Okay, to get it out of the way: Charmain is one of the main characters I've ever come across who I did not particularly care for. And, believe you me,Okay, to get it out of the way: Charmain is one of the main characters I've ever come across who I did not particularly care for. And, believe you me, I am saddened by that fact.
I thought that she was going to be this young lady who, despite having her head up in the clouds with her books, will display some charming qualities that would make her irreverent and interesting. But -- spoiler alert (?) -- she turned out to be selfish, thoughtless, lazy, irresponsible, rude, and ungrateful.
Sure, the novel seemed to attempt to show her in a bit of good light later on. But there really is that impression -- at least with this reader -- that she did not come away from her adventure truly learning anything for the improvement of her attitude or behavior.
Good thing, at least, that there were Howl and Co. to make the story somewhat bearable. Better, still, that Howl in this instance was so adorable to such an extent that I kept having the compulsion to re-read Howl's Moving Castle. Sophie was still Sophie although she really was more preoccupied with being a mother to a bratty (?) son (sorry, Morgan. But you really are a handful. I wonder if Howl finds you intolerable).
Curiously enough, this third installment to Howl -- aside from being the one I least liked -- also seemed to feature a truly formidable and frightening enemy. The respective quote-unquote antagonists in Moving Castle and in Castle in the Air were devious in their own ways but were not what I would call as "cold-blooded killers".
The lubbock in this novel, however, is as bad as they get. And it is the first time in this series that the author perpetuated the feeling of abject fear for the lives of the protagonists.
My point, though? Nothing. I just thought it was a curious fact that there's a darker "feeling" in this novel.
Another aspect that I found peculiar in this story, with respect to the first 2 novels, is the flimsiness of the "conflict" necessitating a wizard's interference: investigating where the coffers of gold are disappearing to.
Maybe I was spoiled by the first 2 installments. They had the honest-to-god-goodness feel of being real adventures. And almost all characters were funny. But this third book seemed a bit flat. A little lackluster. Maybe because of Charmain and her churlishness.
Or maybe it's me. And I just didn't want to accept that, after this, I would never encounter any adventure of Howl and Sophie's ever again. *(unless I'm wrong -- someone please correct me if I am horribly wrong. I shall welcome it)....more
Perhaps it is a measure of how excited I was over the prospect of encountering Howl and Sophie again, that, for quite some time, I deluded myself intoPerhaps it is a measure of how excited I was over the prospect of encountering Howl and Sophie again, that, for quite some time, I deluded myself into believing that Flower-in-the-Night was their daughter and that the garden where Abdullah and she first met is the same one found in the property that Howl (and Calcifer) found for Sophie.
But of course that was firmly squashed once Flower-in-the-Night described the only man she has ever seen in all her life -- her father. Howl with a belly? Inconceivable.
Quickly recovering from that mild disappointment, I continued on with Abdullah's exploits with the flying carpet. And, after turning the last page, I can come up with nothing less than praise for this sequel. Not a single chapter will bore the reader. And every new adventure is better than the last.
Abdullah turned out to be an extremely likeable, hugely relatable character. He is far from stupid or recklessly impulsive, yet events conspire to put him in the middle of a rut that leaves you smacking your palm against your forehead. And continue reading.
And Flower-in-the-Night is so surreal-lynice and surprisingly smart about the ways of the world, considering her sheltered childhood. Though not as iron-willed as Sophie, she will nevertheless surprise readers by her level-headedness. I would admit that I was initially hardly interested in Abdullah's resolve to rescue her, as I -- once again -- believed that she might turn out to be flighty or self-centered. But the woman Abdullah encountered in moving castle was hardly a damsel in distress. And, is, in fact, more than a match for any man.
The surprisingly refreshing aspect of this novel, as well, is the lack of a purely, fervently, evil character for the sake of pitting good against bad. The one being that had to be "bad" -- if the story really had to have a "bad" persona -- turned out to be so comical as to be endearing.
Actually -- come to think of it -- practically every character in the novel was hilarious, that I soon forgot that I was on the lookout for Howl or Sophie.
For sure, when the time came for the "big reveals", I was left slack-jawed and asking myself, "how the hell did I not realize---??"
