This is the first vampire story in the English language, and Polidori based the character on Lord Byron, which was not a stretch, since Byron was pret...moreThis is the first vampire story in the English language, and Polidori based the character on Lord Byron, which was not a stretch, since Byron was pretty much an emotional vampire to those around him. Polidori is an interesting character himself. In films, he is always portrayed as crazy or ugly, some little fiend hanging on to Byron, etc. But it's not true. He was smart as can be, young, young, and very handsome. He was also educated and a physican and a member of the Polidori family that went on to produce Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Christina Rossetti.
Polidori was hired by an editor to travel with Byron and write memoirs of the trip, which we all hear about as The Haunted Summer of 1816 in Geneva where Byron met P.B. Shelley for the first time.
Although this story is sometimes attributed to Lord Byron, that is is false. Polidori wrote it. He died by prussic acid, though he has one of the most interesting coroner's reports in history.
Firstly, if I had to recommend one book to wannabe YA authors from this year (2012), I would recommend this book. If I had a writer's group and we all...moreFirstly, if I had to recommend one book to wannabe YA authors from this year (2012), I would recommend this book. If I had a writer's group and we all were to use one book as a critique on what's right with writing, I'd choose this book. I say this because I am a writer and I read all books like a writer. This is a wonderfully written novel. A very solid read. With lots to recommend.
(SPOILERS) When I began reading this book, I knew that it contained no paranornmal elements, that it was a straight YA book with some mystery elements and themes. I also knew immediately when Katherine's coach entered the gaslit tunnel (with room for two coaches) that the author was going to use one of Victoriana's greatest eccentrics, William Cavendish-Scott-Bentinck, 5th Duke of Portland as a character, although I did not know how. I was so excited to see what the author would do with it. I was very impressed. As for the steampunk, this is the real thing from Victorian England. And that is why you see the illustration of the mechanical fish at the beginning of the book. And one should pay attention. It's not there for "nothing." But there is little fantasy to the steampunk elements, and this is not what one expects from steampunk, but I knew that, too, so I had no expectations of reading the sort of steampunk that is on the shelves now.
The plot is about a girl of seventeen, sent on a mission by a cruel aunt, to visit her mysterious uncle in a gothic estate, to see if the uncle needs to be sent to an asylum. The heroine is very likable and not the typical YA heroine of today. She's pragmatic and ordinary, no super powers, no big emotional scars. She is sort of the everyman character (but with a lot of heart) who is placed in extraordinary circumstances. You don't see enough of these kinds of characters today. Why? They are (actually) harder to write, to make interesting in a market full of vampires, werewolves, and angels.
Katherine is a remarkable character to study. I liked her a lot. Her journey is not on the road, but in a big house full of tunnels, clocks, dark and dusty rooms, mirrors, and strange sounds. That's harder to write, too. And the author does a splendid job. SPLENDID. (Laughing) Because that is one of words often used in this book.
Now for the other characters.
Uncle Tully--Uncle Tully is based on the eccentric real-life Duke. I cannot express on Goodreads all the things I loved about Uncle Tully, from his creation, to his own creations, to his wonderful dialogue, to his actions, and so forth. He is perfect. And he creates a change in the lives of all who know him, even Katherine, and it is because of Uncle Tully that Katherine becomes a round and heroic character. I write this because Uncle Tully is sort of the sphere on which all the other characters spin around. His madness is genius and what we today would probably call autism. The author did such a great job with this, down to the smallest detail.
Lane--the dark mysterious young man whom Katherine slowly (Thank goodness) falls in love with. This relationship is so unlike all the other YA bad boy relationships that I almost wept for joy. He is a great character. If I had to change one thing in the whole book, it would be to give his character a viewpoint. That would be a risk technically, but I would have done it. I think it would have added a complexity to the storyline and took this book out of the claustrophobic first person narrative found in so many YA books. It would have offered a relief from that narrow focus of the main character without taking away from Katherine's character. Lane really had nothing to keep secret.
All the other characters are charming, even the villains.
At one moment in the book, the climax, I felt the story a little rushed. I would have lingered on the explosion and added a chapter or so with Lane and the recovery elements before finishing up with the aunt's cause and so forth. But all and all, the ending was perfect and this is how a book should end. I literally screamed for joy because the story arcs were concluded, and one tiny arc remained, to be finished in another book or by the reader's imagination. That is how to write a BOOK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Ms Cameron is an excellent writer, and her story was vivid in detail without overwriting. Her language is clear and concise and beautiful. It's imaginative in its creation and in the control the author used to keep the story tight and focused. I might have liked the story bigger and more complex and darker, but that did not deter my interests.
I know a good book when I read it. This is one of them. I can't wait to see what the author does next. Highly recommended.
NOTE: I do believe this book was marketed toward 12-16 year old girls. There is a certain expectation in the lower YA years. Some YA books are really 16 and older. The story fulfills this genre requirement.
