Category: Horror

Reviews, now in vintage, or, a review of the Vampyre

Reviews, now in vintage, or, a review of the Vampyre

the vampyre

The place where vampires all began, and it’s even really short! Some people moan that Twilight ruined vampires, that vampires used to be scary and now they’re too sexy to be scary, that the vampire genre is dead (but why is dead a bad thing?), etc. I’m here to tell you that they are all WRONG. Nothing has changed in the last 200 years. Sociopathic undead hotties have always preyed on susceptible teenage girls with a bit more charm than is good for anyone. And, yes, they have always been sexy.

image
And diabolical.

It’s true that our Lord Ruthven isn’t quite so conflicted as today’s Stephan Salvatores and Edward Cullens, but then, you don’t have to go way past 1819 to get your antiheroic vampy fix–Varney the Vampire was published in 1847, and is, I am informed, full of enough bloodsucking angst to make Bella Swan swoon (reading it right now, actually!).

With that said, the vampires of yore do represent something that would have held a bit more gravity to audiences back then. I don’t mean to be elitist–I firmly believe that ANY piece of art can tell you a great deal about a current culture’s hopes and fears, and Twilight and Vampire Diaries are no different–but we simply don’t have the same understanding of society now that people in, say, Regency England would have had. Nowadays, a person can watch Twilight and maybe see a metaphor for a certain type of real life person (what kind of metaphor heavily hinges, I suspect, on how much that person likes Twilight), but Lord Ruthven pretty obviously symbolizes a society-wide problem of vice.

He consumes supple young maidens to stay alive, sure (the hero’s fair sister among them), but he also seems to ruin lives just for the hell of it, entices people in gambling, and only gives charity to the undeserving. And everyone who accepts his help seems to end up cursed in some way. In other words, he’s the sort of idle, rich parasite preachers would have warned against on the pulpit. So Lord Ruthven represents sex, yes (why else the addiction to teenage girls?), but only in part. Lord Ruthven is the personification of sin, and he collects victims in a never-ending cycle. Today, we would know someone like this as a sociopath, but back then audiences would have believed him to be simply Very Bad, in an almost unknowable way.

But I still think the hero’s sister faked her death and ran off with the vampire. It’s been known to happen, you know.

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I wanted to like it, but I COULDN’T, or, a review of A Great and Terrible Beauty

a great and terrible beauty

It’s not that I object to reading about schoolgirl bitchery, though it’s not exactly my preferred genre. Dumb schoolgirl bitchery, on the other hand…

I wanted to like this book. And, when I started, it had every promise of being likable. The setting of India was interesting, and the author took a risk in making her character a bit more historically accurate than most (at first). You see, Gemma Doyle is a bratty sixteen-year-old who hates living in India and makes no bones about it. I actually liked that detail because in historical fiction about Britain, India is usually presented as this far off exotic land tasting of spice and freedom–not an ordinary place with ordinary people. A sixteen-year-old British girl wanting to party in London seems pretty natural to me, regardless of how low she descends in reaching her objective. Continue reading “I wanted to like it, but I COULDN’T, or, a review of A Great and Terrible Beauty”

Reality: Only interesting when vampires and smartphones are involved (wait, what?), or, a review of Blood Calling

Blood Calling

It’s very hard to find a character with interests similar to mine, but this has changed. I am happy to report that I am represented in YA fiction–I have finally found a character who loves surfing the web and buying books on her smartphone as much as I do. At last I am validated. I can’t cast spells like Harry. I can’t shoot arrows like Katniss. But wasting time online? That’s something I can do, and I’ve never been prouder to do it. Continue reading “Reality: Only interesting when vampires and smartphones are involved (wait, what?), or, a review of Blood Calling”

The only thing hotter than an angel is a competent heroine, or, a review of Angelfall

It is a testament to this story that it features a badass, incredibly beautiful angel and yet someone else steals the show. And no, the person who steals the show is not the adorable, funny, hot demon love interest. (Yes, I read Fallen. Yes, I squeed over Cam. Those days are behind me. I think.) It was the heroine. Yes, that’s right. The ordinary, human heroine is the most compelling character.

anime Thor and Loki
This gif accurately captures my emotions.

Continue reading “The only thing hotter than an angel is a competent heroine, or, a review of Angelfall”

Douchelords ruin everything, or, a review of The Summoning

I was and have been in a bit of a reading slump this year, so my friend kindly lent me Kelley Armstrong’s The Summoning. All I knew going in was the main character is a friendly necromancer, and I was ready to be pleased. And I was. But also a little disappointed. Spoilers ahead.

