The Night Eternal

On the second day of darkness they rounded them up.

The Strain Trilogy of Guillermo del Toro & Chuck Hogan doesn’t give the reader an easy, fluffy experience. The story of a vampiric virus let loose on civilization isn’t a pretty one. The three books go through the stages of denial, fighting back and trying to survive a new world order. The Night Eternal shows that not every human being can or will be a hero.

The vampires and their Master rule the world, and yet, as it goes, there is a small group of rebels. They are looking for ways to end the vampire-reign, although the odds are very much against them.
This is one of my favorite things about this trilogy: Del Toro and Hogan paint an incredibly gritty, desperate and depressing picture. As a reader you’re pretty sure that there will be a happy ending (that’s how fiction works, right?), but both of the authors deliver you plenty of hints and pokes that you might be wrong. There is no One Hero, no MacGuffin that suddenly shows up in the second-to-last chapter. Characters are corrupted and self-centered, badly adjusting to being placed at the bottom of the food chain. It is ugly.

If you love that, want to be scared and get uncomfortable because of what humans turn into when society disappears, go for it. If you want an original version of the creature we can vampire these days, go for it (start with book #1 though) .  And enjoy, with delicious thrills and the feeling of ‘Oh no’, running down your spine.

The Night Eternal, Guillermo del Toro & Chuck Hogan, HarperCollins 2011

 

Haunted

Marie-Madeline lit the flame under the bowl.

In Haunted volgt de lezer de geest van een half demon die ook nog heks is. Zij -Eve- krijgt in het volgende leven een opdracht van het Lot: ze moet een monster vangen dat ontsnapt is uit haar persoonlijke hel. Dat gaat natuurlijk niet zo makkelijk en zo wordt de lezer meegenomen door verschillende werelden van leven-na-dood, een paar hellen en tussendoor naar de wereld van de levenden want daar is Eve’s dochter waar ze zo graag voor zorgt.

Mensen die Kelley Armstrong kennen, weten hoe gedetailleerd zij (paranormale) werelden kan scheppen. Er zijn engelen, demonen en half-demonen, thema-werelden voor de doden (Eve bezoekt eens een piratenwereld), allerlei spreuken en magie en ga zo maar door. Mensen die haar niet kennen, weten nu zo ongeveer wat ze kunnen verwachten. Toch wordt die hoeveelheid aan detail nooit verstikkend, blijft het verhaal duidelijk en is het geen moment moeilijk om doorheen te komen. Armstrong biedt fantasy pulp, maar in plaats van op de bekende manier met mannelijke helden en vrouwen met zwoegende boezems in kleine pakjes, kunnen de vrouwen hier zelf hun zaakjes beschermen en oplossen. En dat is vermakelijk.

Haunted is makkelijk inwisselbaar met haar andere werk. Zelfde sterke vrouw, zelfde wereld-hoppen en kleine wijze les in de laatste drie hoofdstukken. Een lekker tussendoortje.

Haunted, Kelley Armstrong, Orbit 2005

The Desert Spear

It was the night before new moon, during the darkest hours when even that bare sliver had set.

Like a fresh breath of Technicolor air after The Pregnant Widow. The Desert Spear made me a very happy fantasy fan.

TDS is part of a trilogy (aptly named Demon Trilogy) but can be read as stand alone as well. That’s already quite the feat in this genre full of unnecessary follow ups and ‘let’s pull this book apart into three books’, but that’s a not-related frustrating issue.  TDS tells the story of a world where the night isn’t safe. Because every night, all kind of demons (wooden, rock, wind and so on) will rise from the grounds and attack everything that isn’t warded. Humankind knows some of those wards, but not all of them. And of course there is a faith that says the demons are a God’s punishment that can only be stopped by a Deliverer.

In this book, there are two of those. One of them who really could be it, an ordinary guy from the North, who by others is made into a hero, even though he doesn’t want it.  And the other, a wünderkind from the South with a mighty army behind him and who has given himself the title. And they used to be friends.
A lot happens in The Desert Spear and telling would only be over sharing. But this book  manages to create a world, a bad guy, and two less than annoying ‘heroes’ while  entertaining you along the way as well. After reading the first book (The Painted Man) I wasn’t sure if there would be a follow up and I did a little dance when I saw this book in the library. It hasn’t disappointed me a bit, even throwing me off (as a crazy book lady, I like to be surprised) when it came to romance and plot lines.

It is fantasy though, remember that. If you’re completely averse to that, don’t bother. But if you want to try some, TDS or its predecessor are a great starting  place.

The Desert Spear, Peter V. Brett, Harper Voyage 2010