Review. Brom, The Child Thief

The Child Thief is a retelling of Peter Pan, originally by J.M. Barrie. In the author’s note, Brom mentions that in the original tale of Peter Pan, Barrie lets Peter thin out the Lost Boys when they’re too much grown up or just don’t fit anymore with the Boys. He thins them out, as in killing them? This little piece of knowledge really taints the vision you have of Peter as the happy and playful Disney character. That morbid side of him was used by Brom in his retelling of the story and frankly, retelling isn’t really apt to use here. This isn’t a mere retelling, but rather a completely new story to me with some of the characters from the original tale. This clearly coming from someone who has yet to read Peter Pan. Shame on me.

Fourteen-year-old Nick would have been murdered by the drug dealers preying on his family had Peter not saved him. Now the irresistibly charismatic wild boy wants Nick to follow him to a secret place of great adventure, where magic is alive and you never grow old. Even though he is wary of Peter’s crazy talk of faeries and monsters, Nick agrees. After all, New York City is no longer safe for him, and what more could he possibly lose?
Accompanying Peter to a gray and ravished island that was once a lush, enchanted paradise, Nick finds himself unwittingly recruited for a war that has raged for centuries—one where he must learn to fight or die among the “Devils,” Peter’s savage tribe of lost and stolen children.
There, Peter’s dark past is revealed: left to wolves as an infant, despised and hunted, Peter moves restlessly between the worlds of faerie and man. The Child Thief is a leader of bloodthirsty children, a brave friend, and a creature driven to do whatever he must to stop the “Flesh-eaters” and save the last, wild magic in this dying land.

The book starts of with Peter taking a girl away from her abusive step-father and leading her to Avalon, a land without grownups. The land, however, is dying and Peter needs his army of Lost Children to drive the evil Flesh Eaters out of Avalon in order to save it. Immediately after the prologue, we get to know Nick. He is a troubled boy who got caught in a drugs-affair and is desperately trying to find his way out of misery. After some struggles, he is another of the children Peter takes with him and soon after, we find ourselves in Avalon.
First off, let me start by saying that I really liked this take on the story of Peter. I thought the plot was really imaginative and instead of rehashing Neverland, you get a refreshing tale in a disturbing world. However, I did feel that the book took quite a long time to get things going. Partly, this is because the book is full of backstory. Don’t get me wrong, I thought the story of how Peter became and how he got in Avalon was really interesting, as was his history with Jenny and Ulfger, but I thought these parts of the book took a bit too long. They dragged a bit and took the pace out of the story as a result. They were necessary to understand what was going on today, but I guess the length of these pieces didn’t sit really well with me.
she’s a bit misty up there
When things finally get going, I was really invested. I thought the whole part in the village of the Flesh Eaters was disturbingly good and The Reverend was just creepy, as were his doings. The ending, however, was a bit unsettling to me. It’s not that I didn’t like it per se, but there was something off about it and I can’t really pinpoint why that is. It’s an ending not many readers will expect to happen I guess, which is a good thing, but at the same time, it’s not really the ending I wanted. Fitting, yes, but for me not completely satisfying. This is a big book and I invested a lot of time in it, and for some reason this ending didn’t make me feel like the time spent was worth my wile.
Whereas I thought the plot was very good, I had a big problem with the characters. See, for me to like a book, I don’t necessarily have to be able to relate to the characters, but there have to be at least one whom I find likeable. It’s really hard for me to read a book where I don’t find any character likeable. It’s like hanging out with people you can’t stand. This was my experience here, I didn’t like any character, at all. I had hoped to like at least Peter but he turned out to be the worst of all. I knew beforehand that I shouldn’t expect the sweet Disney Peter, but this one is just a douchebag, and a cruel one at that. Peter is a sociopath who doesn’t really care that his Devils get killed and he finds pleasure in murdering people. Really, the very last lines of this book make it perfectly clear that Peter is severely troubled, messed up and whatnot, and that makes him so hard to like.
all a bit wicked or just plain evil
The Lost Children aren’t as bad, but I felt like I never really got to know them. Those who I did like a bit died halfway through the book. Are you kidding me? Nick also fits in the ‘meh’-category. He was okay for quite a big part of the book, but afterwards he just got annoying. The one exception here is Leroy. He’s one to hate with a passion. Near the end, his story gets told, but it didn’t redeem him in my eyes. I kept passionately hoping he would meet his end sooner rather than late. Everyone else living in Avalon is also hard to like. They are colourful and interesting, that’s for sure, but it doesn’t make them likeable. They are all a bit wicked or just plain evil with the exception of The Lady, but she’s a bit misty up there so she’s not much of a help either way. I do want to point out that, even though I didn’t like the characters, that doesn’t mean that I thought they weren’t good. Cause in fact, I thought they were very good in their wicked ways.
The writing, though, is without a doubt good. The story wasn’t fast-paced, but Brom created a deliciously dark atmosphere where these shady characters thrive.