And, oh, how wonderful it was to indeed, finally be reacquainted once again with Howl and Co. The story can sure stand alone relative to Howl's Moving Castle yet is still very much influenced by the memorable characters from that novel. This sequel truly is a treat....more
I cannot recall what exactly got me going, but about a month ago, I found myself suddenly gripped with restless yearning to watch (or re-watch) any fiI cannot recall what exactly got me going, but about a month ago, I found myself suddenly gripped with restless yearning to watch (or re-watch) any film by Studio Ghibli. I cannot remember if this was brought about by seeing a Ghibli film on cable around that time (honestly, I can't remember if this happened, or what film it was if such a thing indeed occurred), or coming across a post in tumblr about a Ghibli film. Nevertheless, the restlessness took root and had to be quenched.
So for the following weeks, I re-watched the likes of My Neighbor Totoro (and promptly fell in love all over again), Ponyo, Princess Mononoke, and Spirited Away, while belatedly discovering the wonders in the likes of From Up on Poppy Hill, Only Yesterday, Whisper of the Heart, The Wind Rises, Porco Rosso, Nausicaa, The Cat Returns, and My Neighbors the Yamadas. I staunchly refrained from re-watching Grave of the Fireflies because I refuse to subject my feelings to that kind of raw pain again.
Amidst the re-discovery and the new discoveries that have left me -- up to this day -- thirsty for more Ghibli productions, there's really only 2 films that have strong sentimental value to me: Spirited Away and Howl's Moving Castle. The former because it was the first ever Ghibli film I watched and is perhaps solely responsible for why I am writing this right now; and the latter as the second film which cemented this awe I have with this brand of animation.
True, Ghibli's rendition of Howl's Moving Castle, for me, was not so much preoccupied with a tidiness in plot as with rendering unforgettable special effects. Thus, as breathtakingly beautiful animation films go, Howl will always have choice spot.
Then of course, in re-watching Howl, there arose the disquiet on the perhaps-unintentional vagueness in some aspects of its storyline. In between the scenes when Sophie kept reverting from being a bent old woman to her own young self albeit with grey hair, and the somewhat confusing scene when she encountered the younger Howl, I wanted to know how the novel the film was based on fared against its silverscreen counterpart.
It helped that Diana Wynne Jones apparently gave her approval on this Ghibli adaptation -- this, in spite of the fact that Miyazaki was observed to have significantly veered away from huge aspects of the novel.
And, after reading the novel, let me tell you here and now: if Ghibli's Howl was enjoyable, Jones' Howl was even more so. I would go far as to say that it would be a huge injustice (to yourself) if you confine (er... yourself) to only watching the film adaptation.
Because Howl and Sophie on paperback is infinitely more charming. More engrossing. And more engaging. Certainly had oodles of space to grow as characters.
Reading Jones' novel did, in fact, resuscitate one reservation I didn't know I still had after having watched Ghibli's Howl those many years ago. The romance between the two. The wonder of witchcraft and sorcery and magic in the film can perhaps be excused for blinding the viewer to the glaring deficiency in developing the feelings between Sophie and Howl.
(and -- I will stop you right in your tracks before you break something in your fervor to violently protest something so insipid as romantic love. I take no notice of the fact that this is categorized as "children's fantasy". And I don't mind that neither is this pegged as "romance," -- it would be foolhardy to simply refer to this work as one. What it does is straddle the charm that can be found between the easy reading of children's lit and the feel-good sensation of budding romance.)
The novel will show you just how this "love" wondrously came about. There are the incessant bickering between Howl and Sophie. The moments when Howl forgot himself and actually showed kindness in front of Sophie's disbelieving eyes. In times when he expressed exasperation over Sophie's new mishaps, and in times when Sophie slowly truly became Howl's champion, precisely because of his flaws.
Howl in the film is -- let's be honest -- shallow. In the sense that he is shallow for vanity as well as shallow for anything inherently good. There is the impression that he found a bit of humanity once Sophie came into his life, but precious little is left for anyone else. In the novel, he presents himself as all things undesirable from the get-go, but is, in truth, much more than he lets on.
Jones' novel will also show just how much more complex Sophie's family's role is. And, really, how much more there actually are characters in the story. And how everyone is so expertly entwined with the lives of one another that you marvel at the intricacies that Jones has woven.
