I may be biased about this particular book because the Voynich Manuscript is something I tend to read up on often even before reading this book. Each...moreI may be biased about this particular book because the Voynich Manuscript is something I tend to read up on often even before reading this book. Each 39C installment has a formula, but I like LSP's writing particularly because, like Riordan, she takes time to let readers get into the characters' heads more, while other authors focus more on the plot. That isn't to say the plot of this one wasn't as good, because it is.
...I don't know how to feel about Manila, Philippines being mentioned in the book because it means being on the Vespers' Doomsday Target List! We don't need any more earthquakes! ヽ(`Д´)ﾉ
Off to read "Day of Doom"!
Not-so-fearless Forecast: Arthur Trent is Vesper Two, isn't he? Also, Astrid Rosenbloom's ex-assistant is a Vesper--he virtually had "Vesper Informant" stamped on his forehead in neon orange letters!(less)
I’ve stopped wondering some time ago why Eliza Victoria keeps winning all these different awards for her fiction and poetry. And with Lower Myths, she has definitely earned a place in my list of favorite Filipino authors.
Trust Fund Babies is my favorite of the two stories in Lower Myths. I love the whole The Godfather feel, and the mythology that Victoria re-imagined for this particular world. The story is pretty straightforward, sometimes even predictable, but it was engaging and entertaining from beginning to end. I also admire Victoria’s ability to build a detailed world and solid characters even for such a short story.
The Very Last Case of Messrs. Aristotel and Arkimedes Magtanggol: Attorneys-at-Law is a little more complicated in terms of structure, but it’s no less engaging. If the first story had a The Godfather feel to it, this one has some Inception undertones. The transition between the different “realities” can be confusing in the beginning, but it’s easy enough to follow after the first few glimpses.
Lower Myths is a must for those who love Philippine speculative fiction. I just wish that there were more stories in this book.
… Disclosure: This review is based on a review copy provided by Flipside Publishing.(less)
I love alternative takes on mythology (Rick Riordan fan here), so I thought "Alternative Alamat" would be a good place for me to start with my resolution to read more works written by Filipino authors.
I also love the idea of this compilation because it brings Philippine mythology closer to modern readers like no scholarly book of myths possibly could. I am not belittling the efforts of the authors who wrote the scholarly books, of course, for without them, we would know very little about our mythology. But younger readers and readers who are more exposed to foreign works wouldn't likely pick up an academic book on Philippine myths for their leisure reading.
There are 11 engaging re-tellings in this anthology written by many familiar names in Philippine speculative fiction. Despite sometimes dealing with similar themes or mythological figures, the treatments are delightfully diverse.
"Ana's Little Pawnshop on Makiling St." - The pawnshop reminded me a lot of the Faerie Market in Gaiman's "Stardust," where the wares that are on sale are all whimsical and magical. This poignant story has its own local flavor and charm, though, and I love how Eliza Victoria intertwined the mythology with modern issues.
"Harinuo's Love Song" - It took me a while to get used to the rhythm of this story because it reads a lot like an old folktale, and I didn't expect that kind of treatment. But this turned out to be an enjoyable read. The prose is lyrical and lush, and the plot is well-crafted.
"Last Full Show" - I've never read any of the Trese comics, and yes, you can throw all manner of objects at me, but maybe you can throw the four volumes of those comics my way instead? :p This was so much fun to read, and I love that you didn't need prior knowledge of the original comics to appreciate it.
"The Alipin's Tale" - I love alternate history stories too, so this is a real hit with me. It doesn't introduce any of the more obscure myths or personalities, but the mix of history and mythology grounds it for readers, and makes the fantasy aspect more tangible.
"Keeper of My Sky" - This story succeeds in its intention to intertwine science and mythology, this time. It's a lovely tale, but it's so sad and melancholic. I was thankful it wasn't raining when I read this or I would've sobbed in front of my computer.
"Conquering Makiling" - This particular Maria Makiling theme is quite familiar, but the story had modern sensibilities. The conservation message is well-placed.
"The Sorceress Queen" - This one reads like a great classic fairy tale and also like those local genesis stories at the same time. I had a lot of fun imagining what this would look like if it were adapted as an animated short.
"Beneath the Acacia" - In my mind, I call this the CSI: Arayat story. :p I like the portrayal of Maria Sinukuan here because she seems more human. This is probably because the more fantastical spotlight is trained on the protagonist, Juan, but it's a pleasant change. There was a little hiccup in the story that jarred me a little, though--when Mang Andres describes the supernatural characters, it sounds like he was explaining it to a foreign reader rather than to the other in-universe characters who already know what a kapre is.
"Offerings to Aman Sinaya" - I liked the story, although the point of view was a little unconventional, and therefore took some getting used to. The ending felt a little too abrupt.
"Balat, Buwan, Ngalan (A Myth for the 21st Century)" - I love how this incorporates the old tales into a modern world. I had a lot of fun spotting the pop culture references and nods to the old myths. My only problem was the POV. Because the narrative had a 'meta' feel to it like 'Interview With The Vampire,' I think this would've been more powerful had it been written from a first person POV.
"The Door Opens" - I panicked when I saw that this story had a good number of footnotes because I have a love-hate relationship with fiction that incorporates footnotes. I feel that it's very rarely done well enough that the author doesn't interrupt the flow of the main story. Dean Alfar did well, though. The main narrative read like a complete story in itself, so I had no compulsion to immediately check the footnotes, which would've been difficult because I would've done a lot of scrolling back and forth. When I finally did read them, I found that they embellished the main narrative really well.
As an aside, I just realized how awkward it is to read stories set in the Philippines whose characters speak in English. It can't be helped, of course, but I find it jarring sometimes. If a story is well written, I do get over it, as was the case for all the stories I read.
Despite the diversity in treatment, I felt that there was a lot of underlying melancholy in all of the stories; they all seem so somber. I was looking for a bit of levity in some of the ones where that kind of tone would've been appropriate. All the old tales were already somber enough, I thought someone would actually do a much lighter alternative take. But this personal preference doesn't take away from the quality of the stories at all.
I also wish the stories each dealt with unique deities or themes, that only one story would've had Maria Makiling for a subject, for example. But maybe this also reflects how much work still needs to be done in educating everyone that there exist pantheons of deities and a deep well of other Philippine legends and myths. "Alternative Alamat" is already a great first step toward that, with the interviews and appendices included in the book providing a springboard for further study. I wish more authors and publishers will be proactive and think of other creative ways to bring this aspect of our culture closer to the popular consciousness. I'm proud of efforts like "Alternative Alamat," and hope that more Filipino readers support projects like this. I have high hopes that soon we will find our own local Rick Riordan!
One last thing: I wish they'll publish a print copy of this book so that it will reach more readers, and because the illustrations by Mervin Malonzo deserve to be seen in print.(less)
This is the first book by Laini Taylor that I’ve read, but I can already tell that she and I are going to have an enduring “I will buy every single bo...moreThis is the first book by Laini Taylor that I’ve read, but I can already tell that she and I are going to have an enduring “I will buy every single book you write” kind of relationship.
It took a while for me to continue reading this after I first picked it up, but once I did, wow, I couldn't stop. I love that Michelle Zink decided to...moreIt took a while for me to continue reading this after I first picked it up, but once I did, wow, I couldn't stop. I love that Michelle Zink decided to focus on her characters and on the mythology rather than on the romance aspect, which most YA stuff tend to do these days. And speaking of the mythology, she has created a solid one. One of my pet peeves with fantasy novels is authors changing the mythology within a series to suit the plot, but she seems to be sticking with her Rules; I hope that remains to be true for the next installments as well.(less)