Sweyn and Christian are brothers, who clash after a beautiful woman comes into their lives. Sweyn falls in love with her, but Christian believes she's...moreSweyn and Christian are brothers, who clash after a beautiful woman comes into their lives. Sweyn falls in love with her, but Christian believes she's a werewolf. He tries to convince his brother, but Sweyn thinks he's mad. Christian ends up showing to him the meaning of real love.
I absolutely loved that this felt like an extended and elegantly written folk tale, which also has the kind of werewolf I love. The references to Christ's sacrifice could have been less obvious. I'm more into showing, not telling. That was just a minor thing, though, and luckily it wasn't taken very far. The violence during the chase scene caught me by surprise. Pleasantly, but it was still kind of icky. I can just hear that crackling in my ears. The beginning on the other hand was creepy and subtle in just the perfect way. People are gathered around the fireplace, when suddenly they hear a voice from the outside. The way Housman desribed the darkness when the door was opened was great. She had also taken all the interesting aspects of werewolf mythology, and managed to make a seemingly simple story into a wonderful allegorical horror tale.
By the way, Clemence was a leading figure in the Suffragette movement. A suffragette writing about werewolves makes me unbelievably happy. I don't know why, but it does.(less)
I'm not that into young adult literature (at all actually), but overall I liked the idea in this, and that it's set at the beginning of the 20th centu...moreI'm not that into young adult literature (at all actually), but overall I liked the idea in this, and that it's set at the beginning of the 20th century. The execution was unsatisfying. The bits where characters argued about women's rights and were sad about Titanic felt out of place, like Gripe definitely wanted something to scream the time period, but couldn't decide where to put them so she jammed them somewhere where they seemed to fit. They didn't. The characters were also unlikeable and sometimes behaved oddly and unnaturally. The biggest problem for me however was the whole mystery of the photograph itself. I don't know if it was because things are made more obvious in books for young adults or what, but I guessed what was going on pretty quickly. The mystery of the twin brother was lame as well. I was also hoping something more about the father's interest in Swedenborg, since it reminded me of Uncle Silas, but I guess it wasn't supposed to be important.
The second part of the series seems interesting, though, so maybe I'll have a look at some point if I feel like it.(less)
I'd previously read The Hound of the Baskervilles (1902), but it was ten years ago. I can't even remember the basic plot, so I probably need to read i...moreI'd previously read The Hound of the Baskervilles (1902), but it was ten years ago. I can't even remember the basic plot, so I probably need to read it again in time. These don't necessarily need to be read in order, but my neuroticism wouldn't leave me alone otherwise. So, let the mysteries of Victorian London begin!
Holmes is a damn interesting and alluring character, who now became one of my favourites. He's sarcastic, inquisitive, and enthusiastic about his scientific experiments. Holmes in general just wants to do his thing, without letting anyone's expectations distract him, and doesn't feel the need to share everything about himself. This mysteriousness of course bugs the hell out of Watson, especially when Watson's social life is completely frozen. So, he has to come up with something, like pondering what the hell Holmes is up to and what is he about.
At first Watson is highly suspicious of Holmes's amazing skills of perception, but finally humbles in front of his awesomeness. Holmes himself knows he's a good detective, and isn't shamed to say it aloud. Scotland Yard is just full of incompetent asses. This isn't particularly cocky, because the reader already knows by now that Holmes is unbeatable in crime solving. Watson may seem pointless storywise, but I liked him as the (sometimes painfully clueless) narrator, not as a character per se. Hopefully he doesn't turn into a mere ego booster, but then again I wouldn't mind if there were just me and Holmes.
Doyle's prose is by no mean remarkable, but I don't expect it to be in a crime story. Descriptions of London are pretty much nonexistent, but somehow I still felt like I was there. I guess it says something about the author's skills, although my edition had both 19th century photographs and illustrations to demonstrate the locations, plot points, and special Victorian objects and things to help set the mood.
The murder illustrates Holmes's theory about how even the weirdest and most complex crime is very simple, and the other way round. The sensationalist newspapers stir the case with all kinds of theories from socialism to political refugees, but the real motive turns out to be the age-old one, seen thousands of times before. However, it's so entertaining to follow the deductions, that simplicity doesn't matter, and actually the criminal evokes thoughts of what's right after all.
