Tag: vampires


Meh Monday: The City of Mirrors

Posted 15 August, 2016 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in Reviews

Meh Monday: The City of MirrorsThe City of Mirrors by Justin Cronin
Series: The Passage #3
Published by Ballantine Books on May 24th 2016
Genres: Fiction, Horror, Science Fiction, Suspense, Thrillers
Pages: 602
Goodreads
two-half-stars

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange honest review consideration. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

"The world we knew is gone. What world will rise in its place?"

The Twelve have been destroyed and the hundred-year reign of darkness that descended upon the world has ended. The survivors are stepping outside their walls, determined to build society anew and daring to dream of a hopeful future.

But far from them, in a dead metropolis, he waits: Zero. The First. Father of the Twelve. The anguish that shattered his human life haunts him, and the hatred spawned by his transformation burns bright. His fury will be quenched only when he destroys Amy – humanity's only hope, the Girl from Nowhere who grew up to rise against him.

One last time light and dark will clash, and at last Amy and her friends will know their fate.

Praise the lord and pass the ammunition, this trilogy is over. Honestly, the only reason I’m actually writing a review for The City of Mirrors is because I have this need to make things complete. I’ve reviewed the other two so you, lucky Reader, are going to get to hear me bitch about this one. Because that sounds so inspiring, let’s get to it!

There are large (novel-sized) chunks of this monster that are just downright dullThe City of Mirrors, much like the previous two novels, jump around in space and time. The reader is forced to slog through hundreds of pages of sappy writing about a poor Harvard undergrad who falls in love with his roommates girlfriend to get the genesis of Zero. Familiar characters like ‘Lish and Peter have long epic sojourns where not much of anything happened and I wanted to weep with boredom at times.

My biggest problem with this novel however, was the heavy handed Biblical allegory. Don’t get me wrong I love good Biblical allegory. Good being the key word. Cronin hits readers over the head with a slab of Adam’s ribs with the allegory that he tries to create in The City of Mirrors and for me it was completely ineffective and distracting. You have Michael working to fix his ship, like a post-apocalyptic Noah. Of course there’s Amy, who is the Christ figure. There’s Peter (PETER!) the disciple. Which brings me to the name of the characters: Caleb, Sara (very motherly in the Bible, very motherly here)… it doesn’t hold true for all the characters, but throughout the trilogy it held true for enough.

There are sections with lots of action and violence, but the literary mixed with the fun that was so appealing in The Passage has completely evaporated in The City of Mirrors. The end of the book is probably the most satisfying part of it, I don’t mean that in a snarky way the last hundred pages or so take a total right turn to the rest of the novel, and while there are certain believability and ‘what’s the point, then?!’ problems with the end, I’ll leave it there for the sake of not spoiling. If you want to discuss it in the comments – let’s do it.

For a not quite as harsh, but naturally better written, and of course spoiler-y review, I liked the one at The Washington Post. The Discriminating Fangirl also breaks down some of her problems with the novel here.

Soooo Reader. Insert big sigh here. How did everyone else feel about this? Has anyone else taken the plunge and read it? Anyone more forgiving than me?

April @ The Steadfast Reader

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Friday (Re)Reads: The Twelve

Posted 22 July, 2016 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in Reviews

Friday (Re)Reads: The TwelveThe Twelve by Justin Cronin
Series: The Passage #2
Published by Hachette UK on October 25th 2012
Genres: Fiction, General, Horror, Science Fiction, Thrillers, Suspense, Fantasy
Pages: 688
Goodreads
three-stars

In the present day, as the man-made apocalypse unfolds, three strangers navigate the chaos. Lila, a doctor and an expectant mother, is so shattered by the spread of violence and infection that she continues to plan for her child’s arrival even as society dissolves around her. Kittridge, known to the world as “Last Stand in Denver,” has been forced to flee his stronghold and is now on the road, dodging the infected, armed but alone and well aware that a tank of gas will get him only so far. April is a teenager fighting to guide her little brother safely through a landscape of death and ruin. These three will learn that they have not been fully abandoned—and that in connection lies hope, even on the darkest of nights.

