Friday, March 18, 2016

Last Month's Books: "A Coven of Dreams"

Very short introduction today, as I've places to go and things to see. Had a good week, hope my car gets fixed tomorrow, looking forward to Dark Souls III, looking forward to Salt and Sanctuary, enjoying Not A Hero. Tallyho!

A Coven of Vampires
Brian Lumley

A very mixed collection of vampire tales of all types. From Vlad the Impaler to Lovecraftian monstrosities, all kinds of leeches are represented. Some reference the Cthulhu Mythos, others modern views on vampires. Some are amazing, like "Kiss of the Lamia," with its Middle Eastern tinge, or "Haggopian," somewhere between Lovecraft and Jacques Costeau. Others, like "Back Row" are predictable and banal in their horror, and even the twist had no surprise. (Really, three stories using the "the pretty woman was the REAL monster!" trope in one collection?) Overall this was quite hit-and-miss. 

A Dreamer’s Tales
Lord Dunsany

Lovecraft's Dream Cycle by way of Tolkien. Dunsany is weird. At his best, his stories are gorgeous and unsettling, like an Irish fairy story, or a Tolkien/Lovecraft hybrid. Honestly, these aren't Dunsany's best works. They're solid, but unless you're a Dunsany fan, eh.

A Prisoner in Fairyland
Algernon Blackwood

Well, this was disappointing. Blackwood's short stories - "The Willows," for example, are great, in the vein of Lovecraft or Dunsany. This...this novel just didn't grab me. The characters were blandly inoffensive, the writing style was akin to Dickens being read by someone on Quaaludes, and...yeah. Not too great.

American Gun
Chris Kyle

This is another one I'm pretty torn on. The choices of guns, historical background, and historical anecdotes are all really good. Not all of the guns are ones I'd pick as foundational to America's gun culture, but they're still well-reasoned. The problem lies with the author. Well, the author, his co-author, his wife, and everyone else who had a hand in creating this book. See, you can tell the Chris Kyle bits. They're the bits that sound really Texan and boastful and name-droppy and mention how he was a Navy SEAL a bunch. Then you can tell the bits that were co-authored, because they're clearly written by a professional writer. Then you can tell the bits that were written posthumously in an attempt to SOUND like Chris Kyle. So it's not exactly a smooth and coherent reading experience. So I guess if you like books about guns, or you're a Chris Kyle fan (I'm mostly neutral on him, myself), or you like populist renderings of American history, this is for you. If you like smooth, polished, coherent writing, maybe don't bother.