Monday, March 29, 2010

It's Maple Sugar Time Again! ...

... Yes, it is. I spent the weekend eagerly tasting and buying up maple syrup. Yummers. I love this half state where Spring and Winter fight for recognition. Sigh.

Anyways, so on this wild weekend, we have a few reviews:
(For once, I was not driving, so I read the whole way)
and and and begun:

So, for this week: I will start with Clive Barker.
Tomorrow I will tackle The Christina Dodd.
Wednesday I will do two of the projected 6 of the Richelle Meads.
And then Thursday, before I leave for Easter Weekend - I will finish off with the Sheri Holman.

Thanks and Enjoy!

Clive Barker has been one of my favourite authors since "Weaveworld". And "Hellraiser". Love his twisted views of the world - mostly because, though he can cause revulsion to roll through my stomach, after I read it and digest it all, it actually makes sense in a profound way. And that, if nothing else, is why I can go through all the gross things to get to the meat of it.

And what meat it is.

Here is the synopsis from Amazon:
This offbeat novel in the form of a minor demon's diary may satisfy devoted Barker fans eager for his return to adult fiction after several years writing the Abarat series, but others, especially first-time readers, are likely to find this fable about good and evil less than rewarding. Jakabok Botch, the child of two demons who has inherited his father's two tails, is rendered even more grotesque after he tumbles into a fire and most of his face is badly burned. A violent dispute with his abusive father, Pappy Gatmuss, leads to the pair being trapped by a net from our world. Jakabok manages to elude capture and eventually finds his way to the home of Johannes Gutenberg, whose wife turns out to be an angel in disguise. The book's format—simultaneously Botch's first-person narrative and his break-the-fourth-wall address to the reader pleading for him or her to burn the book—may puzzle readers unused to Barker's quirks.
And for those who like them, here is the trailer on Youtube:

This book begins by breaking down the fourth wall with a sledgehammer (more on this when I review "The Dress Lodger" on Thursday, a good comparison can be made between Barker's smashing of the fourth wall and Holman's flirting with it). It begins with a request that soon becomes a command:
Burn this Book!

And it continues from there as the Reader delves into the stream of consciousness, sometimes erratic and broken "story" of Jakabok Botch - Mr. B. As mentioned in the synopsis, Mr. B is a minor demon of the Ninth Circle, cruelly treated from birth by his horrible demon father and much abused demon mother. Though each of these characters evokes a strange kind of sympathy from the Reader, it is wasted on such remorseless creatures. They have been taught their whole lives that Hell is all there is, and it is only through Pappy's fear of the Above (when he and Mr. B get snatched in a human demon-trap) where you realize that there is much more to these terrible creatures then just the viles espoused in Judeo-Christian Literature.

To escape his mad existence in Hell, Mr. B writes the nasty most vilest things he can think of on papers and hides them from his parents. Of course this cannot remain the same and so his Father one day finds them and then they are burned - and unfortunately, Mr. B gets stuck in the middle of this, his face burning in the process when he passes out into the bonfire. This serves as the catalyst for him to escape his house, and actually, the entire ninth circle, being trapped in a net (with raw steak as bait) after his father chases him. His father and him are reeled out of Hell, but just as they are about to crest the earth, Mr. B cuts his father lose, watching as he falls from the boundary of the world through the circles of Hell all the way down. We presume he is dead, and so does Mr. B. And with him also goes the end of the systematic abuse and visciousness of the domestic abuse and his old life.

Mr. B himself recognizes this even as he encounters those who reeled him up. Of course they're crazy. Religious crazy. Within the span of a day, Mr. B "falls in love", kills his love, kills a lot more people, sends a mob after himself into the forest and ends up meeting Quintoon - a demon masking as a human, with the power of Hell that he unleashes to kill his enemies whenever he sees fit (usually be setting them on fire).

Quintoon and Mr. B (The nickname Mr. B was Quintoon's invention) begin a century of living together, wandering around Judeo-Christian Europe to wreak havoc on people and generally, look for "inventions" that will change the world. Their relationship is a very interesting one:
Mr. B seems repelled and attracted to Quintoon in a sexual way, though throughout their association, he juggles with this, first beating a path towards Quintoon and then retreating quickly from formal ties.

Their relationship finally comes to a head when Quintoon entreats Mr. B to travel with him to Mainz to check out a new invention, sure to revolutionize the world. On their way, under a sweltering sun, the two get into a fight and Quintoon attempts to kill Mr. B (instead he ends up killing off a few crops and humans). Afraid and fed up, Mr. B begins walking away - from Mainz and Quintoon, and the deeper relationship the two share. And then he turns back, unable to separate himself from this surrogate family member he made in Quintoon.

Through luck and interrogating citizens of Mainz, he finds where Quintoon has gone (to Gutenburg) and there he finds agents of both heaven and hell fighting to the death. Enter a long dialogue of good vs. evil - and how the two are so related so as not to be distinguishable - especially not when they each want their own way.

This book is raw. That would probably be the best way to describe it - it is a thought provoking piece, but it is raw. It cuts deep into what people think of the dichotomies we take for granted - that heaven is good, hell is bad, that demons are senseless mechanisms of destruction and angels are heavenly sent saviours. This exploration leads the Reader to reflect on the deeper meanings behind this, and the source of such beliefs. It also scares the crap out of you when you read it at night ...

I would recommend this book for seasoned Horror readers. Trust me - if all you've read is Jodi Picoult and Dan Brown, do not read this one yet. Spice it up with a few Stephen Kings, some Bentley Littles and Scott Wellington, and then read a bit of Revelations. Then come back and open this.

I liked it and recommend it, but with caution.
Favourite quotes will follow!

Cherrio! :)

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