One of my New Year’s Resolutions was to read more. Here’s what I read in January:
Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
The story of Neverwhere follows Richard Mayhew, an ordinary businessman with a penchant for collecting trolls, who soon finds himself embroiled within the happenings of London Below. This London Below is exactly what it sounds like, another world below and above London filled with people who have fallen through the cracks of normal society. This is a richly dark, modern-day fairy tale. It has bad guys who are clearly evil. It has good guys who are clearly good. It has quests and trials and beasts and angels.
Richard is dragged into this darkly-whimsical, industrial-esque world when he chances upon a wounded girl and decides to help her. Soon after he helps her, he finds that he is no longer able to connect with the world around him. Taxi drives do not see him and his friends and co-workers do not remember him. Thus starts his adventures in London Below…
Embarrassingly enough, I had started to read this book multiple times and was never able to make it past the first chapter. The story starts out a little slow but compensates for this by capturing the reader through a variety of charming worlds and characters.
My favorite of these characters happens to be the Marquis de Carabas. If you are familiar with the drow books of R.A. Salvatore and their characters, you will understand what I mean when I say that this character is very much like Jarlaxle. The Marquis is a criminal, a crafty and cunning individual, but still manages to be on the side of good.
The mini-series that this book was based on aired on the BBC in the 90s. I had the pleasure of watching it after I read the book. While the show, clearly, did not have much in the way of a budget, it really helps to flesh out the events of the books. The actors who played Richard and the Marquis were both very successful– they made the show.
If you are looking for a leisurely, whimsical read, I would certain recommend picking up this book.
The Vampire Lestat and The Queen of the Damned by Anne Rice
It has been a number of years since I read The Vampire Chronicles and I wanted to revisit the series. When I first ready these books they changed my life, in so far that I was floored by Anne Rice’s embellished writing and characters. I wanted to be her, granted this was when I was a fledging writer and still in middle school.
I wanted to see if these books stood up to the test of time. Would I, so many years later, still feel the same thrill I did when I read these books? Yes and no. I read Interview with the Vampire over break, and this one touched me more than these two.
The Vampire Lestat is a stunning work of modern prose and carries on the legacy of dark fiction. One of the aspects of Rice’s fiction that strikes me the most is the tension. There were moments when I was, quite literally, holding my breath as my eyes passed over the page. It takes a great deal of artistry to be able to raise this much suspense in a reader. I could go on and on about how beautifully Rice fleshes out her characters, her storylines, and her histories but I won’t.
The Queen of the Damned, on the other hand, I had a multitude of issues with. I appreciate what Rice was trying to do with the switching perspectives and the story of Baby Jenks and so forth. However, I found myself skipping over many a section of this book. I skipped over the story of Baby Jenks, I skipped over many of Lestat’s first person narratives during his time with Akasha. I like the idea, but I think, somehow it distracts from the overall narrative.
That said, I still have a deep love of all things The Vampire Chronicles. Anne Rice’s vampires are some of the most profound and compelling fictional creatures that I have ever come across.
See you next month! February’s reading list includes the first two books of Clive Barker’s Abarat series and H. Rider Haggard’s King Solomon’s Mines.