One hundred years in the future, Amy and the others fight on for humankind’s salvation...unaware that the rules have changed. The enemy has evolved, and a dark new order has arisen with a vision of the future infinitely more horrifying than man’s extinction. If the Twelve are to fall, one of those united to vanquish them will have to pay the ultimate price.

So I thoroughly enjoyed the first book in this trilogy, The PassageThe Twelve did not disappoint either. I re-read this book in preparation for the thrilling conclusion, The City of Mirrors.

As the second installment in the trilogy it was great to pick back up in Cronin’s expert world building and revisit the (many) characters introduced in the first novel. The Twelve expands on those characters and the situations that the characters find themselves in. Cronin does a great job continuing to develop both characters and his world. For the most part these two novels are incredibly impressive both in scope and depth. But there are points in The Twelve where I felt like it was (dare I say it) almost overdeveloped. Danny’s backstory, even April and Tim…  this book is so long and so detailed that these pieces felt a little extraneous. Admittedly, this is one of the things that may add to the excellent world building, but this book is a chunkster as it is and I’m not sure that these narratives added enough.

I wish that I had reviewed this prior to finishing The City of Mirrors, but (and we’ll get to this in another review) I didn’t, that reading kind of tainted me for the entire trilogy and I’m unable to differentiate the second and third books as well as I’d like to.

This trilogy is absolutely epic.

Reader, have you read The TwelveThe Passage? Are you looking for a new spin on vampires? 

April @ The Steadfast Reader

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Friday (Re)Reads: The Passage

Posted 10 June, 2016 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in Reviews

Friday (Re)Reads: The PassageThe Passage by Justin Cronin
Series: The Passage #1
Published by Random House Publishing Group on June 8th 2010
Genres: Fiction, Thrillers, Suspense, Science Fiction, Apocalyptic & Post-Apocalyptic, Literary, General, Fantasy, Epic
Pages: 784
Format: Kindle Paperwhite
Goodreads
four-stars

An epic and gripping tale of catastrophe and survival, The Passage is the story of Amy—abandoned by her mother at the age of six, pursued and then imprisoned by the shadowy figures behind a government experiment of apocalyptic proportions. But Special Agent Brad Wolgast, the lawman sent to track her down, is disarmed by the curiously quiet girl and risks everything to save her. As the experiment goes nightmarishly wrong, Wolgast secures her escape—but he can’t stop society’s collapse. And as Amy walks alone, across miles and decades, into a future dark with violence and despair, she is filled with the mysterious and terrifying knowledge that only she has the power to save the ruined world.

So this is my second journey through Cronin’s The Passage, I remember enjoying it immensely back in 2010 when it first came out. I only refreshed myself with the Wikipedia page when the second book in the trilogy The Twelve came out in 2012, but now with the impending release of the last book in the trilogy (City of Mirrors), I felt it was time for a full re-read.

Let me tell you, while I still enjoyed The Passage a ton, it didn’t hold up as well as I wanted it to. It is an epic, sprawling story with multitudes of characters spanning about a hundred years. What makes The Passage stand apart from other apocalypse novels is that Cronin manages to do it all. We get to see both the fall of society and the almost dystopian aftermath a hundred years later with society evolving to live with the virals. First Colony is peopled with at least half a dozen fully formed and fleshed out characters. Cronin is an excellent world builder and puts a bright new spin out in the world of vampire literature.

My problem with The Passage comes from the not-quite-heavy-handed-but-at-least-middle-handed Christ allegory that we get at the end with Amy. I don’t know a whole lot about Justin Cronin as a person except that he seemed lovely for the fifteen seconds that stood with him at BEA (but not as lovely as George Saunders), but the preachy-ness at the end of this book leaves me suspicious of Cronin the way we should have been suspicious about Creed in the late nineties.

