Traveling is a pleasure that often happens to us. But there are many kinds of trips. And there is nothing that can compare to the experience of India. I mean, of course, to travel, not to buy a package tour to show us in 10 days and nine nights the wonders of the Moguls’ India. I’m talking about landing in a country of legend, and feel, from the first moment, as if you had been left to fend on Mars, and wonder with anguish, how many days you could live with the oxygen that remains. Then, there’s nothing else than decide to explore a planet where you confirm that yes, the traveler can survive although in harsh conditions, until, months later, you return home, and find that the hostile planet perhaps is your planet. That and more is India.
It was a normal evening of a normal (though very hot) day in late August, when I came, as usual, in a bookstore to catch a glimpse of the news. What I did not expect to find, appeared right before my eyes in the youth section. A book of which I had been hearing wonders for months. A score of 4.43 out of 5 in Goodreads and hundreds of reviews put it through the roof, and as if that were not enough, a book that has been No. 1 in the New York Times and has been more than 30 weeks on the list of best sellers in the United States. It couldn’t be otherwise and as the compulsive reader I am, I could not do anything else but take it out and see for myself if so many good reviews were a real mirror of the book.
And indeed, they were. But I want to start giving some details about the plot of this novel. Six of Ravens tells the story of a group of young people living in a seedy neighborhood of a fictitious island called Kerch. Among them is stands out Kaz brekker, a thief known as Dirty Hands, which is famous for his ruthlessness and as the head of the strippings, a gang of young criminals who barely survive on the island. When he is offered a mission that could make you him earn millions of krugge (currency of Kerch), he assembles a group formed by Grisha (people with supernatural powers) and the people he most trusts to go together in search of his goal… Continue reading “Six of Crows – Leigh Bardugo”
Svetlana Alexievich wa born in 1948 in Ukraine. Descendant of the Great Victory, strongly influenced by the stories of the women in her family and her environment, the world of her childhood was the world of war and of her words. Also, as many years after her masterpiece: War’s unwomanly face (first published in 1983) would show, it was her destiny.
Nearly one million women fought in the ranks of the Red Army during the Second World War, but their story has never been told. This book contains the memories of hundreds of them, women who were snipers, led tanks or worked in hospitals. Their story is not a story of war, or fighting, is the story of men and women at war. What happened? How did it transform them? What were they afraid of? How was to learn killing? Most of these women, for the first time in their lives, tell the not heroic part of the war, which is often absent from the stories of veterans. They speak about the dirt and cold, hunger and sexual violence, anguish and the omnipresent shadow of death.
I must confess all my reviews have their own soundtrack. That’s the truth, I can not write otherwise. But it is difficult to do it with Bob Marley playing in some part of my head. Marlon James knows. You have to know. His brief story of seven killings, at least, flows like a melody. His voice, broken and serious, is that of a jazz singer. His rhythm is the rhythmic and relaxed reggae one, but also a ballad one, with that sad trace that we feel some Sunday afternoons in winter. Sometimes interrupts a rock song. Sometimes a Heavy Metal one. The drums playing. And the song keeps playing with each passing page. Pap-pap-pap. Shoot.
Frankenstein is a character who could certainly belong to the inner conceptual dictionary of almost all human beings today, no need to think that everyone has ever read the book or seen a movie based on it. However, not all have the fascination and conceptual clarity that should come along at thinking of this monster. Perhaps the nomination of his name makes suddenly appear in the mind of some people a tall unsightly man with two large screws in his neck. In the best case of those who haven’t yet had the pleasure of having this work in their hands and draw it word by word in their mind as they read, they may wonder about the origin of his hideousness, and that is at least a good first step to decide reading one of the finest works of gothic horror all around the world.
It is not a story for children
We all know the story of Hansel and Gretel which has been reproduced in greater or lesser extent, by almost all literature. However, the story we read when we were just children, it’s just a false adaptation of what Grimm brothers actually wrote.
Actual events speak of the much cruder situation that existed in medieval times.
To refresh your memory, remember that Hansel and Gretel were a couple of siblings, kids of a poor woodcutter who, with his wife, decides to leave them because they had no way to feed the children. They take them deep into the forest and Hansel (in an intelligent attempt not to get lost) leaves breadcrumbs on the way to return home after being abandoned. However, birds eat the crumbs and they can not return.
This is the story of a ghost. A typical British ghost who lives in a typical British castle, scaring anyone who dares to approach there. At the end of the day it’s his job. It’s not what he really likes, because he is tired of doing the same for 300 years, but his honor is at stake and all self-respecting ghosts should cause the scariest horror in humans around them.
The castle belongs to the Dukes of Canterville many generations ago. In fact Canterville Ghost is doomed to wander indefinitely by the castle, for killing his wife in a jealous rage. The current duke and his wife fled from there as a soul taken by the devil and have never returned.
But now there is activity in the castle and it is because Lord Canterville has sold the property to an American “dreamers”. They bought the castle without knowing about the ghost, as the owner has feared that this “small detail” could foil the sale.
There are old stories about certain mortal characters that are characterized by being eccentric and even grotesque. Surely all of us have heard stories of this kind.
Madness, incomprehension, loneliness, murder, death, are some of the most characteristic features of these stories. Some of them can be real and many others may come from the outlets of popular imagination which make us think of the sinister darkness stirred inside some humans. Thus the constant terror has fueled the inspiration of many writers who have captured and reported in their stories, unexpected and terrifyingly immersive situations which capture the immediate attention of readers.
On this occasion I want to share a brief summary of one of the best known stories of master Edgar Allan Poe titled The black Cat, in which are reflected the superhuman despair and anguish that stir in the mind of a sinister being whose actions verge on madness.
If there is a book in the world to think about our own personality and all the features that form it, without falling into the mistake of believing that we are only what we think, and maybe in certain grade there is some of madness in every human being, that’s Steppenwolf.
Written by literary genius Herman Hesse (and I say it since this masterpiece is, by far, my favorite book, the one with which I feel represented in many ways), the narration tells us the story of a man who was almost 50 years old, and who is tired and pessimistic, sick in body and spirit; a strange, unsociable and mysterious man, full of talent and “with a capacity of unlimited, great, terrible suffering”. He is an introverted person, with vices and virtues, but punished by painful experiences, which makes him feel out of place in the surrounding material world and decides to seek truth through every imaginable experiences; besides, as he read the “Treatise On the Steppenwolf” given to him by a normal man he once saw in the street, he finds himself in struggle with the two opposite natures that inhabit him: the spiritual and the instinctive one.
“The Irishman Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu does not appear in the manuals of literature, and his work, except, perhaps, Uncle Silas, will not enjoy the favor of the public or the critics. And yet, he has written one of the best works on the myth of terror par excellence of this century: the vampire. He even took the lead in more than twenty years to the exemplary depiction of the legend that consecrated as a writer to Bram Stoker (I mean, of course his masterpiece Dracula, the undead paradigm). Precisely Dracula, and not incidentally, owes much to this sober and unknown precedent that is Carmilla, whose pages live imbued with the badness and decay we have come to associate the figure of the vampire.” Says Francisco J. Agrafojo in a good review he also did about this great book in spanish.
Carmilla was published in 1872, a year before it’s author death. This is undoubtedly, a gothic horror story, but also has a touch of eroticism, applied to the vampire, which will use it very subtly.