BOOK & BLOG
December 31, 2010
Books of the Week:
The weakest point of the movie “Thirty Days of Night” was its casting, but the way it looked was spectacular. I had high hopes of the graphic novel on which the movie is based (and the movie is more or less faithful to its source). I bought a set of three, though the movie is based solely on the first one. Steve Niles is the story writer, Ben Templesmith the artist. Templesmith is without a doubt a great talent, and his often blurred pictures are amazing; but I find I am really literal minded when it comes to art, and I occasionally had a hard time interpreting what I was seeing. I’m sure this was my failing. I enjoyed the writing very much, because I think the premise is brilliant: a group of vampires realize that Barrow, Alaska, is completely dark thirty days of the year, giving them license to hunt all the inhabitants during that time. For them, it’s like a package holiday, the equivalent of a cruise. Of course, some of the people hide to survive, and it’s a race between how long they can remain hidden before the sun comes back.
Stacy Schiff’s Cleopatra: A Life is one of the hot books of the year (2010, that is), and rightly so. Schiff has marshaled what few facts are known about the alluring queen and argued that many of the elements of Cleopatra’s story are entirely unlikely. She probably didn’t appear in front of Caesar rolled up in a rug, but in a bag. Perhaps she was not the accomplished seductress she is portrayed as being, either. Schiff’s book is an interesting picture of Cleopatra and her times.
Twilight Eyes, set in a carnival, is a Dean Koontz novel with all that that implies: a virtuous hero, in this case 17-year-old Slim McKenzie; a true love, Rya, who has some serious flaws; and a strong and supernatural evil that must be conquered. Dogs are missing from this particular Koontz novel, but otherwise everything’s there. There’s a reason Koontz has sold so many books. He’s a master storyteller, and he can write suspense like nobody’s business. McKenzie is the one with the twilight eyes of the title, and they enable him to see goblins masquerading as humans. This is an early Koontz, and is leaner and meaner than some of his subsequent work.
Set in early Australia, Death and the Running Patterer is a mystery novel about vengeance. While the Australian local and the long-ago atmosphere are really intriguing, to my taste Adair worked in a few too many facts that he accumulated during his exhaustive research, but the scenery is still fascinating and the mystery worth solving. If you enjoy mysteries set in exotic locales, you’ll enjoy this one.
Dawn Fratini, web maven extraordinaire, probably won’t get this up until after January 1, but I thought it would be appropriate to close 2010 with a new blog.
Viewing the year in retrospect, it’s been full of valleys and peaks. My husband’s father died in January, my mother in September, so the year was full of sad personal moments. My editor and my agent both suggested I take off work until after the holidays, and I think that’s been a wise course. I needed a little down time to recuperate. I hope to charge back in to the Sookieverse in a week or two, rested and refreshed.
Professionally, it couldn’t have been a better year. The books have been doing very well, due at least in part to the success of “True Blood,” and I can only be happy and grateful for that. I think Alan Ball and I have done a lot for each other, and I hope the show is successful for several more seasons.
I am keeping my fingers crossed for the possible TV series based on the Harper Connelly books. Its fate is pending, though it will only be a few short weeks before we know for sure what’ll happen. I’ll definitely keep you posted on that.
Thanks to all of you for helping me have a wonderful year. I hope that you have a healthy, happy 2011. Read lots of good books. Maybe start one of your own! Or just appreciate the ones others have written. And while I love Barnes and Noble and other big book stores, try to buy at least one book this year (or more!) from an independent book store.
© 2010 Charlaine Harris