Despite all that, I must highly recommend The Passage to all lovers of vampire, apocalyptic, and post-apocalyptic fiction. It’s a good fun read, especially if you want a fast-paced chunkster.

So Readers, I know other people out there have read The Passage. Thoughts? Feelings?

April @ The Steadfast Reader

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Monday Monsters: The Fifth House of the Heart

Posted 7 December, 2015 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in Reviews

Monday Monsters: The Fifth House of the HeartThe Fifth House of the Heart by Ben Tripp
Published by Simon and Schuster on July 28th 2015
Genres: Dark Fantasy, Fantasy, Fiction, Horror, Occult & Supernatural
Pages: 400
Goodreads
three-stars

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange honest review consideration. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Asmodeus “Sax” Saxon-Tang, a vainglorious and well-established antiques dealer, has made a fortune over many years by globetrotting for the finest lost objects in the world. Only Sax knows the true secret to his success: at certain points of his life, he’s killed vampires for their priceless hoards of treasure. But now Sax’s past actions are quite literally coming back to haunt him, and the lives of those he holds most dear are in mortal danger. To counter this unnatural threat, and with the blessing of the Holy Roman Church, a cowardly but cunning Sax must travel across Europe in pursuit of incalculable evil—and immeasurable wealth—with a ragtag team of mercenaries and vampire killers to hunt a terrifying, ageless monster…one who is hunting Sax in turn.

With his novel The Fifth House of the Heart, Tripp makes a return to the classic vampire novels of the past, Dracula and ‘Salem’s Lot come to mind immediately. He doesn’t dress his vampires up in a bunch of finery and pretty words the way Anne Rice does, instead they are the classic monsters that have gone by the wayside in the wake of vampires that are more complex (Anne Rice) or who veer so far from vampire mythology that they are hardly recognizable as vampires (The Twilight series).

I love vampire books (certain YA novels excepted) and The Fifth House of the Heart, was a pretty decent read, but by no means was it a book that is likely to make it into the cannon of vampire literature. It’s largely a book about hunting animals – like I said, the personality that Tripp endows to his vampires is very little. Then again, Dracula didn’t have a whole lot of personality and no one argues on the brilliance of Dracula. Geeks of Doom love this book and wrote a very favorable review.

I agree with their assessment of Sax, our main vampire hunting ‘hero’. He’s vain and largely unscrupulous. He cares for nothing in the world but his antiques and his niece, Emily. He’s also super-homosexual. My guess is that Tripp is trying for some sort of juxtaposition against the Roman Catholic Church (which takes a large presence in this book) and the ability for a homosexual to do heroic deeds, even when he doesn’t mean to. I could be way off. I know that That’s What She Read was really bothered by Tripp’s constant allusions and outright mentions of Sax’s homosexuality. I think the very fact that Tripp fails to be PC about Sax’s sexuality upholds my idea of a juxtaposition between Sax and the Church (which he is constantly feeling at odds with, despite an uneasy alliance).

Overall, this book gets the rating of ‘you could do worse on a plane if you love vampire novels’. It’s good, but not great.

Has anyone read this one, Reader? What did you think about the constant reminder of Sax’s homosexuality? Did you feel like it was an old fashioned horror novels? Do you like old fashioned horror novels?

April @ The Steadfast Reader

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Exquisite Inscriptions: Christopher Farnsworth Edition

Posted 10 June, 2015 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in writers

farnsworth inscription header

So, I started this ‘series’ last April with my Chuck Palahniuk signed books. Today finally, I want to move on to the next post in this series and those are my signed copies of ‘The President’s Vampire’ trilogy (still a trilogy, as far as I know…) by Christopher Farnsworth.

