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)
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)
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.
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)
I have always liked stories about witches. Real witches, not just monsters in stories told to scare children. They fascinate me: their strength, their...moreI have always liked stories about witches. Real witches, not just monsters in stories told to scare children. They fascinate me: their strength, their outsider status, ostracised by society. Did they become a witch and then become an outcast, or did their outcast status drive them to witchcraft? What does witch mean, other than an insult for a strong or independant woman, or a woman who is just different from everyone else.
Miskaella was born looking different from the other girls on Rockroll island. She was short and heavy, without their prettiness. And she 'hearkened back' to their shameful history. She was an outcast. When her powers began to develop, even her mother could not look at her the same way. While her motivations in creating the brides may have been selfish, and revenge driven, you can understand her motivations, all that she has lost and never had. This is the kind of character I like, a woman who you can understand, care about. She is flawed and unbeautiful, and so deserving of happiness, it makes me sad. It is fascinating how she becomes what they labelled her as.
A couple of generations on and everything has changed. Not just Miskaella, shaped into a mad, vengeful old witch, but the town itself. Now the normal women are the outcasts.
With a narrative told through a collection of characters, Lanagan paints a vivid picture of small island life and the strange magic that makes it a place apart. There is sympathy for all the characters, including the sea wives who have no choice in the matter. Everyone loses from the bringing of the sea wives. But in the end, life goes on.
Maybe it was right to punish the women by initially bringing the sea-wives (although probably not) but what about all the future pain it causes? Is revenge ever justified?
This is a story about magic that looks at the human cost, showing how the characters lives are changed by what happens. There are many fairytales and old stories about birdwives, swan maidens, squirrel wives, selkies, etc. but often they are about a man getting the woman as a reward for his cleverness or trickery, never about what it is like for them to live together, or how the woman feels about it. Sea Hearts looks at the consequences.(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)
When we think of the Gothic Genre we are likely to think of writers like Mary Shelley and Edgar Allan Poe. These stories show the talent and style pre...moreWhen we think of the Gothic Genre we are likely to think of writers like Mary Shelley and Edgar Allan Poe. These stories show the talent and style present in Russian writing during the 19th Century, and are more than worth a read! I would recommend this book to everyone!
I want to review these stories separately, as they differ a lot in quality and topic between authors.
The illustrations in this story were really lovely and really added to the pleasure and enchantment!
MAY CONTAIN SOME SPOILERS:
THE LAFERTOVO POPPY-CAKE SELLER Antony Pogorelsky
This story is both spooky and a little whimsical. I enjoyed the bit about the cat. 5 stars.
TALES OF BURIED TREASURE Orest Somov
This was quite a long short story, containing many stories within a story, and quite enjoyable. I liked all the contained stories as well as the main one. 5 stars.
THE WEREWOLF Orest Somov
A classic Russian tale of silly youth, intelligent girl and dark magic. Amusing. 4 stars.
THE WITCHES OF KIEV Orest Somov
This one I didn't really enjoy, not much happened. Perhaps I was swayed by the racism and the crude depiction of witches. 2 stars.
THE TERRIBLE FORTUNE TELLING Alexander Bestuzhev-Marlinsky
Rather of a cautionary tale, as several in this collection have turned out to be. I did think the superatural bit in the graveyard both spooky and then humourous, which amused me no end. 4 stars. It would have ben 5 if not for the 'it never happened' ending.
THE UNDERTAKER Alexander Pushkin
A delightfully spooky story. Alas for the frustrating 'it was all a dream' ending! 4 stars. It would have been 5 if not for the ending.
THE QUEEN OF SPADES Alexander Pushkin
A very original little tale, very enjoyable. 5 stars.
THE RING Evgeny Baratynsky
Yet again, very original. I loved the story and the denouement. 5 stars.
ANTAR Osip Senkovsky
A great example of well-written orientalism. The threefold tale is always pleasurable for me and the story was poignant and touching. 5 stars.
UNEXPECTED GUESTS Mikhail Zagoskin
A faily typical moral tale with devils. 3 stars.
