Ambitious, weird, metafictional horror-fantasy set in a magical city where all but three faeries have fled post-war. It’s now occupied by tightropers who spit out ropes and live in the air, and gnomes who live belowground. Faeries are immortal and every part of their body has its own sentience; they shed glitter constantly and each speck of glitter has its own awareness, which they tune out because otherwise they’d lose their minds. They are not considered dead until there is literally nothing of them left, so the heroine carries her father’s ear and eyeball in a jar; it presumably is still able to see and hear, though not speak. Pre-war, faeries had a wary co-existence with the gnomes, which eat faeries, usually bit by bit. Each eaten limb stays aware until digested. I think. It’s a little unclear what you have to do to a faerie part before it ceases to be aware.

And that is just one of the many, many, many things which are unclear in this odd, frustrating book. The ideas are intriguing, original, and horrific; the execution often uses that maddening trick of excusing its flaws by pointing them out and saying that they’re deliberate. The plot makes no sense? Well, real life often makes no sense. The emotions are weirdly distanced? The narrator is traumatized and emotionally numb. Key incidents are incredibly confusing or elided altogether? The narrator is traumatized and doesn’t want to think about them. Basic facts like how the body part sentience is actually experienced, how big faeries and gnomes are relative to each other (the gnomes can eat a faerie in one bite, but can also have normal-sounding sex with them), what the tightropers look like, the characterization and relationships of major characters, how any race survives when almost all females are killed by the act of giving birth to their first child, etc, are vague or confusing or contradictory or make no sense? It’s because the narrator is a traumatized teenager writing about experiences they don’t understand or can’t face, not a professional writer.

Here’s an example:

Once upon a time there was a writer who couldn't write a fucking book.

I don't know what comes next. That whole chapter's going to need to get thrown out anyway. You completely forgot halfway through that you'd said it was raining at the beginning.

Was it raining?

No one's ever going to know and it's all your fault.

Put a fucking map in the next draft.


The novel held my attention and is certainly plenty weird and ambitious, but using “in real life a traumatized teenager would write an incoherent mess of a book” as excuse to write an incoherent mess of a book did not work for me. The novel was too realistic to work as surrealism, too inconsistent to work as fantasy, and the whole “everything makes no sense because the narrator is a traumatized teenager” device didn’t work for me. These are the exact same problems I had with Moskowiz’s other novel I read, Break, so this is clearly her signature style and I’m just not her audience.

The worldbuilding is really interesting, which made it all the more frustrating that it had so little focus and what we did get didn’t make much sense. However, the novel also does some unusual (spoilery) things with narrative and metafiction, so if you like that sort of thing and don’t mind the issues I had with it, it’s worth a try. The horror is more conceptual than graphic, but dismemberment is crucial to the plot. (One of the things I found most frustrating was that I was really intrigued by the concept of having scattered awareness via shed glitter, eaten body parts, clipped hair, etc, but because the characters tune this out, you rarely get a sense of what that actually feels like.) Note that it contains underage (late teens, not children, but still) sex work (not graphic, but still).

A History of Glitter and Blood
I report with sorrow that I have now finished all of Liu's Dirk & Steel series, and can't read any more till her new one coms out. Apparently that one's about a dragon prince! Too bad, I was hoping for one about Eddie, that little angst-muffin.

These two books, the first a stand-alone and the second a novella in the book Dark Dreamers edited by Christine Feehan, make an unintentionally good paired reading set. Both are about a non- or part-human man enchanted and enslaved by a witch, and rescued by a bi- or multi-racial human woman.

I loved "A Dream of Stone and Shadow." It might be my favorite Dirk & Steel yet. The short length kept the focus clean. D&S agent Aggie is a bad-ass pre-cog who rescues children from sexual abuse. She is contacted by a gargoyle who is imprisoned by a witch, along with his three brothers who have been turned to stone, and can only escape into the astral plane when the witch cuts out his heart and eats it with a nice Chianti. He and Aggie bond, rescue a little girl, and have psychic orgasms. Amiri guest-stars. And it's even more awesome than it sounds!

Dark and gruesome as a fairy tale, it's also full of black humor and action. Aggie is excellently tough and sweet, the gargoyle is charming, and while the finale was a borderline nonsensical deus ex machina, I didn't even care.

Click here to buy it from Amazon: Dark Dreamers

I knew Soul Song was "the one with the merman" but for some reason I thought that meant the hero was amphibious and/or could turn into a dolphin. No, he's a merman with the traditional fish tail! He's the abused slave of a witch who forces him to work as a prostitute and assassin, and who is ordered to kill Kit Bell, a biracial violinist who can see when people are about to die. There are bad cops, a vampire, a society of merpeople whose bones are too soft for them to live on land, and cameos by assorted D&S agents.