The structure was a major disappointment, though. Part one was great, but Part two had a flashback that lasted five chapters, and it interrupts the plot almost completely. The flashback does show the background of the characters that are involved in the case, but there's nothing that couldn't have been told in a smaller space. Now the flachback seems like a short story within a novel, and on top of it the style is completely different as well. The chapters after that are a bit boring, because the main points of the case are heard twice, although with different points of view. I do want to know what happened, of course, but not when there's excessive rambling. Maybe in the short stories the pacing is better, since the shortness demands getting to the point.(less)
There's just one sentence that describes the plot adequately (at least with my skills): the story involves around the death of an American girl called...moreThere's just one sentence that describes the plot adequately (at least with my skills): the story involves around the death of an American girl called Eddie de Wire. The events and characters form a puzzle, where sometimes the pieces seem to fit together, but the picture isn't what it's supposed to be. This wasn't exactly a hard read, but concentration is still a key here. At first I didn't get a hold on anything, not the text, or the characters, or the plot, but then I just allowed to be led by a string and walked through a spiral following flashes of various things.
Fagerholm's style may not necessarily be for everyone, because the events constantly move forwards and backwards and upside down. Lovely images create an atmospheric mood, where Eddie's red coated spirit hovers. You feel like being underwater, from where you see only part of the events, and only in twisted shapes and colors. Clarity would not fit this story at all, and if you try to keep up to date with the time span, you will surely sink into a swamp (or a pond).
I finished the book quite fast, but I wasn't blown away though. In addition to not always getting a hold on the text, the length and the excessive repetition bothered me. Especially on the very first page I kind of sighed, because the prose seemed clunky and just overall the kind of prose I don't like that much. For the most part the language was beautiful in an unusual way (almost quirky) and dreamlike, but the book could have benefited from condensing to make the atmosphere last. Sometimes particular sentences seemed random and orphaned, like they didn't belong anywhere, the least in the place they were. However, Fagerholm's approach in handling the story and the lives of her characters was unusual and fresh enough to make me continue reading her books. I can't deny myself a good challenge.(less)
The descriptions of wilderness were beautiful. So beautiful, that as an ardent hater of winter I started to forget the depressing coldness and darknes...moreThe descriptions of wilderness were beautiful. So beautiful, that as an ardent hater of winter I started to forget the depressing coldness and darkness, and remember the magical moments. Subtle snowfalls, complex patterns of snowflakes and how they melt on your glove, crackling snow beneath your feet, clear ice on lakes etc. This is the kind of novel I probably wouldn't read, but when I heard the story was inspired by a Russian folktale, it immediately got me interested. I'd say Ivey utilized the tale well, but this still ended up as a "book between books", a novel that I don't feel like reviewing in detail. A nice little story about a childless couple in the Alaskan frontier, but that's it. Besides, the end was disappointing. It verged too much on the realistic side for me.(less)
When the Masterpiece Theatre's production (Richard Armitage!) was first shown on Finnish tv, I fell in love with it (including the haunting theme musi...moreWhen the Masterpiece Theatre's production (Richard Armitage!) was first shown on Finnish tv, I fell in love with it (including the haunting theme music). I haven't seen it in a couple of years now, because I've been afraid that the enchantment will be broken or something, but after finally getting around to reading this, I'm probably going to hunt it down.
The opposites that are Margaret Hale and John Thornton are a part of the dynamics of the novel. Thornton seems a very hard man with an unpenetrable exterior, and someone who's not too keen on showing his emotions. When this break through the barrier happens, it's touching. Margaret on the other hand dislikes the superficial company of women, admires calm behavior, and her character is often misunderstood as arrogant. Both are stubborn, and despite all the misunderstandings, prejudices, and cold behavior, both understand each other in a certain way and see behind faked facial expressions.
Although I haven't read Austen's Pride and Prejudice (1813), based on the reviews and the miniseries I've seen, the relationship between Thornton and Margaret seems very similar than the one between Darcy and Elizabeth. North and South however isn't just about wallowing in love and relationships, but also a story about loss and justice, and where the meaning of death is great in the development of the characters. This isn't dark though, because on the background there are always new possibilities and hope.
Most of all this is a study of human nature, the conflicts of industrialisation, and injustices of the society. A humane story about a city, where the collisions of different people might even be dangerous. The reader is allowed the space to make own conclusions. Both the factory masters and workers have reasonable thoughts, and Gaskell shows that both sides are able to make mistakes.
There were a few times in the dialogue where the speaker wasn't identified, but luckily just a few so it didn't bother as much as it could have. At first the workers' way of talking was kind of cryptic, but when I figured out the logic behind it, it became easier to read. Reading aloud helped, although my speech kind of verged on the Irish side. The ending might seem abrupt to some, but I didn't mind. If I could have, I would have held my breath the whole time, and at the end I could finally sigh for a relief (won't admit any tears), even though we all know how these books end.(less)