Books · Fantasy

Mini Reviews: The Graveyard Book & Storm Front

The Graveyard Book, Neil Gaiman
This is one of the best books I’ve read this year! It starts rather episodic, each chapter detailing different moments in Bod’s childhood. Bod (short for Nobody) Owens is a live boy raised in a graveyard by ghosts, with the help of a vampire named Silas. The first part of the book tells about his childhood – how he came to be living with the ghosts, his adventures as a child, growing up among ghosts and learning ghostly as well as human things. I guess it reminds me strongly of Kipling’s The Jungle Book, which I had been wanting to read or re-read for quite some time (I only read several different abridged versions as a child, and would like to read the actual book) and so it didn’t surprise me when Neil Gaiman credited Kipling as the inspiration of The Graveyard Book at the end of it. Having said that, I’m actually dense enough not to realize the similarity in the titles until now. Aha, now everything makes sense. I was wondering the title when I picked it up at Kino last a couple of weeks ago.
As Bod grows older and begins to question why he wasn’t allowed out of the graveyard, the main plot picks up. Bod becomes more interested in knowing about his human family and who he used to be, and learns of the danger that the graveyard’s inhabitants protect him from. As the man Jack (and his very sharp knife) closes in on Bod, he would have to decide what makes him who he is – where he came from, or the journey to where he is? This is a brilliant novel about identity and growing up. Of course, it’s also funny and easy to read with lots of wonderfully eccentric characters!

Storm Front, Jim Butcher

To tell the truth, I sort of forgot that I had this book. I bought it last year, or the year before, and completely forgot about it, only to find it again in my old room, abandoned on the shelf. So I took it home and placed it at the top of my TBR list.

At first it was difficult to get into, because it’s very much a mystery novel. It’s a fantasy novel, true, but it’s written in the style of a detective novel. Harry Dresden, the protagonist, is a wizard who works as a private investigator. This is the first book of the Dresden Files series, and it begins with Harry being very broke (business has been quite bad), under the Doom of Damocles (the wizard version being under probation!?), and very much dateless. By the end of the story, he is still 2 of the 3 mentioned above… haha.

Anyway, the case he was working on was pretty interesting in an X-Files sort of way. Someone (probably another wizard) committed a double murder by causing the victims’ hearts to explode out of their chests. Since Harry is the only known wizard who could have committed the crime and has previously murdered (in self-defense, although that didn’t matter to the White Council), he was also a suspect. So, on top of everything else, he also had to prove his innocence.

While the plot was definitely engaging, I can’t really symphatize with the characters. Especially the human ones – Bob the skull, Mister the cat and Toot the fairy were all more believable and likable than Harry Dresden, Karrin Murphy, and the rest of the human cast. This is partly why I usually don’t read hardboiled mysteries – the characters are, more often than not, rather 2D. Still, I think the story itself is good enough that I might be looking for the second volume of the series…

~ originally posted on blogspot

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