I finished this book in a single 24 hour block... and that may have been a mistake. At the beginning of the book I was repeatedly laughing out loud, bI finished this book in a single 24 hour block... and that may have been a mistake. At the beginning of the book I was repeatedly laughing out loud, but by about half way through it just... lost something. Maybe it was too much of the same all at once? Maybe the writing started to go flat? I'm not sure. I feel a little bad giving it only 3 stars, given how much I enjoyed the first half of the book. ...more
This was one of those books that I just had on my kindle for ages, and I don't remember when I got it, but as I was looking for something to read theThis was one of those books that I just had on my kindle for ages, and I don't remember when I got it, but as I was looking for something to read the title jumped out at me. Not knowing anything about the book I dived right in, and almost immediately was intrigued. It did not go the way I thought it would, and the end was... well... not what I expected. ...more
Things are going well for Preston. He’s with the love of his life, successfully making music with her, and even has a record deal. In fact, he’s on toThings are going well for Preston. He’s with the love of his life, successfully making music with her, and even has a record deal. In fact, he’s on tour down south! But the devil isn't done with him yet. Once again, Preston finds himself losing everything, and making his way to the crossroads to deal with the devil. This time, there’s a whole nest of snakes he’ll have to deal with.
Miller again managed to weave a story around music and magic, setting it in the real world, and making it it all flow together like the best jam session you could ever hope for. I don’t want to go into too much detail, but if you've read the first two books, and you can be sure that the story here is just as good!
Hellbender is the followup novel to The Devil and Preston Black, but Preston doesn’t actually show up till rather late into the book, and isn’t the foHellbender is the followup novel to The Devil and Preston Black, but Preston doesn’t actually show up till rather late into the book, and isn’t the focus of this story. I must admit, I was a bit disappointed about that at first, and somewhat taken aback by the ramping up of violence and action this one started with. But it is set in the same universe, and does follow up on the events of the first book, so I set aside my reservations, and I’m glad I did.
The setup here is the climax of an ongoing feud between two old West Virginian families. Families that both happen to have a strong folk magic tradition, even if Henry (our protagonist) isn’t so sure he believes in that magic, though he’s absolutely certain of the deadly seriousness of the feud. The reality of which becomes even more clear when he saves Alex (his dead sister’s college roommate) from them.
There’s a strong Romeo & Juliet/Hatfield & McCoy theme running through the story, but laced with the same gothic folk magic that initially drew me to The Devil and Preston Black. Music plays a slightly less prominent role, but is still an important story element. And like I said at the beginning, Preston does show up, and is even important, but in no way does he steal the show when he does. This is Henry and Alex’s story, and their character arcs are the focus. ...more
4.75 stars I don’t think reading this on the Appalachian Trail colored my impression too much, but I'll leave it for you to judge.
Preston Black is a4.75 stars I don’t think reading this on the Appalachian Trail colored my impression too much, but I'll leave it for you to judge.
Preston Black is a 27 year old guitarist who finds himself at a crossroads, dealing with the devils that hound him, and these hellhounds are hot on his heels. His life is kind of crap, and getting worse by the day. His band is breaking up, he falls for a woman who’s using him, his brother is giving up the drinking and bass playing… Should he abandon his passion (music) and find a “real” job?
Then he finds an old record, and a song with his name on it… The Devil and Preston Black, recorded by someone who might or might not be his father. But the record is badly scratched… on that one song. Having little to tie him down, and no clear direction in his life, he begins his hunt for the song, for his father, for the answers to questions he doesn't even know to ask, and that’s when things start getting really strange, and the devils at his heels seem far more real. But what quest, no matter how quixotic, would be complete without the ever mounting threat of loss, the false promises of temptation, and the impossible reward to drive it?
