Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Some Unusual Titles

The Chamber of Ten, Christopher Golden and Tim Lebbon, Ballantine, Jul 27 2010, $7.99, ISBN: 9780553386561, reviewed by Harriet Klausner.

As Venice is sinking under the sea, residents have already shut down the bottom floors of their homes. American archaeologist Geena Hodge and her assistant lover Nico Lombardi have gotten Italian government permission to save as much of the heritage from the encroaching Adriatic in what is the Bibliotheca project that has BBC filming praying not another Capone vault.

Digging in Piazza San Marco, Geena, assisted by Nico and some students, finds Petrarch’s library. Beyond the famous lost library, they uncover the fabled Chamber of Ten. However, nothing goes smoothly as the walls collapse allowing flood waters to inundate the chamber. Soon afterward Nico acts insane as he has become possessed by a Renaissance Era mage battling three evil immortals with the city at stake.

This is more an exciting thriller than a horror tale. The story line starts off as fast-paced as any tale this year and as vivid (with its dank damp picture of the city), but never quite keeps the accelerator at that incredible opening rate of speed. Still Readers will enjoy the Chamber of Ten as the archeologist and her team is caught up in the middle of a centuries old Magical war in which Venice is at stake.

Bearers of the Black Staff, Terry Brooks, Del Rey, Aug 24 2010, $27.00, ISBN: 9780345484178, reviewed by Harriet Klausner.

Five centuries ago the demonic Great War left humanity on the brink of extinction. Young Hawk the Gypsy Morph led a few battered human, elven and mutant souls into a sanctuary protected by a magical barrier (see The Gypsy Morph). Those inside knows that outside hell reigns.

However, when he led the march to safety, Hawk never expected what has occurred recently; the barrier has collapsed allowing the demonic horde to invade. The last surviving Knight of the Word Sider Ament knows the people need new young heroes like the Bearers of the Black Staff he possesses that once was held by Hawk when he led them to safety. He rescues teen Trackers Panterra Qu and Prue Liss and tells them to warn the Hawk’s descendents. However, the council complacent after hundreds of years of peace rejects Sider's belief the demons are coming while the Knight goes out to the external world to learn what has happened there and most likely in the valley. The two Trackers believe the Knight’s word and seek allies.

Terry Brooks continues his prehistorical saga the Legends of Shannara with the first of a twp part fantasy thriller with the story line occurring five hundred years since the events of The Gypsy Morph. Inside the once safe valley is a fascinating look at a peaceful life on the verge of pandemic collapse with leaders mostly unable to accept the demonic tsunami is coming. As enjoyable as that subplot is, fans of Shannara will especially appreciate the other segue as Sider escorts the audience in a venture outside the valley, which enables fans to see what happened after Hawk saved the band. Mr. Brooks is at his best with this tale as his myriad of fans will look forward to the conclusion.

Dick and Jane and Vampires, Laura Marchesani; illustrated by Tommy Hunt, Grosset & Dunlap (Penguin), Aug 26 2010, ISBN: 9780448455686, reviewed by Harriet Klausner.

Dick and Jane are surprised to see a bat. Over time, the bat is comfortable with Dick and Jane, their parents and their baby sister Sally. He shapeshifts into a Vampire and becomes friends with Dick and Jane. Soon he is playing with them and welcomed by the rest of family though dad is a bite or two concerned that he may have a cape wearing rival. Eventually the milkman delivers bottles of blood along with milk.

Broken into three short stories with illustrations, this is a lighthearted romp that early elementary school children and older readers who grew up on Dick and Jane will enjoy. Each tale is further broken into short shorts so that the younger readers can take breaks. Although I think a child vampire instead of an adult would be more apropos especially playing with the children, the targeted audience to include nostalgic boomers and the older Gen X will enjoy Dick and Jane making new friends summed up: “See Dick Play. See Jane Play. See Dick and Jane Play with a vampire!”

The Replacement, Brenna Yovanoff, Razorbill, Sep 21 2010, $17.99, ISBN: 9781595143372, reviewed by Harriet Klausner.

Sixteen years ago in Gentry, the tattooed princess sent Mackie Doyle as The Replacement who took the place in a crib of a newborn human baby. He is not the only Replacement in the town, but the locals are unaware of the switches and besides the changes have proven profitable for the ignorant but blissful townsfolk, other nearby places have collapsed. Mackie leaving Gentry to go to the underworld tunnels of Mayhem is dangerous for him but by staying he has allergies to iron and blood that can kill him. The girl he likes Alice donates blood and has silver pinned on her pierced tongue; he also cannot walk on sacred earth though his dad is a pastor with a church.

However, the strange death of Natalie has shocked everyone. Natalie’s family attends the church of Mackie’s dad though the lad does not know her or her older sister Tate who attends his school. The grieving girl obsesses over learning the truth about her sibling’s death, which places Mackie in the awkward situation of choosing life above ground or below as he comes to know Tate.

This is an extremely dark horror tale that grips the audience from the moment the teens are introduced and never slows down until the final confrontation. The Gentry high school students makes the story line seem plausible as most behave with reckless abandon with sex, drugs, cigarettes and alcohol prevalent; the teens challenge the adult authority. This is a strong novel that uses the Doppelganger Replacement as the premise of an exhilarating novel that warns readers to look beyond the glitter to insure there is no monster; like Tate is doing with no allies until Mackie joins her quest.

Emma and the Vampires, Jane Austen and Wayne Josephson, Sourcebooks, Aug 10 2010, $14.99, ISBN: 9781402241345, reviewed by Harriet Klausner.

In Highbury, England blue blooded vampires live among the human residents with the latter unaware that some of local gentry are Undead. Daughter of an affluent widower, Emma is especially clueless even though she notices weird dental bites and black curtains, but never puts together another thought as to what that denotes. Instead Emma plays the town’s matchmaker until her BFF Harriet Smith declares her love for Mr. Knightly. Emma wants him unaware that his fangs are not due to poor teeth.

Everything changes when the vampires begin stalking and attacking the town’s girls. Not one to remain a spectator, Emma grabs a stake that she ties to her thigh and stalks the Undead.

With a nod to Steve Hockensmith’s Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and a wink at Jane Austen, Wayne Josephson converts Emma into a vampire thriller with stakes and tea. Although everyone knows vampires exist, Emma is terrific as she goes from totally clueless to Regency Buffy like slayer. Although how the Highbury citizens failed to know the bluebloods were Undead is mindful of Los unable to see past Clark’s glasses (hypnotic glamour must be super powerful), readers will enjoy Mr. Josephus’ jocular biting of Emma.

No comments:

Post a Comment