There have been a few duds in this series before, but this was the first that was actually disappointing. Because let's face it, this is Lothaire and...moreThere have been a few duds in this series before, but this was the first that was actually disappointing. Because let's face it, this is Lothaire and it was his book and it just did not leave up to the glimpses of him we got throughout the rest of the series. It was still the same old formula used in the other books in the series, it just didn't really work when applied to Lothaire because I already had certain expectations for his character. And I was expecting more. This was just boring and blah. (less)
Ugh. Cutting my losses on this one. I read to about half way and flicked through the rest but it doesn't seem to get any better. None of it makes sens...moreUgh. Cutting my losses on this one. I read to about half way and flicked through the rest but it doesn't seem to get any better. None of it makes sense. The heroine is a hospital doctor who gets turned into a vampire and one of the first things she gets told to do and does in pretty short order is quit her job. Because people will start noticing that she doesn't age. Ummmm, yeah, but probably not for at least another 10 years or so. She's only 28, FFS. And wouldn't it make sense for her to stay working at the hospital at least for a little bit. You know, easily accessible supply of donor blood (however unethical it would be to steal it) would come in handy. But nooooo, the very first time she needs to feed she goes out and stalks someone and gets herself stabbed and nearly dies. The words "dumb" and "ass" come to mind.
Of course the heroine is so incredible everyone falls in love with her on sight, of course there is a love triange, of course she suddenly acquires mad fighting skillz that come literally out of nowhere (you just need to let go and let your nature take over) and of course there is a blood tie that is used to justify a bunch of inexplicable, illogical and downright despicable behaviour. The heroine's "sire" is a psychotic rapist/murderer and the heroine voluntarily and for no good reason hands herself over to him, allows him to abuse and murder 15 year olds (she even starts to enjoy the view!), develops feelings for said psycho which are not entirely down to the tie (yeah, poor boy, there must have been something to cause him to become like that, it's not his fault) and really, I just couldn't go on reading this bull.
So, another series is over and, I'm afraid to say, for me the ending was just meh. Unfortunately, this appears to be the fate of so many series these...moreSo, another series is over and, I'm afraid to say, for me the ending was just meh. Unfortunately, this appears to be the fate of so many series these days. The Soookie Stackhouse, Georgina Kincaid and Dante Valentine books all immediately spring to mind. Like the first two of these three, the main problem with the Parasol Protectorate series, I think, is that there just was not enough plot for the five books and the series went on for longer than the author is convincingly able to sustain the storyline.
This last instalment takes place two years after the ending of the previous book with Lord and Lady Maccon still residing in Lord Akeldama's closet. The latter is the legal guardian to Prudence, the infant inconvenience who is now a toddler causing a lot of havoc and keeping Lord Akeldama, all his drones and the majority of the Woolsey werewolf clan on their toes. That is, until Alexia receives a summons from Matakara, Queen of the Alexandria hive and the oldest living vampire and the Maccons, along with the Tunstells and their troupe whom they take along as cover, set out for Egypt where, inevitably, they encounter adversity, mystery and adventure, leading to the series being very neatly wrapped up and tied up with a bow (a very oversize one with pink and turquoise stripes, to fit in with the general atmosphere).
Where with the previous book I was a teensy bit bored, with this one, I was a lot bored. In fact all of the first half of this book was just filler, with the author re-visiting some of the more memorable places and characters from the previous books - the hat shop now run by Biffy, the Woolsey Hive (with notable appearances from Countess Nadasdy and Mabel Dair), the fleeting return of Felicity Loontwill in a flurry of spite, the sudden reappearance of Lady Kingair (in the nude in certain placess, no less!) and a single appearance of Guatve Trouve (to deliver a replacement parasol) to name but a few.
The charm and humour of the earlier books has fizzled to a point where a lot of it read like bad panto tipping over into complete absurdity at several points (yes, I am talking about the hideous trouser ripping episode involving Tunstell and the overabundance of silly names). Most of the book could have been illustrated with images like these:
Not a great visual backdrop.
After the leasurly self-indulgent intro, the actual story and the wrap up were far too rushed and felt desperate and emotionally manipulative. (view spoiler)[Two major caracters die or are on the point of dying only to be miraculously rescued a few pages later, for crying out loud. (hide spoiler)] But the most disappointing thing of all, is that the main mysteries of the books - the Order of the Brass Octopus, the nature of the soulless/soulstealers (what/why/how are they?) etc - remain unanswered pretty much completely, unless you count the fact that Alexia's abilities are discovered to be cancelled out when she is submerged in water (I am not even going to mark it as a spoiler because, really, after five books, that is what we find out?!?).
