Author: Ted Dekker
Published: Thomas Nelson, 2010
One Word Review: Alucard?!
18th century Russia. The Carpathian Mountains. Catherine the Great has charged two of her warriors with the protection of the Cantemir family, specifically the two young women of marriageable age. When the mysterious and beguiling Vlad van Valerik arrives at his nearby estate with his associates, the young women and one of the warriors fall under their spell, leaving the other to find a way to extricate them…if he can.
I would call myself a Ted Dekker fan. I have devoured many of his books and never hesitate to pick up one that’s new to me. I would recommend any one of them…except this one. I don’t know if Dekker was in too much of a hurry to jump on the vampire bandwagon, or what may have happened, but this book just did not resonate as a fully formed story. For one thing, it does not seem plausible that warriors Toma and Alec would be pulled away from a war to babysit a family that does seem to be facing an imminent threat, at least not one that’s well explained.
And using Dracula’s name backward…seriously?! I’ve come to expect much more from this author.
But as the book jacket itself says, “This story is for everyone, but not everyone is for this story.” Apparently, I am not for this story.
I suggest skipping this book, but picking up any one of Dekker’s many other treasures.
Author: Susan Hill
Published: D.R. Godine, 1983
One Word Review: Suspenseful
ALERT: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR BOTH BOOK AND MOVIE
In both the book and film, a young London solicitor is sent to a small town to settle the affairs of a client of his firm who is recently deceased. While sorting through papers in her home, her encounters a mysterious woman dressed all in black and has other hair-raising experiences. That’s where the similarities end.
Unlike the movie, not much happens for most of this book. Since I’d seen the movie before reading it, the suspense built quite high as I waited for action.
The book and film are so different from one another that they are best evaluated separately, though if you’ve experienced both, you might be tempted to ponder the ramifications of action vs. inaction and of trying to make things right with the spirit world.
The book is a good, old-fashioned ghost story in which the payoff comes at the end, while the movie is filled with thrills, chills and action but has what could, in some sense, be considered a happy, or at least merciful, ending.
If you haven’t seen the movie, I’d recommend reading the book first or it might feel a little slow. Definitely a good choice for a damp October evening!
Ack! I’m behind. So, to catch up, here are some quick reviews:
A Discovery of Witches: Magical
A little bit more: I can not wait for the next book in this trilogy. I was completely absorbed in the world of this book, and would love to be friends with Matthew and Diana. (Or forget Diana, can I just date Matthew?)
The Queen of the Damned: Really?
A little bit more: I don’t get it. What was the big deal about the Anne Rice vampire chronicles? This book was not good. The others weren’t much better.
Book of Days: Forgettable
The Windup Girl: Scary
A little bit more: I use the word “scary” because the depiction of problems caused by genetically engineered crops is both bleak and believable.
Watership Down: Adorable
A little bit more: Why did I not read this book earlier in life? Love it, love it, love it. Go read it right now if you have not done so already!
The Chaos Code: Incomplete
A little bit more: Good premise, great beginning, needed more at the end.
Tales Before Tolkien: Appetizer
A little bit more: Most of the stories in this collection were enjoyable, but short stories usually leave me wanting. They’re just not long enough!
Ape House: Bland
A little bit more: I wanted to spend more time with the apes. This was mainly a story about humans, and they weren’t very interesting.
Author: Bob Katz
Published: Trolley Car Press, 2010
One Word Review: YES!
Set in southern Ohio, Third and Long is a story of small-town life, second chances and football. But don’t let the football part deter you if, like me, you’re not a fan.
Bob Katz gives the job of narrator to the town itself. This put me in mind of cozy setting akin to “The Brick” from Northern Exposure and I heard the voice of Holling Vincoeur as I read.
Third and Long is a joy to read because the narrator is frank and self-deprecating (“He’d attended private schools in Connecticut, which we took to be somewhere near Europe”), and the writing is so vivid (“The stepmom reputed to have the olfactory acuity of a narcotics squad dog”). I found myself re-reading lines and passages over and over just to savor the writing.
Katz had me rooting for the characters and the town and he did not disappoint in the end.
Not only would readers enjoy this book, I think it would make an excellent text for use in high school English classes. High school football is a main focus of the book, making it easy for students to relate. The writing is impeccable, and the setting, plot, characters and resolution would make for good classroom discussion. The only pitfall teachers would encounter is some drug use described in the book.
Disclosure – I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.