Things that made SiameseMayhem happy

Chloe. Just Chloe. This girl is logical, she treats life like her own personal screenplay, and she wants to be a director when she grows up. It is SO nice to have a well-rounded heroine with goals who doesn’t immediately flop over when she meets her hero who may or may not have sparkly abs (not that there’s anything wrong with that. Boys have every right to sparkle). Really, this girl is amazing. Did I mention that she outlogics the annoyingly smug and stoic Derek, our hero and completely owns him? More on Derek later.

The worldbuilding and writing are excellent. The horrifying conclusion comes slowly, but enough hints are dropped to let us know that something is definitely wrong with Lyle House, the mental asylum Chloe is temporarily staying at after her mental breakdown. Or rather, what everyone thinks is a mental breakdown. In reality, Chloe’s necromancy is surfacing, and the ghosts all want a piece of the only girl who can talk to them and give their souls rest. Naturally, Chloe screams a lot, as would anyone, and is forced into a two week stay at Lyle House or the incident will go on her record. At Lyle House, she meets many interesting people, who may also have supernatural abilities.

I love this premise, because of course people’s reaction to kids who have telekinesis and sorcery and necromancy would be to lock them up. Each of the kids at Lyle House have their own stories and secrets that Chloe and the reader slowly uncover. Each character is respected by the narrative.

Things that made SiameseMayhem’s heart black with kitty rage

One word. Derek. And yes, I know, it’s a controversial opinion. But hear me out. Derek basically spends the whole book trying to tell Chloe that her ability to see ghosts is necromancy and should be embraced, not suppressed. Okay, fine. But do it in a less douchey way. Also, please don’t throw her across a room. Like, yeah, I get it, you wanted to keep her from leaving so you could tell her more about her Secret Powers TM, but if you have a history of underestimating your strength, maybe you shouldn’t grab people in the first place. Also, if you’re really going to wristgrab people, I’m sure K-drama heroes would be more than willing to teach you a few pointers, in between saving heroines and corporate takeovers.

Yes, I know you’re a werewolf with hygiene issues who just can’t heeeeelp himself. And I would consider forgiving you if you offered a better apology than

“No, excuse, like you said. You want me to stay away from you? Wish granted.”

and

“…Now run along and take your meds and be a good girl. Don’t worry, I’ll stay out of your way from now on. Seems like I made a mistake. A big mistake.”

Yes, Derek, I know you had an offscreen freakout, but you could show a little more respect to the person you injured. Because you’re not really apologizing to Chloe. You’re making this all about you. To provide some background, Chloe accidentally lets slip to her aunt that Derek assaulted her; Aunt is understandably furious and tells a nurse. Derek feels betrayed by this. Yes, really. I appreciate that several characters take Chloe’s assault seriously. Unfortunately, this solidarity is undermined when one of those characters turns out not-so-trustworthy.

Moreover, an indirect connection is made between Chloe and Derek’s abilities. When defending his brother, Simon’s response is,

 “…He didn’t mean to. If you saw how freaked out he was last night, you’d know that.”

Later, Chloe accidentally places dead souls back in their rotting corpses, which creates a thoroughly awful situation dead and living alike. Chloe and the ghost’s conversation goes like this:

 “I didn’t mean–”

“Oh, do you hear that, Michael? She didn’t mean it….So if I accidentally unleash a storm of hellfire on your head, it’ll be all right, as long as I didn’t really mean it?”

Chloe is now in Derek’s place, having used her powers to harm someone, except not really. Chloe literally had no idea what would happen and was trying to contact a ghost who wanted to be contacted, only to get way more contact than she intended. Derek grabbed someone despite having multiple experiences proving that this was a bad idea. Chloe, even if she did use the “I didn’t mean it” excuse, reacted with contrition, not bitterness towards her victim.

Meh. I always did like vampires better.

However, I did like one thing about Derek. He wasn’t pretty, unlike all the other Edward-clones currently running around in YA. He had acne. He had to shower a lot. I just wish he could have showed some decent remorse, instead of ruining this for me with his douchey tendencies.

Worth a read?

Yes, absolutely. The plot and characterization are top-notch, and, despite Derek mucking everything up, this remains one of my best reads of 2014 (I only read three books this year? SHHHH). With that said, I probably won’t be reading any of the next books because I’m just that petty and if there’s one thing I remember, it is a hero’s sins.

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