I implore you to read this novel. Watching the film will help, if only to visually show how Howl's castle is ensorcelled. But for everything else, Jones' novel will leave you with an infinitely more satisfying feeling.
And it got better when I realized there were two -- yes 2! -- sequels. Because Howl and Sophie is a couple that you will find difficult to tear away from....more
I was truly enjoying this novel about halfway through. There, indeed, was something quite delicious in trying to unravel--spoiler alert... I think?--
I was truly enjoying this novel about halfway through. There, indeed, was something quite delicious in trying to unravel a “locked-room” mystery. And this was certainly written in a way that will confound readers to an extent that a supernatural bent could even be chosen as final recourse, so seemingly impossible was the feat by which the supposed “assailant” escaped notice in making his or her… well, escape.
But the novel, in feeding the reader piecemeal evidentiary facts to sensory impressions or astounding hypotheses, instead served to remind me of the premise of the parody film, Murder by Death. The revelatory ending scene showed Capote’s character accusing the whodunit genre – in the guise of admonishing the famous detectives/ sleuthing aficionados gathered around him – of belatedly providing its readers heretofore-unforeseen or wholly unexpected twists in the plot that did not fit one single scene in the previous chapters. Or of introducing totally new characters out of nowhere just to conveniently suit the ending as the author sees fit.
Yep. This is how I felt during those moments when Rouletabille: (1) revealed to Sainclair how he conveniently came upon the phrase concerning the presbytery, etc. [at that point I already felt cheated by the protagonist for having had valuable access to information before the incident in the Yellow Room] ; (2) just about mentioned to the reader, oh, by the way, just in case the reader’s interested, that there happened to be a notice in the papers well before the incident concerning Mlle’s Strangerson’s missing reticule; (3) revealed what he found in the concierges’ home that made them guilty of a certain petty crime rather than as accessory to the attempted murder; (3) later mentioned that he actually saw the healing scar on the hand of the villain that also served to further affirm his suspicions; (4) disclosed that there was a certain IMPORTANT portion of Mlle Strangerson’s life that was totally unaccounted for (and an aunt??); and, of course, (5) divulged to all and sundry that Larsan was this heretofore other character that the reader absolutely knew nothing about nor realized should have had knowledge about.
I don’t know. But these tidbits of revelations and HOW they were revealed soured me to the way the novel uncovered the supposed truths of the incident. Too many details given later that were not even remotely hinted at. Too many details that felt like a sucker punch to the sensibilities of a reader. A plot twist is all well and good – really, plot twists are what attract us to these mystery novels – but a plot twist borne on the shoulders of absolutely out-of-the-motherfudgin’-blue circumstances just takes the wow factor out of enjoying the exposition.
This was long-winded. And I kept saying 'heretofore'. Damn.
Story short: two and a half oh, okay, then… THREE stars.
Highly-enjoyable (and funny!) read – though perhaps my enjoyment in it stemmed more from the dialogues/ banter between the characters and the way BernHighly-enjoyable (and funny!) read – though perhaps my enjoyment in it stemmed more from the dialogues/ banter between the characters and the way Bernie’s mind worked rather than from how the plot eventually unfurled.
To get it out of the way: no, I really was not all that enthused with how the truth came about. Or what the cause of the crimes turned out to be. It was a bit of a downer, to put it mildly.
But I am trying not to dwell on that (taken as a whole, the execution of the denouement could perhaps be considered trivial in the larger scheme of the novel) and, instead, focus on how this book did entertain me.
It has been glossed to death how ironic the premise is: that a burglar, in the “harmless” intention of stealing a book whose current existence and location was not even a cemented fact, suddenly found himself having to solve a series of deaths played out in the manner of the English whodunit greats in a conveniently-English-ish setting. And that’s how the charm of this work finds footing.
Bernie as a character doesn’t take himself too seriously. He knows how to poke fun at himself without it having to be about self-pity. And he’s terrific at bandying wits – be it against a 10-year old or his intrepid companion the cat or the lesbian. A laidback guy who takes things in stride whilst able to drop an inconspicuously clever rejoinder without batting an eyelash. Love him.
