seraphcelene: (books by gloriousbite)
Palimpsest - noun: palimpsest; plural noun: palimpsests
a manuscript or piece of writing material on which the original writing has been effaced to make room for later writing but of which traces remain.


Oleg, Ludovico, November, and Sei are four unsuspecting immigrants caught in the intricately beautiful and unseemly net of Palimpsest, a city accessible only by dreamers. Infected by other dreamers, the "passport" to Palimpsest appears mysteriously as a segment of the city's map tattooed somewhere on the body, from face to breasts to tongue. But there's a hitch, access to Palimpsest requires an intimate kind of sacrifice, and the more Palimpsest is visited, the more desperate people are to visit. Connected by the rules of Palimpsest which require all immigrants to be psychically shackled into a quarto, Valente's cast of characters negotiate the real world and the world of Palimpsest as they seek, in varying degrees, to understand the mysterious city and their place in it.

Palimpsest is a beautifully written book. I wish I liked it more. I wanted to like it, but there was a disconnect for me between the gorgeous language and the heart of what makes a story work. Palimpsest was a great concept; as Valente presented it, "Palimpsest is an urban fantasy about a city that lives on human skin, a viral city whose citizens consist of those who bear parts of the city on their flesh, and visit it in their dreams. The story follows four such people as they search for others like themselves and a way to enter the city permanently." Unfortunately, trying to find my way through the mysterious intricacies of the city elements prismed through the four different narratives was more challenging than I cared for. There isn't a lot of weight to the story. Nowhere to anchor. Palimpsest read like a lot of sound and fury at times. Noise without meaning, but the sad part is that I think there is meaning there, it's just hard to dig it out. The fractured storytelling left me disinterested over time, I ultimately didn't care very much for any of the characters or the journeys they were on. I was also disinterested in Palimpsest itself. I made it to the Part III: The Princess of Parallelograms (pg 180) before I gave up on the book. Considering that I had hit the half-way mark and my interest was steadily waning, I opted not to continue the book. I skimmed a few pages at the end, but there wasn't anything there to inspire me to try picking up the book again.

This won't be my last foray into her fiction despite my lack of success in finishing. I find Valente to be an incredible, poetic, and singular writer.
seraphcelene: (books by gloriousbite)
Let the Right One In was a little difficult to pin down. To be honest, I don't really like it and I won't be reading it again, but it doesn't deserve less than 3 stars. Yet, there are technical issues regarding the pacing of the story and the rushed, almost haphazard ending that don't allow me to give it 4 stars. I read Let the Right One In after seeing the original Swedish film, which I loved. I saw the film after hearing a review that recommended it as the cure to the disappointment that is Twilight. Something along the lines of, if you want to see a vampire romance done right ... And I agree. This is a vampire romance done really, really right. But it's also really, really off-putting. Everything about the narrative is off. It's creepy, psychologically unnerving, and at the end of it all I feel the need to bleach the inside of my brain and to give the space under my skin a really vigorous scrub.

Blackeberg. It makes you think of coconut-frosted cookies, maybe drugs. 'A respectable life.' You think subway station, suburb. Probably nothing else comes to mind. People must live there, just like they do in other places. That was why it was built, after all, so that people would have a place to live. )
seraphcelene: (Default)
I do not generally read anything that reeks of mainstream horror. I can't remember what attracted me to Heart-Shaped Box, but I'm glad that it found me. It was an awesome ride.

Written by Joe Hill, who I was surprised to discover today is the son of Stephen and Tabitha King, Heart-Shaped Box is a paranormal thriller from start to finish. I was scared and grossed out, but also touched by the complexity of the characters. The story is one of loss and discovery as much as it is about ghosts and revenge.

Jude Coyn, a washed-out rock icon, purchases a haunted suit from what he thinks is eBay. He doesn't believe that it's actually haunted, but when the suit arrives, reeking and tucked into a black heart-shaped box, things go to shit pretty quickly. Jude and his girlfriend, Georgia nee Marybeth, find themselves on the run from a vengeful ghost. The journey takes them home, reconnects them to each other and to their pasts. There are plenty of twists to keep things interesting and I was enraptured. Hill has a deft and easy hand with the storytelling. Apparently, it runs in the family. The pacing was great, I never grew tired. The descriptions were elegant and spooky.

*** spoilers *** )
seraphcelene: (books by gloriousbite)
I bought [personal profile] yhlee's Conservation of Shadows and it is brilliant. Gorgeous, surprising, tight, and evocative. She's an amazing writer, you should know.

It's a collection of sixteen short stories, some published previously and some new ones. I am totes in love. I haven't read a collection that I enjoyed so much since I read Caitlin R. Kiernan's Alabaster.

Brilliant, brilliant reading! So far, I especially love Effigy Nights and Flower, Mercy, Needle, Chain. There's lots more to go, though. I'm trying to drag it out. Make the deliciousness last a little longer.

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August 2016

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