Having said that, there were a few things that I liked which saved this from being a one star disaster. While I still feel that too many pages were dedicated to it, I did like the relationship between Biffy and Lyall. It was nice to have a homosexual relationship which was genuinely sweet and not reduced to riduculousness. I admire the fact that Alexia stays human and the elegant solution introduced by Carriger to deal with Connall's immortality and that Alexia never descends to the depth of Bella's vanity to obsess about her aging. But the thing I like most of all is the fact that, unlike in the vast majority of urban fantasy and PNR, Alexia remains very much her own person, with her own separate interests, friends and responsibilities and does not immediately turn into a woman-sized appendage of her virile sexy werewolf of a husband, entirely subsumed into his world, beliefs and persona. I can respect that. And I still love certain characters enough (Madame Lefoux and Lord Akeldama please make your way onto the stage) to be content to simply watch them. I almost feel nostalgic already. Almost.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Thinking is bad for you. The heroine of this novel, Rae Blaise or Sunshine, as she is better known, finds this out the hard way after she drives out t...moreThinking is bad for you. The heroine of this novel, Rae Blaise or Sunshine, as she is better known, finds this out the hard way after she drives out to the lake to have a think and avoid arguing with her mum. Because while there, she is kidnapped by a group of vampires, dressed in blood red silk and chained in a room with another vampire, Constantine. But clearly, Sunshine is a bright girl (I am still unsure exactly how old she is supposed to be, early twenties, I'd guess) and learns her lesson quickly and pretty much stops thinking from then on. At least enough for her latent powers to reveal themselves and take over her logical processes.
I am doing this all wrong, aren't I? Because, actually, I loved this book. I couldn't put it down. And even the fact that listening to Sunshine is like talking to someone with a severe case of ADD because she keeps diverting and sidetracking until you lose all sense of what she was talking about to begin with and the fact that the book was like the worst kind of tease, sucking you in, turning you on and dumping you with barely a hint of a resolution, no answers to most of the questions and no sequel in sight wouldn't put me off.
I liked Sunshine. Despite her ADD and obsession with baking (I hate cooking with a passion). She felt real. She was sometimes snarky, sometimes frustrating, sometimes puzzling but always interesting and complex and believable as a character.
I've never read any McKinley before but I new fairy tale retellings were usually her thing but that this wasn't quite her usual thing, being a gritty and dark urban tale about vampires. Yet I am not so sure. This is a dark vampire tale but with a healthy dose of fairy (tale) dust sprinkled all over it, I think, and some sunshine. It is a Beauty and the Beast story, which Sunshine tells to Constantine during their confinement and which, I hear, McKinley is a teeny bit obsessed with but it is not really a romance (damn it!).
Yes, Constantine is definitely the Beast of this piece. He is ugly and alien and he smells. No sparklingly brooding underwear models here. No sighing over anybody's eyes and beautiful chests. Yet Sunshine, and I along with her, grows to love him despite herself and the "resolution" to their relationship at the end, while it is incredibly frustrating in its unclarity, is also incredibly sweet (I did tell you this was a fairy tale, right?).
But back to the unclarity (and the biggest fattest BUT of this book). Questions. Questions, questions everywhere. Where did Sunshine's father and the entire Blaise family disappear to? What are the "bad spots"? Why does Sunshine's mum avoid her all the time and why did she leave her father? What precipitated the Voodoo Wars? Has the presense of supernatural beasties always been the reality of this world or have they just crawled out of the woodwork at some point? What is the Goddess of Pain? What is Mel? And so on and so forth. Answers are not forthcoming.
You know that scene in the middle where naked Sunshine lands on equally naked Constantine but, while he initially appears into this, he soon comes to his senses and won't put out and Sunshine is all frustrated with engorged labia and parts to match. Well, I swear McKinley put this in just to illustrate graphically how she was going to leave her readers at the end of this book. Coitus interruptus, are you bloody kidding me? I need the other two books (at least) in this series, which Mckinley is not writing.
