The Hidden Oracle

Hoodlums punch my face
I would smite them if I could
Mortality blows

Looks like I’m on a bit of a fantasy kick these past (two) months; good thing it can be such an impressively versatile genre.

Rick Riordan is quite a familiar name in the genre, within the subgenre of YA. There’s been two movies, there’s plenty of books that brought Greek mythology to teens. Literally and figuratively.

This time it’s about – yep, right there in the title – Apollo. The god is turned human, but that doesn’t mean things go along breezily. Quests, monsters, demigods! And meeting your offspring.

Yes, the tongue is firmly in the cheek, but Riordan still manages to pass some mythology facts along. It’s all in seemingly effortless fun, and the twist might even surprise you. And if you’re looking at a way in for both reading and/or learning about Greek mythology, this and Riordan’s other work is a super accessible first step.

The Trials of Apollo: The Hidden Oracle, Rick Riordan, Hyperion 2016

Clariel

Old Marral the fisherman lived in one of the oddest parts of Belisaere, the ancient capital of the Old Kingdom.

I’m pretty sure that Garth Nix is my favourite male fantasy author. Even when I’m a bit ‘hmm’ about some of his stories (for a younger audience), I’ll always appreciate his style and world building. This time it wasn’t any different.

Clariel is part of the The Old Kingdom series, but doesn’t fit into it chronologically. Not having read any of the series for a long while, this was kind of convenient for me. Just remember the necromancy, anything else can be new knowledge.

It being a (kind of) prequel also means that there’s not complete freedom to move and develop. Because of this the reader gets the slice-of-life option, things ending up before the (more) exciting and terrifying.

But I am a Garth Nix fan. I’ll read all of it.

Clariel, Garth Nix, Harper Collins 2014

The Devourers

My part in this story began the winter before winters started getting warmer, on a full-moon night so bright you could see your own shadow on an unlit rooftop.

This isn’t an easy one to review. It came with the disappointment that you expected something completely different, and therefore need some time to adjust to what you’re getting, instead of entering the story completely from page one.

And The Devourers needs your attention. It’s a collection of histories and experiences, but unedited, not cleaned up and filtered for the reader. If you want these stories, dig through the dirt through them.

The Devourers are werewolves, shapeshifters, skin walkers, whatever which people or culture call them. They move through history and one of them invites a human to join him – through his stories. There’s no romance or heroic mythology, these are the stories our ancestors might have told each other at the fire, as a warning for the darkness.

Looking back after a week, I’d say I do think I’d recommend this. If you’re open for a different version of fantasy and mythology, with a lot of meat, blood and grit.

The Devourers, Indra Das, Penguin Random House 2015

The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There

Once upon a time a girl named September had a secret.

It was the first title I recognised in the endless collection that is Overdrive. It’s also the sequel to The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland In A Ship Of Her Own Making, because who needs short titles anyway (it’s not like Valente can’t do it, see Radiance).

Again, she offers a world brimming with colours, weirdness and smart little thoughts you wonder how you didn’t come up with them yourself. It’s fairy tales as they once were, yet with a Pratchettesque humor: don’t take the story teller, nor the experiences at face value.

Things went bad (again), and September is up to fixing it (again). She’s around after all. This time it’s in Fairyland (Below), making things a bit darker, including September. Small pieces of (ugly) reality meander through the adventures/quests/September’s wanderings.

Because even if you can survive the Forgotful Sea, you’re still someone’s child.

The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There, Catherynne M. Valente, Macmillan 2012

De Surprise

91 min.

Ik vind dat Nederlandse romantische comedies heel redelijk zijn. Ik had De Surprise dan ook voor een licht moment bewaard; blijkt het ineens veel meer te zijn dan “oh nee, als ze elkaar maar op tijd op Amsterdam Centraal Station tegenkomen!”.

de surprise filmposter

Blijkt er dus ineens een zwart randje aan te zitten dat op zo’n manier uitgewerkt wordt dat het bijna de spotlights jat. Want een organisatie die euthaniseert op de manier dat de klant het wilt, ook als de klant verrast wilt worden, had makkelijk √©√©ndimensionale nonsense kunnen worden als excuses om de hoofdpersonen bij elkaar te krijgen. Zit er gewoon genoeg achter om door heel de film heen te wortelen!

Ondertussen charmeert Georgina Verbaan iedereen de film af, en zo hield een Nederlandse (en Belgische, en Ierse) film ineens mijn aandacht vast van begin tot eind.

De Surprise staat op Netflix. En een hekel aan Nederlands horen in de film? Er komen meerdere talen langs.

De Surprise, A-Film 2015

Wynonna Earp

13 x 40 min.

You want some small town western in your Buffy, with focus on more women than a Firefly? Here you go!

wynonna_earp_posterWynonna Earp needs a bit of an investment, largely because of the grumpy and not instantly love-able title character (hmm, how different would that be if she would have been a guy?). But if you can give her a break (she’s got a proper motivation, after all), you are welcomed into a diverse world full of nasties and a heroine that honestly, completely, excusez-le-mot, doesn’t give a fuck.

This creates a messy thrill, speeding along in such a way that plot bumps or disbeliefs don’t have room for growing. Go for the demon-vigilante with bisexual sidekick ride, yiha!

Wynonna Earp, SyFy 2016 (first season on Netflix)

Hex

Stefan de Graaf kwam juist op tijd om de hoek van het parkeerterrein achter de Nico de Witt-supermarkt gerend om te zien hoe Katharina van Wijler werd overreden door een antiek draaiorgel.

Net zoals bij The Library at Mount Char is dit verhaal helemaal klaar voor televisie of film. En ook hier zou het best flink minder kunnen wat betreft geweld, deze keer bijna exclusief gericht op vrouwen.

Beek is geen dorp zoals andere Nederlandse dorpen, Beek heeft een eeuwenoude heks. In het dagelijks leven is ze redelijk rustig, zolang je haar maar met rust laat en het dorp niet te lang verlaat. Natuurlijk gebeuren er meerdere dingen waardoor de rust helemaal en compleet vernietigd wordt.

Maar de weg daar naar toe is vol in detail beschreven geweld en horror. Ja, daar is het dan ook een boek voor uit het horrorgenre. Maar moet het zo van-dik-hout-zaagt-men-planken? De conclusie wordt er ook met dikke spijkers ingeslagen, waardoor je makkelijk hoofdstukken kunt overslaan: het zal later toch nog eens allemaal verteld worden.

Dus ja, spannend materiaal, maar er kan nog wel een (televisieschrijvende) redacteur over heen.

Hex, Thomas Olde Heuvelt, Luitingh-Sijthoff 2013