Readers used to a more modern style of writing may find this book a little challenging, but it is well worth persevering!
Kept has a wide range of chaReaders used to a more modern style of writing may find this book a little challenging, but it is well worth persevering!
Kept has a wide range of characters, the connections between which will not be immediately seen, and often uses different forms of writing, such as the epistolatory form of letters which was highly popular during the Victorian Era. It also uses a lot of Victorian turn of phrase, and the style of the omniscient narrator, but sometimes addressing the author personally, breaking the fourth wall, we would say in film. There is also the style common with some older novels, of occasionally lapsing into present tense.
For me, as someone who loves literature and the Victorian era, I found that all these things added to the charm! I really felt like I was reading a novel from the era, and the well-written descriptions and wry humour really helped me become a part of the world. I also liked the mix of events, from crime, to even some rather gothic scenes in the old house. The mysteries of what is going on unravel slowly in a wonderful way.
The author has a great knowledge of all the facts of the era, the artists, authors, newspapers, every detail feels spot on, and I find the references to writers and artists fascinating! He perfectly captures the minutiae of Victorian life in London and Scotland. The book has a very real feeling with palpable descriptions, creating a very real world within its pages.
It was fascinating to watch the stories intertwine as the story reached its conclusion. I must admit, I hoped for a happier ending for some of the characters, even though I knew it was unlikely. The story felt very real, and the endings kept with that. I need to find out which others of the main characters might have been real people, and the author cleverly interwove many real aspects of the time into his work.
The story also deals sensitively with mental illness and its treatment at the time, although, I think, had the character not been of the upper classes, her treatment would have been far worse.
There are so many things I want to talk about in regards to the book, but I don't want to spoil the story, because its unravelling is one of its pleasures. Just take it from me, this book is a must read!...more
What if Quasimodo, the Hunchback of Notre Dame worked as a secret agent for a mysterious man protecting the interests of Victorian England? This rolliWhat if Quasimodo, the Hunchback of Notre Dame worked as a secret agent for a mysterious man protecting the interests of Victorian England? This rollicking Steampunk adventure answers that question, while sweeping through a fast paced series of excitement and adventure.
Modo is an ugly hunchbacked child, rescued by Mr. Socrates from a freak show, due to his amazing ability to shape shift. Brought up in a remote country house, teenage Modo is without warning flung out into the dangerous world of London to fend for himself, a test from Mr. Socrates. There he meets the skilled and beautiful Octavia Milkweed, another agent of Socrates, and must take on another secret society, this one bent on world domination.
The story is enjoyable, although a little fast paced for me, running constantly from one action scene to another. I couldn't help but feel I would have collapsed from exhaustion long before. The final thing that has to be battled feels a little farfetched and needlessly complex, created more for shock inpact than actual feasibility.
There is another literary inspired character, in the form of Mr Hyde, an evil doctor who creates dangerous potions, which is another interesting literary change up.
A good adventure, and definitely worth a read. This would probably be a good one to get the teenage boys reading. ...more
I would definitely recommend getting a lightly annotated or footnoted edition of this book, such as this one. Stoker makes reference to many interestiI would definitely recommend getting a lightly annotated or footnoted edition of this book, such as this one. Stoker makes reference to many interesting scientific and historical facts and studies such as mesmerism, the Hellgate explosion, the Philosopher's Stone, genus and species, Voodoo, etc. and it is good to have an explanation and reference for those you may not be familiar with.
The book consists of a series of (mostly) Gothic short stories and the novella, The Lair of the White Worm.
The short stories are sometimes amusing, sometimes dark. The Burial of the Rats struck me as especially scary, and I would not recommend The Squaw for animal lovers although I liked the premise very much. I loved Crooken Sands which mocks the foolishness of tourists. And of course, Stoker's American characters, like in Dracula and in this case, The Squaw, will never cease to amuse me with the rugged and good natured characteristics with which Stoker imbues them.