Now my story here is different. I wrote to Mr. Farnsworth on Goodreads long before I started blogging. I had run across a copy of ‘strange but true’ tales that had story about a Portuguese sailor who had been tried and convicted of vampirism, who was then granted clemency by President Andrew Johnson, which is more or less the premise of Farnsworth’s trilogy. I can’t say what possessed me to do such a thing, because I don’t make it a habit of writing strange authors to ask about their inspiration, but I was in law school at the time so it’s very possible I was procrastinating.

Anyway. Farnsworth replied to me promptly and was extremely nice, when I asked him if he had any opportunities like Chuck P. or Anne Rice where you could order signed copies of his books from bookstores he had been to he offered to sign my copies and mail them back to me. He wouldn’t even accept return postage from me! So I sent him Blood Oath, he sent it back to me with a signature and a t-shirt. When the other two books were published I asked him again if I could send him my books and he gladly accepted, even though by that time he was a vampire writing superstar.

If you haven’t read the Nathaniel Cade novels, you’re missing out on some great fun. Think a new twist on the vampire genre, combined with some awesome classic monster movies. If you don’t have these three books in your beach bag this summer, you’re missing out.

But the inscriptions!! Here they are!

Farnsworth inscription collage

Inscriptions from Christopher Farnsworth on his Nathaniel Cade trilogy.

What about you, Reader? Do you have any fun inscribed books? Do you collect rare books? Share with the group! Thanks again Mr. Farnsworth!

April

April @ The Steadfast Reader

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Could’ve Been Worse Wednesday: Suffer the Children

Posted 11 February, 2015 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in Reviews

Could’ve Been Worse Wednesday: Suffer the ChildrenSuffer the Children by Craig DiLouie
Published by Simon and Schuster on May 20th 2014
Genres: Dark Fantasy, Fantasy, Fiction, General, Horror
Pages: 352
Goodreads
three-stars

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange honest review consideration. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

.SO MANY MOUTHS TO FEEDIt begins on an ordinary day: children around the world are dying. All children, everywhere—a global crisis beyond any parent’s worst nightmare. Then, a miracle beyond imagining: three days later, they return. Shattered mothers and fathers see their sons and daughters happy and whole once more, playing and laughing as before—but only when they feed. They hunger for blood…and they can’t get enough upon which to feast. Without it, they die again. How far would you go to keep someone you love alive?

I can’t really complain too much about this novel. It’s never going to win awards or be on the ‘best of’ lists, but the premise is novel enough that I found it to be a decent ‘fluffy’ read. It’s a genre novel through and through – my biggest issue is the characterization of women as mothers and nothing else – but again – it’s genre fiction so I’m trying not to read too much into it.

The writing isn’t fabulous but again, the premise was unique enough to keep me reading. The dialogue was particularly stilted. DiLouie writes from a number of perspectives – he might have been better suited to stick with one character throughout the whole novel and figure out a different way to flesh out the world. The pediatrician David had the most well written sections and seemed to have the most character development. (Though not necessarily the most striking changes.)  

The world building is well done, even if the ‘scientific’ information regarding Herod’s Syndrome is rather scant (why doesn’t it affect adults at all? why did it strike all the children in the world over 36 hours? what activated it?) the stuff that happens after the ‘resurrection’ is actually pretty believable and quite frankly, pretty horrific. I don’t think that is is necessarily a novel for those that are faint of heart – but it’s a pretty decent horror/apocalypse/twist on vampires genre novel. 

You could do worse on a plane if you’re a horror fiction lover. 

Evil children scare the shit out of me, Reader. What about you? 