4338 A.D. Vladimir Odoyevsky
A wonderfully imagined science fiction story! What is now regarded as Victorian Era Steampunk. A real stand out! I adored every second of this and was sad when it ended! 6 stars out of 5!
THE SYLPHIDE Vladimir Odoyevsky
Interesting, enjoyed references to arcane teachings. I liked the visions he saw and sadness of the ending. 5 stars.
THE GHOST Vladimir Odoyevsky
The story within a story within a story technique is a little confusing at times. Also I not sure if the ending was meant to be a little unclear. 4 stars.
THE CITY WITHOUT A NAME Vladimir Odoyevsky
An engaging and convincing rhetoric against the dangers of obsession with personal gain, told as a story. I loved this, as well as the ending that intimates it will not be taken to heart. I think the lessons good ones as well. 6 stars out of 5.
THE LIVING CORPSE Vladimir Odoyevsky
Another tale about the ways people badly influence others and never learn their lesson but I did not enjoy the humourous style. 2 stars.
STUSS Mikhail Lermontov
Well written but unfinished.
A NIGHT IN MAY OR THE DROWNED MAIDEN Nikolai Gogol
It has ghosts but it's not Gothic, it's mostly humour. 2 stars.
THE NOSE Nikolai Gogol
Absurd and goes nowhere. Really not Gothic. 2 stars.
THE PORTRAIT Nikolai Gogl
It can be a little meandering in places but in the end all is revealed. A wonderful narrative about the power art can have. 5 stars.
VAMPIRE Alexei Tolstoy
Dark family history, supernatural adventures and the obstacles both supernatural and human to a love match. 5 stars.(less)
I enjoyed this fairytale retelling because of the lesson it taught, that beauty is on the inside, that beautiful people can be ugly inside. One of the...moreI enjoyed this fairytale retelling because of the lesson it taught, that beauty is on the inside, that beautiful people can be ugly inside. One of the flaws with fairytales (much as I love them) is that so many character judgments are made based on looks. The princess is tall and lovely with golden hair- she must be good! Some stories, like Snow white break this, with the evil queen being beautiful (although not as beautiful as Snow White), but in general good= pretty, bad= ugly. Even in the original Beauty and The Beast, where the beast is monstrous but kind, Beauty is still... well, obviously, beautiful, and the beast becomes handsome at the end. Except by Robin McKinley, where he remains beastly in appearance, but a better person than the man he once was. This always felt more true to me, because if Beauty really learned to love the beast as he was, he could have stayed a beast and it wouldn't matter. Francesca Lia Block's short story in the collection Rose and The Beast also has a similar sentiment. If I had my way, the beast would stay the way he is.
The main thing I would have changed is that Lindy would not have ever been attracted to Kyle when he was attractive, because that makes her seem a little shallow, and that Kendra would not have really been beautiful. I'm all for breaking the witch= ugly stereotype, but I also don't think she needed to be beautiful when the main point of this story is not judging by appearance. Still, I liked Kendra, and I would be interested to read more stories about her. I would have liked it had Kyle stayed beastly looking, but I suppose in modern day New York, you really can't get about looking like a beast.
The other thing I loved about this book was the theme of bad parents. Kyle's father practically abandons him after his change, only hiding him away in a house with servants and everything he needs so as not to ruin his own career by people knowing his son is a freak. Lindy's father gives her to a stranger to save his own skin. In the afterword in the edition of the novel I read, Alex Flinn talks about how the father's abandonment of Beauty to her fate never sat well with her. Why sacrifice your daughter to a beast to save yourself? Of course, in some versions of the tale, she goes of her own accord to save her father, but the result is still the same. She sacrifices her freedom to save her father, not knowing what will happen to her.
I think this theme of bad or absent parents is fascinating both in fairytales and modern day life. Hansel and Gretel are left in the woods by their parents, a man cuts of his daughter's hands to give her to the devil, Snow White's stepmother tries to kill her. In the original tale, it was actually her real mother that tried to kill her. She wishes for the little girl, but then feels jealous of her beauty and charm. A be careful what you wish for kind of tale.
The idea of Lindy's father as a drug addict who is willing to give his daughter to a monster to protect himself is a fitting idea for our modern day society, where we hear stories like this all the time.