Brimming with the haunting magic of appalachia, the music of… rock, and the folk/country that came before it, The Devil and Preston Black is an extremely well written book that had me checking out a number of artists and songs I wasn't familiar with before. ...more
This was a fantastic and fantastical book... that I just kept putting down. It took me ages to read it because I kept setting it aside in favor of othThis was a fantastic and fantastical book... that I just kept putting down. It took me ages to read it because I kept setting it aside in favor of other books, and I can't even tell you exactly why. A story about a jinn and a golem in 1899 New York? Seems like the sort of thing that's right up my alley. But there was something about this book about magical beings that just... lacked that magic spark. I think the reason I'm so disappointed with it is that I wanted to be blown away, I wanted to be wowed, and with every page I almost was. ...more
Young Prince Jorg is the heir to one of the hundred thrones of the broken empire, and he is a monster. He looks like a pretty normal 14 year old boy,Young Prince Jorg is the heir to one of the hundred thrones of the broken empire, and he is a monster. He looks like a pretty normal 14 year old boy, but a page in, and you will have no doubt that he is a monster. There’s a pretty good reason why he’s a monster, but never doubt that he is a monster. To call him a hero is a farce. To call him an anti-hero I suppose would be accurate. Jorg himself isn’t concerned with such titles, and focuses only on whether he is victorious or not.
This is a dark book, full of evil deeds, and it makes no apology for it.
For all that, he does spend an awful lot of time wondering about his motivations. He has no desire to be controlled, to be used, or to be played like a pawn, and when he finds himself playing such a game, he changes the rules.
There aren’t very many characters to talk about. Since the book is written from a first person perspective, and the narrator is a psychopath, the focus is solely on Jorg, and there were a few points where I had to wonder how reliable a narrator he was.
Initially, the setting was a little odd. It didn’t have the usual fantasy tropes, and included some real world names and items, especially books. Initially I thought that it might be an alternate reality, but more and more it became clear that the story is set in a post-apocalyptic Europe. I appreciated how the author used that familiarity, and twisted it to help craft the story.
Like a more typical fantasy novel, there are monsters, and magic, but like the setting itself, they take interesting turns from the expected.
At the start I did not expect to enjoy this book... but I did, and I read it in 2 sittings, and then promptly ordered the sequel. ...more
There are a couple of things you need to know upfront.
1. This collection of stories is based on a roleplaying game called Paranoia. 2. The game is baseThere are a couple of things you need to know upfront.
1. This collection of stories is based on a roleplaying game called Paranoia. 2. The game is based on a future society inside a giant enclosed city ruled over by an insane computer. Everyone is given a rank, from infrared up to ultraviolet. Troubleshooters (the protagonists of the game) are tasked with hunting down mutants and secret societies. 3. Everyone is a mutant and a member of a secret society. Everyone.
The game, and the stories in this anthology, range from slapstick comedies to dark satires. Of the 5 stories in the collection, 3 are introductions to full length novels that represent these 3 styles of story, and they do a good job of it. While none of them stood out as fantastic, they were fun, and for the price (free) well worth the read.
I did feel that the inclusion of the first couple of chapters of the 3 novels that follow the short stories to be redundant, but I can see how it might encourage someone to immediately download the full novel. ...more
I'm glad that I read this, but it was a bit of a slog by the second half. The story is divided into 4 parts. The first two are the ones that everyoneI'm glad that I read this, but it was a bit of a slog by the second half. The story is divided into 4 parts. The first two are the ones that everyone is familiar with: the lands of the little people and the big people (Lilliput and Brobdingnag). These were the most interesting. The third land Gulliver visits is Laputa, the floating island of musicians and mathematicians who can't do anything practical with their knowledge. The last land is the country of the Houyhnhnms, horse people with no understanding of the concept of lying, war, or disease.
What you may not know is that between these visits he returns home to his wife and family, and then opts to once again go to sea. While he is home he tells people about his trips too. Knowing how superstitious sailors were, I can't imagine any of them having Gulliver on their ship. The real kicker is the forth voyage, where Gulliver is the CAPTAIN?!? Who was dumb enough to give this man a ship?!? Granted he wasn't shipwrecked the last time, his crew mutinied and abandoned him on an unknown island!!
If I was Gulliver, after the first time I was shipwrecked on a weird land, sure, maybe I'd try my luck a second time. But a third and forth time?!? Really?!? What point does one need to reach before giving up on ever successfully completing an ocean voyage?
I also did not realize that this story was as much satire as it was a fantastic story. It was written to make fun of both travel logs of the time and also of his society as a whole. By the end of the book, Gulliver, after living with these nearly perfect horses, can't even stand the company of his family.
I get what Swift was doing, but it's really hard to appreciate almost 300 years later. I haven't read travel logs from the early 1700's, and the satire of his own society was terribly heavy handed, especially at the end....more