The person who said this is basically "The Wicker Man" for kids is not wrong. This was an excellent book, based on many of the same legends that Susan...moreThe person who said this is basically "The Wicker Man" for kids is not wrong. This was an excellent book, based on many of the same legends that Susan Cooper used in "The Dark Is Rising" and "Greenwitch." The book is about the wild hunt legend, in which an antlered man leads a Hunt with demon hounds, and anyone who sees them becomes a quarry. Penelope Lively is a wonderful prose stylist; her word-pictures of Exmoor and the village of Hagworthy (supposedly near Minehead, although I have not found any reference to it on modern maps) make this book worth reading. The plot is much like what Susan Cooper did in The Grey King. A girl named Lucy becomes friends with an outcast boy named Kester as they become entangled in a recreation of the Hunt. The local vicar has revived the Hunt as a tourist attraction based on a few old entries in the parish records, but he does not realize the true purpose of the "Dance" (as he calls it) until he has called up more than he wishes to see.(less)
This was the last book and it's pretty good but it really reads like an extended epilogue, especially in the final hundred pages. I don't see how it c...moreThis was the last book and it's pretty good but it really reads like an extended epilogue, especially in the final hundred pages. I don't see how it could have been anything else, however, given the events preceding it. (less)
EXCELLENT. This was the best of the 4.5 books in the series, and in many ways it is the true conclusion. There is a strong parallel to Season 5 of Buf...moreEXCELLENT. This was the best of the 4.5 books in the series, and in many ways it is the true conclusion. There is a strong parallel to Season 5 of Buffy and Book 7 of Harry Potter here, and not just in the plot. In all three cases, it's the emotional peak of the series. The stakes were set rather high coming into this book, and it didn't disappoint. Unfortunately it did such a good job, it really left the final book almost nowhere to go.(less)
In many ways this was a better book than the first in the series. The first third is a little slow and dreary — after the way the first book ended tha...moreIn many ways this was a better book than the first in the series. The first third is a little slow and dreary — after the way the first book ended that's unsurprising — but then it picked up and never stopped. This was a much FUNNIER book, and I found myself laughing at Ethan's observations about the townspeople.(less)
This was a pretty decent sequel to "The Wizard..." but not as good as the first book. Oona remains as clever as always, which is one of the delights o...moreThis was a pretty decent sequel to "The Wizard..." but not as good as the first book. Oona remains as clever as always, which is one of the delights of this series. Without giving too much away, in this book she shows how vulnerable she is to emotional and other kinds of manipulation, against which her intelligence provides only so much help. The reader is in the position of watching this happen and not being able to do anything about it. (I think this was a realistic choice for the author to make, but it really made me squirm.) At several points I had to stop myself from banging my iPad on my forehead. "Come ON, Oona, you're not going to fall for that tripe?!" But of course she does. I hope she learns from it in the next book.
A thing that really bothered me: Oona considers the possibility freeing Samuligan near the end but immediately seems to reject the idea because she likes him too much to let him go home. I thought that was more than a little ugly. He's essentially a slave, in a time when, on the other side of the iron gates, slaves have recently been freed. Too bad that sentiment didn't make it to Dark Street. Maybe I'm expecting too much insight from such a young character.(less)
"Beautiful Creatures" kept my attention, but I have never seen a book so filled with clichés, mostly from movies. I started keeping a list. If you've...more"Beautiful Creatures" kept my attention, but I have never seen a book so filled with clichés, mostly from movies. I started keeping a list. If you've read it, you can have fun identifying which parts I got these from:
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (mostly for the cover of the book, though)[*] Saved! Mean Girls Twilight Gone With The Wind Carrie The Wizard of Oz Scent Of A Woman Back To The Future
[*] The second book of this series actually has a SCENE in Bonadventure Cemetery, the original location of the "Midnight in the Garden" statue. I laughed.
