Monday, December 25, 2017

Just What A Scrooge Needs This Time Of Year

Mr. Dickens and His CarolMr. Dickens and His Carol by Samantha Silva
Reviewed by Jason Koivu
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

(I received this ARC in return for an honest review.)

A perfect Christmas read!

This re-imaging of Dickens' struggles and triumph during a time when his renown was at an ebb read almost like a biography. It introduces his family, publishers, agent, literary contemporaries, and many influential figures in his life. Having recently read a biography of Dickens, I recognized most of the people represented here, and I will say that Samantha Silva did a great job of bringing the dead to life.

The story follows Dickens as he plays out the elements of his A Christmas Carol book, literally becoming Scrooge, finding Tiny Tim, being visited by ghosts, overhearing friends and foe speak of him in private, and witnessing the poor and downtrodden. Through these experiences Dickens regains his Christmas spirit, while unwittingly gathering together the various ideas he would need to create his masterpiece.

Writing a Christmas book this time of year is easy money. However, taking on the backstory to A Christmas Carol, one of the most popular Christmas stories of all time, is a bit of a challenge. Your work is placed side by side with one of the greats, so you better bring your A-game. Silva did just that.

Perhaps I'm drunk on Christmas spirit and in a giving mood, but I don't think my 5-star rating is too far off the mark for what this book is and attempts to do. It's a sentimental, heartstring tugger and that's a-okay with me right about now!

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An Insane Read

The Dunwich Horror and Other StoriesThe Dunwich Horror and Other Stories by H.P. Lovecraft
Reviewed by Jason Koivu
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After you're finished with The Call of Cthulhu and you feel as if you still have your senses about you (You think you do, but you don't. Good try though!), give The Dunwich Horror and Other Stories a go. Herein you'll find more possessed people and plenty others driven insane, as per usual.

If nothing else, this is a wonderful foundational work on the Lovecraftian mythos that details in creepy color Cthulhu and that devilish book of magic, The Necronomicon.

The language evoked by Lovecraft is more simplified here than it was in Call... or The Horror at Red Hook. Dunwich... often reads like an old-timey newspaper story. That style tends to distance the reader from the action, but this is an intentional device used to keep up the mystery. Perhaps some might call the writing stiff at times. Maybe a modern reader or two might find this too formal. Well, this was writing about 90 years ago.

The fact is, this is still solidly spooky stuff. I'm thinking I should read Lovecraft every time Halloween comes around, if I dare...

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