While I’m away, I thought I’d schedule a couple posts of book reviews that I completed over the past few months. I’m a slow, slow reader, but I’ve polished off some good reads. This is Part One. I’ve left comments open but won’t be around to respond for a bit since I’m off the internet grid. Please click through and check out a wonderful blogger’s site. Or, better yet, check out a book! Enjoy!
This was a great read on many levels. The Eternals are the last inhabitants of a dying Earth, undead vampires waltzing away the centuries with garish pomp and courtly pretenses. The protagonist Jean is disdainful of the aristocratic decadence and yet amoral when it comes to his own behavior. He lurks on the fringes, cavalier and condescending, until he takes a bite of the princess and drinks her dry. Suddenly, he’s a man on the run, falling in love and rediscovering his humanity.
Though the characters are vampires for the most part and have the expected vampiric characteristics and capabilities, this isn’t your typical vampire tale. I’d say it’s more a story about a man who happens to be a vampire. Jean is an antihero in some respects, violent and sarcastic, yet I rooted for him from the start. Ankers does a wonderful job with characterization and dialog. Jean has a distinct voice, and the entire book is poetic and beautifully composed.
The world building also grabbed me at the start, part steampunk, part post-apocalyptic fantasy. The Earth is clearly fetid and dying, the few last humans are clones, the horses are cyborgs, the landscape is manipulated, and rivers run blood red. Human know-how has been lost but their technology persists, most clearly in the presence of flying machines. The descriptions are gripping – imagine a man dragging his coffin through a dead wilderness, terrified of the sun.
The end came together a little too easily for me with the introduction of new characters that save the day, but I have a feeling that they will play a role in the sequel that Ankers mentions at the book’s close. I will definitely be picking it up, as the villains will surely seek their revenge. Jean and his love, Linka, are only safe for the moment, and I can’t wait to see what happens.
Stevens’ short story, Pure Trash, is a prequel to her novel Dog Bone Soup. It sets the stage by introducing two young brothers, Shawn and Willie, and is a study of character, poverty, and economic discrimination in the 1950s. The characters are beautifully presented which makes the bullying and unkindness of the adults all the more wrenching. A lovely introduction to the following book and a solid short story in its own right.
“Versions of the Self” is a collection of 80 heartfelt poems set up in 8 sections, each taking an honest and poignant view of a version of self. Through her carefully crafted words and exquisite imagery, Birmingham explores the complex elements of human growth and relationships that are both personal to her and universal to many. This collection is emotionally rich, empowering, and beautiful to read. I recommend “Versions of Self” to any reader who loves poetry that explores the human experience and is told from the heart.
The strongest part of this book is the beautiful lyrical language, detailed imagery, and descriptions of a fantasy world with a rich history and fleshed out cultural tradition. It’s not a quick read and it takes a bit to get going, but for readers who love to immerse themselves in a story and characters, it will fit the bill.
Ayla is one of the fey, a winged fairy with unique gifts who leads a gentle life caring for the young fey in a nursery. All is well until she senses the presence of another, a mysterious dark fey who doesn’t reveal himself, but watches her from the forest. When nothing changes after many uneasy visits, Ayla begins to communicate telepathically with him and when he makes no attempt to harm her or the children, she becomes curious.
The story picks up with the introduction of Gairynzvl, the dark fey who quickly became my favorite character. Of all the personalities, he struck me as the most emotionally nuanced with a compelling story of abduction and a desire to return from the world of the reviled to the world of light. His hope is that Ayla can help him bridge the gap and reach his goal. It’s not an easy journey as the worlds of light and dark are destined to clash.
This story pits good against evil, but more than that, it’s a tale of hope, fidelity and forgiveness, love and redemption. There’s a bit of romance and plenty of fantasy. It’s a strong start to Morgan’s series and appropriate for YA readers.
Lighthearted definitely describes Martin’s Rhymes of the Times. This is a collection of witty poems that I thoroughly enjoyed browsing during my day. No topic is off limit when it comes to Martin’s humor and charm. You’ll find giggles, sigh’s, and guffaws in these pages. A delightful read.