Holly Black – The Coldest Girl in Coldtown

And slowly my faith in YA fantasy is restored. I had known about Holly Black for years but never did start her Tithe series. Then I saw a post about The Darkest Part of the Forest which ticked off all sorts of boxes. But I couldn’t wait to try out this author – throw in a handful of great reviews of her vampire novel (yes, I picked up a vampire novel!) and here we are.

coldest girl in coldtownTHE COLDEST GIRL IN COLDTOWN
by Holly Black

Published by: Little Brown, 2013
Ebook: 306 pages
My rating: 7/10

First sentence: Tana woke lying in a bathtub.

Tana lives in a world where walled cities called Coldtowns exist. In them, quarantined monsters and humans mingle in a decadently bloody mix of predator and prey. The only problem is, once you pass through Coldtown’s gates, you can never leave.
One morning, after a perfectly ordinary party, Tana wakes up surrounded by corpses. The only other survivors of this massacre are her exasperatingly endearing ex-boyfriend, infected and on the edge, and a mysterious boy burdened with a terrible secret. Shaken and determined, Tana enters a race against the clock to save the three of them the only way she knows how: by going straight to the wicked, opulent heart of Coldtown itself.


I think it’s safe to say the world is over vampire romances. Which does not mean that when a good one comes along, we won’t enjoy it. Holly Black has taken the vampire myth and put it firmly into the modern world. People in this world know that there are vampires and, in order to keep them from spreading all over the place, have created Coldtowns. But like any other town, big or small, these Coldtowns don’t just exist within their own closed-off culture, they share something with the rest of humanity that many novels still like to forget or ignore: the fucking internet!

The story begins with Tana waking up in a bathtub after a long (and apparently wild) party. A few minutes and one walk through the house later, she realises everybody is dead. Everybody, that is, except her newly infected ex-boyfriend and a vampire in chains. Being a decent person, Tana rescues both of them from the group of vampires responsible for the bloodbath. Being in danger of infection herself, the only place of safety – hers and that of her family – is the nearest Coldtown. So that’s where they go. On the way, they pick up two bloggers desperate to be turned into vampires – it’s a regular Coldtown party.

In Coldtown, things are very different from what I expected. It becomes clear early on that the place is full of both vampires and humans, some of them out for eternal life, others just to report the news from the inside. Bloggers, Vloggers, Reality TV vampire hunters – you name it, Coldtown’s go it. The amount of social media, camera coverage, celebrity status and murder-on-tv is both disconcerting and realistic. That’s what the world is like, after all. You see a picture of someone saving someone else from drowning and wonder why the person taking the picture didn’t drop the camera to help. Coldtown is like that.

Holly Black doesn’t ride on the vampire myth for long, expecting some basic knowledge from her readers. Drinking blood is terrifying and sexy and messy and a necessity of un-life. We know that. But there is one scene – my favorite in the entire book – that encompasses all of these aspects with utter perfection. All I’ll tell you is that it involves a kiss.

Gazing at her for a long moment with something like horror, as though he was seeing her for the first time, he spoke.
“You are more dangerous than daybreak.”

As my readers know, what I care most about in any given book is the characters. Tana made a great protagonist, in that she is a decent human being who doesn’t let friends die to save her own ass. She has almost lost her life and did lose a parent because of the infection but there is no denying the positive aspects of eternal life. Tana’s awareness and her constant questioning of her own feelings and wishes was refreshing to read. She doesn’t blindly run into the new life as a vampire, she tries to remain human. Because she knows that she doesn’t know just what being a vampire entails. I was particularly impressed with the description of her relationship with ex-boyfriend Aidan. Boy, oh boy, I used to know someone just like that – which made the description all the more vivid and believable. But Aidan (unlike that person I knew) has redeeming qualities that make him an acceptable sidekick. In fact, he is almost annoyingly sweet when he wants to be.

