The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There

Once upon a time a girl named September had a secret.

It was the first title I recognised in the endless collection that is Overdrive. It’s also the sequel to The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland In A Ship Of Her Own Making, because who needs short titles anyway (it’s not like Valente can’t do it, see Radiance).

Again, she offers a world brimming with colours, weirdness and smart little thoughts you wonder how you didn’t come up with them yourself. It’s fairy tales as they once were, yet with a Pratchettesque humor: don’t take the story teller, nor the experiences at face value.

Things went bad (again), and September is up to fixing it (again). She’s around after all. This time it’s in Fairyland (Below), making things a bit darker, including September. Small pieces of (ugly) reality meander through the adventures/quests/September’s wanderings.

Because even if you can survive the Forgotful Sea, you’re still someone’s child.

The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There, Catherynne M. Valente, Macmillan 2012

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De Surprise

91 min.

Ik vind dat Nederlandse romantische comedies heel redelijk zijn. Ik had De Surprise dan ook voor een licht moment bewaard; blijkt het ineens veel meer te zijn dan “oh nee, als ze elkaar maar op tijd op Amsterdam Centraal Station tegenkomen!”.

de surprise filmposter

Blijkt er dus ineens een zwart randje aan te zitten dat op zo’n manier uitgewerkt wordt dat het bijna de spotlights jat. Want een organisatie die euthaniseert op de manier dat de klant het wilt, ook als de klant verrast wilt worden, had makkelijk √©√©ndimensionale nonsense kunnen worden als excuses om de hoofdpersonen bij elkaar te krijgen. Zit er gewoon genoeg achter om door heel de film heen te wortelen!

Ondertussen charmeert Georgina Verbaan iedereen de film af, en zo hield een Nederlandse (en Belgische, en Ierse) film ineens mijn aandacht vast van begin tot eind.

De Surprise staat op Netflix. En een hekel aan Nederlands horen in de film? Er komen meerdere talen langs.

De Surprise, A-Film 2015

Wynonna Earp

13 x 40 min.

You want some small town western in your Buffy, with focus on more women than a Firefly? Here you go!

wynonna_earp_posterWynonna Earp needs a bit of an investment, largely because of the grumpy and not instantly love-able title character (hmm, how different would that be if she would have been a guy?). But if you can give her a break (she’s got a proper motivation, after all), you are welcomed into a diverse world full of nasties and a heroine that honestly, completely, excusez-le-mot, doesn’t give a fuck.

This creates a messy thrill, speeding along in such a way that plot bumps or disbeliefs don’t have room for growing. Go for the demon-vigilante with bisexual sidekick ride, yiha!

Wynonna Earp, SyFy 2016 (first season on Netflix)

Hex

Stefan de Graaf kwam juist op tijd om de hoek van het parkeerterrein achter de Nico de Witt-supermarkt gerend om te zien hoe Katharina van Wijler werd overreden door een antiek draaiorgel.

Net zoals bij The Library at Mount Char is dit verhaal helemaal klaar voor televisie of film. En ook hier zou het best flink minder kunnen wat betreft geweld, deze keer bijna exclusief gericht op vrouwen.

Beek is geen dorp zoals andere Nederlandse dorpen, Beek heeft een eeuwenoude heks. In het dagelijks leven is ze redelijk rustig, zolang je haar maar met rust laat en het dorp niet te lang verlaat. Natuurlijk gebeuren er meerdere dingen waardoor de rust helemaal en compleet vernietigd wordt.

Maar de weg daar naar toe is vol in detail beschreven geweld en horror. Ja, daar is het dan ook een boek voor uit het horrorgenre. Maar moet het zo van-dik-hout-zaagt-men-planken? De conclusie wordt er ook met dikke spijkers ingeslagen, waardoor je makkelijk hoofdstukken kunt overslaan: het zal later toch nog eens allemaal verteld worden.

Dus ja, spannend materiaal, maar er kan nog wel een (televisieschrijvende) redacteur over heen.

Hex, Thomas Olde Heuvelt, Luitingh-Sijthoff 2013

Every Heart a Doorway

The girls were never present for the entrance interviews.

I always feel so fancy when I’m offered books, even though it’s through a subscription and it’s me and a gazillion others. Hey, it’s still a free (e)book!

Every Heart a Doorway had been mentioned in the online reader circles I visit, viewing it as the Messiah of LGBQT-friendly YA versus ‘there was an attempt’. So basically, the usual range of opinions online.

All the characters in this tiny novel (little over 100 pages) once visited a fairy-ish world and are now back in the world as we know it. To deal with this, and to temper their hopes on ever return again, they’re at a school. Some come from gruesome worlds involving death and/or vampires, some lived in technicolour happy worlds.

Like being lost in your supposed home world isn’t enough to deal with, murders start to happen.

I’m on the ‘moh’ side of opinions. This novel feels like a set up for something bigger and possibly better. And LGBQT-friendly? One of the characters seems to be trans*, while an other calls herself asexual. It’s mentioned in passing, not as a main, defining point. Which is good, but I wouldn’t use it as its unique selling point. What is? I don’t really think it has one.

Every Heart a Doorway, Seanan McGuire,

The Library at Mount Char

Carolyn, blood-drenched and barefoot, walked alone down the two-lane stretch of blacktop that the Americans called Highway 78.

This is one book that could do with the cleaning up of of TV-script writer. There’s so much violence, described in detail, that could be put away behind an (atmospheric) description or implication instead.

While the plot’s got plenty of things going for it. Mysterious not-alien, godlike but not gods creatures that look like humans, call themselves librarians but are able to do about anything? International mythic elements used to show these skills and knowledge, and something going on underneath the surface to spur things into action? Yes, yes, and yes.

But then there’s a conclusion that can elicit little more than a ‘mwoh’, possibly also because you’ve been beaten into a pulp by all the abuse, rape, murder and torture.¬† So maybe Scott Hawkins can realise his notes about the world he build, and give someone else a chance with it. That way we get more of the story behind the librarians, and less of the blood and pain that made them the way they are.

The Library at Mount Char, Scott Hawkins, Crown Publishers 2015

The Chimes

I’ve been standing here forever.

Maybe just another case of bad timing, but this time I didn’t even bother finishing the book. Of course I feel slightly bad about that.

Maybe if I wouldn’t have had read Homegoing before, the difference wouldn’t have been so big. I was ready to be swept off my feet again, instead I had to push myself through unrecognisable clunks of ..probably what was supposed to have been plot.

The Chimes are a thing that turned England, or maybe the entirety of the UK, or the world – a thing that uses music to control people and make it unable for people to remember. Some manage to put their memories into objects, but it’s still hard to have a past.

So, there is a nice element to built a world upon, but why does it feel like the author was paid per word? Several times I felt like I was close to a clue, only to have the story going into another direction again. None of the characters had any pull on me, to cheer them on or dislike them. For a story littered with music related terms, the rhythm was completely off.

The Chimes, Anna Small, Sceptre 2015