I have seen the trailers for the movie, and it seems that 1) Kyle rescues Lindy from muggers, removing the whole bad father storyline I found so fascinating (I may be wrong as I have not had a chance to see the movie) 2) Kyle is not 'beastly' at all. He just looks like a bald kid with some wicked looking tattoos.
I can understand why, when you pick an attractive guy like Alex Pettyfer you would want to show him off, and obviously putting him in a hairy beast suit would not be as attractive, but seriously, I keep feeling he could really just move to some place like LA and everyone would just think he was pretty cool.(Please note my knowledge of LA is based purely on Francesca Lia Block's books and a couple of episodes of LA Ink.) I know a lot of the comments on the Youtube video were about how attractive he was. Not beastly at all. It seems to take away from the story and the moral. It's meant to be a story about a guy who has to become ugly to discover real beauty. And he's still beautiful. It seems like the people who made the movie don't get the lesson.
If anyone knows that there is a good reason why they did this, please let me know.
Anyway, all in all, a good book with a good message. I think if more people could take the message to heart, we could start caring less about looks and more about others. (less)
A dark sequel to Dickens' Seasonal, A Christmas Carol, Louis Bayard's novel takes up the story with Tiny Tim grown up, and 'not so tiny anymore'. A ta...moreA dark sequel to Dickens' Seasonal, A Christmas Carol, Louis Bayard's novel takes up the story with Tiny Tim grown up, and 'not so tiny anymore'. A tall lanky young man with only a slight limp and pain in the bad leg, he has reached a place in his life where he has no real sense of purpose. He lives in a brothel, teaching the Mistress to read. It is not until he sees a girl running by in the night, and finds the bodies of other, murdered girls, marked with a strange brand that he becomes involved in a mystery, and begins to feel something again.
One of the things I loved about the novel was the sense of disillusionment. In imaginary letters to his father, the now dead Bob Cratchit, Timothy reveals that he never was the fresh faced cherub he was painted as, and the sense of disillusionment he felt when he realised that, despite their wealthy benefactor, he would never become something more, never reach out and become part of some illustrious other world. While their 'uncle' Scrooge is well-off, he has not the riches of a lord or baron, and could make life more comfortable for them, but never really changed their station in life. 'Uncle N' still gives Timothy an allowance, and yet he lives in a house of ill-repute, earning his keep by tutoring a Mistress.
In this story, as in A Christmas Carol, there are ghosts, but they are never definitively real, and seem more the shades of beloved ones we wish we could talk to one last time. Tim sees his father everywhere, in strangers who have some small resemblance to him. I really enjoyed these parts of the story, which were well fleshed out and believable, longing making the dead father almost tangible for Tim.
This novel is a dark one, a novel of the seedy side of London, of the wicked secrets within the hearts of men. It is an engrossing novel from start to finish, peopled with idiosyncratic characters and told with a deadpan black humour. Despite their many failings, there is a deep love for the city and for the characters it holds.
This novel is not for the faint-hearted, as it does involve child trafficking. I liked the secondary characters, with Colin being a little annoying at first, but soon proving his mettle, and Philomela being astoundingly brave and determined. I really found myself caring for them by the end.
This was a wonderful read for me, although heart-wrenching in places, and I thoroughly recommend it!(less)
One of the interesting things about these stories is the ambiguity. The stories all follow a slow and tense building of events up to the inevitable co...moreOne of the interesting things about these stories is the ambiguity. The stories all follow a slow and tense building of events up to the inevitable conclusion, but always leaving room for doubt about the reality of these visions. In these stories we witness social unease, between families, between couples between people and their own emotions and memories. There are repressed emotions that are perhaps unleashed as the seemingly spiritual manifestations.
Whether these stories were truly about ghosts or not I really loved them and I think they are a must-read for anyone interested in the history of the Gothic genre or lovers (like me) of classic Gothic tales.(less)
Ecstasia is not an easy book to describe, it is hard to do it justice. Like other novels by Francesca Lia Block (especially the Weetzie Bat books), it gets into your heart and soul.