I liked Kit a lot. Alas, M'Cal, the merman, has lots of angst but little personality. There's a lot of running around and a storm at sea, but to little purpose. Enjoyable but not one of Liu's better works. Though it did have one truly excellent moment...

Read more... )
I report with sorrow that I have now finished all of Liu's Dirk & Steel series, and can't read any more till her new one coms out. Apparently that one's about a dragon prince! Too bad, I was hoping for one about Eddie, that little angst-muffin.

These two books, the first a stand-alone and the second a novella in the book Dark Dreamers edited by Christine Feehan, make an unintentionally good paired reading set. Both are about a non- or part-human man enchanted and enslaved by a witch, and rescued by a bi- or multi-racial human woman.

I loved "A Dream of Stone and Shadow." It might be my favorite Dirk & Steel yet. The short length kept the focus clean. D&S agent Aggie is a bad-ass pre-cog who rescues children from sexual abuse. She is contacted by a gargoyle who is imprisoned by a witch, along with his three brothers who have been turned to stone, and can only escape into the astral plane when the witch cuts out his heart and eats it with a nice Chianti. He and Aggie bond, rescue a little girl, and have psychic orgasms. Amiri guest-stars. And it's even more awesome than it sounds!

Dark and gruesome as a fairy tale, it's also full of black humor and action. Aggie is excellently tough and sweet, the gargoyle is charming, and while the finale was a borderline nonsensical deus ex machina, I didn't even care.

Click here to buy it from Amazon: Dark Dreamers

I knew Soul Song was "the one with the merman" but for some reason I thought that meant the hero was amphibious and/or could turn into a dolphin. No, he's a merman with the traditional fish tail! He's the abused slave of a witch who forces him to work as a prostitute and assassin, and who is ordered to kill Kit Bell, a biracial violinist who can see when people are about to die. There are bad cops, a vampire, a society of merpeople whose bones are too soft for them to live on land, and cameos by assorted D&S agents.

I liked Kit a lot. Alas, M'Cal, the merman, has lots of angst but little personality. There's a lot of running around and a storm at sea, but to little purpose. Enjoyable but not one of Liu's better works. Though it did have one truly excellent moment...

Read more... )
A non-fantasy YA re-telling of "Beauty and the Beast" in modern times which attempts to stick as closely as possible to the original fairytale (with one very significant exception) while making it seem plausible in context. Intriguing idea, so-so execution.

Teenage Izzy has never experienced sexual feelings, unlike what seems like her entire school, and feels like a freak. It only gets worse when the hot guy one of her friends is in love with starts hitting on her. But then her father (under understandable circumstances) picks a rose from a bush growing on the grounds of a flower shop, accidentally damaging it.

The owner suddenly appears. He has been hideously burned and has no nose. Also no lips. He demands that in repayment for the ruined rose bush, he get... Izzy's services as a highly paid part-time flower arranger. Since Izzy needs a job anyway, she agrees. For the rest of the book, she is torn between the hideously burned Leo (who also has hideously burned clawlike hands) and Roger, the hot guy from school.

The main way that this diverges from most retellings of this fairytale is that the Beast is not animalistic in a disturbingly sexy way, but a forty-something man with no nose. This makes Roger a genuine rival, because not only is noselessness not sexy, but in a realistic setting the age difference is much more of a barrier. Cohen makes it less skanky than it could be by having Leo request a kiss rather than marriage, but still.

Read more... )
A non-fantasy YA re-telling of "Beauty and the Beast" in modern times which attempts to stick as closely as possible to the original fairytale (with one very significant exception) while making it seem plausible in context. Intriguing idea, so-so execution.

Teenage Izzy has never experienced sexual feelings, unlike what seems like her entire school, and feels like a freak. It only gets worse when the hot guy one of her friends is in love with starts hitting on her. But then her father (under understandable circumstances) picks a rose from a bush growing on the grounds of a flower shop, accidentally damaging it.

The owner suddenly appears. He has been hideously burned and has no nose. Also no lips. He demands that in repayment for the ruined rose bush, he get... Izzy's services as a highly paid part-time flower arranger. Since Izzy needs a job anyway, she agrees. For the rest of the book, she is torn between the hideously burned Leo (who also has hideously burned clawlike hands) and Roger, the hot guy from school.

The main way that this diverges from most retellings of this fairytale is that the Beast is not animalistic in a disturbingly sexy way, but a forty-something man with no nose. This makes Roger a genuine rival, because not only is noselessness not sexy, but in a realistic setting the age difference is much more of a barrier. Cohen makes it less skanky than it could be by having Leo request a kiss rather than marriage, but still.

Read more... )
rachelmanija: (Default)
( Sep. 15th, 2008 07:30 am)
An entertaining, though perhaps not actually good, Korean film about a cooking competition.

