Wednesday, June 20, 2007

TITHE: A MODERN FAERIE TALE by Holly Black (Booktalk)

Title: Tithe: A Modern Faerie Tale
Author: Holly Black
ISBN: 0689867042
Publisher: Simon Pulse (2002)

Most little girls grow out of fairy tales by the time they turn 16, Kaye Fierch is about to grow into hers. An ominous attempt on her mother’s life forces them back to New Jersey, her childhood home, and the home of her friends, both real and imaginary. When her imaginary friends visit her one night, she realizes that there is more to her life than meets the eye. Suddenly swept into an ancient conflict between the courts of Faerie by a charming but mercurial elfin knight, she is soon embroiled in events beyond her comprehension. The Unseelie court has marked her as a sacrifice to keep the free faeries in check and under their thumb. All she wants is to go back to her real life. She doesn’t know how close she is. Woe betide the world of man if she survives, for she is the Tithe.

NINE PRINCES IN AMBER by Roger Zelazny (Booktalk)

Title: Nine Princes in Amber
Author: Roger Zelazny
ISBN: 0380014300
Publisher: Avon Books (1970)

Amber: the one true world, of which all other worlds are but shadows. Ruled by a seemingly ageless family with powers beyond imagination, their king has been missing for decades. Next in line for the throne is Corwin, crown prince and rightful heir to the great legacy. There is only one problem, Corwin is missing as well. On Earth, a young man named Carl Corey awakes in a hospital heavily drugged and with no memories. Escaping in search of answers he finds more than he bargained for. For he is Corwin of Amber, exiled to Earth since the Victorian era by his most bitter rival, his own brother Eric, who seeks the throne for himself. Determined to regain his past and his birthright, he sets out across the multi-verse with his only two allies; his half-brothers Random, as changing and unpredictable as his name implies, and the charming Bleys. Unfortunately, Eric has his own allies among the brothers; Julian, the cruel hunter, Caine, calculating and sinister, and Gerard, the strongest man who ever lived. But what of Benedict, the legendary tactician, and the mysterious and insane Brand? Their allegiance could turn the tide for either man. Together they are the Nine Princes in Amber.

NEVERWHERE by Neil Gaiman (Booktalk)

Title: Neverwhere
Author: Neil Gaiman
ISBN: 0380789019
Publisher: Avon Books (1996)

“It starts with doors.” Three years ago Richard Mayhew had thought it the ramblings of a crazy bag lady standing in the rain outside of his farewell party. Doors, indeed, was how it started, but not in a way that anyone could have predicted. The girl had come out of nowhere, bloody and smelling of a life on the streets. Against his better judgment, against the protestations of his fiancée, he had taken her home, patched her wounds and let her sleep. Her name was Door. A few days passed and he had nearly forgotten her, but not as completely as the world had forgotten him. No job awaited him at work, his apartment was rented out from under him, and people’s eyes passed over him without a hint of recognition. London was gone to him, London above that is. His only choice was to follow the mysterious girl into the London below, a London of twisted magic, fallen angels, and fearsome warriors. He would follow Door into the London of Neverwhere.

HELLBOY: SEED OF DESTRUCTION by Mike Mignola and John Byrne (Booktalk)

Title: Hellboy: Seed of Destruction
Author: Mike Mignola and John Byrne
ISBN: 1593070942
Publisher: Dark Horse; 3rd Edition (2004)

The year is 1944. On a small island off the coast of Scotland a desperate Nazi Germany has called upon the powers of the evil Russian sorcerer Rasputin to deliver them a miracle. Meanwhile, a small group of Allied forces gathers outside of a small village in England with the aid of a small contingent of paranormal investigators and psychics led by Trevor Bruttenholm. Calling on dark, inhuman forces, Rasputin produces his miracle, right in the midst of the Allies miles away; a small red-skinned, child with a whip-like tail and a huge hand made of crimson stone: Hellboy. Now, fifty years later, Hellboy has been called by his adoptive father, Trevor Bruttenholm, to warn him of a great danger after returning from a doomed expedition to the arctic. However, the warning goes unspoken. A terrifying creature, a nightmare mixture of frog and man, kills Bruttenholm before he can reveal his dark message. With almost no clues to guide him and what little help his fellow agents of the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense can lend him, Hellboy must seek out the horrors that Dr. Bruttenholm has unwittingly unleashed upon the world. For him, what he discovers could be the key to his origins. For the world, it could be the Seed of Destruction.