In retrospect, this wasn’t what I was expecting when I picked up the book. Disney’s Peter Pan made me believe that this book would be sweet with a twist, but it is all but sweet. Rather only twisted and the characters didn’t help me overcome my initial shock. It’s just like I mentioned before, I felt like hanging out with people I couldn’t stand and it really affected my reading experience. If there were one or two characters I genuinely liked, I would have liked this book way more as a whole. I count myself lucky that Peter Pan never really was my childhood hero, or this would have been a traumatic experience. Now, it was a shocking retelling that I probably will revisit sometime. Going in prepared and all that.

★ ★ ★


Second star on the right, Neverland. I mean, Avalon?

Also very nice but no gamechanger in terms of how much I liked the plot, were the s.t.u.n.n.i.n.g. drawings by Brom. Drawings is shortselling it, they were gorgeous and eerie, and …

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Friday Face-Off | In The Beginning There Was Nothing, Which Exploded

What better way to start the weekend than with an Epic Battle of Books?! Every friday, different editions of the same book enter the ring *cue Tyra Banks* in the hopes of becoming Friday’s Fancy Front – a.k.a.: the best cover *exit Tyra*
This weekly meme is hosted by Books By Proxy who provides us with awesome themes with an even more awesome title. Talking about awesome, the amount of rain we got over the past week was also beyond awesome. Especially on Monday it just kept on pouring and pouring. It was like the clouds exploded and let it all go. And now we’re on the topic of explosions, this also happens to be this week’s theme.
When I read the theme, I instantly knew which cover to pick, since it is a recent buy for me and it was actually kind of a coverbuy. Behold, China Miéville’s Three Moments Of An Explosion.

 

When you go out looking for this book, the first two covers will be the ones that you see the most, I guess. With the left one being the UK paperback and the right one the US hardback edition. The ones below are the limited hardback and the US paperback.
I am going out there and just say that it’s all about the very first cover for me. I am in L.O.V.E. with Miéville’s UK covers – Pan Macmillan does such an outstanding job on every single one of his books, I mean, look at it. When you see all his books lined up, the spines have beautiful vibrant colours, the same coverstyle on every book with the dividing line. Just sublime.
The hardback on the right, however, I don’t know what that is?! It’s beyond ugly. The two other editions are pretty meh, with the first one trying too hard and the second one a nice but bland try in comparison to the upper left cover.
That being said, I think I should give his books a try one day soon. Cause even though I own about seven of his books, I haven’t read a single one of them. They do look stunning on the shelves, though, so that’s at least something.

So tell me, which cover do you prefer?

Top 5 Wednesday | Book Jams

Every Wednesday, people from all over the bookish world gather ’round to share their top 5 lists concerning whatever theme that week. All under the watchful eye of the Mother of all Top5’s, Lainey and hosted by Sam.
There was no Wednesday post for me, cause last week’s theme – characters I defend even though a lot of people bash them – just didn’t work out for me. This week, however, I’m back swinging and singing with my top five songs that I associate with books. Warm up those vocal cords, cause here we go!

