Category Archives: Fantasy

The Thirteenth Tale

Completing my first book in the October Reading Challenge, I read The Thirteenth Tale , by Diane Setterfield.

It seems like everyone and their brother has read and reviewed this book, but I’ll give my two cents as well. I purposefully didn’t read any details on The Thirteenth Tale, wanting to have a fresh take on it.

It was a perfect read for this Halloween season, spooky and mysterious. The story was so beautifully written, that I was captivated from the start and never once wanted to put it down. Setterfield wove a brilliant web of stories within stories, revealing parts at different times, as everything came together at the end.

I do have a few criticisms. One, I didn’t care for Margaret’s constant complaining about her dead twin that she had never known. Yes, it’s sad, but she’s now an adult and needs counseling if she’s still that wrapped up in the ghosts of her past. I guess I don’t have a lot of sympathy for such week women portrayed in books. That’s why I thought it hilarious when the doctor prescribed for her to read Sherlock Holmes, instead of her usual Jane Eyre.

My other major complaint is that Setterfield took so long to wrap everything up at the end. The end seemed to drag (the only part in the book that did). And the explaining what happened to everyone was overkill. Why would we care what happened to Judith and Maurice? I don’t remember who Maurice even was! I believe he was referred to once or twice in the story.

But overall this was a fun novel that I’d recommend to anyone who loves a good, spooky mystery.


And of course, I have to comment on last night’s Heroes episode.
We finally got to see Niki’s “Mr. Hyde” persona. And I have a new theory on Peter. (And I’m sure I’m not the only one). I think maybe he has the ability to adopt anyone’s powers when he’s near them. This would explain why he could fly only near his brother. (Remember he was falling the first time he tried to fly, until he was close to Nathan in the air.) It would make for a cool twist. And it would also mean that Peter could match Sylar’s abilities, making him the only one who could possibly take him down. Since it seems that Sylar has multiple powers: mind control, healing, flight, super strength, freezing ability, etc.

Everybody Comes to the Nightside

I just finished my last RIP book. Thanks to Carl for the great idea!

Everybody Comes to the Nightside, by Simon R. Green is actually a Science Fiction Book Club 3-in-1 book including originally published: Something From the Nightside, Agents of Light and Darkness, and Nightingale’s Lament.

The Nightside books center on John Taylor, a private investigator who has special abilities that help him find things in a dark, magical place called the Nightside. My favorite passage that pretty much sums it up is from the forward in Nightingale’s Lament:
“My name is John Taylor. I’ve made that a name to be respected and feared, but it’s also made me a target my whole life.
I operate as a private eye, in a world where gods and monsters are real. The Nightside: the sick, secret magical heart of London. A place where dreams come true, whether you want them to or not. It’s not easy to find a way in, and it can be even harder to find a way out.
I can find anything, solve any mystery. Except the answers to the dark and deadly secrets of my own past.
My name is John Taylor. And if you’ve come looking for me, either you’re in trouble, or you’re bound to be.”

In the first book, Something From the Nightside, a woman comes to John to ask him to find her daughter. They must travel to the dark and magical world of the Nightside, from where John has fled. The story incorporates dark humor, suspense, and horror, all wrapped up in an eerie mystery. This is my favorite in the series so far, simply because the Nightside is such a mystery and the slow reveal is great because it’s such a new and different place.

In the second book, Agents of Light and Darkness, the Nightside is already exposed to us, so Green can concentrate more on the plot, meanwhile still introducing new, creepy places within the city. A mysterious monk comes to John to ask him to find the Unholy Grail. Angels, demons, and everyone else dangerous seems to be searching for it as well. John teams up with Shotgun Suzie, a deadly assassin who once tried to kill him, for this disturbing tale.

In Nightingale’s Lament, the third book, Taylor is hired to find a famous singer in the Nightside whose audience seems to be committing suicide after her shows. Many more creepy (and yet fun) characters are introduced in this story that either aid or try to kill Taylor along the way.

This was a perfect choice as a final RIP Challenge book. I can probably attribute some of my disturbing dreams lately to the stories in this novella. I love how it’s written in a sort of classic pulp fiction detective novel, yet very fresh and fun.

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Speaking of creepy, disturbing things, I was on the edge of my seat several times last night watching Heroes! Each episode keeps getting better!

Don’t forget to read the online comic!

Staying Away from Staying Dead

Last week I stopped reading Staying Dead, by Laura Anne Gilman, halfway through the book. Not only was it extremely boring, but full of made-up magical terms with no explanations.

So, I started reading Playing with Fire, by Gena Showalter. This book is a lot more fast-paced, and has a heroin with a sense of humor. And I’m still in the middle of Everybody Comes to the Nightside.

I was hoping I’d get more reading done over the long weekend of recovering from surgery. But no such luck. Anytime I tried to read, I couldn’t concentrate or it made me sleepy.

