Dunc reads: Mini-reviews for May

May reads (presented by Chadthulhu)

Vampires, Zombies and… Well, I can’t give away the last one without spoiling the book, but let’s just say it fits. Naturally Chadthulhu had to make an appearance.

Sunshine by Robin McKinley
Sunshine by Robin McKinley      McKinley is an author I’ve had occasional run-ins with (Deerskin, Spindle’s End and, yes, The Blue Sword/The Hero and the Crown) for years, but never to the point of being a regular reader… This might just be the book that changes all that. Sunshine, dare I say, a fairly low-key vampire novel, particularly for one that begins with an abduction and ends with… Well, that would be telling.
      The supernatural elements, the setting (not quite post-apocalyptic, but close,) even the heroine are all finely drawn: It all feels amazingly real. Rae is no shirking violet, but she’s no action hero, either. She’s tough, but it’s a quiet tough.
      The whole vampire thing is getting tired, and has been since long before Twilight, but this is one book worth giving a chance. Highly recommended. [Amazon / B&N / Powells]

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith
      There’s not really a whole lot I can say about this book, because it is exactly what it purports to be: Pride and Prejudice with parts rewritten to include zombies and zombie slaying. (Ahh, the beauty of public domain.) Amusing enough, but the concept does get old rather fast, and I can’t help but think it might have been much more entertaining in serialized (blog?) form.
      Cudos to Grahame-Smith and company for making a go of it: It’ll certainly make an entertaining movie, if we all aren’t sick of zombies by then. [Amazon / B&N / Powells]

The Queen’s Bastard by C.E. Murphy
The Queen's Bastard by C.E. Murphy      After I started this one, I took a quick look at the Goodreads reviews – probably a mistake, as there were two things that caught my eye. One, people either loved it or absolutely hated it, and two, a review that described it as a combination of Robin Hobb’s Farseer trilogy and Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel series, both of which I enjoyed quite a bit.
      That was in my mind as I read, and I’m not sure the comparisons are quite fair to the book. The resemblances are there, but superficially – the illegitimate child of royalty trained to assassination in the first case, and a pseudo-Europe (and sex) in the second. But both Hobb and Carey are far better writers than Murphy, and Carey’s Europe in particular is far more artfully drawn. (For instance, Murphy’s England is ‘Aulun’ and her France is ‘Gallin’, but Brittany is still… Brittany? Not to mention that the names seemed almost entirely random, which got a bit confusing until I pegged them down.)
      Nit-picking aside, I did enjoy it. The heroine, Belinda, is not the most likable character in the world (one of the few things she shares with Hobb’s Fitz) but she’s interesting enough.
      The one thing that really threw me into a moment of ‘Seriously? Seriously?!?’ doesn’t come until nearly the end, and it’s a bit of a doozy. I won’t spoil here, but I’ll probably have to next time, as it didn’t turn me off enough to avoid picking up the sequel. In any case, you could do worse for a quick read. [Amazon / B&N / Powells]

2 Replies to “Dunc reads: Mini-reviews for May”

  1. I came to the same conclusion about “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.” It got old after the first 100 pages. But it was still an entertaining read, for what it was worth. The dialogue did make me laugh frequently.

  2. I read “Sunshine” when I saw that you were going to read it, and I couldn’t put it down after the first hundred pages or so. It was a good read. Still, it felt oddly open-ended. It left a lot of questions unanswered. Maybe that was the idea, but I felt somewhat unsatisfied when it was over. Really interesting world, though.

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