The novel itself in general is appealing, acting as a sort-of-backwards homage to crime novels and crime novelists alike. It embroils itself in the murky details of the deaths while regularly breaking the fourth wall by reminding the reader, that, yes, indeed… this is almost-kinda like the thing that happened in that famous Christie novel while the case of that body lying over there is just the sort of thing that Sayers will plop on the lap of the intrepid Lord Peter Wimsey…
All-in-all, a quick yet still engrossing read....more
I feel compelled -- seeing as this is my fourth foray into the sleuthing adventures of Lord Peter Wimsey -- to make at least a passing comment on yetI feel compelled -- seeing as this is my fourth foray into the sleuthing adventures of Lord Peter Wimsey -- to make at least a passing comment on yet this another work of Ms. Dorothy Sayers that I chose to read over the dozen (and counting) other titles by perhaps more or less illustrious writers in my to-read-preferably-before-I-die list.
And that's just it.
The fact is, this is my 4th time deciding to read another Wimsey novel when the likes of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, and even Don Quixote, among scores more, are insistently and loudly entreating to be read, given that I have shamelessly hoarded them from over the years past and committed the pernicious sin to let them gather dust in a tiny, cramped bookshelf.
What can I say. I am slightly enamored with Lord Wimsey.
Call it a crush. A silly girly crush.
Despite the many criticisms on this character -- his high-handedness in delving into police matters that do not concern him (other than, of course, that bit of murder charge against his brother); using his name and prestige to tread where others are normally not allowed to intrude; or having the audacity to be rich so as to be able to utilize resources in the pursuit of a 'hobby' of solving crimes which are decidedly no laughing matter for those immediately involved -- I am pathetically ready to admit that I find him exceedingly charming. With a rapier wit I wish I were continually personally exposed to. Plus a dry humor almost always coupled with either self-deprecation or an affected air of grandeur.
And I adore his interactions with the esteemable Bunter and the long-suffering Parker.
I read this back now and I realize that I've yet to mention a word on what I think about Unnatural Death. See -- just thinking about Wimsey even now is proving to be a quite distraction.
It's not the most elaborate act of murder, for sure. But I think I am going to echo the other reviews (kidding, I haven't really read any) and say that the long trail of clues, true and otherwise, all the way up to that one truly breath-stopping moment in the novel, were what made this installment engrossing.
Although, to be frank, the genealogies of the Dawson and Whittaker families as they have been laid out left me with no minor headache. As well, the connection between the Whittaker and the Forrest personas could be seen from a long way off.
But other than those little niggles, I found it enjoyable seeing how Wimsey and Parker worked in tandem. Because more than half the time they really do appear like an old married couple.
And yes, I will go far as to say that I am envious of Charles as being one of the very few people who Peter will promptly affirm as a close, reliable friend. Someone, moreover, who he can pester to no end. Although his lordship will proclaim that it his friend the Inspector Parker who is the fuddy-duddy, always harassing him with annoying trivial details such as material evidence.
Okay, damn it.
I regret to inform that the foregoing is decidedly not a review.
And now please excuse me as I relish the anticipation of reading the next Wimsey novel....more
**spoiler alert** Sputtering and vainly keeping it together, this finale’s turned out to be quite a downer… dammit!
The only really exciting bits for m**spoiler alert** Sputtering and vainly keeping it together, this finale’s turned out to be quite a downer… dammit!
The only really exciting bits for me in this novel were Lucivar stumbling into Daemon in that service fair – I was like, ‘c’mon, c’mon…sign the bastard already!!’, Jaenelle majorly losing her cool with the Aaron-Vania episode, the ass-kicking after Wilhelmina’s aborted abduction, and, honestly?... virtually everything else involving Daemon.
Yeah, even that excruciating scene he had to play out in front of them bitches Hekatah and Dorothea.
‘Coz, quite simply, a certain ‘something’ was missing in this installment. Sure, Daemon becomes the Consort and, after what feels like hundreds of pages later on, finally gets it on with Jaenelle – and yet, all throughout this novel, there just doesn’t seem to be enough emphasis on the relationship itself between these two. That heartrending scene by the end of the first book, Daughter of the Blood, in which Daemon had to coax Witch from the abyss… there—where did all that emotion, that intensity, go?
