Grossly disappointing. LKH has the most wonderful ideas, she's clearly got a magnificent picture in her head that she's trying to help us see, and she...moreGrossly disappointing. LKH has the most wonderful ideas, she's clearly got a magnificent picture in her head that she's trying to help us see, and she's great at constructing dramatic scenes. Her stories have so much potential.
That is what makes this such an absolute shame, because her writing has become truly god-awful. It is painfully repetitive and incoherent, as though she forgets from one chapter to the next what was in the previous ones; there is almost zero cohesion from scene to scene, as though the narrative voice has dementia or something. The dialogue is so forced and tangential that several times it made me literally physically cringe. It is almost insultingly apparent that there was no proofreading or editing; I am frankly astonished that it was allowed to be published in this state. The laziness of the storytelling was an insult to the readers that have stuck with her all this time. I know LKH is capable of better; it was clear that minimal effort went into this book. Or else, if this is really the best she can do anymore, frankly, she needs to quit, because she is making a fool of herself as things stand. I personally cannot see myself ever wasting another penny on her writing.
LKH said some time ago that if she'd had her way, she would have ended this series with book seven. She should have. Rather than ending on a bang, and making it a great series in posterity, she is going to torture and drag it to death like she's done to Anita Blake (do not get me started on that tragedy against literature and humanity). I have begun considering book seven the last book - in my mind everything after that is just bad Mary-Sue fanfiction that happens to be written by the author. (less)
This book is a journey through one man's life via his life-long journal entries, winding through every decade of the twentieth century. Extremely hone...moreThis book is a journey through one man's life via his life-long journal entries, winding through every decade of the twentieth century. Extremely honest and intimate, some parts extremely ordinary, others intriguing and almost shocking. To read it was almost bittersweet; it is a summary of one man's life. There were times I found it extremely calming to read through his journal ramblings, contemplative as we saw the passing of human events through his view from within them, and at other times, it filled me with a sense of panic, to realize just how quickly his life was slipping by as I turned the pages - it made me reflect on how quickly my life is slipping by, day by day as his did, page by page. The third to last entry, as he watches the young people at the hotel, and wonders if they will live as well as he has done, filled me with a kind of longing, like a hunting dog straining at its leash - I almost wanted to run out and do something meaningful, to take it as a challenge, and prove that I could. It is almost dull reading in the details, but the sum of the whole is an extremely uplifting and personal experience that I found incredibly inspiring. This genre is not my usual fare, I'm not the biographical type, but I felt very enriched after reading it, and I would recommend it to anyone.(less)
My favorite Wonder World story so far! It would make me sad that Julius and Alice get only one volume for their story, but honestly, the tale was told...moreMy favorite Wonder World story so far! It would make me sad that Julius and Alice get only one volume for their story, but honestly, the tale was told absolutely perfectly in that single volume, and no more was needed. The build up of their relationship was natural and convincing, and seeing Julius resist her, and himself, only to lose control time and again - and even smile! - it was so beautiful, breath-taking, wonderful! And oh, that ending, it was so perfectly in character for them, so heart-achingly sweet! (view spoiler)[And I do believe it was the only one that had a sort of 'guaranteed' happily ever after - as much as can ever be in the Wonder World - where the vial shatters and she definitively decides to stay with him forever. (hide spoiler)] I have read it over and over, going to have to buy a new 'nice' copy, because my reading copy is getting loved apart already! I love all the role holders, but this story convinced me that the only one for Alice is Julius! ♥(less)
Chilling, creative and compelling story for most of the book, and then it fell flat on its face in a fit of anticlimax at the end. The idea of a haunt...moreChilling, creative and compelling story for most of the book, and then it fell flat on its face in a fit of anticlimax at the end. The idea of a haunted house that reflects the darkness in the hearts of those who enter, so that people are haunted by their own evil - pure genius. Hamming it up with devils and angels and a forced Christ analogy not only took it way over the cheese line, but seemed to derail all the previous thematic build up from the rest of the book.
The whole thing was building up to the idea that the house reflected the darkness in the human heart, and all the bluster and hype about 'the wages of sin is death' and 'the light pierces the darkness' was clearly led to a natural conclusion that the power to defeat the house should lay within the characters - that they had to defeat their own darkness in order to survive. Instead, we've got an angel playing Jesus, the genius 'reflective' ghost house populated with literal demons, and the characters saying "Shoo!" to them to end the dang book. I felt incredibly disappointed and frustrated with that ending - I felt like I'd wasted my time.
The book was enjoyable. But stop about 5 chapters from the end, and imagine your own ending, or you're going to regret the whole affair.(less)
Strange, beautiful, chilling tale. I was surprised at what a quick read it was; the language was surprisingly straightforward for the era in which it...moreStrange, beautiful, chilling tale. I was surprised at what a quick read it was; the language was surprisingly straightforward for the era in which it was written. The damaged nature of Laura's character was subtle and added a delicate flavor of horror to the tale above and beyond the obvious horror of the vampire. The way she remembers Carmilla with both horror and longing is reflected in her narrative, and the reader feels along with her the torn confusion of her feelings.
Particularly poignant to me was near at end: as she recalls Carmilla both as a beautiful, gentle girl and as a terrifying creature, and then relates that every now and then she imagines hearing Carmilla's footfalls outside her door. At that moment as the reader I didn't quite know if I was meant to feel fear of an approaching horror, or nostalgia for a lost love. That final, hanging note of uncertainty was the perfect way to end the tale.
I also found it most enlightening with regards to the sexual attraction of vampires. In the past I have read more modern vampire stories, and it was taken as a given that vampires sexy, and the blood drinking aspect is somehow darkly alluring, but it was something that I acknowledged on a cerebral level alone; I did not particularly understand either the allure or aversion the characters felt for the act. Reading Carmilla's words to Laura, I was left breathless, and for the first time I felt the passion and complexity of that attraction, rather than merely taking it for granted. It seemed to be underscored by Carmilla's disdain for the peasants she consumed and discarded; they were just cattle to Carmilla, but Laura (and Bertha before her) was something more, she was special to her. While she attacked the peasants, she seduced Laura, even desired her consent and acceptance of what she was doing to her; it was more than just sensual, it was a twisted form of love.
I really enjoyed this book, it was very short, but the story was so striking and I think it will stay with me for a long time.(less)