 

April @ The Steadfast Reader

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Terrifying Tuesday: Dracula

Posted 15 October, 2013 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in Reviews

Terrifying Tuesday: DraculaDracula by Bram Stoker
Published by W W Norton & Company Incorporated Genres: Classics, Fiction, Horror
Pages: 492
Goodreads
three-stars

A rich selection of background and source materials is provided in three areas: Contexts includes probable inspirations for Dracula in the earlier works of James Malcolm Rymer and Emily Gerard. Also included are a discussion of Stoker's working notes for the novel and "Dracula's Guest," the original opening chapter to Dracula. Reviews and Reactions reprints five early reviews of the novel. "Dramatic and Film Variations" focuses on theater and film adaptations of Dracula, two indications of the novel's unwavering appeal. David J. Skal, Gregory A. Waller, and Nina Auerbach offer their varied perspectives. Checklists of both dramatic and film adaptations are included. Criticism collects seven theoretical interpretations of Dracula by Phyllis A. Roth, Carol A. Senf, Franco Moretti, Christopher Craft, Bram Dijsktra, Stephen D. Arata, and Talia Schaffer. A Chronology and a Selected Bibliography are included.

Trying to review this is like trying to review Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. It’s classic – the penultimate vampire novel from whence all others sprang (sprung?).

I love the way the story is told through the diaries of young Jonathan Harker (an attorney!), ship’s logs and the diary of Professor Abraham van Helsing. Bram Stoker’s Dracula is a monster, he’s a far cry from Anne Rice’s Vampire Lestat but still is more than the mindless monster of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. The way he preys on Lucy speaks to a certain sort of cunning. 


Without Dracula our fictional landscape, literary, television, and movies would be extraordinarily different. I find it hard to overstate the cultural importance of Dracula. The vampire as the monster has eventually morphed into the vampire as the outlier (Ricean/True Blood vampires). Ultimately creating an allegory for the monster within us all. Or maybe it’s just fun to get scared. Either way, what a book! 

I’m not generally a fan of Victorian era fiction — but this is easy – and fun. Check it out. Especially since you can get it for free at Project Gutenberg.

(SO much better than Twilight – yeah I know, hater’s gonna hate.)

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#802 – 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2010) 


April @ The Steadfast Reader

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Terrifying Thursday: Interview With the Vampire

Posted 10 October, 2013 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in Reviews

Terrifying Thursday: Interview With the VampireInterview with the Vampire by Anne Rice
Published by Random House Publishing Group on November 17th 2010
Genres: Fantasy, Fiction, General, Horror, Paranormal, Psychological, Sagas, Suspense, Thrillers
Pages: 352
Goodreads
four-stars

Here are the confessions of a vampire. Hypnotic, shocking, and chillingly erotic, this is a novel of mesmerizing beauty and astonishing force—a story of danger and flight, of love and loss, of suspense and resolution, and of the extraordinary power of the senses. It is a novel only Anne Rice could write.The Vampire Chronicles continue in Prince Lestat. Look for a special preview in the back of the book.Praise for Interview with the Vampire   “A magnificent, compulsively readable thriller . . . Rice begins where Bram Stoker and the Hollywood versions leave off and penetrates directly to the true fascination of the myth–the education of the vampire.”—Chicago Tribune   “Unrelentingly erotic . . . sometimes beautiful, and always unforgettable.”—Washington Post   “If you surrender and go with her . . . you have surrendered to enchantment, as in a voluptuous dream.”—Boston Globe   “A chilling, thought-provoking tale, beautifully frightening, sensuous, and utterly unnerving.”—Hartford CourantFrom the Paperback edition.


I first read Interview With the Vampire maybe 12 to 15 years ago… I thought it was just okay. 

The second reading either opened up new revelations for me or perhaps being older I was better equipped to fully understand it. Whatever the reason, I now consider this book to be one of our modern classics. I’m almost tempted to say timeless. 

I’ve always loved the way that Rice’s vampires struggle with their own humanity attempting to reconcile their need for blood with the ideas of good and evil. Her vampires have depth and feeling that other vampire stories lack. Dracula will always be an amazing book, but I prefer my vampires with brains. 

Something else I want to touch on in this review is the rise of the YA paranormal romance vampires. They generally annoy me, Twilight in particular. But I think I might craft a whole post on that
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April @ The Steadfast Reader

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