The Lair of The White Worm was apparently the last story Stoker wrote and written after a stroke. While it contains inconsistencies, it is an impressive work for a dying man. I was continually impressed by his knowledge and love of scientific fact, although all that fact was probably not needed for the story. The main issues were that there were a lot of in depth conversations, which really slowed down the plot, and that every time something horrible happened, everyone just seemed to forget about it immediately and act as if nothing had happened the next time they met the villains. (view spoiler)[ For instance the part where they go to the villainesses house for tea and she fills the room with a fog and Mimi runs through a door, gets tangled in the curtain, keeps running blindly, slips on the greased floor and nearly falls into the bottomless wellhole, is saved by Adam and then they all go and sit back down and pretend nothing happened. (hide spoiler)] However, I think it would be nice, and amusing to put that down to a sense of humour on Stoker's part and a mockery of English reservation and manners. (view spoiler)[ A few other inconsistencies include Adam somehow keeping everything from his uncle, including running off to get married, Mimi and her cousin's grandfather never being there, when horrible things always happen at his house, Mimi not telling Adam that her cousin is dead and then him later knowing, and also it's a little disturbing that she appears to keep her cousin's body in their old room and doesn't make any move to bury it. Also that, knowing that Castra Regis and Diana's grove might be destroyed by lightning, they make no move to warn any of the servants. Surely houses this big have servants. Are we to assume that there are none left at the time? Maybe Adam fired the Diana's Grove servants, but surely someone like Caswall who seems to spend his entire time sulking and playing with kites would need someone to take care of him. (hide spoiler)]
Also I should note that the descriptions of the black servant Oolanga get more and more horrible and racist. I know that it was the time in which it was written, etc. etc. and normally I am able to skim over descriptions like this but seriously, it just gets worse and worse. He seems to get stupider and more ugly as the story goes on.
I will admit The Lair of the White Worm is a little difficult to get through, I love classics, and I had trouble with it, but it is still a good story, and worth reading, although I would not recommend it as a starting story to someone unfamiliar with the language and writing style of that era. I do not mean to in any way detract from this novel, but I believe had Stoker had time to revise it, it would probably have been perfect in every way, like Dracula. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Madame Xanadu began as a mystic character in DC comicbooks. Before reading this graphic novel I had never heard of her before, but this story offers aMadame Xanadu began as a mystic character in DC comicbooks. Before reading this graphic novel I had never heard of her before, but this story offers a more than satisfactory introduction. With beautiful illustrations, costuming, and well-written 'voice over' storytelling, this book is a pleasure to read.
The story takes place in iconic times in history: Arthurian England, The Xanadu of Kubla Kahn, the French Revolution, Victorian London under the threat of Jack The Ripper, Depression Era America...
It's also good to see an 'old friend' (I know, I'm a geek for thinking of book characters as friends), Death from the Sandman Comics, that perky Goth girl who is also the wisest and oldest being in the universe. Of course, no one writes her as well as her creator, Neil Gaiman, but I'm still happy to see her cameo in this.
I didn't enjoy the London chapter as much, apart from the outfits, because the whole Jack The Ripper thing is done so often and feels much less fresh and original than the other chapters.
There are a lot of other characters in this from the comics, who I also don't recognise, and I think it would be interesting to know how this story read from the point of view of someone who already knew all these characters, but I don't think you need to know the characters to enjoy it. I can't imagine it being any better than it was, it was fantastic!...more
China Miéville is the kind of writer who can take really absurd situations and characters and make them not only believable but sympathetic. The world of UnLondon, and all it's strange and surreal characters and places are so far from anything in this world, born out of an amazing, dream-like imagination. And yet the story easily sucks you in, and soon you are not questioning how and why, but cheering on your favourite characters, and hoping they make it through to the end.
Zanna and Deeba are best friends who live in an English housing estate. But Zanna is the Shwazzy, the chosen one, the one who will defeat the smog and save UnLondon. But when things don't go according to prophecy, it is Deeba, the unchosen one, who must step in.
What do I love about this novel? I love that Deeba is just a normal girl like the rest of us, someone who thinks she is not special, knows she is not chosen, but does what she has to to proetect her friends and family. This makes her a real hero. It's one thing to be talented and special and fight when it's easy, it's another to do it when it's hard.
I love the surreal world of UnLondon, a kind of twin city to London, but utterly different. It's a place where all the unwanted things of London, the trash and treasure, come. Houses are made of junk (A.K.A. moil), there is a tree of fireworks from Guy Fawkes day, and even a town of ghost people from both London and UnLondon. There is so much else...including giraffes...