Jaenelle was an adolescent then, true, but even then Bishop was able to fully convey (well, to me, at least) just how much Daemon loves the girl-woman – the absolute despair at the thought of losing her was felt so keenly to the reader precisely because the interaction between them was carefully nurtured during that period when Daemon was staying at Beldon Mor.
However, in Queen of the Darkness (wherein the prospect of him finally becoming the Consort was one of the things I really was looking forward to), it seems as if the whole story was about everything but Jaenelle and Daemon’s love (and reacquaintance). Stuff about friggin’ tangled webs, spiders and caves, cryptic messages of kindred dreaming dreams made flesh, and more (in retrospect) fumbling attempts by Hekatah to fight Saetan.
And I think I really missed something in between Heir to the Shadows and this one: uhm… who is Marian? HOW exactly did the love story between her and Lucivar begin? It would have been nice (to put mildly) to have their story given more attention.
By the way, yes, I am very much aware that this is a fantasy first before romance. And even if I do try to focus on the non-romantic aspects, I still find myself missing those bits wherein Jaenelle was an extremely likeable character. Wherein she is the Queen yet still very much that winsome daughter of Saetan or the bosom buddy of the coven and the kindred. This finale was just too too serious. Either she’s almost always withdrawn to herself, in pain, or in anger.
And even if the reason behind these ‘serious’ things is the brewing threat of war (and how ‘queenly’ Jaenelle has had to act), the pockets of side-stories themselves (Karla’s, Alexandra’s, Lord Jorval’s, Kartane’s, etc.) which were supposed to help on with the whole storyline felt too disjointed and underdeveloped. Like there were really just there to fill-in the pages. Oftentimes, there really was no coherence or even absolute closure as to how some of the other characters’ fates played out. For instance, whatever happened to the triangle of power hinted at very strongly in the 2nd book? That of Jaenelle, Karla, Gabriellle’s?
And Witch’s maelstrom itself? What happened to it? So much build-up on it but I turn a page and it has apparently passed. I mean… what the hell…? If this undisclosure was Bishop’s intent to convey how truly terrifying and majestic Jaenelle’s powers are that it defies description, well… frankly, it was quite disappointing. I was expecting more than rough winds and being tossed and pressed down on the ground…
And then *poof!* there’s Jaenelle, done with the cleansing of the Blood, drained of her powers and now hurtling down into the abyss. It’s over.
And THAT’s why Daemon’s ‘game’ in order to rescue Saetan and the others will just have to be the highlight of this particular novel. It’s a hefty consolation. I mean, if you have to skimp on the showdown itself, why not at least make the penultimate that devastating, eh?
Okay, rant over.
Seriously, though, I am just really disappointed because I absolutely LOVED the preceding two books… *le sigh*...more
It’s the 2nd installment yet it almost feels as if things are only just beginning to unravel…
Daughter of the Blood intrI want a Blood Jewel of me own…
It’s the 2nd installment yet it almost feels as if things are only just beginning to unravel…
Daughter of the Blood introduced readers to the terrifying promise of Jaenelle’s powers during her childhood years: the knee-weakening feats only she was able to achieve, the awe-inspiring acquaintances she has formed from all around the realm, and the glimpses of Witch with those sapphire eyes haunted with ancient wisdom. I loved how Bishop revealed these aspects of Jaenelle while still being a tease, holding back what surely would simply be… more.
And Heir to the Shadows proved to be yet another one of those teasers.
Some of the things I liked about this following installment: there weren’t too many of those sudden shift in POV or scenarios, less Dorothea and Hekatah (these bitches, I swear to god…), the introduction of the kindred (I want me one of those, too!!), Jaenelle’s more queenly I’mma-cut-you attitude, and, lastly… LUCIVAR… !!
…unf!… Just thinking about those wings of his… mmmhmmm!
On a more serious note, it’s also a relief to discover that Bishop did not relent on the emotional aspect. Most heartbreaking in this instance is Daemon’s descent into the abyss. There were times I almost didn’t want to read a chapter showing snapshots of his struggle in the Twisted Kingdom; it became too painful to see how the vibrant Warlord Prince of the first book transformed into a broken hull of a man, haunted by memories twisted by sorrow and pain. (And yes, that teaser thing I said applies to Daemon’s appearances in this story.)
