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!)(less)
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!(less)
I think the idea of Bordertown is fascinating, and I'd love to read some of the original stories. My main complaint about this collection would be tha...moreI think the idea of Bordertown is fascinating, and I'd love to read some of the original stories. My main complaint about this collection would be that the short stories make it hard to develop any really complex storylines and character development, but I often feel that with short stories. There were a couple that were modern vampirey things which I didn't really get into and a couple I skipped, one about the internet, one which used a lot of slang or dialect which I found nearly impossible to read. The standouts were:
Welcome to Bordertown- Ellen Kushner, Terri Windling A Voice Like a Hole- Catherynne M. Valente Stairs in Her Hair- Amal El-Mohtar A Prince of Thirteen Days- Alaya Dawn Johnson Night Song for a Halfie- Jane Yolen We Do Not Come in Peace- Christopher Barzak The Rowan Gentleman- Holly Black, Cassandra Clare A Tangle of Green Men- Charles de Lint
A Tangle of Green Men is especially wonderful, although I would expect nothing less from Charles de Lint, who is a real magician! I love the mix of Native American and European culture and tales. Interestingly, one of the supporting characters, Seamus, seems to be based on a real person, Seamus Ennis, who played the uillian pipes and inspired de Lint's music.
I would definitely recommend getting a lightly annotated or footnoted edition of this book, such as this one. Stoker makes reference to many interesti...moreI 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"]>(less)
What if Quasimodo, the Hunchback of Notre Dame worked as a secret agent for a mysterious man protecting the interests of Victorian England? This rolli...moreWhat 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. (less)
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 cha...moreReaders 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!(less)
I should actually note I have not read this play in full but there was no option for watched/ performed and I really adored it and wanted to add it. I...moreI should actually note I have not read this play in full but there was no option for watched/ performed and I really adored it and wanted to add it. I have seen a short version of this, and participated in tryouts for the play where I both saw and performed monologues from the play. I love the speeches and the poetry!(less)
I can't think of a single thing that was wrong with this book! Everything was perfect!
Mackie Doyle is a changeling child, a replacement. When he was a...moreI can't think of a single thing that was wrong with this book! Everything was perfect!
Mackie Doyle is a changeling child, a replacement. When he was a baby he was left as a replacement for the real Mackie Doyle, stolen from his crib by fairies. All his life he has felt alone, and struggled to survive when metal- and even human blood- are poison to him.
Then the fairies come into his life. These are not the cute little winged creatures of our childhoods, nor the beautiful, statuesque romantic figures of many other YA novels. No these fairies are dark and scary. Some are mutated and strange looking, some are even dead. And then there are the sinister Lady and The Cutter.
Mackie has found a place where he may belong, but it is a terrifying place, and all he really wants to do is fit in within the world of humans, the world where he truly wants to belong.
I loved the characters, the descriptions, and the names of the places, such as Gentry, the realms of Mayhem and Mystery (also known as Misery). The town history and the bits about music were great. I loved the way Breanna Yovanoff described music in a way that even someone who is not a musician can understand the feeling in it! She made it so visceral!
I loved Mackie, a loner with a good heart, tortured by his identity, I think Breanna Yovanoff really gets what it is like to be a teen and a bit of an outsider. I also adored Mackie's sister Emma, she was smart and kind and so loyal, a really amazing girl! There were other great characters too, but I don't want to give away too much!
This is a wonderful work of dark YA fantasy, very original feeling, and exciting from start to finish!(less)