Taylor Swift, Safe & Sound
A bit of an obvious choice, but where I have already seen lots of movie adaptations, this is the one and only time I link the soundtrack with the book. I don’t think ‘DIVERGENT’ when I hear Ellie Goulding, nor do I particularly want to go to Middle Earth whenever Ed Sheeran is setting my heart on fire again. The lyrics and musical composition of Safe & Sound, however, is so fitting for The Hunger Games that I always think of the book and movie. This song also basically turned my inner Swift-fangirl in overdrive.

John Legend, All Of Me
How can I not think about the greatest lovestory I have ever read when I hear this song? While it could fit for a lot of fictional couples, I feel like Henry could be singing this to Clare. Also, when I hear this song – and I mean really hear it, not just another pretty song in the background – I get this feeling inside that compares to how I feel when reading The Time Traveler’s Wife. Like love is truly and completely all.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Time Warp
This song, much like the movie, is completely and utterly cuckoo. The song makes no sense but at the same time is a lot of fun to listen and dance to. Much like this song, any book by Sir Terry Pratchett is completely cuckoo, they don’t always make the most sense but in the end you have a great time reading them. Whenever I hear Time Warp, I feel like this could have been a song that Pratchett came up with as a silly Discworld dance. It would have been epic, I mean, can you imagine the Wizards and Witches time warping?!

Bo Bruce, The Fall
Another feeling-song. While I heard the song two years after reading the book, when I heard The Fall, I couldn’t help but thinking of Assassin’s Quest by Robin Hobb. Both are works of art that evoke a strong emotion in me and while both so beautiful, they are heartbreaking. Also, if there is one season that relates to Hobb, it has to be Fall/Autumn, at least to me. Reading her books – especially this one – fills me with this Indian Summer feeling. There is still gold in the air, the last remnants of beauty and peace but you know that it will all end and be replaced by the cold harshness of Winter.

London Grammar, Wasting My Young Years
I first heard this song in the very first episode of the TV series Reign, while Adelaide Kane was racing her horse along the beautiful rocky shores. I think this was a very powerful moment, where music and scenery combined created something magical. When listening to the song, I wonder if I should have any regrets. At 27, have I wasted my young years and, given another chance at life, would I do things differently. Thinking about my young years, I can’t not think of Harry Potter.
Also, in my mind Mary Queen Of Scots is racing her horse towards Hogwarts rather than Francis.

So there you have it, five songs that I connect with books in some way or another. Do you have any musical connections to books? Tell me in the comments below.


Click here for a complete list of all the participants in T5W.

Review. Brian Ruckley, The Edinburgh Dead

When we talk about how good or bad a certain book is, we mostly talk about plotlines and/or –holes and how the characters were. Not surprising, though, seeing as they are what the book’s about. There is, however, another important aspect to a good story, being the worldbuilding and how the scenery of the story translates into the reader’s mind. The worldbuilding might not put me off a book, but it certainly holds the possibility of taking the book to another level. Most of the books I read take place in a secondary world – own imagination galore – and most of the urban fantasy I read takes place in some random American city and, from my point of view, might as have been just another secondary world. However, when I stumble upon a book that takes place in a city I have visited – and loved, for that matter – the book appeals to me even more. Brian Ruckley’s The Edinburgh Dead falls in the latter category.

Edinburgh: 1828
In the starkly-lit operating theaters of the city, grisly experiments are being carried out on corpses in the name of medical science. But elsewhere, there are those experimenting with more sinister forces. Amongst the crowded, sprawling tenements of the labyrinthine Old Town, a body is found, its neck torn to pieces. Charged with investigating the murder is Adam Quire, Officer of the newly- formed Edinburgh Police. The trail will lead him into the deepest reaches of the city’s criminal underclass, and to the highest echelons of the filthy rich.
Soon Quire will discover that a darkness is crawling through this city of enlightenment – and no one is safe from its corruption.

