and she has named her own breasts and refers to them by their names during sex) but overall, I loved Charley and her witticisms. And I am totally looking forward to reading the other two books in the series.(less)
Imagine, you have just died. I know, kinda crappy, right? But! At least all your earthly suffering is over. Whatever caused your death is no longer tr...moreImagine, you have just died. I know, kinda crappy, right? But! At least all your earthly suffering is over. Whatever caused your death is no longer troubling you and you are restored to the prime of your youth and deposited into a vast, almost infinite library filled with every book that could ever be written and where you do not age, you have perfect memory and are able to recall every word you have ever read and every event that has ever happened to you, your every injury and even death are healed overnight, your every culinary desire is met by an automated kiosk and you are surrounded by people who are pretty similar to you in background. You would think that you are in heaven, wouldn't you? Or at least a book geek's version of it. Yet, you'd be entirely and completely wrong. Because you are actually in hell. Or one version of it based on a short story by Borges The Library of Babel.
Until I read the book, just the concept of a library as hell was complete anathema to my mind. The story tells you straight up, however, that this is hell, as you are greeted by a polite but very red demon against the backdrop of bodies burning endlessly in tar and lava and told that you are here because the one true faith is Zoroastrianism, so bad luck for you unless you worship the Lord of Light and Wisdom Ahura Mazda. Here he is by the way:
(I seriously need to go read up on this stuff as this is the second book made of awesome which I have read in the last year which is based, at least in part, on Zoroastrian mythology).
The devil, of course, is in the detail and comes down to how you define a "book". Because for me, you see, in order to be a "book" something needs to not just be shaped as a book (in fact, with the advent of e-books, it doesn't even need to be shaped as a book at all) but also have content capable of conveying meaning (even if it is meaning which I am not capable of understanding). Whereas in the Zoroastrian hell library, a "book" is essentially a paper book of a set size, 410 pages long and with a set number of lines per page and letters per line consisting of about 95 characters on the standard English keyboard arranged in all possible variations which gives us 95 to the power of 1,312,000 possible books, i.e. quite a bit more than there are electrons in the universe and a library that's about 7,16 to the power of 1,297,369 light years wide and deep but the vast majority of which are just a random arrangement of letters and symbols which carries no meaning whatsoever.
Your task in this hell is to find your earthly life story without errors. "If your story is accepted, you will be admitted into a glorious heaven filled with wonders and joys beyond your imagination." Oh, and "you are here to lean something. Don't try to figure out what it is. This can be frustrating and unproductive".
This book was mind-blowing. It is a book about philosophy and religion and the meaning of life – all things that normally make me cringe and move slowly away but here it was all done in such a gentle non-patronising non-head-bashing way, it was fascinating. My only complaint is that it was not long enough. At the start, it is described as a book found by the narrator in the library. So where, I ask you, are the other 302 pages then? Yet, this is a minor complaint. For all its brevity, there is so much packed into the pages of this book. Love, loss, violence, horror, insanity, cattle mentality, sorrow, hope, hopelessness, infinity are just a few of the themes. I'm sure I will be picking this up again sooner rather than later.(less)