Indeed, Jaenelle’s remembrance of those events at Cassandra’s altar proved to be one of the more highly-charged scenes of the book.
And though there weren’t as many tricks, spells, or feats by Jaenelle this time around, those few instances wherein she let fly were all the more fascinating as they showed a young woman who’s frighteningly become a master of her immense powers. The author has really begun to show what Saetan, Daemon, and Lucivar meant when they claimed Jaenelle as the Queen they have been waiting all their lives to serve.
P.S. That encounter with Lorn… Holy fudgesticks. Which reminds me, I seriously do want a Blood Jewel… right nao…
P.P.S. I really thought the first book and its vice-like grip onto a reader’s imagination was a one-off thing. You know what they say about sequels. But, hell, here I am… now, more than ever, anxious to get on with the next novel.
As far as paranormal romances go, Showalter definitely used a lot of imagination for this series... (it would be promptly obvious that I haven't readAs far as paranormal romances go, Showalter definitely used a lot of imagination for this series... (it would be promptly obvious that I haven't read the first installment. So there.)
The fact that this story is not another one of those vampire-romances (are we done with those, yet?) warrants a semblance of appreciation for its attempt to be ingenious in matters of plot.
Plus, the sexual tension between the couple is at a healthy level. That's good enough for me if a quick, entertaining romance read is what I'm after. I needn't worry that I might just stumble upon a mindless sexfest as 'erotica' seems to be a common word used in relation to Showalter's novels. There's actually a decent endeavor by the author to provide suspense, action, and humor outside the confines of the bedroom.
The only niggling thing I can't shake off is the fact that the heroine has GOLD skin.
Since one of my pet peeves is anything related to glitter (it really really annoys the hell out of me), and I can't seem to find any other way but to imagine Eden Black as having head-to-toe skin that up close looks like the slightly rough/corroded surface of glued-on gold glitter, I kept thinking half the time that I'd rather she has cute horns on her forehead or a demonlike tail or something along those lines. Anything but the apparently-sexy gold skin.
Eh, well, that's my problem.
Near the end of the story, too, the hero Lucius lost a bit of his 'wow' factor what with being held captive and all and our glittery heroine being left to do the rescuing. Something about that just didn't quite satisfy me... (although that encounter with that Devyn fellow was quite yummy...)
Oh, yeah, and another thing (I know I said only one niggling thing but it seems I'm on my trolling state), some aspects of Eden's behavior were a bit annoying. She's bad-ass and all, good for her, but that streak of over-competitiveness just put me off at times. And there's a dash of the brat in her, as well. But hey, with other readers it might just be nothing more than her having a strong, independent will...
Anyway, all-in-all, not a bad read. Didn't really egg me on to lust after the next installment, but neither am I regretting reading it.
This novel was one which I’ve always come across in the ‘Classics’ shelves – whether it be under theAnne of the ann-with-extra-‘e’, I luff your life…
This novel was one which I’ve always come across in the ‘Classics’ shelves – whether it be under the cheerful, bright lights of our local bookstore or among the dim, musty corners of my uni library. And precisely because it’s been readily accessible, I never really felt the need to get hold of it. Don’t judge me!
Deciding which books to read first and which ones to set aside for a later time is proving to be a real dilemma. And the fact that it took me only now to read Anne of Green Gables is a profound testament to the ass-hattery that is my reading priorities.
The short of it: I loved the pace, the serenity, and overall seeming little cares that never reallyworried the denizens of Avonlea.
If the greatest preoccupations back then were finding a bosom buddy to love “…as long as the sun and moon shall endure”, hosting a successful and very “grown-uppish” afternoon tea engagement, and pulling off a token – but still highly-dramatic – adaptation of an Arthurian legend by the side of a brook, I think I’d very much want to swap places with someone from said time.
Anne is a gem of a character. From her surprisingly-unannoying flair for the dramatics, endearing sincerity and earnestness, deep love for nature… not to mention, that propensity to imagine, and imagine big, she is one terribly unforgettable gal.
What’s even more engaging (and, indeed, proved to be the novel’s more comic parts), her vivid imagination and wayward tongue is almost always met with a long-suffering sigh or sarcastic quip from the indubitable Marilla. Trust her to bring Anne humorously down from the heights of ecstasy brought about by musings gone overboard.