There are probably more! This is really kind of a trashy book, but it's not objectionable in the way Twilight is. Ethan is not a stalker, Lena isn't a Bella. As I said, it kept my attention for 500+ pages, which went by very quickly. I enjoyed the movie too (which I saw first...) but the book is pretty different. The townspeople are represented more fairly in the book, I think — the movie made them caricatures of southerners. There's quite a bit of that in the book too, but it added nuance. Not everyone is a bible thumper. Ethan's loss of his mother before the book begins is a big part of the story which isn't even addressed in the movie. (In fact it's part of the setup of the next book, which makes me wonder how they'd handle a movie sequel.) The theme of the book is whether free will exists and how the characters use it. Twilight didn't even try to reach for a theme. This is better than that.(less)
I would have liked this book a lot more if it hadn't been the last book in the trilogy [ETA, 12/1/12: apparently Sherwood plans to continue the series...moreI would have liked this book a lot more if it hadn't been the last book in the trilogy [ETA, 12/1/12: apparently Sherwood plans to continue the series so read these ponderings in that light...]. As an intermediate book in a series, this is a lot of fun. My issues with it have more to do with the expectations set up in the prior books which are not ultimately addressed. That seems to be a thing Sherwood Smith is prone to, given it happened repeatedly in the trilogy. (I haven't read any of her other series to cross-check that, however.) The remainder of this review assumes you've read all three books. Spoilers, of course.
(view spoiler)[I adore time travel plots and this is no exception. Sending Kim back in time to rescue Dobrenica works fine, and was foreshadowed by Beka's comments in the last book and Kim's time slip in the Austrian countryside in the first book. (Was she really all the way there? Well, she never found her suitcase and she could drink the water...) In this case, however, Kim travels back only in spirit, which turns out to be a clever choice on Xanpia's part to protect her from aging in the Nasdrafus. I wondered about it because I knew Kim COULD return in body, but I was very satisfied with the answer at the end.
Kim spends the book guiding Aurelie around and coming very close to making a mess of it. ("How would you like to marry a prince?" is NOT a great inducement in the early 19th century. Given Kim's own ambiguity about the public relations duties she'll take on when she marries Alec, I was a little surprised she even tried to sell Aurelie on that!) I don't have a whole lot to say about Kim and Aurelie's adventures, but my attention never drifted and I had fun. Sometimes it ran a little longer than strictly necessary, but I am of the school of reading that feels more book means more pleasure, so no complaints.
It was the end of the book that left me feeling a little cheated. The second book, "Blood Spirits," ended with an heartfelt plea from Ruli for Kim to help her walk out in the sun to die if she became a monster. That seemed to me to be the absolute emotional core of that book, that and Ruli's desire for "the peace that passeth all understanding." [*] These things went virtually unaddressed in "Revenant Eve." We do see Ruli, and she's doing well and clearly not a monster, so it's a non-issue, except that Ruli makes Kim affirm her pledge. But if there are no more books after this one, and it seems there will not be, then the end of "Blood Spirits" is devalued.
The issues with the mines and the Consortium are also left mostly unaddressed. Alec begins the book by saying she'll be gathering information about the mines, but this never went anywhere. And if this is the end of the series, it's not going to go anywhere. I find that frustrating, but not as frustrating as the lack of closure for the Ruli storyline. (hide spoiler)]
Conclusions: This has been a review of a book that's been mostly not about the book. It's about the book I expected to see, given the previous two stories. Is that fair? I have no idea. I can only tell you how I felt about things after I finished reading.
[*] A side point left over from "Blood Spirits": The King James Bible quote is actually, "And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." I thought it was interesting that Sherwood Smith dropped the "of God" in the original quote, despite bringing god up so explicitly throughout the story. I'm not surprised "through Christ Jesus" was dropped, because Dobreni services seem to tend toward the ecumenical, which no doubt makes sense for a fictional country where so many religious traditions have to coexist. I'm an agnostic leaning atheist, but I do think if you're going to bring the subject of god into the conversation, you should go for broke and say what you mean!["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
A very peculiar fantasy story that reminded me a lot of Edward Eager's children's books. The whimsical-yet-creepy atmosphere is similar to books like...moreA very peculiar fantasy story that reminded me a lot of Edward Eager's children's books. The whimsical-yet-creepy atmosphere is similar to books like Eager's "Seven Day Magic." This is not as good, though, because the story doesn't have a strong enough plot to use all the magic to good effect. It ends very abruptly and I was left thinking, "Huh, that's it?" It was engrossing, however, and I was never bored. (less)
I really really loved this book. I enjoyed the first in the series, but this one hit all my Like buttons. I mean, witches and vampires and time travel...moreI really really loved this book. I enjoyed the first in the series, but this one hit all my Like buttons. I mean, witches and vampires and time travel and Tudor England and period clothing and plays and WONDERFUL libraries and Dr. Dee and alchemists and Walter Raleigh and Christopher Marlowe and jewelry and BOOKS!