Brother and sister Rafe and Calliope live in Elysia, a place that is all about joy and pleasure. The youth of Ecstasia spend their time visiting circuses, clubs, cafes, eating sweet sugary foods and drinking champagne. But there is a catch. When you start aging, you have to go Under. To the dark subterraneous caverns below the city, a place where nightmares seem real.
Combining heady, surreal beauty and dark horror, ecstasy and pain, with a terrible price that must be payed for the pursuit of beauty and pleasure, Ecstasia is an intense novel. While this novel is short, it took me quite a while to read it, it was so intense I could only read short bits at a time, swept away in a whirlwind of sights and sounds, beauty and terror. This is a book that will stay with you after the last page has been closed.
This book gets 6 stars out of 5! Add it to your MUST READ list!(less)
It's been a long time since I last read The Lost World, probably 10 years or more, so it was about time I read it again. This amazingly imaginative novel, especially for its time- mixes plausible scientific facts with fascinating fictional conjecture.
Alas as an adult, the story is less magical to me than as a child, enchanted by the idea of giant dinosaurs still roaming the earth, but it was still thoroughly enjoyable.
Doubtless this story has inspired countless others, such as the delightful and inventive Dinotopia stories by James Gurney and Michael Crichton's Jurassic Park and Jurassic Park: The Lost World, for which this book is namesake. There are probably countless other references to it in film and literature, perhaps including the pterodactyl in Torchwood.
Conan Doyle shows his intelligence and sense of humour in the writing of this book, such as in his descriptions of Challenger and his temper, which are humourous indeed, the of the rather farcial audience participation in the lecture. I also enjoyed the part where he refers to the native people as not very intelligent, seemingly making a stereotypical comment of the age, only to continue to say 'than the average Londoner', turning it around on his own people, and instead making fun of their intelligence.
All having been said, this is a work of genius, and I very much recommend you read it!(less)
Clockwork is a fairly short story by Philip Pullman. It is a scary tale for younger readers. I enjoyed it and there were some moments that made me shiver, however it was really a little young for me, I much prefer his more complex and painstakingly created worlds such as in His Dark Materials series. I think this would be an enjoyable tale for younger readers, and the short length and large print makes for easy reading. It is a clever story, and there are tongue in cheek asides that made me laugh, like the comments about artistic temperament, inspiration, and about how if you want to get things cheap it pays to be rich.
A short excerpt from The Clockwork Moth's 2010 Shadowplay of the book:
This book deserves more stars, it was an excellently written novel, but I felt so sad throughout it that I was unable to enjoy it at all.
Wide Sargasso Sea gives us an insight into the tragic life of one of literature's cruelly overlooked characters, Mr Rochester's wife, dismissed as mad, as a dangerous insane creature who keeps him from his true love Jane and attempts to murder him.
In Wide Sargasso sea, we are allowed a glimpse of Antoinette's tragic childhood, her brother's death and her mother's subsequent madness. The sensitive, lonely child is sent to a convent school, until such time as it is decided she should be married off. A young gentleman from England, a fortuneless second son marries her for her money. Having no love for his wife, Rochester soon believes tales of her madness and begins to see her in a different way. His change of behaviour to her, and harsh lack of love is what begins to drive her mad.
I pitied Antoinette. While Jamaica must have seemed like a wild and frightening country to the English at the time, and while mental health was not understood in those days, it is so clear how his behaviour damages this simple, childish girl, who has come to love him. He is all she has in the world, having no family, and the only other person, her maid, Christophine, he drives away.
This book left me with a lingering sense of melancholy and a strong desire to punch Rochester in the face. (less)
Tom is a third level apprentice in the museums of London, a city on tracks that moves across the Hunting Grounds of what was once Europe, 'eating' other cities, tearing them apart for scrap metal and resources. Tom finds his job boring and wishes he could be an airship pilot, and travel around finding artifacts of the past, like his hero, head historian, Valentine. Little does Tom know what lies beyond the peaceful sheltered world that he knows, but he will soon begin to learn...