Mysterious and sexy, Gavriel is the picture-perfect romantic interest. I didn’t really see any sparks flying until Tana took the initiative (which was awesome), and generally felt we didn’t see enough interaction between Gavriel and Tana to explain their feelings. In the end, very deep feelings seem to already be there. Yes, there is an explanation for their attraction to each other, but love? Nah. But a little suspension of disbelief is necessary for most romantic fantasies I’ve read. Maybe I’m just cold-hearted… Gavriel’s past, however, was highly interesting and the chapters recounting it among my favorites in the entire book. He walks the edge between cunning and insanity and because of that, turned out not to be the stereotypical romantic hero. I loved his unpredictability, the mystery surrounding him and the slow unravelling of his past.

coltown quote

What didn’t sit well with me was how small Coldtown felt. We are told several times that politics within Coldtown are complex, how large it’s grown, how many diverse people and creatures populate it. But the plot sticks with only a handful of settings, remaining much more small scale than I had hoped. Blog coverage is instant so anything that happens to Tana in the vicinity of cameras gets out to the wider world immediately. But being told “You’re famous now” and actually seeing the results of that fame are two things that make a lot of difference. I would have liked more showing, less telling when it came to certain aspects of Coldtown. And I would have loved if one of the settings wasn’t the most famous vampire’s villa. You know, just to mess with readers’ expectations.

The novel touches upon many topics that invite you to think for yourself and for that I applaud it. Eternal life, insta-romance, fame and surveillance, sacrifice and love, it’s all in there. But a little more depth wouldn’t have hurt. Add a couple of hundered pages and you’ve got an excellent book whose merit even YA-haters can’t deny. The ending was surprisingly quiet and, at first, a little disappointing. But the more I think about it, the more I see its perfection, its inevitability. There is beauty in how this story ends. Holly Black doesn’t outright tell us what Tana’s future will be like but for my part at least, I felt an overwhelming rush of hope.

MY RATING: 7/10 – Very good


Terry Pratchett – Carpe Jugulum

Apparently, I now suffer severe mood swings when I don’t read enough Terry Pratchett. So it was about time I picked up the last unread novel about the Lancre witches and spent a few evenings giggling merrily away with a Pratchett book. Now that the fifth Tiffany Aching book has been anounced (SO MUCH HAPPINESS!) I don’t even have to feel bad about not having any more witches books to read.

carpe jugulumCARPE JUGULUM
by Terry Pratchett

Published by:  Corgi, 1998
Paperback: 416 pages
Series: Discworld #23
My rating: 7/10

First sentence: Through the shredded black clouds a fire moved like a dying star, falling back to earth – the earth, that is, of the Discworld – but unlike any star had ever done before, it sometimes managed to steer its fall, sometimes rising, sometimes twisting, but inevitably heading down.

Mightily Oats has not picked a good time to be priest. He thought he was there for a simple little religious ceremony. Now he’s caught up in a war between vampires and witches, and he’s not sure there is a right side. There’s the witches — Agnes, Magrat, Nanny Ogg, and the formidable Granny Weatherwax… And the vampires: the stakes are high but they’re intelligent — not easily got rid of with a garlic enema or going to the window and saying “I don’t know about you, but isn’t it a bit stuffy in here?” They’ve got style and fancy waistcoats. They’re out of the casket and want a bite of the future.

There’s something to be said for vampires that don’t glitter. Who would have ever suspected that this will be among the criteria by which I judge my vampire fiction? But unsurprising, Terry Pratchett’s vampires don’t only arrive in Lancre with a distinct lack of glitter, they also don’t mind garlic, holy water, and daylight. It’s quite a challenge for the four witches currently residing in the Ramtops, especially with Granny disappeared…

I love the Lancre witches. On many occasions have I said that I hope to become a Granny Weatherwax or a Nanny Ogg when I’m old (I realise they are vastly different people and I suspect I am more of a Nanny but I’ll take what I can get). With Granny gone for a large part of the book, Sir Terry had his hooks firmly set into me. After all, a Lancre without a Weatherwax is just not right. In her stead, the Quite Reverend Mightily Oats has arrived and brings with him a lot of discussion about religion, belief, and all things holy. With everything Terry Pratchett writes, there are wonderful bits of wisdom in everything Granny says. The nature of good and evil is no exception.