I was going to take a star off for that but then, I know for a fact that I am now going to go read every single other book that McKinley has ever written and come back to this one over and over looking for that something that I have possibly missed but really just to spend some time with Con and Sunshine again, even if they are not doing anything new and Sunshine is mainly blathering on about her cinnamon rolls as big as her head. And if that doesn't make a book five star worthy, I don't know what does. (less)
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)
What Ms. Harris used to do well is tell a light, fun, uncomplicated mystery with some excellent sexual tension between light, fun, uncomplicated chara...moreWhat Ms. Harris used to do well is tell a light, fun, uncomplicated mystery with some excellent sexual tension between light, fun, uncomplicated characters and some light, fun, uncomplicated comedic relief along the way. By now, however, with well over three thousand pages of Sookie spewed out, she has ceased to care anything for her characters or her story and it is painfully obvious in this book. There's no fun left, no mystery and no light at the end of this tunnel. My gripes for this book are legion, so I will just concentrate on those that irritated me the most.
Some are unrecognisable, others brought in pointlessly, some suddenly develop traits that are completely at odds with their character and all are senselessly and wastefully mutilated.
Since when has Eric started acting like a 5 year old having a tantrum? Where has the man who could turn up at a party in pink lycra and still be HOT disappeared to? When has he started taking no for an answer? Where's his charm, sarcasm, smouldering looks, confidence, all the things that made him Eric?
Pam, probably my favourite character of the entire series, had maybe one line where she only just sounded like herself, the "what kind of a husband are you" comment.
Sookie is revealed as a great reader, all of a sudden. Have I missed something before? She has never struck me as a great lover of books. Yet here she is devastated by having to burn damaged books, she reads (!!!!! Have we ever seen her hold, let alone read, a book before? If so, I have no recollection of this) a Nora Roberts book and she can answer most of the questions about writers on a TV show, since she reads a lot.
Alcide, Lily Bard, the Big Bad Sandra Pelt, Hunter, Amelia all make completely pointless appearances.
Oh, the endless moralising. The goodness and the pseudo-Christian pontification of Sookie that is shoved down our throats at every turn. She has always been a prude and a hypocrite but it has grated more than ever in this book. She just does not shut up with moral judgements on everything and everyone around her, yet is completely unable to see how morally suspect her own views and actions are. She does deliberate on whether what she is doing is right at times, I will admit, but she barely scratches the surface with what she actually considers and what she comes up with in terms of her attitudes to other people and their actions is astounding in its hypocrisy.
The WTF moments just kept on rolling in this book. Examples:
• When Immanuel suggests that Pam and Eric are having sex, Sookie is shoked and has to think about it a while. WTF? That should have been a complete no brainer with the whole blood bond thing and her constantly moaning on about how she is never completely alone in her skin whenever Eric is awake. Yet, the reason she dismisses it in the end is that Pam prefers the ladies. Again, WTF?
• The ice pack. Do I need to elaborate? Is that supposed to be sexy? The only words I have are: What. The. Fuck.
• (view spoiler)[The blood bond revocation. So turns out it's a complete piece of piss. All you need is some some string and scissors. What was the big deal? (hide spoiler)]
• Sookie is hugely upset that her hair was burnt in the fire-bombing (she cries about it) and she is told by the emergency hairdresser that he is cutting three inches off which makes tears well up in her eyes. Does she bother to take a look at herself in the mirror when the hairdresser is done? Nope. In fact even the next morning when Sam turns up she has not looked, or not that we hear about. “How’s the hair?” Sam asks (because he can't see for himself, obviously, even though Sookie's right in front of him) but Sookie has gone deaf and doesn't answer. She has looked in the mirror by then, we know that much, but makes no remark about it at all whatsoever. Does she like it, does she hate it, does it feel lighter/strange/surprisingly good? We don't know.
• Amelia's amazing research skills. She manages to identify and provide info pretty fucking pronto when her only search terms were "c.d." and "fairy artefact". And you wouldn't expect Google to turn up much on the subject.
Really really really bad writing
Charlaine Harris is not a great writer. She never was. She is completely incapable of creating an atmosphere or giving any depth or complexity to her characters. However, she has managed to descend to new lows to an almost unprecedented degree. Huge parts are just jumbles of sentences with almost no connection to each other and no sense whatsoever. Here's an example right at the very start, as Sookie goes into the attic:
"When the second story had been added to the original Stackhouse home decades before, the new floor had been divided into bedrooms, but perhaps a third of it had been relegated to storage space after the largest generation of Stackhouses had thinned out. Since Jason and I had come to live with my grandparents after our parents had died, the attic door had been kept locked. Gran hadn’t wanted to clean up after us if we decided the attic was a great place to play. Now I owned the house, and the key was on a ribbon around my neck. There were only three Stackhouse descendants—Jason, me, and my deceased cousin Hadley’s son, a little boy named Hunter."