Finally it so nice to read a book that is just so unexpected in a genre that is overcrowded with the same story told over and over. The love triangle, the bad boy, the supernatural elements. Yes, I love supernatural elements and I might have enjoyed them in this story, but that's okay. I loved this book. I did not put a mark in it, but used a notebook for my remarks. I wanted to save it for a shelf devoted to my two-year old grandchild. It's a Keeper.(less)
This is definitely Dickens's masterpiece and one of the best novels I've ever read. Although it's a Victorian novel, there is something very modern ab...moreThis is definitely Dickens's masterpiece and one of the best novels I've ever read. Although it's a Victorian novel, there is something very modern about it. Maybe in the way Dickens used point-of-view. I would also say, it's the one novel he wrote where he attempted to write real women, instead of his idealized dream of one. It's Gothic, cruel, beautiful, and one hell of a story.(less)
First I am going to tell you the only "weak" element about this book. How the authors used POV. It was messy and I thought unnecessary. BUT I loved th...moreFirst I am going to tell you the only "weak" element about this book. How the authors used POV. It was messy and I thought unnecessary. BUT I loved the book anyway. It was a wonderful book and I spent all day reading it. I am going to read it again! Right now. EDITED NOTE: I liked it so much I ordered book 2 and book 3 just a minute ago. I need to read the whole story.
Talk about a Romeo and Juliet situation--Princess Adele and the Greyfriar are an impossible couple. And who knows what is going to happen to them? I don't. There are so many things I could write about these characters but I don't want to spoil the book so I have to be careful. Let's just say, I love the Greyfriar. Swoon. Swoon. Swoon.
And Princess Adele is such a good character. She's a kick-ass heroine without being the cliche you read in so much urban fantasy. Maybe what makes these characters more interesting is how they grow and change and learn. It's not about their past. It's not about some tortured memory. This is about living your life and having dreams, having curiosity. Making choices. Duty. Honor. Hope. Faith.
Great worldbuilding. I love these vampires, so like some I already know.
As I said, it was not perfectly written. But nothing that I could not get past. So I am adding it to my favorites. Mostly set in a weird steampunk/historical France, London, and Scotland.(less)
My favorite YA book of 2010. I adore this book and re-read it this year. I'd like to read the whole series one day. There are already two other books....moreMy favorite YA book of 2010. I adore this book and re-read it this year. I'd like to read the whole series one day. There are already two other books. Finnikin is a great character and the whole book is written so well that I could hardly put it down. I love this book. Love. Love. Melina Marchetta is an incredible writer.(less)
I adore Liz Berry's China Garden. It is probably the first YA book that I read where I thought, "I'd love to write YA fiction." Going to do a long rev...moreI adore Liz Berry's China Garden. It is probably the first YA book that I read where I thought, "I'd love to write YA fiction." Going to do a long review of it later. I sat down last night and reread it to see how well it works in the current market. Very good.(less)
Small story about a secret in Coldwater Mississippi. Very engaging and a page turner. However, it's a quiet literary type of story. This is not my fir...moreSmall story about a secret in Coldwater Mississippi. Very engaging and a page turner. However, it's a quiet literary type of story. This is not my first read. I have read it several times. I wanted to be reminded how a story can be very small and yet, VERY BIG at the same time.(less)
I am trying to add some of my older books to my Good Reads account. Books I've had for years. I bought this book in 1988 and I've read it over a dozen...moreI am trying to add some of my older books to my Good Reads account. Books I've had for years. I bought this book in 1988 and I've read it over a dozen times, so yes, I've dated myself here. It's about a young woman who is shattered by her mother's death and plays out her immediate loss with a guy who rides bikes, drinks, plays with women, etc. The real bad boy. Everything about this odd little gem of a story is wonderful, even the sexual encounters. What I learned from this book and later by experience is that we never know what we are capable of, none of us do, when we are faced with isolation, pain, and loss. Not that I met a guy on a bike, but I did do something odd for me when faced with the death of a close friend. In some ways, I wish I had met a Jesse. (less)
This book are the memoirs and reflections of Alfred Rosling Bennett. I read it for research to get a fill of the time period and found myself loving i...moreThis book are the memoirs and reflections of Alfred Rosling Bennett. I read it for research to get a fill of the time period and found myself loving it for all the details I did not know about. It's limited to the author's personal experiences, but there are so many good finds. This book was brought to Amazon by Victorian London and Lee Jackson.
I loved this book. When I purchased it I actually bought the wrong book! I had not planned to read fiction on how dirty London was in the mid 1850s. H...moreI loved this book. When I purchased it I actually bought the wrong book! I had not planned to read fiction on how dirty London was in the mid 1850s. However the author has made the sewers and nasty waterways of London a character. You can literally smell the stench of the sewers and of the Thames River. It was awful. Going to reread for research notes.(less)