In a way, I echo Marilla’s sentiments when she later on admitted feeling a sense of loss for the girl that Anne was. This novel, I think, inadvertently shows the intangible tragedy that comes with growing into adulthood – no matter how much one might wish it so, there’s a piece in every one that’s inevitably lost or shed off which can never be regained. And adulthood will be there to show you how tough, demanding, bitter, and full of worries life is.
Satiric as this whole novel might be, what with showing the lengths with which young girls back then comically worried more about their toilette and sleeve puffs and being ungainly paired off with a boy from school, and perhaps highlighting just how utterly provincial a quiet, tucked-in village could be from the world at large, Montgomery nevertheless drives her message home.
For me, it’s a nostalgia for one’s childhood innocence and phase of carefree abandonment (wholesome abandonment, mind!), a deep envy of living in the country where trees and brooks and profusions of wildflowers vie with one’s space, and the utter ease of knowing that, since one is brought up unaware of the existence of superfluous things like the latest gadgets or the apparent fashion to be jaded about life in general… the biggest pleasures could actually be had from the simplest of things.
As they say, Mother Night…! I’ve never been this thrilled for quite a long while…
I run the risk of sounding like a pretentious ass, but even though IAs they say, Mother Night…! I’ve never been this thrilled for quite a long while…
I run the risk of sounding like a pretentious ass, but even though I never really understood the whys and hows of this fantasy world from the get-go, my god… I absolutely loved how the author relentlessly, unfailingly, commanded this reader’s attention. Made you near-slave to the emotions of the characters. Lulled you into a false sense of seemingly finally comprehending what the hell’s going on and how the fates of these characters would twine and intersect, only to smack you dead-center on the forehead with another mindbender of a twist.
To say that this story pulls you in is an insult to good story-telling. I can only humbly describe it as nothing less than being hurtled into a fantastical world where you find yourself at a loss. And, from that confusion, having an unsavory sense of discomfort coupled with a premature wish to not even bother taking one step further to explore.
That’s how I felt when I turned the first few pages. I fucking had no clue what was up. I couldn’t grasp what the eff were Blood Jewels (or how they come about), riding webs or spinning tethers, the Offering, or even what a Black Widow is.
I couldn’t understand differences among high priestesses, dark priestesses, queens, and witches. Or why the dead were still the ‘dead’ but were very much different from dead dead.
Or why, from within this fantasy world, there’s still such a thing as shopping, attending balls, or the need to posses the mundane physical objects when one apparently has telekinesis (or something akin to that) to accomplish almost anything – including being able to kill someone with just your mind or a crook of your finger.
And don’t get me started on Saetan. His ‘existence’ and whole persona is still something I’m trying to wrap my head around in.
Yeah, sure… all throughout reading this novel, I probably had my brow perpetually puckered in confuzzlement even up to the last page…
but that’s just it.
Despite that wish to not even take a step further, I found myself reaching that last page (hence this garbled attempt at a review… erm, we’ll just compromise and refer to it as a ‘reaction’). And that was when I fully realized that, all the while, without even wanting to explore further, I was actually greedily turning page after page.
I was surprised at how I was held in thrall at the promise of Jaenelle’s terrifying splendor once she finally ascends into Witch (and no, I do not know why it has to be capitalized). Or how the chillingly-stoic Daemon would finally serve her as her lover and protector once she holds court. Or how the sadly-underdeveloped character of Lucinvar would affect their futures.
But, above all, the lure is in the tantalizing prospect of retribution.
Perhaps that’s the element in this first installment that kept me turning the pages.
In truth? This novel would make you bloodthirsty. The unceasing spectre of violence, perversion, and cruelty makes you positively(!) relish a smackdown of sorts. And the fact that the author deftly doles it out in increments is both maddening and gratifying.
And Anne Bishop, I can now say, is a master in manipulating emotions. There’s almost a sense of ruthlessness in the way she will make you have a searingly-painful inkling as to how Daemon, in all those years of ‘whoring’ himself, is practically brutally maimed inside that you feel a little of that hurt even as frost creeps into his eyes, or how Jaenelle is heartbreakingly pitiful in her pre-pubescent innocence as well as awe-inspiringly magnificent in the many ways she is already more powerful than all the Blood, living or dead.