Does she cart the attic key on a ribbon around her neck all the time? Does she carry all her keys in that manner? Does it give her neck strain? I don't know. It just doesn't seem that anyone would. Why? It's not like she uses it regularly. And if it is only then and not all the time, again, why? Just struck me as bizarre. What does the fact that she owns the house or that there are now only three Stackhouse descendands have to do with clearing with anything in that passage? Etc etc
Then, only one paragraph down, Sookie says: "Cousin Claude and Great-Uncle Dermot stepped in behind me." Who the hell thinks or talks like that? She is not at a cocktail party introducing them. I had completely forgot who on earth Dermot was and did need reminding but that was a really clumsy way of doing so.
Throughout the attic clearing episode there is nothing at all to convey any sort of emotion or give any colour to the scene. She mentions that it is hot but then does nothing to show the heat and sweatiness of the work (bar the mention of shirtless fairies, which is just tacky and hypocritical since they are her relatives and she is later appalled when it is suggested they may not necessarily view her in a strictly non-sexual light). Sookie appears to go through generations worth of stuff accumulated by her family with no emotions whatsoever other than contemplation of their potential value. But then, that's Sookie for you, I suppose.
Unnecessary details all over the place. Sookie thinks about soaking her clothes in Clorox 2, she eats Special K with Equal and 2% milk, and uses other cleaning products the names of which I cannot be bothered to look up. Why do we need to know these things? They do not add anything to the narrative. They do not make it more realistic. They are just bits of irrelevance which jar and irritate. Word space that would have been much better used by adding some much needed atmosphere and depth to the story. Is this product placement? If so, shame on you Ms Harris.
“Do you want us to sleep with you, Niece?” Dermot asked, in the flowery way of the old fae… What is flowery about that sentence? Can anyone enlighten me?
So, will I continue on to the end with this series? I honestly don't know. I have almost completely lost interest in the TV series and that has the added appeal of visual aids in the form of extremely hunky men all over the place (although, I have to say, as hot as Alexander Skarsgard is I absolutely hate the way they dress him in this series, he looks worse than Paquin whom I dislike intensely). My relationship with the books has definitely reached the stage where all the thrill and excitement has gone and everything about them just sets my teeth on edge but I have always been very bad at breaking up. So, who knows. Perhaps, I will finish them off just so I can rant about them. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
OK, so much as I love the characters, I have to admit I was a teensy bit bored throughout most of this book.
Alexia is very heavily pregnant in this la...moreOK, so much as I love the characters, I have to admit I was a teensy bit bored throughout most of this book.
Alexia is very heavily pregnant in this latest instalment but she does not let the infant inconvenience get in the way of her usual antics, investigating a warning by a nearly demented ghost that an attemt on the Queen's life is being planned. Alexia and Connall are completely reconciled with barely a mention of his inexcusable (in my view) behaviour in the previous book, the vampires are continuing with their attempts to assassinate the unborn child (the nature of which still remains largely mysterious) and, by proxy, Alexia until an ingenious (although, personally, I thought it was rather crappy) solution to appease them is proposed which leads Lord and Lady Maccon to move into Lord Akeldama's closet and Madame Lefoux appears unusually distressed and preoccupied.
I thought the pacing of this book, overall, was very slow. The plot line took forever to get anywhere and the things that were revealed about Alexia's father seemed somewhat irrelevant and inconsequential. By this point in the series, I was kind of hoping we would learn more about Alexia's soulless state, the reason why Floot keeps so conspicuously schtum about Mr. Tarabotti and the nature of the child. However, no such luck.
I was also somewhat taken aback by some of Alexia's decisions and actions. Her rushing to the aid of Countess Nadasdy who has tried to get Alexia killed on countless occasions felt especially unrealistic.
The cover deserves a particular mention as well, in that I cannot believe how excruciatingly awful it is. The lady on the cover looks half bold and dressed for a Christmas panto performance. It really was not helpful to have that ridiculous image imprinted on one's mind when reading the book. (less)
I'm not, I'm afraid, a huge fan of steampunk. It's not that I mind it, so much. I find some of the ideas quite intiguing. I like steampunk drawings an...more
I'm not, I'm afraid, a huge fan of steampunk. It's not that I mind it, so much. I find some of the ideas quite intiguing. I like steampunk drawings and artwork, I used to enjoy Jules Verne as an adolescent and Brazil is one of my favourite films of all time. It just doesn't rock my world, I suppose. Or, to put it another way, it's not of itself enough to have some dirigibles and goggles to make a book for me.
