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It’s that time of year again. The daffodils are out, the sun is (occasionally) shining and Carl’s Once Upon a Time challenge is with us again for the eighth (blimey) time, running from 21st March t0 21st June.
This year I’m going to attempt Quest the First, described thusly:
Read at least 5 books that fit somewhere within the Once Upon a Time categories. They might all be fantasy, or folklore, or fairy tales, or mythology…or your five books might be a combination from the four genres.
I looked back at my previous attempts at this challenge and am mildly appalled at the number of books on previous lists that I have come nowhere near to starting (let alone finishing) and have come up with a mixed list of new titles and old selections and one re-read:
- The Boy with the Cuckoo Clock Heart by Mathias Malzieu – “a dark and tender fairytale spliced with devilish humour”
- On Becoming a Fairy Godmother by Sara Maitland – “breathes new life into old legends and brings the magic of myth back into modern women’s lives”
- Voice of our Shadow by Jonathan Carroll – “blending fairy tale, drama, magic realism and occult horror”
- Fairest of All by Serena Valentino – a tale of the wicked queen
- The Broken Sword by Poul Anderson – “Thor has broken the sword Tyrfing so that it cannot strike at the toots of Yggdrasil etc. – elves, trolls, ice-giants, changelings and so on
I also plan to re-read The Songs of Earth and Power by Greg Bear which I remember as hugely impressive and have always wanted to revisit.
Will be great fun.
All as before, this is the fifth volume of the best horror stories as selected by Ellen Datlow for the year 2012; my review of the previous volume is here.
I found this collection a little more difficult to get into than volume 4 (my thoughts on that are here), and really questioned whether some of the stories were actually horror but I may just have a very traditional, some would say old-fashioned) view of the genre.
For me the stories that stuck with me were:
- Frontier Death Song by Laird Barron – a modern twist on the ancient tales of The Hunt
- Magdala Amygdala by Lucy A Snyder – looks like it’s going to be zombies (again) oh, but what’s this?
- Final Exam by Megan Arkenberg – really liked the structure of this one
- Some Pictures in an Album by Gary McMahon – very dark
- The House on Ashley Avenue – nice twist on a haunted house story
So not quite as satisfying as the previous volume but still worth a read.
A contribution to the 2014 Horror Reading Challenge.
The world has been overrun by zombies (again) but at least one of them, known to us only as R because he has no memory of his name or age or anything including how he came to be a zombie, is not quite what he seems. And one day when hunting he sees Julie, a live human, and instead of eating her he decides to save her, triggering a whole set of events that could change the world.
Why did I want to read this?
Warm Bodies received a strong recommendation from Silvery Dude who apparently read it in one sitting and is hardly ever wrong when it comes to suggesting things that I might enjoy. Plus I’m coming around to the whole zombie thing (though so far nothing touches World War Z which I loved).
What did I think?
A different take on the whole zombie thing. Yes, in some ways its the same old same old (Zombie plague overrunning the world? Breakdown of civilisation as we know it? Rise of the military?) but it’s interesting to see it from the non-human side for a change, what it might feel like to be a zombie, all that jazz.
I liked R and his friend M and of course the lovely Julie very much, the love story was sweet and convincing but at one point I became so anxious about their situation and how it was going to work out for them that I had to stop reading for a bit. I don’t think I have ever wanted a happy ending quite so much. Very enjoyable indeed.
Now for the movie.