Category Archives: William Morrow

Book Review: Hide me among the Graves by Tim Powers

Title: Hide me among the Graves
Author: Tim Powers
Publisher: William Morrow, Harper Collins
ISBN: 978-0061231544
Genre: Fantasy, Historical Fiction
Pages: 528
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4/5

This is the first Tim Powers novel I have read and can confidently say that may be I will read another one. I liked this one. I did not love it but I sure did like it a lot. The blend of fantasy fiction and historical fiction intrigued and that’s what prompted me to read this book. I am glad I did. It was a different sort of experience for me.

Hide me among the Graves is a very distant sequel to his book, The Stress of her Regard (you don’t have to read this one first). The book is about pre-Raphaelite painter Gabriel Dante Rossetti and poetess Christina Rossetti as they fight the Nephilic vampires banished by the Romantic poets Byron and Shelley. Interesting, isn’t it? There is more to it than this. Someone re-woke the Nephilim and Christina invited one of the vampires to her house, in the form of her uncle John Polidori, and now everyone is in danger – of not dying but of turning to a vampire. The Rossetti family is accompanied by an ex-prostitute, Adelaide, her lover and a missing daughter.

This is the plot and thus begins the Victorian journey of Goth and Darkness. Hide me among the Graves is a very fast read. One doesn’t have to think so much while reading it and once a while you need a book like this, amongst the literary reads. The characters are unlikely and you will not know what hit you as you read along. Imagine Christina Rossetti fighting a vampire – I love this kind of flights of fancy in books, the unexpected always lurking to take you by surprise.

Tim Powers’ writing is sharp and meant for readers who are into vampires but not of the pop kind. The book has famed poets and artists peeping from the pages and the reader can sense Powers’ love for the Classical. The secondary characters are also well-rounded and not ignored in the book, which is another plus for me when I read a book.

The setting of the book is brilliant – Victorian London – dark and cold, perfect for a book of this nature. Hide me among the Graves is a delightful read – it has the “secret fantasy” element that unravels itself as you go along and at the same time it mingles with the classical without getting too pedantic (though sometimes predictable). I enjoyed the book.

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Book Review: Out of Oz by Gregory Maguire

Title: Out of Oz: The Final Volume in the Wicked Years
Author: Gregory Maguire
Publisher: William Morrow, Harper Collins
ISBN: 978-0-06-054894-0
Genre: Literary Fiction
Pages: 568
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5

When Gregory Maguire started writing the Oz series, I am sure he must have known how big this would be and it turned out to be just that – one big success, rippling through with excitement and sardonic humour and tragedy in almost every volume. The last volume in the series, “Out of Oz” is as addictive as the rest. Gregory Maguire writes in a lyrical manner and that is what I love the most about his writing, besides his ability to infuse evil in Oz and the ability to scare you as well. The plot in this one is well-paced and very exciting. The war between Oz and Munchkinland is at its height and that is the core of the book.

In this book, we get to know Rain who is Liir’s daughter (this is not a spoiler). She is odd and wistful and I loved her character and how it shaped throughout the book. The other usual characters are present in the book – Glinda, Liir, Cowardly Lion and of course Dorothy, who is not making a cameo this time. Dorothy’s character has been extended and it is beyond belief what shape it takes towards the end and throughout. Some brilliant thinking from Mr. Maguire here.

Over the past three books, there has been a lot of build up to the characters and the setting and that’s why one can see and relate to this book and its track. With “Out of Oz” he brings all the characters (though briefly) to tie the story to its end. Dorothy is back after having killed Elphaba (Wicked) and as I mentioned her role is not limited in this book. The questions of home and loyalty are also well-tackled in this one.

The book is enjoyable even before the adventure begins and that’s the power of Gregory Maguire’s writing. It will but obviously make no sense to you till you read the other Wicked books. Not everyone gets a happy ending and not all are supposed to also. Loose ends are tied as expected (thank god for that) and also ones that the reader can infer on his/her own. For me I loved the conclusion. Gregory Maguire’s writing charmed me with this one even more so and I would recommend that you also read his stand alone works on his own take on fairy tales. A brilliant conclusion to a fantastic series.

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Book Review: Reamde by Neal Stephenson

Title: Reamde
Author: Neal Stephenson
Publisher: William Morrow, Harper Collins
ISBN: 9780061977961
Genre: Thriller
Pages: 1056
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4.5/5

I had not read anything by Neal Stephenson before reading, “Reamde”. Hence this book managed to have that kind of effect on me. Neal Stephenson has done something marvellous in this book. He has managed to capture it all – explosiveness, madcap intensity, different threads, violence, family drama, Russian mob story, to a computer hacker plot, to terrorism – this book has it all and it is the sheer volume and size of it that makes it such a magnificent read.

Reamde’s size that runs into almost 1100 pages might put off readers, however don’t be intimidated by that. The story is based on the Forthrast Family – Richard Forthrast, an ex-small time drug runner, haunted by the Furious Muses (echoes of his previous girlfriends), now the owner of T’Rain, the world’s most successful online game; his younger brother Jacob “Jake” Forthrast, a born again Christian and Survivalist; his elder brother John Forthrast, Vietnam veteran with two high-tech artificial legs; his sister Patricia, killed by a bolt of lightning, and his adopted niece Zula Forthrast who walked to Sudan from Eritrea to escape a war.

Normal they might not be, but when Zula is kidnapped by the Russian Mafia after her boyfriend failed to deliver on a dodgy deal, they react as any family would and pull together to try and find a way to rescue her.

The Forthrast family isn’t your typical American family. Nowhere close to that and Neal Stephenson ensures that with every page. At the same time the unusual events that happen to them are contrasted with the more ordinary side of American life, including things like shopping at Wal-Mart, RVs, Starbucks, family reunions, Thanksgiving, gunshops etc.

The story is believable to some extent and the characters are beautifully developed. There is fast action, a superb plot, tongue-in-cheek humour and also so many stories that are within stories that I just don’t want to give away right now.

Stephenson is capable of writing great stuff and this I got to know only as I turned each page. Reamde is an excellent techno-thriller that is well worth your investment. It just means that you have to commit to it a lot given its size and twists in the tale.

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Book Review: Falling Together by Marisa de los Santos

Title: Falling Together
Author: Marisa de los Santos
Publisher: William Morrow, Harper Collins
ISBN: 9780061670879
Genre: Fiction
Pages: 368
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4/5

Falling Together is a story about three college friends – two young women and a man and refreshingly enough, it is not a love triangle. It is about Pen who feels that love triumphs in every situation, Will, in search of the third member of the trio and Cat who has left her husband and disappeared – their lives, quirks, their beliefs, their errors of judgment and the lives they led. Thrown into this is a college reunion which only adds to the further complexities of the plot.

The plot may seem thin and simple – however there is more to the story. Moreover Marisa de los Santos knows how to beautifully craft a sentence and keep the words sometimes to bare minimum. The friends have faced different issues and different skeletons also come out from the closet during the reunion and this is what keeps the story propelling. Marisa de los Santos as in her previous two novels manages to surface her characters’ thoughts and emotions to the hilt.

The book in itself is nothing new, in the sense the plot, what is new though is the style of writing as I have mentioned earlier. Each character had a lot of dimensions to it and that is what brings out the characterization in a better manner. The descriptions are detailed and the atmosphere only adds to the book.

Friendships in college mean a lot. They form you as a person and make the bonds stronger. Falling Together emphasizes on such relationships. Falling Together is a story that everyone can relate to as it is about friends and the lives that are common to all. I would not recommend the book because of the story; I would however recommend it for the way it is written.

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