I am also beginning to get slightly fed up with vampires and werewolves. Pure oversaturation. So it is, perhaps, no surprise that this one took me forever to finish. To be fair, I have been manically busy, had family visiting and have been away some of the time but still, it has taken me over three weeks to finish this book, an it is not particularly long.
I loved how the book is written and the characters are still all larger than life with some new exciting members added to the cast but there was absolutely no spark between Alexia and Connal and the story line lacked momentum to really draw me in. I couldn't care less about the mystery and what the cause of the "plague" was, to be honest. Until the very few last pages the only thing keeping my attention was watching the characters and listening to the way they talk. And then... this is the astonishing part... there was a slight twist, a few words and, just like that, I was hooked and couldn't wait to get through the next book in the series. (less)
Once upon a time there lived a werewolf. And his name was Jacob. Uhhummm.
I suppose the idea was to take the paranormal genre conventions and to put th...moreOnce upon a time there lived a werewolf. And his name was Jacob. Uhhummm.
I suppose the idea was to take the paranormal genre conventions and to put them on their head… or rather back on their feet where they belong.
Jacob (Jake) Marlowe of Glen Duncan's imagination is very very far from a walking talking impersonation of every female fantasy which has inhabited almost every urban fantasy book in recent years. This werewolf is a foul mouthed, smoking, hard-liquor drinking, emotionless sex engaging, layered character. Jake has lived for over two hundred years and though he does not look it, he feels it. He has had enough of life and living (even though living is all there is), he is desperately lonely and is ready to just… end:
"For ten, twenty, thirty years now I've been dragging myself through the motions. How long do werewolves live? Madeline asked recently. According to WOCOP around four hundred years. I don't know how. Naturally one sets oneself challenges – Sanskrit, Kant, advanced calculus, t'ai chi – but that only addresses the problem of Time. The bigger problem, of Being, just keeps getting bigger. (Vampires, not surprisingly, have an on-off love affair with catatonia.) One by one I've exhausted the modes: hedonism, ascetism, spontaneity, reflection, everything from miserable Socrates to the happy pig. My mechanism's worn out. I don't have what it takes. I still have feelings but I am sick of having them. Which is another feeling I am sick of having. I just… I just don't want any more life."
Duncan has given a much needed injection of masculinity to his werewolf but has avoided making him into a grotesque emotionless Rambo-style* action hero (*I have not seen a single Rambo move, so I have no idea whether Rambo is in fact emotionless, but you get the gist). It was also nice that the lycanthropy wasn't used simply to give the hero an air of mystery and an excuse for constant brooding. Being a werewolf in this world means being a monster. There is nothing romantic or mysterious about. You don't get any super strength or transformation at will or become unnaturally hot. Being a werewolf means being transformed once a month and killing and eating people. (view spoiler)[Sometimes people you love. (hide spoiler)] It is brutal, it is ugly, it is horrific and for the rest of the time you have to live with yourself:
"The first horror is there's horror. The second is you accommodate it."
Werewolves are hunted and exterminated by the World Organisation for the Control of Occult Phenomena (WOCOP) until, at the start of the book, the hero finds out that he is the only one left and is, therefore, next on the list. Which he does not mind much, until, that is, fate intervenes and certain events unfold and then, suddenly, everything is changed.
The plot was by and large uncomplicated and moved things along nicely without getting in the way. It was a good balance of action and reflection, overall. And reflection is what I mostly loved about this book. Glen Duncan has a way with words. His style seemed fresh and different to me and he is clever and witty and peppers his narrative with literary allusions ("Reader, I ate him." and "Talulla, light of my light, fire of my loins… Ta-loo-la: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate… Ta. Lu. La." particularly cracked me up) and cultural observations (e.g. "Humanity's getting its metamorphic kicks elsewhere these days. When you can watch the alchemy that turns morons into millionaires and gimps into global icons, where's the thrill in men who turn into wolves?" and "Two nights ago I'd eaten a forty-three-year-old hedge fund specialist. I've been in a phase of taking the ones no one wants.") and his sentences were a joy to read (e.g. "The snow was coming down with the implacability of an Old Testament plague."). Duncan is also (as one of the other reviewers referred to him) "wonderfully obscene" and, frankly, any book that features a woman who has a c*nt which has a mind like Lucifer deserves to be read.
