Saturday, August 7, 2010

Ghostly Inteference Creates Static In a Clear Romance

Remember that list of books from I don't even know when (I'm not online right now so I can't check the entry) where I went through I think 17 books that were on my list? So I got through all the library ones (or most of them) but the ones I bought… well ifI own it, it seems like  i just don't read it :) To refresh your memory, I had bought Melissa Nathan's The Learning Curve and Leanna Renee Hieber's The Strange Tale of Miss Percy Parker, both books impossible to find in the library.  So anyway, I brought both of them to Australia and I read the Strange one this past Shabbos.

This one was another I heard of on Lauren Willig's website, though I think I originally may have heard of it somewhere else as well.  And similarly to the Gail Carriger book, it's a fantasy/alternate universe romance.  Unlike Soulless, it's closer to a fantasy than a romance.  Actually it's kind of funny, the spine specifies the genre as "historical fantasy", which seems like a bit of a contradiction in terms to me but what it comes down to is a mix of Victorian society, which I like almost as Regency, and ghosts mixed in, which I can pretty much take or leave. 
This book had *a lot* of the ghost stuff.  And it's not even particularly well done ghost stuff.  For the most part, the book jumps between the people and the "spirit world", basically a group of angry beings identified with pronouns - meant to be spooky, usually just more confusing.  Towards the end, the plot coalesces into a retelling of Greek myths, with which I am not familiar enough to be able to identify how closely the story follows (I know that sentence is hopelessly garbled :)) But in any case, my overwhelming felling about the fantasy plot was that everything seemed completely fated.  In other words,  there was a little or nothing the characters could do to help the good prevail and all that.  And what's the point of that? I mean it's not like this stuff is real, so give us *something* we can identify with, like the eternal struggle to make decisions in a confused and dark universe. 

So all that was pretty annoying.  What about the historical romance half of the genre? Some preliminary points: these people, whether by virtue of their special status or by whimsy of the author, do not give much credence to Victorian social standards, which bothers me because, as you know, I am a snob.  But I can forgive that, because the main character, Alexi, is purrrity awesome - actually gifted with power and full of all the brooding stoicism just waiting to fall in love ;).  The bigger issue is the way the romance ties in with fantasy stuff.  The permise is that Alexi and the others were given a prophecy that a goddess would come to them one day, and Alexi believes she is his soul mate whom he is fated to love.  And even though he does seem to feel a connection with Percy immediately, he doesn't fall in love with her till her decides that she is his goddess.  So along with the plot seeming totally predestined, the romance is pretty forced too.  But then at the end, (spoiler alert) Alexi thinks Percy *isn't* the prophesied one and guess what? He's devastated! And *that* makes for *great* romance ;) So the ending is just chock full of satisfying angst :)

Verdict: given that the book redeems itself towards the end… 3/5
Food… well I must say, not quite sure about the premise of the book, but the execution was *definitely* lacking.  And as for the premise, well like I said, 1/2 historical romance is a huge plus, fantasy aspect is a I guess nootch.  So I need a food with two parts, one of which I like, one which I could do without… I'm going to with the corn thins and peanut butter.  Not that I've ever tried this combo, but I *love* peanut butter, corn thins are okay, but I'm pretty sure that all I'd get out of eating them together is the peanut butter… and the corn thins would definitely detract from the peanut butter somewhat.

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