There’s no grays, only white that’s gone grubby. I’m surprised you don’t know that. And sin, young man, is when you treat people as things. Including yourself. That’s what sin is.

This book also marks the first appearance of the Nac Mac Feegle, that race of pictsies so prominent in the Tiffany Aching books. King Verence, after having his mind muddled up by vampires, pays a visit to the local kelda and we get our first taste of the crazy, brawling and drinking Feegles. In addition to that, Count Magpyr has brought his very modern vampire family to settle down in Lancre. Magrat is dealing with her newborn, Agnes still struggles with her split personality, and Hodgesaaargh is hunting a phoenix…

If you think that’s a bit much then I agree. Even with prior Discworld knowledge, there were too many characters and too many side-plots going on in Carpe Jugulum. There’s a reason why the Lancre witches always try to remain a trio. Hopping back and forth between the vampires’ point of view, one of the witches, Mightily Oats, and the vampires’ servant Igor, it all got a bit chaotic. Following the plot is no problem when you know who everybody is, but every time I settled into one plot string comfortably, I was ripped out for a quick visit to another character. These chapter-like breaks (as you know, Discworld novels don’t have chapters) came too often and too quickly.

carpe jugulum french

Normally, the witches books leave me an emotional wreck. The lack of structure and frequent POV hopping prevented this from happening here. Sure, Granny Weatherwax standing on the edge and being gone for most of the beginning of the book was tough. She is such an essential part of Lancre – and Discworld, really – that her absence was all the more painful.

One thing you will always get, however, is humor. Pratchett’s vampires are dangerous and scary, but they also have their quirks. Agnes and Perdita’s interactions, as well as Nanny Ogg just being Nanny Ogg make for more than enough scenes to make you laugh. The stuff that old lady carries around in her stockings leg is astounding.

Why are vampires always so stupid? As if wearing evening dress all day wasn’t a dead givaway, why do they choose to live in old castles which offer so much in the way of ways to defeat a vampire, like easily torn curtains and wall decorations that can readily be twisted into religious symbol? Do they really think that spelling their name backward fools anyone?

I wish there had been more focus in this book, a few characters could even have been cut, and it would have been an excellent read. The way it is, it’s “only” a very good book. Not my favorite Discworld book and probably my least favorite witches novel. Which, all things considered, is not saying very much because the worst book Terry Pratchett can produce is still better than the best many other authors do.

RATING: 7/10  – Very good

divider1The Witches of Lancre:

  1. carpe jugulum frenchEqual Rites
  2. Wyrd Sisters
  3. Witches Abroad
  4. Lords and Ladies
  5. Maskerade
  6. Carpe Jugulum
  7. Tiffany Aching
    1. The Wee Free Men
    2. A Hat Full of Sky
    3. Wintersmith
    4. I Shall Wear Midnight

Review: Gail Carriger – Etiquette & Espionage

Gail Carriger gives the YA genre a try in her new Finishing School series. Despite my misgivings about the later Parasol Protectorate books, I was as excited about this as anyone. Some of my hopes were met and we do get a new lovable cast of characters but we also get a lot of things we’ve already read in her previous books. All things considered, however, this book offers fun on every single page and I’ll happily continue reading this new series.

etiquette and espionageETIQUETTE & ESPIONAGE
by Gail Carriger

Published by: Little, Brown, 2013
ISBN: 031621521X
ebook: 320 pages
Series: Finishing School #1

My rating: 7/10

First sentence: Sophronia intended to pull the dumbwaiter up from the kitchen to outside the front parlor on the ground floor, where Mrs. Barnaclegoose was taking tea.

