Fiction: September 2007 Archives

Jonathan Carroll: Voice of Our Shadow

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Voice of Our Shadow is the story of Joe Lennox. As a kid, he kills his delinquent brother, kind of accidentally, but manages to suppress the guilt. He turns his brother's story into a short story. The story is made into a play, making enough money for Joe so he can move to Vienna to live a life as a writer.

In Vienna, he learns to love the city, meets some friend and finds love - but unfortunately in a wrong place, with a wrong person. Soon Joe has another death on his conscience. A nightmare begins, as the fantastical elements of this story come to life. The story has elements of horror and supernatural.

Jonathan Carroll has written a beautiful and fast-moving book. It's not my favourite of his work, but even a weaker Carroll book is still a good one. Worth reading, but don't start with this is you're new to the world of Jonathan Carroll. [ Voice of Our Shadow (Fantasy Masterworks) at ] [ Voice of Our Shadow at LibraryThing ]

William Goldman: The Princess Bride

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The Princess Bride is an honest and old-fashioned adventure. The bride of the title is Buttercup, the most beautiful girl in the world, soon to be married to Prince Humperdinck - too bad she's in love with Westley, the farm boy. Before you reach the end, you've come to know an evil Sicilian criminal mastermind, a Spanish fencing wizard, a gentle Turkish giant and many other memorable characters.

It's not just a funny adventure, there's an additional metafictional level. As the story goes, William Goldman didn't write the book: it's an abridgement of a book written by S. Morgenstern. Every now and then Goldman pops in the story, interrupts and discusses some details of Morgenstern's work he disagrees with and has cut off. I'm fairly sure some people will dislike that, but to me, it was the thing that made Princess Bride shine.

It was good, but not spectacular - I don't quite get the amazingly good reviews at Amazon, for example. It was funny, definitely, but not hilarious. The book is oozing good one-liners, that I admit. So, if you're looking for adventure, romance and excitement, The Princess Bride is certainly a good choice. [ The Princess Bride at ] [ The Princess Bride at LibraryThing ]

Frank Schätzing: Der Schwarm

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It all starts innocently enough: some missing fishermen, some whales acting strange, some strange worms found in the bottom of the ocean. Of course, things start getting serious, when these aquatic troubles spread around the globe and problems get bigger and bigger. Eventually the survival of the whole human race is threatened.

The premise of this book sounds quite exciting. The problem is, the author has spread all the excitement over 911 pages (at least in the Finnish edition), and there's at least 300 pages too much. He spends some time on his main characters, and I didn't care about a single one of them. There's endless lecturing and preaching. I'm sure a skilled script editor will make a really great movie of this book, but as it is now, there's so much dead weight it took some real effort to make it to the end.

I made it, though, and found the ending ultimately disappointing. I mean, was that why I went through the 900 pages? The book was interesting enough to keep me reading, but in the end, felt like a disappointment. If you can read Finnish, Risto Isomäki's Sarasvatin hiekkaa has a similar theme, but is much superior (at least three times better, with just one third of the pages!). (Review based on the Finnish translation.) [ The Swarm: A Novel of the Deep at ] [&nsbp;Der Schwarm at LibraryThing ]

Cornelia Funke: Inkheart

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Have you ever wanted to have your favourite characters from your favourite books alive in our world? In Inkheart, that's exactly what happens when Mo reads aloud from books: he makes things appear from the books, while other things in our world get sucked in the books. Years ago, Mo read the evil Capricorn and his henchmen out of the book Inkheart, while his wife got trapped in the book.

Now, Capricorn comes back, looking for Mo and his 12-year old daughter Meggie and the one copy of Inkheart they possess. They must flee the evil mastermind, who wants to find Mo so he could read things for Capricorn. It's a start of a dangerous adventure! Meggie, who is the charming main character of the story, must use her wits and the support from her friends to triumph over the evil forces.

Inkheart is a lovely story that will please anybody who has a passion for books and stories. The book seems written for young adults, but it's certainly dark and dramatic enough for grown-ups as well. (Review based on the Finnish translation.) [ Inkheart at ] [ Inkheart at LibraryThing ]

Donald E. Westlake: 361

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361, published originally back in 1962 and in 2005 by Hard Case Crime, is a classic hardboiled detective story. Things go bad for the protagonist - his father is killed, while he ends up with a gimp foot and a blind eye - and then, it gets worse.

Like in any hardboiled novel worth the label, 361 has plenty of action, both gunfights and fistfights. The hero empties a bottle of booze about every two pages. This is definitely not high literature, but 361 is a gripping book I'm sure many people will read in one sitting. It has great entertainment value, simply put. [ 361 (Hard Case Crime) at ] [ 361 at LibraryThing ]

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