Do I even need more review here? Go read this.(less)
Okay book, very generic story for its genre. Characters and descriptions so cliched that I was singing along with the chorus: "one of Lon's eyebrows s...moreOkay book, very generic story for its genre. Characters and descriptions so cliched that I was singing along with the chorus: "one of Lon's eyebrows slowly raised and the corner of his mouth twitched in amusement." (How many times have I read that description?! How many times have YOU? After the slow eyebrow raise, did you anticipate the corner-mouth-twitch?)
It had a slight twist ending (with so much heavy-handed foreshadowing that I guessed), but it kept me reading. All that said, I'll probably go on to the next in this series and hope this is a case of inexperienced author issues.(less)
**spoiler alert** This book was a huge improvement on the previous one in the series, Grave Witch. Alex makes decisions, doesn't spend the book gettin...more**spoiler alert** This book was a huge improvement on the previous one in the series, Grave Witch. Alex makes decisions, doesn't spend the book getting rescued by other people, and shows signs of being less stupid than the previous adventure made her seem. Mind you, she STILL wanders off into fairyland without a backup (something she at least agonizes over) but this was better.
The villains in this book were superior too. The bad guy of the previous was evil but cardboard; less so here. I liked the Winter Queen, who was played by Tilda Swinton in my imagination, and also the other Fairy creatures like the irritable FIB fairy cop. The only disappointment was the final villain, who we never met enough times in the course of the book to feel for, although she had a sad ending.
On the subject of baddies, the supporting villains are more interesting than the Big Bad, in every case in this series. Alex's dad is given some real development, as is her sister in the previous book. I thought it was interesting that for a while it looks like the Big Bad might be Alex's friend, but then it turns out not to be.
The fairyland itself was well-rendered, even if it owes a debt to Lewis Carroll and multitudinous video games. Looking forward to seeing more of it in the next book.(less)
**spoiler alert** This was a decent and enjoyable paranormal mystery, very much like a Sue Grafton Kinsey Milhone with magic. I liked the Grave Witch...more**spoiler alert** This was a decent and enjoyable paranormal mystery, very much like a Sue Grafton Kinsey Milhone with magic. I liked the Grave Witch private detective character, Alex (see book cover), but I wish the author hadn't made her such a birdbrain. Seriously, she is DUMB. This is a heroine who repeatedly wanders into situations from which she needs to be rescued by one of the Potential Boyfriend characters, a policeman named Falin, or the other, a grim reaper-type who collects souls. She does not suspect that Falin is a fairy FIB agent (Fae Investigative Bureau, heh) despite the odd and otherwise inexplicable way he appears on the case and the many strange coincidences that happen whenever he's around. This situation persists through most of the book, and results in intense readerly frustration. Then there's the way Alex decides to talk to herself aloud when she's hiding in the bathroom from possible bad guys, thus tipping them off to her presence. I mean, it's one thing to stub your toe or have something fall on you at a crucial moment, but it's another to TALK TO YOURSELF. And yes, I live alone and talk to myself in my apartment also, but I'm not calling myself a private investigator or hiding out. Or how about going to see clients when she knows she has people hunting for her and it might be a trap? All of this would bother me less if Alex actually put two and two together occasionally, but instead she goes around blundering and getting rescued until finally it's all spelled out by the bad guys. And I do mean spelled.
You might think from this that I hated the book, but that's not true at all, I just got frustrated with it. It's actually a very fast and engaging read. Alex is certainly lovable, but I wish she spent more time on offense and less on defense. I won't say she never tries to make things happen. It's more that every time she takes action, it gets away from her and she has to extricate herself (or a Potential Boyfriend does). The effect is to make her seem incompetent at life. I have read the next book and she does much better there, but since I'm reviewing this book, those were the issues I had with it.(less)
I really enjoyed this book but it wasn't quite as good as Coronets and Steel. I think in part this was because Coronets inherited some structure from...moreI really enjoyed this book but it wasn't quite as good as Coronets and Steel. I think in part this was because Coronets inherited some structure from Prisoner of Zenda that was lacking here. That said, I've read this book twice now—it's been out a week— and by any normal standard it's excellent; it has the misfortune to be a sequel to a book that was BEYOND excellent.
On the first reading, I felt the early days of Kim's return to Dobrenica was such a downer and such slow going that I nearly despaired, but the book picks up after and from there I was hooked. When I reread it, the beginning didn't bother me at all. Curiously, this is exactly how I felt about the camping scenes in the last Harry Potter book, so there must be something about knowing a book picks up later that makes slow parts more bearable on a reread.
Without giving away anything, the end of the book is upbeat but hardly resolves all the issues, so I hope this means Sherwood Smith will write another book (or more than one!) and give us a well-resolved ending.(less)