One of the things that helps with this strange world is the little illustrations throughout the book, drawn by China Miéville himself, which help visualise the strange houses and creatures that fill his world. He creates such a complete world, it's hard to not believe that it might not actually exist, only waiting for us to find a hidden path to it. And apparently there are others of these 'abcities' all around the world.
Among all the other wonderful people and creatures, I really loved the Extreme Librarians or Bookaneers, who work in a gigantic tower of books. It is a dangerous job, searching for books in trips that can take weeks on end. One of them was once even lost and never found again.
Un Lun Dun, like it's namesake, really needs to be experienced to be believed! It is an amazing, totally immersive experience, and one that I enthusiastically recommend!...more
A Gothic tale of pure perfection, with cleverly interwoven plotlines and a dark mystery that is not fully revealed until the final pages! The characteA Gothic tale of pure perfection, with cleverly interwoven plotlines and a dark mystery that is not fully revealed until the final pages! The characters were well written and sympathetic, and the story gripped me from beginning to end. Good use was made of elements that fascinated in the Victorian Era such as mesmerism, Johannes Trithemius and lightning. (The Lair of the White Worm, which I read recently, showed an fascination with the destructive powers of lighting.)
While some modern audiences may not be used to the Gothic genre, and the way the plot slowly unwinds, as well as the epistolatory form of the novel, I think it has been written as an engaging narrative that will still interest modern audiences. The ongoing mysteries are fascinating, and the final explanations very satisfying. If you are looking for something different from the obvious and gore soaked modern mysteries, this book will be a refreshing change....more
This was an amazing book. It was written in an interesting way, not dry like some other historical books. It was filled with wry humour at the strange ways of humanity, but also sympathy and pathos. It was fascinating to see how burial customs and the beliefs that surrounded them changed over time. The book reaches from Pagan era to the modern day, although a large portion revolves around the Victorian era 'the people who invented death.'
It was wonderful to learn about the changing attitudes to cremation, the creation of cemeteries as beautiful gardens, and luminaries like Isabella Holmes who turned neglected funeral plots in space starved London into playgrounds for poor children. The book was macabre, humourous, and sad, and I enjoyed reading it very much. I would recommend it to anyone who is interested in the history of London, or the ways we mourn and the history behind them....more
This book was a beautiful but harrowing read. It is a story about a boy whose mother has cancer who is visited by a yew tree monster. The story was veThis book was a beautiful but harrowing read. It is a story about a boy whose mother has cancer who is visited by a yew tree monster. The story was very sad and I cried several times. It is a touching and honest tale and will definitely touch anyone who has ever been in a similar situation. I would not recommend it to someone who has recently experienced loss as it might be a bit much to take, but I think it could also be cathartic for someone whose loss is a bit further in the past.
The topic of the story was also made more poignant by the fact that Siobhan Dowd, who created the ideas for the story, died of cancer at just 47 before she was able to write the book, and it feels like a swansong for her.
I really liked the monster's first two stories, and the duality of the characters in them. I liked the way the magical elements interwove with the realities of life. Conor's bond with his mother was beautiful, and his problems with his grandmother and father felt very real. I couldn't help being mad at his father for not being there.
It is an addictive book, and I ended up reading most of it in one sitting, so I recommend it for a rainy day. But make sure you have a hanky or tissues with you....more
In this novel, historical whimsy, science fiction and a love of literature walk hand in hand down the dreamlike corridors of the authors mind. There is no doubt that the world Lavie Tidhar has created is a masterpiece. In an alternate England filled with the luminaries of science, literature, politics, and ruled by lizards from space, a boy called Orphan must find his place in the world, facing the mysterious Bookman and his exploding books and the dangers of London and beyond. I loved the rewritten history, and the details that really helped create this world. I adored all the references to writers and literary characters, and unusual little elements, like the whales that sang in the harbour.
I enjoyed the unusual metaphors the author used, which I assume he created himself. It really made the novel feel rather original, and I loved the evocative imagery of them.
