Cannonball Read IV

A bunch of Pajibans reading and reviewing and honoring AlabamaPink.

Archive for the tag “#goth”

ElCicco #CBR4 Review#47: Hopeless, Maine by Tom and Nimue Brown

I’m reviewing yet another web comic! Last time it was the outstanding Darths and Droids. This time, it’s a series called Hopeless Maine. Book 1 “Personal Demons” is available in hardback book form. Book 2 “Inheritance” is available on the web site. My husband brought “Personal Demons” home from the comic book store and I was drawn to it by the art. Like the story, it is sort of dark/gothic. The authors describe their style as gothic/steampunk.

The story takes place on an island, Hopeless Maine, that is isolated from contact with outsiders. For reasons unexplained, many children on the island are orphans and end up cared for by a local minister and his wife. The main character, Salamandra, is an orphan who seems to possess some sort of magical power. It is unclear what has happened to her parents, but she seems glad to be rid of them. At the orphanage, she has a hard time fitting in with the other kids except for another girl who is either an imaginary friend or malevolent spirit, and Owen, the son of the minister who runs the orphanage. Salamandra has also befriended a crow and has contact with others on the island who also possess special powers.

In vol. 2, Owen’s mother dies and he wants desperately to leave the island. Sal finds out she has a living grandfather who lives in the lighthouse that is never needed because ships never pass by. Owen and Sal’s grandfather make a plan to leave, while Sal assists them and stays behind at the lighthouse. Will they return? Will Sal’s powers develop? And why are there so many deaths on the island? And why is it so hard to leave?

Some of the art details are lovely — there is an art nouveau feel to it and the magical creatures are unique. The human characters are less distinguishable from one another, which makes it a little confusing sometimes to follow the story. They look a little like goth Precious Moments.

The storyline is intriguing and I look forward to following the mystery as it unravels. Hopeless Maine is safe reading for kids, unless you are weirded out by the occult, in which case you probably don’t allow Harry Potter in the house either.

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meilufay’s #CBR4 review #39 Working for the Devil (Dante Valentine #1) by Lilith Saintcrow

Even though the Dante Valentine series has gotten pretty decent reviews on Goodreads (particularly from geek goddess Felicia Day), I avoided reading the series for a really long time.  Mainly because, between the author’s pseudonym and the cover art and description, the book seemed like it would be a little goth.  Now, there’s nothing wrong with goth, there are plenty of goth or goth adjacent things that I love (Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series, Storm Constantine’s Wraeththu books and, um, I can’t think of a third thing off the top of my head… the first couple of Anne Rice vampire novels maybe?) but I personally don’t find goth tropes engaging unless they’re attached to a really compelling narrative.  However, in a fit of Kindle based impulsivity, I downloaded a bundle of five Dante Valentine novels so the die was cast.

As I expected, Dante is a pretty goth character.  She’s a Necromance (a raiser of the dead), her naturally blonde hair is dyed black and she’s got a tattoo on her cheek (apparently, there’s a law that Necromances have to do these last two things so they can be identified by the public).  She (sort of) worships Anubis.  And, because this is an urban paranormal mystery, she’s also kick-ass; she supplements her Necromance income by working as a bounty hunter and wields a katana in the line of duty.  The good news is, Lilith Saintcrow does a good job with her world and with her main character so even though I’m slightly making fun of all these tropes, I think she pretty much pulls the whole thing off.

In the opening scene of the book a (hot) demon, Japhrimel shows up at Dante’s front door and brings her to a meeting with Lucifer in Hell.  The Dark Prince has a job for Dante, one she can’t turn down.  He wants her to hunt down and kill a renegade demon, Santino.  Lucifer thinks Dante might be particularly well suited for this job because Santino brutally tortured and murdered Dante’s best friend Doreen and nearly killed Dante as well.  To a certain extent all genre novels use their plot devices for metaphors; Dante Valentine is a troubled woman who is literally and figuratively forced by events in the novel to confront her demons.  A friend of mine used to say that the job of a writer was to strand her main character in a tree and then throw rocks at him/her.  Dante Valentine may want to invest in a shield because sh*t is about to get real.  In order to track down Santino, Dante is forced to work with her former lover and partner, Jace Monroe, the man who broke her heart.  Of course, a sexy love triangle (Dante/Japhrimel/Jace) ensues.  Where this story diverges from the run of the mill is that it’s not a simple manhunt.  In her pursuit of Santino, Dante uncovers truths about her past and the world around her that she’d rather not know and is changed forever.  It’s not a spoiler to reveal that the day is (more or less) saved by the end (because that’s how all books in this particular sub-genre end) but what is refreshing and interesting is that solving one problem just creates a new set of problems for Dante.  Actually, that’s not actually fresh for an urban paranormal mystery either, is it?  Since these books tend to come in series, there’s always something at the end that leads you into the adventures of the next book.  So perhaps I should say that I was really taken by the weight of the ending and engaged enough to want to know what it all means for Dante in book two.  Lilith Saintcrow has the courage to treat her heroine mercilessly and I found that very  interesting.

I’m not going to lie, I didn’t love this book as much as some other people did.  But I did like it and I think that if you enjoy this genre, you will too.

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