As planned I found a book to enhance my experience of the fall/Halloween season. Finding the right book was pretty easy, it was one of the quickest book searches I’ve ever done. I sometimes use the Overdrive app to find books. The app opens to a listing of recommended books, and one of the books recommended this time was Boneseeker (by Brynn Chapman). The title and cover got my attention so I investigated further. The first thing it had in its favor was that the main character is Sherlock Holmes’ daughter, Arabella, “a purveyor of abnormal science.” The second detail in its favor, and even better, was that the plot centers around the investigation of mysterious ancient human remains- the hand of either a very large Neanderthal or a Nephilim, beings that the bible describes as the off-spring of fallen angels and the “daughters of men.”
Wow. It sounded so interesting and seemed to have the potential to be a very good book. However, I barely got in to Chapter 3 before I gave it up. I tried to like it and not be so critical but . . . for one thing it seemed badly edited to me, there were some sentence fragments and other issues that made it a choppy read- it didn’t flow well in parts. There was also an attempt to portray Arabella as a strong female lead character but it was inconsistent. For example, she is a scientist in 1910, a woman with her own laboratory and a position at a respected museum- something that would have been considered “unnatural” for a woman at that time. From chapter 1:
Another blast rings out; the laboratory door blows off its hinges and flies through the air, clattering against the opposite wall with a ‘bang’ . . . Dr. Ernest rounds the corner, “Arabella! . . . Can she never act like a woman!”
“This! This is what I mean, Ernest. She is impulsive and arrogant and unnatural.”
Clearly the character is meant to have a strong, independent personality. The character herself says,
“I’m a better scientist at twenty than half your staff of port-swilling, armchair-philosophizing, smoking-jacketed morons.”
“I’ve never fit in. Not in sewing circles or with giggling girls . . .”
And back in chapter 1:
“Besides her obvious impulsive nature she is a woman. Not all the men on board the steamship shall be museum employees, and I cannot vouch for their characters. She will be in danger.”
“Henry will also be on the voyage. I know he would be willing to assume responsibility for her safety.”
Arabella’s jaw drops open and snaps shut . . . Yelling over her shoulder, “I. Don’t. Need. Protection. From any man.”
And yet later in chapter 2 we get this:
Henry goes rigid, clutching my elbow again. He spins me to face him but I cast my eyes to the floor.
Henry’s warm, large fingers grasp under my chin, turning my face up to force my gaze.
These scenes make her seem somewhat child-like and submissive, not at all in line with her strong independent personality. These actions are also not consistent with the personality of the character Henry who is supposed to be a more modern man- a man who respects Arabella and is not put off by her success, intelligence or independent nature.
And one last critique, the story switches between 3 perspectives. The book opens with the prologue being told in 3rd person form the perspective of the villain, Dr. Stygian. Then what I read in chapters 1, 2, and 3 switched back and forth between the 1st person perspectives of Arabella and Henry.
But maybe what I’ve actually done here is given you a whole list of reasons to read the book, and that would be excellent. Just because I wasn’t crazy about it doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be a great read for someone else. I might go back and finish it one day, but for now I decided to move on to The Wolf Gift by Anne Rice. Once I sampled the first chapter of The Wolf Gift I just couldn’t go back to Boneseeker, but then again not many can compare to Anne Rice (I’m discovering.)
I sampled The Wolf Gift and Interview With a Vampire, and decided on the first for many reasons. I was hoping to find a story that involved a castle, and while The Wolf Gift does not involve a castle it does have an old and luxurious, mysterious mansion set between a sea side cliff and an ancient redwood forest. This definitely satisfied my castle craving.
The huge old house was wintry with deep slate roofs and diamond-pane windows. It was built of rough-faced stone, and had countless chimneys rising from its steep gables, and a sprawling conservatory on the west side, all white iron and glass. . . nothing had prepared him for its solemn grandeur.
I didn’t intend to read a book about werewolves but I was open to anything. The Wolf Gift is turning out to be a great fall/Halloween read:
An old and grand stone house set in an ancient redwood forest on a cold and windy Northern California coastline cliff.
A decades old unsolved disappearance.
Rain, fog, clouds and mist.
A man near death bitten in the pitch-black of night by an unknown beast.
The rich, detailed description of a man transforming into, and being, a “Man Wolf”.
There were voices in the night. They sizzled just below the level of meaning. He knew he could pick out any one and amplify it, but why could he do that? He went to the deck, and put his hands on the wooden railing. The salty wind iced him all over, quickening him and refreshing him. How invulnerable he felt to the cold, how energized by it. There was a limitless reservoir of heat inside of him, and now it broke out on the surface of his skin as if every hair follicle on his body was expanding. He’d never felt such exquisite, such raw, divine pleasure. . . wave after wave of ecstasy passing through him.
Every particle of his body was defined in these waves, the skin covering his face, his head, his hands, the muscles of his arms and legs. With every particle of himself he was breathing, breathing as he’d never breathed in his life, his whole being expanding, hardening, growing stronger and stronger by the second.
His fingernails and toenails tingled. He felt the skin of his face and realized that it was covered in soft silky hair, indeed soft thick hair was growing out of every pore, covering his nose, his cheeks, his upper lip! His fingers, or were they claws, touched his teeth and they were fangs! He could feel them descending, feel his mouth lengthening!
His hands were thickly covered with hair! And the claws, look at the claws.
He tore off his shirt and shorts, shredding them effortlessly . . . The hair was pouring out of his scalp, it was rolling down to his shoulders. His chest was not completely covered and the muscles in his thighs and calves sang with ever-increasing strength. Surely this had to peak, this orgasmic frenzy, bit it didn’t peak. It went on and on. He felt his throat open with a cry, a howl, but he didn’t give in to it. Staring up at the night sky, he saw the layers and layers of white clouds beyond the mist; he saw the stars beyond the reach of human eyes, drifting into eternity.
On all sides the buildings were alive with pulsing lights, tiny busy windows, voices throbbing inside, as the city breathed and sang around him.
And I’m not even half way through the book!
Usually in werewolf stories it is the full moon that brings about the werewolf transformation, and even though this is not the case in The Wolf Gift I decided to do quotes about the full moon anyway. These are pretty much completely taken form goodreads.com because I am out of time to be more creative!