In the prologue, two cooks compose exquisite blowfish sashimi platters for a panel of judges. "They're poisoned!" chorused [livejournal.com profile] cofax7 and [livejournal.com profile] laurashapiro.

[livejournal.com profile] rilina, [livejournal.com profile] oyceter, and I, more used to the conventions of Asian media, said, "Eh? Why would they--"

The panel of judges proceed to vomit and keel over. Poisoned!

Cut to several years later. A cooking contest offers as prize an ancient knife used by a chef to hack off his own hand during the Japanese occupation of Korea as a protest against the overlords. The grandsons of the chefs seen in the prologue are competing. There is a good chef (handsome, honest, owns a cow he loves like his own little sister) and a bad chef (puffy face, greasy hair, cheater, no cow.) There is also The Girl, who plays even less part in the story than The Girl usually does. Also, she does not actually participate in a romance. She's just there.

It was all fun and games until a stage of the contest required perfect charcoal. It turns out that perfect charcoal is only made by one man... on Death Row! Evil Chef visits and stupidly mocks Death Row Dude. Death Row Dude tries to bite his nose off, but unfortunately fails. Then we see the sepia flashback of tragedy and woe! Once he was a small starving child, abandoned by his destitute mother who was forced to turn to prostitution and being the kept woman of an abusive man. He learned to burn charcoal, which slowly blinded him so he had to wear Coke-bottle glasses. (I flashed back to the pony going blind from coal dust in the YA Agony Awards.) When he tried to stop his mother from being beaten, she turned on him, and then he stabbed her abuser with a charcoaled branch. And then was executed. But he tells the charcoal secret to Team Good Chef before he dies.

For the next contest, they need perfect beef. The hitherto Good Chef kills the cow he loves like a sister! The cow cried! The Girl did not argue against this! There is a random scene of some other guy fisting some other cow. We all boggled.

There is also assisted suicide and Alzheimer's. A guy dresses up in his old Army uniform, bends over, and begs his old Army buddy to beat him. The old Army buddy does. If this was a better, or just better-known movie, a thousand slash fics would have been born.
rachelmanija: (Default)
( Sep. 15th, 2008 07:30 am)
An entertaining, though perhaps not actually good, Korean film about a cooking competition.

In the prologue, two cooks compose exquisite blowfish sashimi platters for a panel of judges. "They're poisoned!" chorused [livejournal.com profile] cofax7 and [livejournal.com profile] laurashapiro.

[livejournal.com profile] rilina, [livejournal.com profile] oyceter, and I, more used to the conventions of Asian media, said, "Eh? Why would they--"

The panel of judges proceed to vomit and keel over. Poisoned!

Cut to several years later. A cooking contest offers as prize an ancient knife used by a chef to hack off his own hand during the Japanese occupation of Korea as a protest against the overlords. The grandsons of the chefs seen in the prologue are competing. There is a good chef (handsome, honest, owns a cow he loves like his own little sister) and a bad chef (puffy face, greasy hair, cheater, no cow.) There is also The Girl, who plays even less part in the story than The Girl usually does. Also, she does not actually participate in a romance. She's just there.

It was all fun and games until a stage of the contest required perfect charcoal. It turns out that perfect charcoal is only made by one man... on Death Row! Evil Chef visits and stupidly mocks Death Row Dude. Death Row Dude tries to bite his nose off, but unfortunately fails. Then we see the sepia flashback of tragedy and woe! Once he was a small starving child, abandoned by his destitute mother who was forced to turn to prostitution and being the kept woman of an abusive man. He learned to burn charcoal, which slowly blinded him so he had to wear Coke-bottle glasses. (I flashed back to the pony going blind from coal dust in the YA Agony Awards.) When he tried to stop his mother from being beaten, she turned on him, and then he stabbed her abuser with a charcoaled branch. And then was executed. But he tells the charcoal secret to Team Good Chef before he dies.

For the next contest, they need perfect beef. The hitherto Good Chef kills the cow he loves like a sister! The cow cried! The Girl did not argue against this! There is a random scene of some other guy fisting some other cow. We all boggled.

There is also assisted suicide and Alzheimer's. A guy dresses up in his old Army uniform, bends over, and begs his old Army buddy to beat him. The old Army buddy does. If this was a better, or just better-known movie, a thousand slash fics would have been born.
rachelmanija: (Emo Award: Shinji agony)
( Jun. 8th, 2008 11:10 am)
Yesterday I inflicted the world's worst anime on Yoon. I have to review it for Green Man Review. This will be my first ever review in which I will be forced to confess that I was unable to finish it. Truly appalling, and also none of the characters have noses. Yoon has proof in screencaps.

BAD. BAD. BAAAAAAAAAAAAD. And yet it won awards in France! What were they smoking? Even if the French track was substantially superior to the English, which is very likely since the English was the worst ever, there's still the noselessness.