It’s one thing to learn to curtsy properly. It’s quite another to learn to curtsy and throw a knife at the same time. Welcome to Finishing School.
Sophronia Temminnick at 14 is a great trial more interested in dismantling clocks and climbing trees than proper manners — and the family can only hope that company never sees her atrocious curtsy. Her poor mother, desperate for her daughter to become a proper lady, enrolls the lively tomboy in Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality. But young ladies learn to finish…everything. Certainly, they learn the fine arts of dance, dress, and etiquette, but they also learn to deal out death, diversion, and espionage — in the politest possible ways, of course. Sophronia and her friends are in for a rousing first year’s education.


I love books about schools. Even before Harry Potter, there was something about fictional characters going through the same ordeals I had to, only they get to do it in awesome fantasy worlds and learn magic – or in this case, the fine art of finishing. At Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing School, Sophronia not only learns how to curtsy properly or the language a fan can speak, she is also instructed in obtaining secret information, killing silently, and sneaking about. Personally, I wouldn’t have minded reading more about the actual lessons, but Sophronia manages to teach herself enough sneaking about and investigating to make up for an entire school year.

What I liked about this was that the writing is clearly recognizable as Gail Carriger, yet it has its own distinct voice. It is set in the same world as the Parasol Protectorate, some 20 years earlier, but because we get a new protagonist, an entirely new setting, and a few new steampunk inventions, Etiquette & Espionage has a freshness to it that I’ve been missing in Gail Carriger’s latest books. The only thing that classifies this as young adult fiction is the lack of sex and the protagonists’ age. Other than that, it pretty much feels like coming home into a hilarious universe of werewolves, vampires, high tea, and the art of eyelash fluttering.

etiquette and espionageMy misgivings are few and negligible. I felt a little cheated that the author borrows so heavily from already established ideas and that some others felt almost anachronicstic. In this alternate universe we’ve got to know in the Parasol Protectorate, we are travelling into the past. To find out there were robots everywhere? If people had invented mechanical household servants, then why does nobody in Alexia Tarabotti’s time seem to have them? A useful thing like that wouldn’t just go out of fashion, would it? Like I said, it took me a little out of the flow but it wasn’t a big deal, overall. The mechanicals are handled in such a fun way that I’ll suspend my disbelief a little more.

A wonderful bonus for old fans is that we get to meet two well-known character’s younger selves and that’s all I’m going to say about it. It was a pleasant surprise and said characters grew on me even more than in the Parasol Protectorate. As characters go, Sophronia was a likable, flawed heroine who is far too blunt for her own good, but all the more endearing for it. Her friends – excepting the two mentioned above – felt more like charicatures than real people. Dimity was clearly a rip-off of Carriger’s own Ivy Hisslepenny, with a tendency toward the ridiculous, but her constant fainting fits made for some truly funny scenes. I was also thrilled to find a dark-skinned character who, because Sophronia just isn’t a society lady, is treated just the same as everybody else – at least by her. The issues are not ignored, it’s just that the protagonist doesn’t see any issues with having a friend who’s skin is a different color than her own.

At the center of the plot are several mysteries that Sophronia and her friends are trying to solve. But there are also classes, supernaturals to be dealt with, the usual school girl enmities and rumors floating about the school. Being a lady and an intelligencer at the same time proves to be harder than expected. But for us, who get to read about the insanity that is the Finishing School, it is first and foremost great fun. And I do have to mention that Sophronia is by far the coolest name the author has come up with so far. Frowbritcher, Mrs. Barnaclegoose, and Lord Dingleproops were tough contenders, but Sophronia is still my favorite name.

This may not be a groundbreaking book for Gail Carriger, but it was insane fun to read. Her sense of humor, although we’ve all heard it before, doesn’t fail to amuse and I actually preferred some of the ridiculous lessons Sophronia has to take to Alexia’s investigations. I don’t expect to be blown away by any of Carriger’s books anymore but if I have a couple of spare hours, they are wonderfully silly fun and well worth the read.

