Category: Books & Writing


Review: Seed

Seed
Seed by Ania Ahlborn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What a ride! This is a creepy possession story akin to Japanese lore, in which the evil spirit never rests and can’t be exorcised. That’s tough to take in our “hero makes everything right” culture. The details unfold slowly, revealing layers of horror. I was confused at times, wondering what exactly was going on and what the possessing entity really wanted. But in the end, that’s the point — it doesn’t matter. It just feeds on angst and grief and fear and terror. In that respect, this fast, fascinating read is well constructed … and very creepy!

 

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

It took me a while to crack this one open, since I had not enjoyed Grahame-Smith’s Pride and Prejudice and Zombies at all. But the pacing and prose were much improved here, and the sheer amount of history between the pages was engrossing. I wondered sometimes why it wasn’t a straight biography, as it could have been an engaging and humanizing one, but then I remembered …

Horror is the game!

And it’s well played. The vampire lore is woven fairly seamlessly into Lincoln’s tragic family life, even though at times it appears (as it often does creature-centered literature, film, and television) that every other person in his world was a vampire. But the action was engaging, the characters well built, and the historic backdrop richly drawn.

Especially enjoyable was the tenuous and strange relationship between Abe and Henry. H’s favorite epithets of “Some people are just too interesting to kill” and “Judge us not equally” resonated without being overused.

Something niggled at me, though, about the concept. I am very, very good at suspending disbelief, but at times the story felt conspicuously untrue, almost blasphemous, since it was about one of history’s most revered leaders. It’s a bit like reading a tale about Gandhi becoming a zombie … it’s just wrong. After all, the mantle this fantasy places on Abe is not necessarily all flattering. Sure, he still fought so that good could triumph over evil, but he was violent and angry and vengeful. He wanted to spill blood. And he had to get in bed with the evil just a bit to fulfill his mission — but maybe that’s just a commentary on politics.

Yes, it was a fun read. But I feel a little, hmm, guilty that it was a fun read.

Review: Bite Me

Bite Me
Bite Me by Christopher Moore
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The continuing adventures of Abby Normal, the Countess Jody, the Dark Lord Flood, and their assorted minions — not to mention the Emperor of San Francisco, the Animals, and one giant shaved cat named Chet and his horde of vampire kitties that can turn to fog — all pursued by detectives Rivera and Cavuto, plus the ancient vampires trying to “clean up” and remain hidden. If that is not fun summer reading, I don’t know what is!

Moore has a wicked sense of humor that’s present and accounted for in this third “love story” book [its predecessors being Bloodsucking Fiends (A Love Story, #1) and You Suck (A Love Story, #2)]. He also knows how turn a phrase into a hysterical observation that will make you spit milk out of your nose. The familiar characters are back in all their glory, confusion, and goofiness. And while some found it annoying, I really enjoyed Abby’s Valley-Girlish narration (used sporadically throughout the book); I did not think it was overdone at all, and it was so much fun to read.

Some of Your Blood
Some of Your Blood by Theodore Sturgeon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I truly enjoyed reading Some of Your Blood … darkly different and completely fascinating. Not the typical horror story, just discomfiting and riveting. At the end of this paperback version is also short story called “Bright Segment” — just as disturbing and enthralling. Excellent, quick reads for anyone who enjoys disturbing tales!

Going, Going, Gone Girl

Just finished Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.  The saga of Amy and Nick was hard to put down.  It truly kept me on the edge of my seat, anticipating what the characters would do next.  That’s a good thing!

But now that I am done, I cannot decide whether or not I’m satisfied with the ending.  And the ending of a book is sooo important, as all readers know!  This is a well-written and racy mystery that ends in, gosh, a kind of quiet desperation. Maybe that’s apropos of its thinly veiled commentary on married life (while the author is supposedly happily married to the man of her dreams… hmm).  Though I’m not sure it was my favorite ending, however, I must bestow accolades for the quality of twisting plot, vivid characters, and solid prose that kept me riveted throughout the distressing tale.

I’ll try not to be spoilerish as I make a few comments.  This is an enthralling read to discover and unwrap on your own, so I don’t want to ruin it for anyone. That said:

  1. I am mad at Nick.  Furious, actually.  Sure, there was not too much else to be done once things got too far out of hand.  But there were opportunities … missed opportunities for things to turn out differently.
  2. Like Amy, I watch enough police procedural shows (OK, not so closely and not so psychotically) to know that there should have been something that could have pointed the investigators in the right direction.
  3. Finally, I am no psychologist, like Amy’s parents, but I’m thinking the final outcome is unlikely even in the most tidily constructed of fictional universes. Call me crazy (not psycho), but could life really go on the way it does in the end?

All of this nail-biting angst, wondering if things should or could have gone differently, brings me to the conclusion that this is a terrific book.  Why?  Because I cared (still care, apparently) about the characters.  I’m sitting here wondering what they’re up to now that the book has ended!

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