ETA: According to Wikipedia, "The reason Savin Yeatman-Eifel gave for the almost noseless design of the characters was that he "didn't like noses.""

Await my full review. In the meantime, please describe to me the worst anime you've ever seen.
rachelmanija: (Emo Award: Shinji agony)
( Jun. 8th, 2008 11:10 am)
Yesterday I inflicted the world's worst anime on Yoon. I have to review it for Green Man Review. This will be my first ever review in which I will be forced to confess that I was unable to finish it. Truly appalling, and also none of the characters have noses. Yoon has proof in screencaps.

BAD. BAD. BAAAAAAAAAAAAD. And yet it won awards in France! What were they smoking? Even if the French track was substantially superior to the English, which is very likely since the English was the worst ever, there's still the noselessness.

ETA: According to Wikipedia, "The reason Savin Yeatman-Eifel gave for the almost noseless design of the characters was that he "didn't like noses.""

Await my full review. In the meantime, please describe to me the worst anime you've ever seen.
Welcome back to insane cracktastic Gothic land!

In a moment of synchronicity, last Friday I was invited to share some Belgian chocolates labeled individually by province. Unfortunately, the font's capital I looked much like a small l, and so when asked to choose, I said, "I'll take the leper!"

I do not often come across books containing leprosy, though when I read Darcourt I immediately regretted forgetting about the YA novel in which the heroine develops leprosy, watches her mother agonizingly die of rot, is shipped off to a leper colony, and dies, the end -- I would have certainly included it in my YA agony award nominations if I had. (The Dark Light.) I was also reminded of Thomas Covenant. Normally I don't find characters whiny if they have something to whine about. But Covenant managed to be so whiny that I thought, "Oh, get over your leprosy already!"

Young journalist Sally Wainwright impersonates a friend of hers in order to get hired as governess for a wealthy teenager on Darcourt Island. The island is owned by reclusive billionaire Tristram Darcourt. Sally is ostensibly doing this to write an expose on him, but really because her mother was jilted by him and she wants to find out what happened. (She can't ask because both her parents are now dead.)

Teenage Alix is wild and has a Mysterious Skin Condition for which she takes Mysterious Meds. Darcourt is high-handed and arrogant. He is also said to have let his brother die in the super-quick quicksand which is featured in the Mysterious Marsh surrounding the house, into which Sally is forbidden to go. Sally is promply menaced by snakes and scorpions released in her room, plus Mysterious Figures, and people shooting at her, whomping her over the head, and trying to kill her dog.

Could it be the Mysterious Mrs. Darcourt, alternately said to be in the south of France and lurking in Mysterious Marsh?! Or the off-stage Mysterious Middle Eastern Group which is the subject of a code-named Pentagon study? Or Andre, who is a cousin or something? Or some blonde kid with a cowlick?

LEPER OUTCAST UNCLEAN!!!!! )
Welcome back to insane cracktastic Gothic land!

In a moment of synchronicity, last Friday I was invited to share some Belgian chocolates labeled individually by province. Unfortunately, the font's capital I looked much like a small l, and so when asked to choose, I said, "I'll take the leper!"

I do not often come across books containing leprosy, though when I read Darcourt I immediately regretted forgetting about the YA novel in which the heroine develops leprosy, watches her mother agonizingly die of rot, is shipped off to a leper colony, and dies, the end -- I would have certainly included it in my YA agony award nominations if I had. I was also reminded of Thomas Covenant. Normally I don't find characters whiny if they have something to whine about. But Covenant managed to be so whiny that I thought, "Oh, get over your leprosy already!"

Young journalist Sally Wainwright impersonates a friend of hers in order to get hired as governess for a wealthy teenager on Darcourt Island. The island is owned by reclusive billionaire Tristram Darcourt. Sally is ostensibly doing this to write an expose on him, but really because her mother was jilted by him and she wants to find out what happened. (She can't ask because both her parents are now dead.)

Teenage Alix is wild and has a Mysterious Skin Condition for which she takes Mysterious Meds. Darcourt is high-handed and arrogant. He is also said to have let his brother die in the super-quick quicksand which is featured in the Mysterious Marsh surrounding the house, into which Sally is forbidden to go. Sally is promply menaced by snakes and scorpions released in her room, plus Mysterious Figures, and people shooting at her, whomping her over the head, and trying to kill her dog.

Could it be the Mysterious Mrs. Darcourt, alternately said to be in the south of France and lurking in Mysterious Marsh?! Or the off-stage Mysterious Middle Eastern Group which is the subject of a code-named Pentagon study? Or Andre, who is a cousin or something? Or some blonde kid with a cowlick?

LEPER OUTCAST UNCLEAN!!!!! )
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