Tuesday 9 July 2013

A few quick reviews:

Darkmans Nicola Barker


“The truth” Peta informed him, baldly, “is just a series of disparate ideas which briefly congeal and then slowly fall apart again….”

What can I say about Darkmans? This has been a very hard to review to write. Barker goes on a journey into an unusual haunting with a collection of unusual characters with an unusual approach. It’s, well, unusual. I got to the end of the 800+ pages and thought that it may not have been worth dedicating that many pages to the story she wanted to tell, but also couldn’t for the life of me think of how it could have been made any shorter and kept its essence. There are some wonderful characters and situations in this book which starts and ends mid-story. History repeats itself, historical characters come to life in the modern day, it’s a father son story, it’s a mother son story, it’s a story of chiropody and art forgery, of disappearances and re-appearances, of immigrants and incompetent builders. It is a great many things. It is not a neat book, there are no explanations, you won’t get to the end and have a light bulb moment, it is dark and it is curious and it is wonderful.


Overall – A great read but one that leaves you a little perplexed and maybe even uncomfortable.


The wind in the willows Kenneth Graham



Children’s classic of Ratty, Mole, Badger & Toad. I listened to this narrated by Terry Jones (of Monty Python fame, a great narrator) who brought the tale alive. If there was no chapters about Toad’s adventures then this would be brilliant, as it were I could do without Toad (who I also disliked intensely as a child!) but I could read chapters like “Piper at the gates of dawn” or “Wayfarers all” over and over again for their lyrical beauty and their eulogising of nature.


Overall – a deserved classic


Deathless Cat Valente




A retelling of Koschei the Deathless as Koschei the Tsar of Life and his bride Marya Morevna and the city of St. Petersberg as it changes name across the years and suffers in WW2. This is, like all Valente, full of lush prose and a well stitched tapestry of a story. Marya’s house with its attendant gnome like spirits, her sisters who all marry birds (birds and eggs being somewhat central to the story), Marya’s friends in the land of the Tsar of Life, the haunting chapters set in WW2, the relationship between Marya and her husband all lovingly interweaved in such a clever way.


Overall – Another great fairy story retelling


Walking Dead volume 18




Goes in perhaps an unforeseen way from the last one, feels like he’s eking it out though, don’t like the new bad guy at all as a character, too cartoon buffoon evil, still worth reading (unless you have series fatigue) going to give it a rest though as I am now fed up of Rick and the series appears to be stagnating a little bit, suffering from the usual fantasy problem of plot escalation


Science tales Darryl Cunningham



Cunningham is obviously angry with woolly thinkers and presents a series of graphic essays on science denial. These are on the moon landing hoaxes, chiropractic, homeopathy etc. and the dangers in anti-science thinking such as the dangers of not vaccinating your children. Each is succinctly told and the art is of the usual high standard. Stands well side by side with his [psychiatric tales] and well worth a read.


Overall - These are incredibly lucid and a joy to read even if I already knew a lot of the detail.


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