Sid the Sinus Headache is flexing his gosh-darned muscles and growling again, so I shall attempt to distract him by being Literary. True Blood
and Doctor Who 4
notwithstanding, I've actually managed to do some reading lately, which is just as well because my Bookshelf of Unread Doom is stretching L-spacily again...
So, Sarah Rees Brennan. Better known as Maya, authoress of, among other things, bunches of Harry/Draco slash and also "Draco Malfoy the Amazing Dancing Rat", which is one of my favourite pieces of Potterfic, not least because it rather entertainingly ships Draco/Hermione and features geeky homework-related flirting over lots of coffee. She's also just published her first YA fantasy, called The Demon's Lexicon
, which I have just read.
This was fun. Fairly straightforward urban fantasy stuff - contemporary England, demons, teen brothers, and the snappy and often funny dialogue which is her trademark. She also evinces the particular qualities I've come to associate with fan fiction, even at the more accomplished end of the spectrum her work inhabits, which boil down to (a) bucketloads of angst, and (b) pretty boys being emotionally intense. (Another case in point: Cassandra Clare's City of Bones
). Really, this is what slash is all about: not the sex, per se, but male characters embroiled in difficult, demanding, complicated feelings, whether they like it or not. In Demon's Lexicon
it's a brotherly rather than a romantic relationship, but the vibe feels very familiar.
This also accounts, perhaps, for the overall impression I have of the book: while it's intensely readable and boasts a rather spectacular and well-done plot twist, it also feels young
, not just because it's aimed at young adults, but because it's a young writer. The first half or so of the book drags slightly, marking time while the payoff is set up: Ms. Brennan is definitely in command of her characters, but she's not quite in command of her narrative. My sense, however, is that she very definitely will be in the not too distant future, and I shall watch her career with interest. (She says, pushing her pince-nez back on the end of her nose and channelling a Victorian lawyer).
The other fantasy novel I've read recently is John C. Wright's The Last Guardian of Everness
, which my Evil Landlord left carelessly lying around an obscure corner of his bookshelf where I happened to be rootling. I loved
Wright's Orphans of Chaos
series, which I described as a "sort of weird semi-inexplicable Victorian/modern heroic school story". Everness
does a splashy and inelegant belly-flop into Lovecraft's Dreamlands, immersing itself thoroughly while spreading detritus around wholesale: the detached, drifty approach to a world beautiful, strange, inexplicable, threatening and corrupt is absolutely nail-on-the-head in terms of tone and feel. Also, bonus mad faerie women, cheerfully crude and sociopathic Selkie and giant set-piece battles between death knights, animated stone statues and small, confused military detachments with machine-guns. This book is trippy, beautiful and gut-wrenching by turns: it's like being repeatedly hit over the head by an exquisite statue constructed in five dimensions from bloody human bones. On the whole I think I like it. Certainly enough to dig up the sequel.
In other news, Woolworths eaten by vampires
. Just because I'm relieved that someone else experiences the same degree of lateral to their conversations.