My stumble on Stainless Steel Droppings brought me my first book challenge.  I love gothic stuff and feel a guilty magnet toward the macabre.  So, a challenge to immerse myself in the dark side was too irresistible to declare my usual, “Oh, maybe next time.”

I accept Peril the First as my challenge from September ’til Halloween and to this I commit the following novels:

1.  The Historian —- Elizabeth Kostkova   (2006) 

2.  The Glass Books  of the Dream Eaters —-  Gordon Dahlquist   (2006)   

3.  The 5th Witch —- Graham Masterton    (May 2008)

4.  The Ghost of Flight 401 ——  John G. Fuller    (1976)  

5. Merrick ———-  Anne Rice  (2000)  

I think these are lot of  scary reads to indulge in, in just two months — a lot for someone whose choice of reading depends upon the mood at the moment.   For me, picking up a certain genre contrary to my reading mood is difficult in itself.  But then, that’s why it is a challenge! : )

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Author :  Laurell K. Hamilton

Series   :  Book 14, Anita Blake Series

Publication Date :  March 27, 2007 (Paperback Edition)

Publisher :   Jove

ISBN-10: 0515142816

ISBN-13: 978-0515142815

No. of pages : 576

The Story :

Anita Blake thinks she is pregnant but doesn’t know who the father is.  Is it Micah, the wereleopard;  Jean-Claude, her master vampire;  or Richard the werewolf?  She is a human with vampiric powers and a variety of lycanthropic strains — wolf, lion, leopard, etc.  She is supposedly every woman’s erotic fantasy, possessing the powers of the ardeur, which unleashes a sexual desire so great that men cannot resist but fall desperately in lust and in love as well.  Lust is Anita’s food upon which she feeds and her orgasmic delights in turn feed  some of her partners whose very existence rely on her ability to arouse and drink in sexual pleasure.  Thus, her harem of men.

Sex and the ardeur is a necessity so that Anita is not a slut but rather a very important element in the supernatural community.

The Review :

If the synopsis sounds lame and vacuous, that’s because it really is. The thin,  feeble plot seems like an flimsy excuse for providing a story when the book is really just plain porn.   Events always necessitate sex and despite the author’s obvious attempt to imbue deep emotional dimensions on her characters, they come out as pathetically half-baked, sex-starved freaks who just can’t relate with each other without rutting — and rutting in all forms : straight sex, gay sex, threesomes, anal, a bit of SM and animal sex.  And since the story is character driven,  it falls utterly flat on its face with them.

This book practically reeks of sex, so much so that it becomes tiresome and entirely unerotic.  Hamilton comes out as a bad erotic writer (and a bad storyteller,  to boot) and this supernatural piece of porn does not tilltilate but bores.

However, this is the 14th book in the Anita  Blake series and for Hamilton to have published a book this far into her series  makes me  wonder if this particular novel is simply a dud in her  collection, and if her other books are actually great.

To Read Or Not To Read? :

Read, if you :

  • like written erotica  (and you don’t give a damn if it’s artistically done or not)
  • get off on supernaturals
  • are unrelentingly going through each book in this series and so just have to read this one
  • have nothing else to grab for the loo

Otherwise,  ditch this and spend your time on something more worthwhile.  Or get to know the first few novels and see how Hamilton managed to acquire a fan base to make it this far (book # 14).

My Mark :  Poor

Author :  John Connolly

Release Date : April 25, 2005

“In the crowded killing fields of crime fiction, John Connolly is a unique voice.” — Michael Connelly

Indeed he is.  As my first foray into John Connolly’s work, I am amazed by his ability to elevate crime fiction writing with beautifully crafted prose.  He has a rare knack of weaving elegant, loftily worded paragraphs with contemporary, casually-toned ones.  The result is a smooth read with seamless alterations in moods, without jarring stops and starts, mid-stride.

Black Angel is the fifth novel in a crime series.  The central hero, Charlie Parker,  embroils himself in an investigation over the disappearance of a close friend’s cousin, Alice.  His search leads him to face a horrible truth—the existence of a demonic being known as the Dark Angel, whose lost whereabouts over the centuries have led The Believers, an army of evil men and fallen demons in human guise, to carve a bloody, gruesome trail of death in their search for him.  The Believers is championed by the Dark Angel’s twin, accompanied by a  malevolent soul-eater.

The novel is heavy on the paranormal and the gothic, its inspiration drawn largely from at least three major sources:

a) an Old Testament apocryphal book, The Book of Enoch;

b) the Sedlec ossuary in Czechoslovakia, which as a major setting, appropriately lends the macabre flavor to the story;

(If you’ve never heard of this place, take a peek : )

Official Website

Sterf

Panoramic views of the Bone Church

The Ossuary in Sedlec

c) a controversial Mexican religion venerating the Santa Muerte.

John Connolly’s delightfully detailed historical accounts in this book have probably fired up some readers to learn more about them.  I know they have compelled me to scurry through the internet for my own research.  So midway through the book, I’ve been entertained with a mound of fascinating albeit morbid material on this novel’s inspirations.

The characters are also what make the book interesting.  This particular novel, being the sequel to four others, does not elaborate on the backgrounds of its protagonists; but, you may glean some bits and pieces about them as the story progresses.  Not knowing much about them, though, will not impede anyone’s enjoyment of this book.  However, to know the characters intimately, a new reader to John Connolly would be better served if he were to start from the first in the series, Every Dead Thing.

A lot of credit should also go to the author’s ability to present violence so artistically.   He has an intensely meticulous graphical style that makes his descriptions so vividly crystalline.  Unfortunately, it is precisely this quality that may render the novel too verbose for some readers.   People who prefer a straight-to-the-point manner may be annoyed at being drenched with all that verbiage.

True, the novel could have been a shorter read.   But for readers like me who revel in Connolly’s beautiful phraseologies, there is no such wordiness.  It is a rare treat to find a crime-thriller written with such eloquent and oftentimes almost poetic language; and, an even rarer pleasure to discover one that dared to successfully defy the accustomed patterns of its genre.

My Mark : Excellent