The Fall

The problem with reading book two of a trilogy is that question – do I read it now? Or do I wait until it’s closer to the publication of the third book? When putting in my online request for The Fall, I couldn’t quite remember what had happened in the first book. There was something about vampires and a 747 and the CDC, and something else about other vampires wanting to hunt down these new ones. I had to turn to Wikipedia (!) to jog my memory. I just remember it being quite a thrilling read. And I was hoping that The Fall would be one too.

And it was… kind of. The book was a pretty fast read, after I finally got caught up and recalled exactly who everyone is. There’s definitely more plot development happening, as I guess the second book of a trilogy is meant to do. The Master features a whole lot more in this book (we were introduced to him at the end of The Strain). And we get to see more of the Ancients, the old vampires killing the new vampires. The role of the filthy rich, barely alive Eldritch Palmer is quite interesting. He essentially bankrolls the Master’s project of world domination, in exchange for the promise of eternal life. And Zach’s mother-turned-vampire Kelly is seeking her son. Then there are the good guys: Eph is a murder suspect, Fet explores the underground tunnels, Nora doesn’t seem to really do very much, and we explore a lot more of Setrakian’s history (rightfully so, as he’s been chasing the evil for a while now) and his connection with the Master.

Like the previous book, The Fall was gory, with lots of splattering and worms and that rather gross stinger with which they suck the blood of their prey. And children vampires (I really hate that). But it was far less creepy, and as a result, less memorable than the first. The back story occasionally took a bite out of the pace of the book and there were some odd sections, such as the scenes with the astronaut, that didn’t really add very much to the story (colour perhaps? Or that this vampire domination affects the whole world, including space? Or will there be some kind of link up to the next book? I can hardly tell).

So the second book left me with more questions than answers, but I’m curious enough to see what will happen in the final book.

This is my fifth read for RIP V.

A Graveyard for Lunatics

Well call me confused. When I saw the title (A Graveyard for Lunatics – can you blame me?). I thought, ooh that looks perfect for RIP V. And it does begin rather promisingly:

“Once upon a time there were two cities within a city. One was light and one was dark. One moved restlessly all day while the other never stirred. One was warm and filled with ever-changing lights. One was cold and fixed in place by stones. And when the sun went down each afternoon on Maximus Films, the city of the living, it began to resemble Green Glades cemetery just across the way, which was the city of the dead.”

And then I read a bit more, and confusion arises as I realise, waitaminute, this isn’t a city of the dead, it’s a studio city, as in Los Angeles, as in Hollywood. Hmm ok…. not so sure now.

So….our unnamed narrator (really a fictionalised version of Ray himself) is a scriptwriter, hired to write his dream project, a horror movie, working with his friend and model maker Ron. But it’s not a straight up job. There’s a bit of a creepy enough element to the book, which opens on Halloween eve at midnight, with the narrator venturing into the depths of the Green Glades cemetery, after receiving an anonymous note. There he discovers a body who looks like the founder of Maximus Films, who has been dead for many years.  Is it a body? Is it just a prop? And some other weird things happen that leads him right in the middle of a whirlwind of intrigue.

So it’s a kind of mystery, right? And that sort of counts (checking the RIP V Challenge page…. and yes it does!).

Ok, while I love the previous works by Bradbury that I’ve read, I wasn’t too fond of this one. It’s is a very different book from anything else of his. The mystery part of it was fine enough, but I’m not all that familiar with Hollywood of the 1950s, which this book is a love song to.

It was only after I finished the book that I realised it was part two of a series! It was preceded by the novel Death Is a Lonely Business, and followed by Let’s All Kill Constance. Would reading the first book have made a difference to my opinion of Graveyard for Lunatics? I’m not all that sure.

This is my fourth read for the RIP V Challenge.

The Shadow of the Wind

I’m sucked right in from the start, for Carlos Ruis Zafon knows how to lure the reader, the booklover hook, line and sinker. It’s with the idea of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books:

“Every book, every volume you see here, has a soul. The soul of the person who wrote it and of those who read it and lived and dreamed with it. Every time a book changes hands, every time someone runs his eyes down its pages, its spirit grows and strengthens.”

Daniel, 10, is taken to this cemetery by his father, a bookseller, who tells him that the first time someone visits this place, he must pick a book and adopt it. So Daniel wanders and eventually finds a book called The Shadow of the Wind by Julian Carax. A book that he devours, but later finds is an extremely rare copy, for there are few, if any, of Carax’s books left around. A man with leathered skin, smelling of burnt paper and going by the name of one of Carax’s characters has been rumoured to be burning all of these books.  Daniel can’t help but be intrigued by this Carax, everything about him seems to be shrouded in mystery. Who is this man? Why is he burning all these books? What happened to Carax?

With the help of  jack-of-all-trades Fermín Romero de Torres, Daniel chases the shadows that surrounds Carax’s life, which he begins to realise parallels his own.

I love books about books, so I quite liked reading this one. As a mystery though, it didn’t quite work that well as there was a bit too much of a back and forth between past and present as the mystery unraveled, as different characters explain what happened. Some of the translation also seemed a bit clunky and distracts the reader from the story. But Zafon made great use of the setting (1940s-50s Barcelona – and I kind of love Spain) and threw in enough romance and melodrama to result it in a fun read – just not a fantastic one.

This is my third read for the RIP V Challenge – I didn’t borrow this book specifically for the challenge, but realised that, with its air of mystery and elements of a gothic romance, it fits this challenge pretty well.

Tales of the Slayers

Tales of the Slayers (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) introduces the different Slayers over time. It begins with ‘Prologue’, which is set in ancient Africa and reveals the first Slayer. But my favourites have to be Righteous and Presumption. Righteous is set in a medieval town and Presumption begins in a Jane Austen-ish way, at a lovely ball, and has a wonderful twist that made me immediately reread it, and marvel at the storyline.

Joss Whedon (the creator of ‘Buffy’) wrote three out of eight of the stories, including Righteous, and the rest were written by those involved with the TV show. The amazing illustrations are by a wonderful mix of artists, (who are described as “comics’ greatest artists” – unfortunately, I am quite ignorant about things like that and have never heard of any of them, but now that I have, I’ll definitely look out for these artists!), including Gene Colan, Tim Sale and P. Craig Russell, who all bring their very unique styles to the Slayer universe. Gorgeous!

The first Slayer

The Slayer in Righteous

You don’t have to be a Buffy fan (or even have the faintest idea what a Slayer is) to read this comic. But for Buffy fans, it adds a nice history to the Buffy world.

This is my second read for the RIP V Challenge.