THE GOOD: Gail Carriger’s hilarious voice is back. The Finishing School and its classes are wonderful, Sophronia a great protagonist and I loved the “reunion” with characters we’ve previously met as adults.
THE BAD: Some rehashing of old ideas and gimmicks.
BONUS: Bumbersnoot the mechanimal. Oh, and flywaymen.
THE VERDICT: A hilarious and charming story set in a very steampunk-y world. The endearing characters and the sense of humor make up for any problems with the plot I may have had. Rcommended for fans of Gail Carrigers or those completely new to her writing.

MY RATING: 7/10 – Very good

dividerThe Finishing School Series:

  1. Etiquette & Espionagecourtsies and conspiracies
  2. Curtsies & Conspiracies
  3. ?

A word on the covers:
I hated the Parasol Protectorate covers. Not because I disliked the design. The black and white background with a lady in a colorful dress was actually a brilliant idea. It’s just that I personally found the cover model to look neither like Alexia nor in any way pretty.

This time, the designers flipped it around and we get a colorful background with a (very pretty) young lady in black and white. I love the design and the different patterns on the wallpaper. The dresses are wonderful and the scissors/knife are a nice touch that give you a feeling of what you may find inside these books. Well done, Little, Brown!

Richard Matheson – I Am Legend

So, I’ve got a confession. I’m not really warming up to my current N.K. Jemisin read (even after a quarter of the book) so I thought I’d read something short in between to get me back in the mood. And what better than a book about the – probably – last living man on Earth fighting off hordes of vampires every night?

by Richard Matheson

published: Gollancz, 2006 (1954)
ISBN: 0575094168
pages: 160
copy: paperback

my rating: 8/10
goodreads rating: 4.04/5

first sentence: On those cloudy days, Robert Neville was never sure when sunset came, and sometimes they were in the streets before he could get back.

Robert Neville is the last man left alive on Earth…but he is not alone. Every other man, woman and child on the planet has become a vampire. Neville spends his days scavenging for food and supplies, and hunting down the undead in their lairs in the ruins of civilisation. At night, he becomes the hunted and barricades himself in his home, waiting and praying for the dawn.

Here’s some more praise for the SF Masterworks series. While a very slim one, this novel managed to grab my attention on the first page and didn’t let go until I turned the last. There is a particular horror in this tale of a lone man, fighting for survival every day and every night. Robert Neville, while not without flaws, is easy to understand. In a situation like his, being the last man in the world – at least the part of the world that he knows – and dealing with not just the horror of vampires waiting in front of his house ever night, hoping to drink his blood, but also a worse horror: loneliness. For me it was that loneliness that set the tone of the novel.

We follow a man who hasn’t talked to a living creature in months, years even, and whose sole consolation is classical music and – not surprising – alcohol. He goes through the motions, demanded by the situation. Fixing his house where the vampires ripped off wooden bars, putting up new strings of fresh garlic every day, driving out during the day to get food and supplies. While this beginning was certainly the most bleak part of the story, I enjoyed it the most. Richard Matheson has a knack for setting a scene with very few words and Robert Neville’s life was terrible to read. In a good way.

Being the last man on Earth, there are not many characters to speak of. We do get flashbacks to scenes with his wife and neighbor, and he does interact with the creatures around him. If you’ve seen the movie, you know there’s a dog around at one point of the story. This part was particularly heartbreaking for me. Whenever Robert got his hopes up – deciding to take matters into his own hands, learning about this virus or whatever it was that caused the vampire plague – and maybe even developing a vaccine, my hopes went up too.

I won’t say anything about the last third of the book. It did hold a little surprise in store for me (I never did finish that movie so I have no idea if it ends the same way) and the ending, as devastating as it may be, was utterly fitting and left me with a bad feeling in my guts. Again, there are only few pages to this book, but the author manages to get some great themes in. Oppressive loneliness, almost-hopelessness, what defines normality, and what makes you go on when there is no visible reason to even want to?

