I remembered OVER SEA, UNDER STONE, the first book in the Dark Is Rising series being much inferior to the second book, The Dark Is Rising; rereading, unfortunately, confirmed my memory is accurate. The three Drew siblings (who return in Book Three, Greenwitch, and join forces Will Staunton in the final volume, Silver on the Tree) are on holiday in Cornwall when they discover an old treasure map in the house they’re staying in … and their Uncle Merriman tells them it’s nothing less than a map to the Holy Grail. Can they find it before the forces of the Dark do? The fantasy level here is minimal, which makes this interchangeable with countless other tales I read or watched as a kid, where kids are racing bad guys to some priceless McGuffin. I do wonder if Cooper had everything in the series figured out yet, as this implies Merriman is Merlin, but not an Old One (rights to image with current holder, don’t know the artist)
LOVE, TIME, SPACE, MAGIC: Love Stories for the Imaginative and the Fanciful is the Canadian anthology that includes my Leave the World to Darkness,though I’m not sure if Victoria Feistner’s “Melanie in the Underworld,” with its very Toronto setting isn’t my favorite: it’s hard to pull off an Orpheus knockoff that doesn’t feel cliched, but she manages it (and following this post, she’s contributing a guest blog post here). I also enjoyed Ira Nayman’s story (about which he also guest-blogged) for showing how hard finding your true love’s counterpart in some parallel world could really be (given my current time-travel viewing, that has obvious appeal for me). In other stories, Dracula finds a worthy match, a herbalist tries to heal a wizard’s heart, cyborg nerds find the courage to chat and a time-traveler learns finding your Lost Love’s alternate counterpart is tougher than it looks. A pleasure to be in this one.
GILDED CITY: Scandal and Sensation in Turn-of-the-Century New York by M.H. Dunlop takes a look at various items and events—diamonds, art collections, Gay Nineties interior decor, slumming, a notorious sex party to capture the lifestyles and attitudes of the Big Apple of the era. Informative, but Dunlap’s writing is still and she makes assumptions about people’s attitudes towards consumption, luxury and showing off that she never backs up (and of course asserting that pretty girls were just another consumer good hardly distinguishes the fin-de-siecle era from any other).
In HANNAH SINGER, CELESTIAL ADVOCATE, author Peter G. tackles the time-honored idea of a heavenly courtroom where our eternal fate is settled. This started to lose me with the second of its several stories in which we learn protagonist Hannah Singer almost went to Hell herself for being a medieval atheist; not for one second could I buy her as a medieval-born character. More generally, the author’s explorations of morality and spirit just never grabbed me, neither did the courtroom drama.
The comic-book collection GLORY: War-Torn by Joe Keatinge and various illustrators wraps up Glory’s saga following her first TPB (I suspect they were hoping for more, judging by the ending, but I don’t believe there was a third volume). This has Glory work out issues with her sister and her parents (“Do you know how many people I killed to avenge you?”) before recruiting a large batch of Image super-heroes to take on an invading God. Not classic, but some interesting twists.