The author would bait the reader with “heartwarming” scenes of Saetan becoming carefree or instances of Daemon falling more and more headlong into lustful as well as reverent love, and then, on the next turn will stun you with fear, horror, grim disbelief, and, yes, anger.
My overall reaction?
Why the hell do I not have the next installment within reach?! ...more
Hellboy gone deliciously jaw-dropping (with a friggin’ medical degree, to boot) and a bad-ass slayer with hang-ups she doesn’t even know would requireHellboy gone deliciously jaw-dropping (with a friggin’ medical degree, to boot) and a bad-ass slayer with hang-ups she doesn’t even know would require a shrink (and no, it’s not the I-can’t-have-orgasm-oh-kill-me-now thingie)…
[FYI, Dr. Dreamy has brothers, too. No guesses needed on how they look. Dayum!]
Okay, so perhaps the only beef I have with this first installment is his name. Resorting to calling him “E” felt too much like BDB to me (and I kinda wanted those guys to remain just the tiniest bit untouchable, so…).
No wonder even Hellboy began to sound endearing. Not that terribly original, true, but it definitely beats having to say (or, as it applies during mind-numbing sex, hoarsely shout) the slightly tongue-twisting-inducing “Eidolon”.
I appreciate ms Ione for bringing in a new paranormal romance series that is not reliant on fangs jutting out at the slightest whiff of blood, gorgeous hunk of men that unfortunately cannot show off their fabulousity out in broad daylight (no sparklies, ¡por favor!), or those same men having to make regular body checks with either werewolves or their own breed who have gone rogue.
Sure, the whole premise of “Demons” actually being just as sane, dysfunctional, and, for some of them, possibly having a garish affinity for all things perky and pink (a crazier version of Acheron’s Simi?) as humans is perhaps TMI at first take. Having to be acquainted with their staggeringly complex demon classifications might just also take some getting used to. (As I type this, a pulsing, writhing mound of big, fat maggots just popped in mind.
Please… uhm… a moment…)
Okay. Sod it. I’m just damned glad that it’s not a rehashed plot.
So, yeah, I’m gonna put up with the concept of S’genesis, the intricacies of breeding between different kinds of demons and between demons and humans, the apparently blatant exhibitionist and philandering behavior of demonkind, and the vague dynamics of ‘bonding’.
The Aegis slayer Tayla’s slow incorporation into the world of demons and the soul-searching she is forced to go through in trying to ‘see’ these ‘monstrous’ foes in a new light were sketchy at times. Rightfully, she should have been expeditiously dispatched once she has accidentally infiltrated the not-at-all-awkwardly-named UGH premises. Her job as a demon-slayer should have been enough impetus for Hellboy and Co. to make sure she doesn’t live to tattle. I mean, c’mon, just this one time, shouldn’t the safety and secrets of their own brethren weigh more than whatever good Tayla’s existence might indirectly provide?
But heck, that’s just it. Hellboy and Co. are a different breed of demons. They have principles. And… and… honor. Even a dash of mercy. And, god help me, humor.
They may get cranky, they may all be ingrained with the fine art of slicing and dicing, they may have a fine thirst for revenge and gore, but it turns out that they have no hankering for any megalomaniac soul-sucking world domination, and that, indeed, just like humans, they feel that life is shitty enough as it is and that Beelzebub himself is more of a bogeyman than anything else.
Personally, this first installment is probably best enjoyed for its novelty in the overall idea, but not necessarily in the particular goings-on between Eido—pardon, Hellboy and Tayla. Sure, the sex is nice (that first mindless sexual foray inside the hospital pretty much outshone the rest, no?), but more often than not, it was the escalating tension (unfounded or no) between the Demons and The Aegis that made centerstage.
Am not exactly sure if that is a good thing or not. No, I’m really undecided about it. I mean it’s good that it’s not a sexcapade every 10 pages or so – even though that looked to be the likely possibility given the off-the-charts chemistry between Hellboy and Tayla – but neither did I relish having their relationship gain momentum only in the last quarter or so of the novel.
Or maybe it’s just me.
Seriously, though, for the lulz of it all, I would recommend this start to this new series. I’ll just have to see with the next book if this new line of paranormal romance is worth cozying up to ‘til the end. ...more