The first thing you find out when yer dog learns to talk is that dogs don’t got nothing much to say.
In The Knife of Never Letting Go the reader follows Todd, an almost thirteen-year-old living in a pretty much post-apocalyptic world. He can cope with that. He can’t cope with being the last boy in a town full of men and having to live listening to other men’s Noise. Noise is someone’s every thought, being broadcast because of something that happened when the first people arrived in this world. And one day, as stories are wont to do, everything goes wrong and Todd has to run. With his talking dog.
Patrick Ness lets the reader in the dark for a (almost too) long time, skirting away from explanations or only letting Todd in on the information, not the reader. It’s one of the very few problems I have with this YA fantasy novel that sketches a sad and hard world with even harder people in it, showing once again that a human being doesn’t need all that much too lose its humanity. Another thing that irked me that Todd (and the other characters) seem to be remarkably resilient, walking away from several fights that would have put an ordinary person down, but that can be appointed to this being another world with slightly different humans.
Besides those points, The Knife is a whirlwind adventure with adversaries and dangerous (but gorgeous) scenery bursting at the seams. Yes, Todd can be the most obnoxious pre-teen, but there is a learning curve that will make the reader excuse him things.
This book is also part of a trilogy, something I usually shirk away from because there has to be a very good reason for an idea to become a trilogy besides ‘Three books could make more money than one’. In case of The Knife, I want to know more of this world, and not for the sole fact that Patrick Ness left it with a huge, horrible cliff hanger. This book grades well in the fantasy and in the YA category.
The Knife of Never Letting Go, Patrick Ness, Candlewick Press 2008
Marie-Madeline lit the flame under the bowl.
In Haunted volgt de lezer de geest van een half demon die ook nog heks is. Zij -Eve- krijgt in het volgende leven een opdracht van het Lot: ze moet een monster vangen dat ontsnapt is uit haar persoonlijke hel. Dat gaat natuurlijk niet zo makkelijk en zo wordt de lezer meegenomen door verschillende werelden van leven-na-dood, een paar hellen en tussendoor naar de wereld van de levenden want daar is Eve’s dochter waar ze zo graag voor zorgt.
Mensen die Kelley Armstrong kennen, weten hoe gedetailleerd zij (paranormale) werelden kan scheppen. Er zijn engelen, demonen en half-demonen, thema-werelden voor de doden (Eve bezoekt eens een piratenwereld), allerlei spreuken en magie en ga zo maar door. Mensen die haar niet kennen, weten nu zo ongeveer wat ze kunnen verwachten. Toch wordt die hoeveelheid aan detail nooit verstikkend, blijft het verhaal duidelijk en is het geen moment moeilijk om doorheen te komen. Armstrong biedt fantasy pulp, maar in plaats van op de bekende manier met mannelijke helden en vrouwen met zwoegende boezems in kleine pakjes, kunnen de vrouwen hier zelf hun zaakjes beschermen en oplossen. En dat is vermakelijk.
Haunted is makkelijk inwisselbaar met haar andere werk. Zelfde sterke vrouw, zelfde wereld-hoppen en kleine wijze les in de laatste drie hoofdstukken. Een lekker tussendoortje.
Haunted, Kelley Armstrong, Orbit 2005
It was the night before new moon, during the darkest hours when even that bare sliver had set.
Like a fresh breath of Technicolor air after The Pregnant Widow. The Desert Spear made me a very happy fantasy fan.
TDS is part of a trilogy (aptly named Demon Trilogy) but can be read as stand alone as well. That’s already quite the feat in this genre full of unnecessary follow ups and ‘let’s pull this book apart into three books’, but that’s a not-related frustrating issue. TDS tells the story of a world where the night isn’t safe. Because every night, all kind of demons (wooden, rock, wind and so on) will rise from the grounds and attack everything that isn’t warded. Humankind knows some of those wards, but not all of them. And of course there is a faith that says the demons are a God’s punishment that can only be stopped by a Deliverer.
In this book, there are two of those. One of them who really could be it, an ordinary guy from the North, who by others is made into a hero, even though he doesn’t want it. And the other, a wünderkind from the South with a mighty army behind him and who has given himself the title. And they used to be friends.
A lot happens in The Desert Spear and telling would only be over sharing. But this book manages to create a world, a bad guy, and two less than annoying ‘heroes’ while entertaining you along the way as well. After reading the first book (The Painted Man) I wasn’t sure if there would be a follow up and I did a little dance when I saw this book in the library. It hasn’t disappointed me a bit, even throwing me off (as a crazy book lady, I like to be surprised) when it came to romance and plot lines.
It is fantasy though, remember that. If you’re completely averse to that, don’t bother. But if you want to try some, TDS or its predecessor are a great starting place.
The Desert Spear, Peter V. Brett, Harper Voyage 2010