So I ended up watching a lot of tv and movies. I watched the entire forth season of Moonlighting. Unfortunately, it’s the most boring season concentrating almost solely on relationships instead of actual detective work.

LightspeedI also watched one of the cheesiest, SciFi Channel made-for-tv movies, written by Stan Lee (creator of many great Marvel comics), called Lightspeed. A 40-something, balding, special ops man is exposed to high levels of radiation and discovers he can run at the speed of light. Not only does he not look like the average super hero (see: balding, aging, and not exactly muscular), but the outfit he wears is just laughable. It looked like it belonged in the movie Tron. The only acting worse that the hero’s was the villain, a snake-man, called Viper, who unfortunately had the most screen-time of anyone. In one of the last scenes he screams for about five minutes straight saying the same phrase over and over, “Why’d you make me do it? Why’d you make me kill you?!” What was the plot? I’m not quite sure.
Yeah. My respect for one of the greatest super hero/comic creators of all time just dropped quite a few degrees.

On a side-note, my surgery went well. My doctor found some Endometriosis and was able to clean up most of it. Hopefully, this will take care of it for a while. Thanks for the prayers, everyone!

Magic Street

Magic Street, by Orson Scott Card, just confirms what a brilliant writer he is.  I have read several series by Card: the Homecoming saga, Ender saga, and the Women of Genesis series.  So when I saw previews on Magic Street, I was excited to read it.

In the acknowledgements at the end of the book, Card gives credit to his friend who encouraged him to write a story with a black hero.  There is a lot of African-American slang throughout the book, and Card said that his friend is the one who helped him with this different point of view, because he didn’t want it to come off silly. He wanted to get it right.

Magic Street is about how a middle class, African-American community in LA is caught in the middle of a battle between the king and queen of the fairies.  There are many references to Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. And that’s the best way to describe the book without giving too much away. 

Mack Street was abandoned by a drainpipe as a baby, and the book follows his life, his strange powers, and his affect on his community.  There are quite a few twists in this modern-day fairy tale.  And while reading the first chapter, I thought Card must have been smoking something while writing this; Card managed to weave together a fun, magical tale that was surprisingly heart-warming.

Traitor to the Blood

Step into the magical world of the Noble Dead. Traitor to the Blood is the forth novel in the series by Barb and J.C. Hendee which follows the adventures of Magiere (a dhampir, half-human/half-vampire), Leesil (a half-human/half-elf), and their equally unique companions. In this story, former-assassin Leesil tries to track down his parents that he left behind years ago. Meanwhile, he and Magiere are trailed by her half-brother, Welstiel, who is trying to use Magiere for his own gain. They also face many foes: a ruthless overlord, a woman that Leesil orphaned set on revenge, a group of elven assassins, and a mysterious shape-shifting couple forced into servitude, just to name a few.

This installment delves deeper into each character, but especially Leesil since this book focuses on his tortured past and what has shaped him into the man he is. And each book in the series gets better with more character development, more complex storylines, more mythological lore, and more action. Any fan of vampire stories or the fantasy genre in general will love this series.

Traitor to the Blood was also the first in the series to make the jump to hardcover. Look for the next hardback installment, Rebel Fay, January of 2007.

Check out http://nobledead.com for excerpts from the books, more on the world of the Noble Dead.


The Historian

The Historian is Elizabeth Kostova’s first published novel, and at 642 pages it was very impressive. She held my attention throughout the entire book. I hated putting it down. Kostova has a beautiful writing style and makes the history of “Vlad the Impaler” very interesting. Most of the story is told through letters and jumps around quite a bit, but it is very easy to follow.

The book begins when a teenage girl comes across an ancient book and containing some mysterious letters in her father’s library. The book is blank, save for the center pages which contain a woodcut rendering of a dragon with the word “Drakulya.” Her father then proceeds to explain his personal search for Dracula and the truth behind the historical figure.

The vast references to the history of the 1400’s in the surrounding eastern European countries, makes this book seem more like a work of non-fiction. But the supernatural qualities add an eerie, suspenseful dimension to this work of art. The only complaint I have is that the ending seemed somewhat anti-climatic. But on a whole, this was a great piece of literature. I highly recommend it to those who love historical fiction or just a good vampire tale.

Dhampir

Dhampir by Barb & J.C. Hendee. It’s a cross between the Blade series and Lord of the Rings. Magiere, her half-elf companion Leesil, and his mysterious dog are con-artists who pretend to rid small villages of supposed-vampire infestations. But when they decide to settle down and go straight, they just happen to pick a village with actual vampire residents. Here, Magiere discovers her true destiny, whether she likes it or not.. that she’s a true vampire slayer.. a Dhampir. Half-vampire herself, she is a living person, but has all the strengths of the “Noble Dead” (vampires). This is an action-packed vampire-slayer book with heart. The Hendee’s do a great job of exploring the main characters, even the “Noble Dead” themselves. I highly recommend this book to any fan of the vampire genre.