My main beef with this book is the same one the reviewer I linked to mentions. There is a twist two thirds of the way in and then too much plot and melodrama gets in the way and the hero's personality does a sharp veer off into… but this is major spoiler territory. If you really, really must know (view spoiler)[ Instalove happens. And I really really hate the instalove bollocks, no matter who does it or how well it is done. I even hated it in Daughter of Smoke and Bone and Laini Taylor is a goddess. Plus Talulla essentially has the same narrative voice as Jake, which was annoying. (hide spoiler)] ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I was a bit apprehensive starting this, having seen lots of negative reviews on GR. Now that I have read the book, I can certainly see why lots of peo...moreI was a bit apprehensive starting this, having seen lots of negative reviews on GR. Now that I have read the book, I can certainly see why lots of people would dislike it. However, this book's particular brand of quirky silly charm and no nonsense taking heroine worked for me.
Alexia Tarabotti is a parasol wielding fashion consious 26 year old spinster of unfortunate half Italian parentage and a rather large personality living in Victorian London. She is also a preternatural, i.e. does not have a soul.
So, the premise is a bit ridiculous and one of those things that you just need to swallow without thinking too much about it and, I'm sorry to say, Ms. Carriger dose not have a particular talent for the romantic parts, the story was also extremely predictable and a bit too farcical in places.
Despite all these flaws, and once I decided not to look at this as a romance, I did find that I was enjoying myself quite tremendously and constantly breaking into smile. The main charm of the book for me is that it is just full of Characters. The vast majority of them with a decidedly capital "C". Miss Tarabotti herself, the flamboyantly camp vampire Lord Akeldama, the vampire queen Countess Nadasdy who looks like a shepherdess, the BFF with a taste for hideous hats, the Beta werewolf Lord Lyall with a penchant for meddling and even the self-absorbed shallow mother were all quite delicious and made for a great read.
On the romance, I was at first disappointed that things were progressing quite so swiftly. I like the suspense to remain for a while and things to stay unresolved between the protagonists (I'm afraid I'm one of those people for whom the romance between Sookie and Eric started to fizzle after she boinked him while he couldn't remember himself and died an untimely death round about the part where they get married). In this instance, however, because the steam was quite underwhelming and the romantic suspense not that suspenseful to begin with, I'm thinking it will almost be better to have them married so that they can skip over those parts and plunge straight into the sardonically indulgent marriage part.
I added a star for Bones (who is undeniably hot despite the name), otherwise this really should have been a one star book as I had too many problems w...moreI added a star for Bones (who is undeniably hot despite the name), otherwise this really should have been a one star book as I had too many problems with the concept to really enjoy it.
- The relationship between Cat and Bones develops too fast. (I can't stand that name, by the way. Bones. Really? Why? I know Crispin isn't great either but Bones, FFS!) About halfway through he has already declared his love for her (after beating her up and threatening to kill her on the first date) and then it's as though Frost got to the end and realised, shit, I can't let them be together already, I am writing a series here, so she writes in some super secret spies to drag things out. The whole ending was just stupid and completely contrived.
- The prejudice and unnecessary violence. It seems that killing people/vamps for Cat and Bones is a complete no brainer. No moral agonising over their actions for these two. And they are pretty disturbing actions. Let's substitute "a black person" for "a vampire", shall we? Cat's story would go something like this: my mum told me she has been raped by a black person and she has detested me all my life because I am half black. To avenge her, I go out to bars where I hit on inebriated black men and then, on the pretext that I will have sex with them, we go off and I kill them (whether or not they have tried to force the issue after I eventually reject them). I intend to go out and kill every single black person out there, 'cause they are all the same, obviously. Words really fail me on this one.
- There was very little in terms of character description. What does Cat actually like to do apart from have hot sex with Bones, drink and kill vampires? There was surprisingly little internal monologue, especially considering this is a first person narrative. It was too factual with almost no personal insight. Unbelievably so, for me.
Overall, the book just didn't "grab" me enough. I found the characters actions too morally suspect and the characters themselves too flat to develop any sort of emotional connection with them. There were some bits that were vaguely interesting (the hot sex, mainly) and some good dialogue but not enough to make up for the points mentioned above. (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)