This won’t be the last story by Richard Matheson for me. As depressing as it was, it was a skillfully told story that utterly fascinated me. Me, who is so focused on characters. I was completely satisfied to stay in Robert Neville’s head for the entirety of this novel and not meet another living soul. A very well written story – even though I would have enjoyed more flashbacks.

THE GOOD: A gripping, terrifying tale of a man entirely alone in this world, fighting a hopeless fight.
THE BAD: More (or longer) flashbacks would have been nice to make the knowledge of Neville’s wife and child being dead even sadder. Yeah, I like to suffer with book characters.
THE VERDICT: This is a great “vampire book” that won’t take up much of your reading time but will give you a couple of thrilling hours. It also makes you appreciate not being alone…

RATING: 8/10 Excellent

Related posts:

Gail Carriger – Timeless

I have to say this right away: I loved how this series started, but every book has been a little less great than its predecessor. As we constantly rehash the same ideas and make the same jokes, I got tired of Alexia (formerly) Tarabotti and her entourage of whimsical friends. But I can’t leave a series like this unfinished (especially if I got this far) and dove nose-first into Timeless to see if, maybe, I just got an overdose of Parasol Protectorate the first time around…

by Gail Carriger

published: Orbit, March 2012
ISBN: 0316127183
pages: 386
copy: paperback
series: The Parasol Protectorate #5

my rating: 5,5/10

first sentence: “I said no such thing,” grumbled Lord Maccon, allowing himself, begrudgingly, to be trussed in a new evening jacket.

Alexia Tarabotti, Lady Maccon, has settled into domestic bliss. Of course, being Alexia, such bliss involves integrating werewolves into London High society, living in a vampire’s second best closet, and coping with a precocious toddler who is prone to turning supernatural willy-nilly. Even Ivy Tunstell’s acting troupe’s latest play, disastrous to say the least, cannot put a damper on Alexia’s enjoyment of her new London lifestyle. Until, that is, she receives a summons from Alexandria that cannot be ignored. With husband, child, and Tunstells in tow, Alexia boards a steamer to cross the Mediterranean. But Egypt may hold more mysteries than even the indomitable Lady Maccon can handle. What does the vampire Queen of the Alexandria Hive really want from her? Why is the God-Breaker Plague suddenly expanding? And how has Ivy Tunstell suddenly become the most popular actress in all the British Empire?

I don’t know what it is exactly but I get the feeling, Gail Carriger (who is super-nice, btw) created a nice little cozy world with her Parasol Protectorate series, but doesn’t seem to want to explore or expand it too much. Which is a shame because I would just love to learn more about airships, octomatons, supernaturals, preternaturals and, especially, metanaturals. The author does come up with one little tidbit of new information in every book, but mostly, the explanations aren’t worth the pages it takes getting there.

Maybe I shouldn’t have started on such a negative note. Dear readers, know that I absolutely adore Alexia Tarabotti and her bluestocking ways. Soulless was a surprise literary crush for me and I devoured the first three books in the series in one go. Gail Carriger has a way with whimsy. Be it Alexia’s shock at the taste of coffee (what a ghastly beverage, really! Why doesn’t the entire world simply drink tea?), the silly hats of Ivy Tunstell, or even the expressions used by the author to describe her heroes and heroines. These books have one thing, above all others, and that is flair. Diving into a Parasol Protectorate novel is switching off the real world for a while in the most pleasant ways.

But. I’ve said it in my opening to this post. While Soulless was a perfect little novel for me, Changeless was already a tiny bit less good, with every sequel being still a tiny bit less good. The first half of Timeless was actually rather tedious to read. It takes almost exactly that half to get interesting, for the plot to pick up. I enjoy Alexia’s antics and Lord Akeldama’s ridiculous nicknames for everybody. But we’ve all seen it before. We’ve been told the same jokes and were supposed to smile about the same silly things (such as Ivy’s hats) for four entire books. And the first chapter or so, I enjoyed being back in that world of vampires, werewolves, and parasols. But, simply stated, then it just got boring.