Mortal Engines is a book set in an alternate future, when mankind has nearly destroyed itself through warfare, and those that remained took to moving cities, while searching the ground for ancient technologies of the past that are barely understood anymore. Things like computers are alien to this world, and old technologies such as 'seedys' have become collectors items and museum pieces. The airships resemble zeppelins more than planes.
I loved this world that was so painstakingly created down to the smallest detail. You really feel that you are immersed in this world, and all the different inventions and machines all fit together so well to create a believable setting. The characters were well written, I liked Miss Fang, who was mysterious and adventurous, Hester and Katherine. The main character, Tom was likeable, if a little naive. Sometimes he found it hard to deal with the truth, but he would still try to do what was right, and his unwavering loyalty to his friends was touching.
This book definitely left me wanting more, although thankfully, it did not end on a cliffhanger. I am really looking forward to reading the next in the series, Predator's Gold. (less)
Some people say children shouldn't read scary books. I think that's rubbish. As a child I loved dark fairytales, with stories of giant killers, dragons, evil stepmothers, murders, the list goes on. Of course, it depends on the child. For some children, these stories may be frightening, but for those who are not, these are wonderful adventures. For me as a child, stories like this never scared me, but things set in the 'real world' where horrible things happened did.
The Graveyard Book, is, in my opinion, a book that can be enjoyed by almost all ages. I would not recommend it for very young children, as it may be too scary for them, it is really up to the parent to judge. I have been told it is best for 9 and 10 year olds up. But it is definitely a book that can be enjoyed by both adults and children. It was simply and beautifully written, and very evocative. Not that I would expect any less from Neil Gaiman.
The Graveyard Book tells the story of Nobody (Bod for short), a boy who is brought up in a graveyard by ghosts and other mysterious creatures after the murder of his entire family. Outside the graveyard, danger still lurks in the form of the man who still seeks to kill him. The story follows Bod as he grows older, and experiences adventures and danger in and outside of the graveyard.
Most of the characters in this book are dead people, and they are very likeable and feel like real people you could really like. My favourite character was Miss Lupescu, but I won't give away too much as she comes in later.
In this day and age, where the supernatural is currently such a popular topic, it is refereshing to see a story like this that follows no formulas and takes its own storytelling path. I have always loved tales of the supernatural and magic, but I get frustrated that so many of the stories these days follow formulas, and I really enjoy something different, like this.
I can't help but wonder how different my reading list and my own writing would look now. Everything we come into contact with changes the path we take just a little, and I always think I would love to look back and see what might have been down different branches in destiny. Of course, it's probably better not to know.
When I was maybe ten years old, I had a choice to get either a Terry Pratchett book or another one, I cannot now remember what it was. I got the other one, it must have been something that really interested me at the time. And somehow, it has taken me until now to read one of his books.
To be honest, I think I was rather put off by the fact that they were meant to be funny, and often books that try to be funny leave me cold. I could not have been more misinformed. Mort is told with a wonderful dry wit that sometimes borders on sarcasm, the kind of style I can really enjoy. Not to mention historical and social references with that same deadpan humour. I liked the intelligence of the jokes, Pratchett is not an author that talks down to you. I also enjoyed some of the little rewritten quotes, such as Samuel Johnson's 'when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life', rewritten as 'when a man is tired of Ankh-Morpork [the city], he is tired of ankle-deep slurry.'
I read this book in a bit under three days (not counting eating, sleeping, leaving the house, etc. of course) and throughly enjoyed it.
The story is about Mort, a young boy who is apprenticed to Death, and his following adventures. The characters are refreshingly flawed, being neither ridiculously good looking, as you often find in stories at the moment, nor superhuman, they make mistakes and get cross, just like everyone else. This makes them more relatable, despite the fact that things happen to them that never seem to happen in our peaceful and much less chaotic universe.
I just finished reading Phillip Pullman's Once Upon A Time in the North this morning. It was a real treat, a short little adventure about Lee Scoresby, long before the events of His Dark Materials. I was always fond of Lee and his daemon Hester, so I really enjoyed this, as well as getting to know some of his past adventures. I would recommend reading this after His Dark Materials, as that is when Lee is first introduced, but I think it is possible to read this one as a stand alone book, although some aspects of the world and cultures may not be immediately apparent. (less)