Pretty good book, notable for doing atmosphere and ambiance well, which I always appreciate (in fact, sometimes that's my favorite thing about a book)Pretty good book, notable for doing atmosphere and ambiance well, which I always appreciate (in fact, sometimes that's my favorite thing about a book). Starts rather slowly but kept my interest. The protagonist, Merrily, is to be a vicar for a small English town that was once known for its cider. Some new people have moved into the town and want to capitalize on its history and start making cider again, for tourist money. On top of this, a playwright and his actor boyfriend want to put on a play about a 17th century vicar who was hounded by the villagers into committing suicide because (in the playwright's opinion) he was gay, but officially for "witchcraft." (This part didn't make any sense to me because if the villagers thought he was gay, they could have just as well hounded him for that, as invent trumped-up witchcraft charges. But whatever. The book sort of gives an explanation of that at the end.) Anyway, Merrily walks into this mess with her daughter and all Hell breaks loose in the church. By the end of the book, I was left thinking that the only sensible characters were the pagan New Ager types, who include Merrily's daughter, Jane. There is not even a token skeptic in the book, which I found rather endearing because I always hate watching the skeptic get his comeuppance when the ghosts turn out to be real. In the absence of a Skeptic, I always root for the pagans.
One thing. This book was written in the late 90s, and it really shows in the way characters talk about gay people. True to the time period, I suppose, but it's kind of wince-inducing looking back on it. Especially since one of the gay characters turns out to be an insane murderer in a twist that was mostly unforeshadowed and unconnected to the rest of the plot, which is why I don't consider this much of a spoiler. What was the message there? The death didn't even mean anything....more
This book was a good read and a big improvement on technical grounds by Sarah Rayne — fewer continuity errors and loose ends than usual. She has alwayThis book was a good read and a big improvement on technical grounds by Sarah Rayne — fewer continuity errors and loose ends than usual. She has always struggled with that sort of thing. As usual, I loved the characters and the creepiness. The haunted chessmen took me right back to John Bellairs (whose books bear more than a passing similarity to Rayne's, probably because they share the M.R. James influence).
There were a few scenes in here that were truly ghastly. The part in the beginning where a man is baked alive in front of the teens and they can see his fat melting — UGH....more
I enjoyed this book. Sarah Rayne has taken a bit of a throw-in-the-kitchen-sink approach to writing a gothic novel — she's got a haunted house, an insI enjoyed this book. Sarah Rayne has taken a bit of a throw-in-the-kitchen-sink approach to writing a gothic novel — she's got a haunted house, an insane nun, a ghost, a reporter, a lot of sex, a late Victorian feminist and her Dickensian author lover, child prostitution, creepy nursery rhymes and probably some things I'm forgetting. Yes, this is the sort of book where people get thrown down wells. With all that going on, it's almost surprising that it all fits together so well. Rayne is a very good writer. She owes me an extra eight hours of sleep, on account of that's what I gave up to finish her book....more
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 SusanThe 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....more
Eh. Not a bad book, but nothing outstanding about this. I could say the same for the series — the books always hold my interest, but they don't have mEh. Not a bad book, but nothing outstanding about this. I could say the same for the series — the books always hold my interest, but they don't have much unique to offer. It's not a bad way to pass a Saturday afternoon and evening, though. (I will say that the romance isn't working for me — I haven't liked ANY of Lily's suitors so far. Sailor may be the best of them, but he's no catch. Aidan's an ass. I'm glad Max is out of the picture and I hope he STAYS out.)...more
The first of the Johnny Dixon books is now available on Amazon as an ebook! The only reason to own a paper version is if you can find one with the oriThe first of the Johnny Dixon books is now available on Amazon as an ebook! The only reason to own a paper version is if you can find one with the original Gorey artwork, and I'm sure one day I'll get one. In the mean time, it was nice to reread it. This is actually one of the creepier Bellairs books, and I remember that I don't own an original Gorey copy because when I read my friend Jacob's in elementary school, it badly frightened me. I own originals of all of the other Bellairs books, though.
It was interesting reading this on the iPad because the fictional Duston Heights in the book is actually Haverhill Massachusetts, so I could go back and forth between the book and the map, finding the exact street Johnny is walking down. Because I've walked through Haverhill several times, I even have pictures of some of the places in the book, like the Merrimack river off of Water street....more
**spoiler alert** This is basically Twilight if Twilight had plot and a heroine who called Edward on his shit.
The world has four kinds of creatures in**spoiler alert** This is basically Twilight if Twilight had plot and a heroine who called Edward on his shit.
The world has four kinds of creatures in it, humans, witches, vampires, and daemons. Our Bella is a witch named Diana. Diana does not like magic because her parents were superduper witches who went off to Africa (they were anthropologists) and got themselves killed by evil spirits or something. So Diana blames magic for their deaths and she doesn't like to use it, even though she is crackling with the stuff. Instead, she's become a slam-bang tenured academic historian specializing in the bridge between science and magic. In practice that means she gets to read a lot of crumbling books in the Bodleian at Oxford, which is where she finds the MacGuffin. She makes a routine request for an under-read alchemical text and finds to her surprise that it's bewitched — the visible text is a spell and underneath there's something else. But being as she hates magic, and being as this is a magic thingumbob, she chooses not to read and sends it back to storage where (apparently) nobody else is capable of borrowing it.
On her way out of the library she Meets Cute. Cute is vampire Matthew who initially cares more for the MacGuffin than the Mary Sue. Matthew is basically an Edward — he sneaks into her apartment looking for the book and COINCIDENTALLY watches Diana sleep. Anyway, Matthew acts all controlling but unlike Bella, Diana calls him on it, and I choose to keep reading. (I did wonder why she keeps seeing him at all once he proves he's a jerk, but the story finesses this by claiming vampires have fantastic mojo.) --
The book kept me turning the pages. It is definitely one to read for the lulz. I kept saying O RLY? O RLY?!! to my empty bedroom. I mean this is a book that takes the kitchen sink approach to fiction writing — we got the Knights Templar, the haunted house (which can make rooms pop out of nowhere when the house anticipates guests are arriving!), the Congregation that keeps nonhumans from human notice but has its own secret agenda (and forbids vamp/witch romances). We got witch-vampire genetics by way of Anne Rice's Taltos books. There is an oubliette! And someone is thrown in it like the Talamasca did in Taltos! The possibility of hybrid vampire-witch children arises. Diana is pretty much the Mary Sue to end all Mary Sues. I can't wait for the next book....more
I really enjoyed The Historian despite the somewhat lame ending. My favorite part of ghost stories is always the trip to the library, and this book isI really enjoyed The Historian despite the somewhat lame ending. My favorite part of ghost stories is always the trip to the library, and this book is basically one big long library trip. The story is also undeniably creepy. Every person they meet seems to have something to do with Vlad, whether for or against, so the suspense comes from never knowing if someone will betray or help....more