At the 50% mark, the plot picks up with surprising speed, though, and I was intruigued yet again. I wanted to learn, as much as Alexia, what was going on, and finally get a satisfying answer to questions that have been around for several books in the series. While the payoff wasn’t really that great (again, nothing new to be learned, really), there were some great action scenes and a handful of new, interesting character developments that kept me well entertained. I always enjoy when authors get out of the safe zone and write about gay love.  And while I’m not sure if this particular couple wouldn’t have deserved a more in-depth exploration of their characters and budding love, I enjoyed reading about it.

In conclusion, I highly recommend the first novel in the series, the rest not so much. But I do look forward to Etiquette and Espionage and hope that we’ll get to see a lot more of the charming world this charming author has created.

THE GOOD: This last instalment in the series delivers exactly what you expect. Silliness, tea, airtravel, vampires and werewolves.
THE BAD: Takes a long time to pick up the pace, then we get the same things we got from previous instalments.
THE VERDICT: A fun, light story that you’ll probably want to read if you liked the rest of the series. A lot of potential was left unfulfilled, though.

RATING: 5,5/10 A little better than meh.

The Parasol Protectorate:

  1. Soulless
  2. Changeless
  3. Blameless
  4. Heartless
  5. Timeless

Gail Carriger – Soulless (Manga)

It’s hard to get enough of assertive Alexia Tarabotti. Now that the series is officially over (I’ve yet to read Timeless), I thought I’d venture into a different medium and try something almost completely new to me. Apart from a couple of Sailor Moon books, I haven’t read a single manga in my lifetime. And that was 14 years ago. The experience was surprisingly fun though, and I intend to repeat it very soon.

Soulless (The Manga) by Gail Carriger

published: 2012
by: Yen Press
pages: 224

my rating: 7/10

I’m not going to go into the plot very much here. If you haven’t read Gail Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate novels, go and do so. Now! They’re great fun and mix steampunk, vampires and werewolves and a hint of romance. But above all, they’re funny.

I had a few qualms about the adaptation of this story into a manga. I love comics and graphic novels but I’ve never really warmed to the traditional manga style. Huge eyes, exaggerated features and especially very androgynous, sometimes emaciated-looking male figures. So it was with some doubts that I started reading this one. Most of them were unnecessary as this proved to be just as fun and quick-paced as the novel.

Surprisingly enough, I quite liked the style and though Alexia Tarabotti’s voluptuous curves were spot-on. Even though she is described as a little chubbier in the novel and sported a perfectly tiny waist in the manga. I can live with that and her overflowing cleavage certainly made up for it. In fact, all the ladies in this story were quite fetching and I enjoyed reading (and looking at) them.
My fear about the male characters came true. Over-the-top Lord Akeldama was the perfect candidate for that feminine style, his love for glamour and glitter was obvious even though the manga is only in black and white. Howerver, manly and bulky Lord Maccon – a werewolf – should have been a little less streamlined and more scruffy-looking. The pointy, oh-so-smooth skin just doesn’t do it for me if you want to portray a wild, passionate and, above all, big man.

As far as adapting the story goes, they did a wonderful job. I didn’t miss any key scenes from the novel and the pacing felt very natural. I’m not completely sure the whole preternatural-idea was translated well enough for someone who hasn’t read the novel first. It is made clear from the context but that quick and easy explanation we get in the novel is missing.

Apart from a slightly abrupt ending, I enjoyed this comic version of Soulless a lot and can’t wait for the second one to come out. Lady Alexia might just turn me into a manga-reader. Hail the victorious parasol!

THE GOOD: Fun story, lovely drawings and some surprisingly steamy scenes.
THE BAD: Not my type of men, somewhat hurried ending.
VERDICT: Very readable, even for manga-beginners (such as myself), though I’d suggest reading the novel first.