I’m not big on historical novels, but when it draws upon an interesting part of history it might just do the trick for me, as is the case with this book. The bodysnatching past of Edinburgh is one of those little fragments of history I find quite fascinating and this, combined with an interesting take on zombies, made this book a more than pleasant affair. The first half of the novel is kind of like your average historical mystery novel, with a murder to be solved, the brave policeman trying his utmost best despite the not too willing help from the higher class. Nothing wrong with that, but things get really interesting when the zombies are introduced. Ruckley has an interesting take on the mainstream brainmunchers and made them fit the setting very well. Perhaps zombies is a wrong turn, and is reanimated corpse more adequate.
take on the mainstream brainmunchers
I felt like, from that moment on, when it became apparent what was going on, the story took a turn for the darker. Even though the living dead are present, other magics stay pretty much out of the picture with some notable exceptions. This general lack of magic in society and the referring to it as the arcane, adds a certain mystery and unreachability to it all, which I found to be very pleasing. As far as the development of the plot is concerned, I think Ruckley did a very fine job of bringing things to a close. My only remark concerning the plot would be the chapter about the war. I found this flashback to be unnecessary and it didn’t really contribute anything to the story nor the character of Quire. Well, it did give him some background, but it might have well been added in smaller flashbacks throughout the main story whenever necessary.
Talking about Quire, I found him to be quite a capable main character. He’s no goody two shoes and does flirt with the edge of what’s accepted and expected from him, but it gives him a certain edge. The only thing I’ve missed from him, is a distinctive voice. While reading the book, he did the job as main character, but in the mass of other characters in my head, he’s not one to stick out like other characters from other books do.
the edge of what’s accepted and expected
Whereas Quire is quite the likeable lad, the other characters who take the spotlight for sufficient amount of pages to allow a development of feelings, certainly are anything but likeable. One in particular, Blegg, is downright creepy and he gave the group of adversaries a certain punch they needed to become believable as antagonists.
My overall opinion of this book is very much favourable but not outstanding, and that counts for the writing as well. I thought Brian Ruckley had a very nice way of writing, although it took me some time to pick up the pacing of the novel. For me, it was definitely not a fast read and the writing style did contribute to that. Whether or not that’s a con, is something every reader has to decide for him or herself, but I didn’t really mind. Ruckley has a very nice way of telling the story and in that prospect, it’s rather a pro that I had to take my time to take it all in.

Having been to Edingburgh, the experience there blended nicely with the way Brian Ruckley described Old Town and New Town and heightened the atmosphere. I doubt you’ll get the same vibe from Quire walking the different closes of Old Town and the open lanes of New Town if you haven’t experienced the vast contrast for yourself, but you can always give it a try. And heck, why not do both? Cause Edinburgh as well as The Edinburgh Dead are worth your time. This might not be a book that will stick with you, but if you like a historical novel with a Fantasy twist, you might want to give this a try.

★ ★ ★


Snatch your Scottish zombie here.

Friday Face-Off | Renewed Shall Be The Blade That Was Broken

What better way to start the weekend than with an Epic Battle of Books?! Every friday, different editions of the same book enter the ring *cue Tyra Banks* in the hopes of becoming Friday’s Fancy Front – a.k.a.: the best cover *exit Tyra*
This weekly meme is hosted by Books By Proxy who provides us with awesome themes with an even more awesome title. This week, us Fantast lovers have it easy. A book with ‘blade’ in the title isn’t that hard to find in Fantasyland. I’ll take this chance to showcase a discovery from a few years back which has become a major – and finished – series.

Heirs Of The Blade is the seventh book in the ten-book series Shadows of the Apt by Adrian Tchaikovsky. When the first book was released – in 2009, I think – I was intrigued by the mix of steampunk and insects. While I have not read past the fourth book in the series, those four were kind of brilliant. In a world where people have adopted insect-abilities, different Kinden-species are at war. The best thing about this series, though, is the creativity that’s been put into the characters. I love how the characters display the most dominant traits of the insects – and other creepies – they’re linked to, both in personality as physical traits. Going from sprouting wings like an actual flying insect to the mind-link of a colony of ants. Brilliant!
For once, I have no preference where the cover is concerned. I have the first one and I like the design of it. The second one is the more recent release and although pretty standard and a classic Fantasy cover, I do like how each and every book has a specific dominant cover and a weapon on front.
What about you? Do you have a preference? Have you read this series, cause if not, you should give it a try. They’re doorstoppers, though, so make sure you have some spare time.