The story itself definitely surprised me more than once with unexpected plot twists, but I think they were valid decisions to make, and I think it's nice when a book surprises you (as long as it doesn't blow up!)...more
Century is an imaginative story with a beautifully evocative and moody setting. I can't say too much about the plot, because you discover the story asCentury is an imaginative story with a beautifully evocative and moody setting. I can't say too much about the plot, because you discover the story as you go. It was beautifully written, with a wonderful gothic feel to the narrative, with the dark old house and their world of night.
Mercy lives in the house known as Century with her sister, governess, servant and rarely seen father. It is always winter, and they rise after sunset, and go to sleep before dawn, their 'days' seem to bleed into each other, repetitive and tiring. (But don't worry, this isn't a vampire story.) One day, Mercy begins to question their strange lifestyle, although everyone seems to want to stop her from discovering the truth.
I really liked the main character, Mercy, who was an intelligent and resourceful girl. The story seems to take place around Regency/ Georgian era, but has a wonderful timelessness to it that suits the tale. The house and grounds sounded wonderful, and, though I wanted Mercy to find out the truth, I also thought I wouldn't mind so much being stuck in that house.
It's enjoyable to read a YA book that isn't another romance. This story didn't try to conform to popular writing styles, and I really appreciated that. At just over 200 pages, it was a pretty quick and easy read for me. The writing is easy to read, not too old fashioned for young people, despite the setting, but it also doesn't feel to modern and out of place.
I don't think I need to say any more. I loved this book. If you like gothic stories, or just something a little different than the usual YA novel, give this one a go....more
Beautiful art that looks like paintings and an interesting new story combine to make this short graphic novel a pleasure to read. Sandman fans may recBeautiful art that looks like paintings and an interesting new story combine to make this short graphic novel a pleasure to read. Sandman fans may recognise a few minor unnamed characters such as Nuala, Lucien, and, I am pretty sure, Daniel, but knowledge of the Sandman comics in not essential as this is about an unrelated character.
God Save the Queen is abou Linda. Her father left recently and her mother is drinking. She is going to clubs and finding more dangerous ways to forget. When she meets a group of people who invite her to shoot up her blood mixed with heroin, which they call 'red horse', she discovers the ultimate high. Little does she know what it may cost her, or that these people are not from our world.
A fresh and enjoyable urban fantsy graphic novel that combines modern issues like drug use and strained familial relationships with legends of faerie. I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys urban fantasy and the art of graphic novels....more
This isn't my usual style, but I really enjoyed it! Concise and easy to read at just 104 pages, it is a collection of stories for young women, with aThis isn't my usual style, but I really enjoyed it! Concise and easy to read at just 104 pages, it is a collection of stories for young women, with a feminist focus. They look at things like not just magically falling in love, the reality of life.
The stories were all well written, and some were quite poignant. While I was lucky enough not be able to identify with most of them, they felt really real. I liked the issues they dealt with. I was especially pleased with the way they dealt with the less pleasant side of sex, which is probably not a fairytale for most girls, like it always seems to be in books.
While it was written in the 80s, it is still relevant today. The only thing that told me it was older was some of the slang in one of the stories. I give it a wholehearted 5 stars out a five. I would recommend it to young women as a reminder that life isn't a fairytale and boys aren't all princes in disguise....more
This gets about a 4.9, rounded up to a 5. I loved the characters, the setting, the intuitive understanding she had of the way they dressed and human nThis gets about a 4.9, rounded up to a 5. I loved the characters, the setting, the intuitive understanding she had of the way they dressed and human nature. I was just a little unsure if I liked the final battle, and a little disappointed that it ended up in the air with no future book date for the third novel. I want to know what happens next!
Despite what others have said, I think this works well if you haven't read the original, although I have now read that one as well. It's not so punky, not too much technology, but it is a steamy romance, and the descriptions of the magic and guilds is fascinating. I loved the Victorian setting, and the author really understood aspects of Victorian life such as getting through doors in hoop skirts, that made it feel more real.
The romance was very enjoyable, Grey Carteret was just my type. This book works well as a steampunk-ish novel, a story about magic, and as a romance, and for that, it deserves real credit! I can't wait to see what will happen when the third one comes out! I hope it will have more about Elinor, who is a fascinating character, and a strong independent woman!...more