RATING: 7/10

Gail Carriger – Hearless (The Parasol Protectorate 4)

Wer bis jetzt von der Parasol Protectorate Reihe um Alexia Tarabotti noch nichts gehört hat, sollte lieber nicht weiterlesen. Die Bücher bauen aufeinander auf und dementsprechend verrät jeder Band massive Geheimnisse der Vorgänger. Während Band 1 noch großartig war, hinkten die Bände 2 und 3 schon etwas hinterher, waren aber dennoch unterhaltsam. Band 4 hat mich weniger überzeugt, aber da es das vorletzte Buch der Serie ist, drücke ich ein Auge zu.

Deutscher Titel: Feurige Schatten
Erschienen: 2011 (2012)
Seiten: 400 (416)
Übersetzt von: Anita Nirschl
Erschienen bei: Orbit (Blanvalet)

Meine Bewertung: 5,5/10

Erster Satz: “Five months! Five months you – dare I say –  gentlemen have been sitting on this little scheme of yours and only now you decide to inform me of it!”

Lady Alexia Maccon, hochschwanger und stolze Sonnenschirm-Besitzerin, steht vor einer schwierigen Entscheidung. Nicht nur trachten ihr weiterhin die Vampire fast täglich nach dem Leben, jetzt soll sie auch noch ihr ungeborenes Kind zur Adoption freigeben – um den übernatürlichen Frieden zu wahren.
Als ob das nicht genug wäre, spricht ein verwirrter Geist von einer Drohung auf des Leben der Königin! Bei ihren Nachforschungen entdeckt Alexia alles mögliche, nur nicht wer die Königin töten will…

Die schwangere Alexia ist eindeutig ihre eigenes Buch wert. Wie Gail Carriger den Watschelgang und das gefährliche Gleichgewicht von Alexia beschreibt, war immer wieder köstlich zu lesen. Ebenso Alexias noch größere Lust auf Essen, wann immer sie es sieht – ich sag nur Treacle Tarts! Gail Carrigers Stil ist – wie gewohnt – fantastisch. Man kann herzhaft lachen, über Lord Akeldamas neuestes Outfit schmunzeln und sich tatsächlich über Ivy wundern, die nicht ganz so hohl zu sein scheint wie bisher angenommen. Das alles ist in Band 4 der Parasol Protectorate Reihe aber längst nicht mehr neu. Wir amüsieren uns seit 4 Büchern über dieselben, wiederkehreden Ticks der Charaktere. Sicher, mir haben sie auch diesmal gefallen, aber irgendwann wird es doch öde, immer nur Altes wiederzukäuen. Also bitte mehr Originalität im nächsten Band, Miss Carriger.

Was mir in diesem Band, verglichen mit den Vorgängern und vor allem Soulless, gefehlt hat, war der rote Faden. Die Geschichte beginnt mit dem Hinweis auf einen geplanten Mord. Noch dazu an der Königin. Alexia stellt auch brav Nachforschungen an, aber die Erzählung verliert sich für mich zu sehr in Nebenhandlungen. Es dauert sehr lange bis endlich die Haupthandlung anfängt. Oder besser gesagt aufgenommen wird. Dann aber richtig. Und obwohl auch Alexias Eskapaden auf dem Weg zur Lösung toll zu lesen sind, wurde ich doch oft ungeduldig.

Dafür lässt das Ende meine Hoffnung auf Band 5 wachsen, denn da tritt ein ganz neues Rätsel in Form eines Mädchens auf…

PRO: Frecher Stil, tolle Dialoge und köstliche Charaktere, die oft auch nach mehreren Büchern noch Überraschungen bereit halten.
CON: Wenn man erst mal an diesem Buch angekommen ist, hat man auch die drei davor gelesen und könnte der mangelnden Originalität genauso müde werden wie ich.
FAZIT: Wenn man Alexia Tarabotti mag, kann man hier wenig falsch machen.


Ich empfehle übrigens für alle Ungeduldigen das extrem lustige Dress-Up Alexia Spiel von Orbitbooks. Hier kann man die Lady Maccon nach Herzenslust in viktorianische Kleider und Hüte stecken und sie mit Sonneschirm und Tee schmücken.