ABARAT by Clive Barker (Booktalk)

Author: Clive Barker
ISBN: 0060596376
Publisher: HarperCollins (2002)

In a field in Minnesota stands a crumbling lighthouse. Within its moldering heights lies the key to another world. All you have to do is light the light. Candy Quackenbush thought there was nothing for her in Chickentown besides an alcoholic father and abusive teachers. Little did she know, it also held the means of her escape. Perhaps if she’d known that it would mean following an antlered man with seven heads in a desperate flight from the monstrous and skeletal Mendelson Shape she wouldn’t have wished so hard for a way out. If she’d known that Shape was simply a servant of Christopher Carrion, Lord of Midnight and breather of nightmares she definitely wouldn’t have. However, she didn’t know. She lit the light and called the sea. A sea with a shore in Minnesota; a sea that contains 25 islands, one for each hour, and one for time out of time. The 25 islands of the Abarat.

ANANSI BOYS by Neil Gaiman (Booktalk)

Title: Anansi Boys
Author: Neil Gaiman
ISBN: 006051518x
Publisher: William Morrow (2005)

Long time ago, back before there was time, all the stories was Tiger’s stories. They was cruel stories, teeth and claw stories. Then came Spider, Anansi the Trickster, and took those from Tiger. Now all the stories are Anansi’s stories. Now they all trickster stories, even “Fat Charlie” Nancy’s story.

Fat Charlie discovers that his father has died while trying to invite him to his wedding. To Fat Charlie, this is the last in a long list of embarrassments starting with his nickname. Worse still, the four little old ladies attending the funeral with him in Florida later that week try to convince him that his father was Anansi the trickster god and that he has a brother he can’t remember. They also tell him how he can find his brother, if he wants to. That’s just what he does when he returns to his home in London, little knowing the trouble he’s about to stir up.

As normal as Fat Charlie is, Spider is not. Selfish and wild, he turns Charlie’s life upside down. Using magic, he takes Charlie’s fiancée, his job and involves him in a dangerous police investigation, all with a charming smile and a devil-may-care attitude. What can Fat Charlie do against a brother who seems to be the only on to have taken after his father’s side of the family? The answer lies in the sharp beaks of the birds, the ancient hunger of Tiger and a shocking secret about brotherhood. Along the way, Fat Charlie finds out he may just have some magic of his own.

I started out by saying that all stories is Anansi’s stories. But if you Anansi’s son you may just have one story your own. Read Fat Charlie’s story in Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman.

Saturday, January 6, 2007

I AM THE MESSENGER by Markus Zusak

Title: I Am the Messenger
Author: Markus Zusak
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers (2005)

19 year old Australian cabbie Ed Kennedy leads no charmed life. His father died of alcohol poisoning, his mother continually criticizes him in the harshest way, he lives alone with his aging and malodorous dog, Doorman, and to top it all off, the woman he loves (his best friend, coincidentally) does not share his romantic feelings. When he accidentally foils a botched bank robbery and gains a moment of minor celebrity, a mysterious person begins sending him playing card Aces with unusual clues written on them. With a bit of ingenuity and some luck he deciphers the clues to discover that they lead to people in need of help. The first three cards send him to such disparate situations as a wife who is raped nightly by her abusive husband, a young woman who runs barefoot every pre-dawn morning, and a lonely old woman who desperately misses her dead spouse. Later clues lead him to even more diverse circumstances such as a destitute family in need of Christmas cheer, and a languishing church suffering from a lack of attendance. Some clues lead him into serious danger; others lead to tea in comfortable sitting rooms. The final Ace leads him to his three closest friends where he faces the personal pain of those he loves. The ending is purposefully ambiguous and ultimately leaves the reader in the position to decide the significance, or lack thereof, in the messages that Ed delivers throughout the story. The voice of the narrator was realistic, strongly written, and filled with personality. The rest of the characters were written with similar skill and help to create a living world in which the story unfolds. Zusak is able to mix humor and tension to create an engaging atmosphere of mystery that doesn’t suffer from the heaviness that could have arisen from many of the themes expressed in the novel. The result is a compelling look at the power of the individual to act as a force for change in the world; an important and powerful message for modern youth. Some coarse language and the delicate nature of some of the themes make the book most appropriate for older teens.