Quick Review: BLOOD COMMUNION by Anne Rice (Chatto & Windus/Knopf)

RiceA-VC13-BloodCommunionUKHCLestat ushers in a new era for the world’s undead

From his meticulously restored ancestral chateau high up in the mountains of France, Prince Lestat grapples to instil a new ideology of peace and harmony among the blood-drinking community. Accustomed to welcoming the Undead from far and wide, one night he awakes to news of a ruthless attack by a group of maverick blood-drinkers.

After fleeing to investigate the terror, Lestat learns of several new enemies who despise his rule over the blood-drinking realm, and who are intent on disrupting the harmony he tries so hard to maintain. But is Lestat strong enough to take on such evil alone or will sacrifices have to be made? Will his cry for peace be heard in a world riddled with violence?

If you’ve been following CR for any amount of time, really, you’ll have noticed how much I like Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles series. The Vampire Lestat and Queen of the Damned are, together, one of my favourite novels (I have to read them together, so they only count as one). In this, Rice’s thirteenth novel in the series, Lestat ushers in a new era for the world’s blood-drinkers as he takes the crown. Continue reading

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Review: WASHINGTON BLACK by Esi Edugyan (Harper Collins/Knopf/Serpent’s Tail)

EdugyanE-WashingtonBlackCAA gripping, beautifully written story about freedom, science, and finding one’s place in a hostile world

When two English brothers arrive at a Barbados sugar plantation, they bring with them a darkness beyond what the slaves have already known. Washington Black – an eleven year-old field slave – is horrified to find himself chosen to live in the quarters of one of these men. But the man is not as Washington expects him to be. His new master is the eccentric Christopher Wilde – naturalist, explorer, inventor and abolitionist – whose obsession to perfect a winged flying machine disturbs all who know him. Washington is initiated into a world of wonder: a world where the night sea is set alight with fields of jellyfish, where a simple cloth canopy can propel a man across the sky, where even a boy born in chains may embrace a life of dignity and meaning – and where two people, separated by an impossible divide, can begin to see each other as human.

But when a man is killed one fateful night, Washington is left to the mercy of his new masters. Christopher Wilde must choose between family ties and young Washington’s life. What follows is a flight along the eastern coast of America, as the men attempt to elude the bounty that has been placed on Washington’s head. Their journey opens them up to the extraordinary: to a dark encounter with a necropsicist, a scholar of the flesh; to a voyage aboard a vessel captained by a hunter of a different kind; to a glimpse through an unexpected portal into the Underground Railroad. This is a novel of fraught bonds and betrayal. What brings Wilde and Washington together ultimately tears them apart, leaving Washington to seek his true self in a world that denies his very existence.

From the blistering cane fields of Barbados to the icy plains of the Canadian Arctic, from the mud-drowned streets of London to the eerie deserts of Morocco, Washington Black teems with all the strangeness of life. This inventive, electrifying novel asks, What is Freedom? And can a life salvaged from the ashes ever be made whole?

I first learned of Esi Edugyan’s latest novel when the Man Booker Long-list was announced. I was surprised that a novel that wasn’t even out yet would be on the long-list, but it led me to try to hunt down a copy. Harper Collins Canada was very kind in supplying me with an ARC, and I started reading it the weekend before it was published. I really enjoyed reading this novel. Continue reading

Upcoming: WASHINGTON BLACK by Esi Edugyan (Harper Collins / Knopf / Serpent’s Tail)

EdugyanE-WashingtonBlack

I first learned of Esi Edugyan‘s Washington Black after I saw it announced that it was on the Man Booker Prize longlist — despite not yet being available. (I still find it a little strange when as-yet-unreleased novels are included on prize lists.) Nevertheless, I think it sounds really interesting:

When two English brothers take the helm of a Barbados sugar plantation, Washington Black — an eleven year-old field slave — finds himself selected as personal servant to one of these men. The eccentric Christopher ‘Titch’ Wilde is a naturalist, explorer, scientist, inventor and abolitionist, whose single-minded pursuit of the perfect aerial machine mystifies all around him.

Titch’s idealistic plans are soon shattered and Washington finds himself in mortal danger. They escape the island together, but then then Titch disappears and Washington must make his way alone, following the promise of freedom further than he ever dreamed possible.

From the blistering cane fields of Barbados to the icy wastes of the Canadian Arctic, from the mud-drowned streets of London to the eerie deserts of Morocco, Washington Black teems with all the strangeness and mystery of life. Inspired by a true story, Washington Black is the extraordinary tale of a world destroyed and made whole again.

I can’t wait to read this novel. Washington Black to due to be published in Canada by Harper Collins (September 4th); in the US by Knopf (September 18th); and in the UK Serpent’s Tail (August 2nd).

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads

Upcoming: BLOOD COMMUNION by Anne Rice (Chatto & Windus/Knopf)

RiceA-VC13-BloodCommunionUKHCIn 2014, Anne Rice marked a welcome return to her Vampire Chronicles with Prince Lestat. A long-time fan of the series, I was eager to read more about Lestat, Louis, and the ever-growing cast of colourful characters Rice had created. Then, in 2016, Rice’s Prince Lestat and the Realms of Atlantis dramatically altered our understanding of the undead mythology she had created. This October, the thirteenth novel in the series, Blood Communion will arrive. I can’t wait to read it. Here’s the synopsis:

From his meticulously restored ancestral château, high up in the mountains of France, Prince Lestat is grappling to instil a new ideology of peace and harmony among the blood-drinking community. Accustomed to welcoming all of the Undead – from far and wide – into his court, one night he awakes to news of a ruthless attack by a group of maverick blood-drinkers.

After fleeing to investigate the terror, Lestat learns of several new enemies who despise his rule over the blood-drinking realm, and who are intent on disrupting the harmony he tries so hard to maintain. One enemy in particular, the infamous Rhoshamandes, is notoriously powerful. But is Lestat strong enough to take on such evil alone or will sacrifices have to be made? Will his cry for peace be heard in a world riddled with violence?

An enthralling, sweeping adventure, full of drama and suspense, Blood Communion will have readers gripped to the very end. It is not just a compelling tale of a troubled leader, but a novel about the power of ambition, as well as a timely reflection on the struggle of individuals to find and defend their place in the world.

It was recently announced that Bryan Fuller has been tapped to run the new TV adaptation of the series, more on which can be found here. Blood Communion will be published in the UK by Chatto & Windus, and in North America by Knopf.

Also on CR: Reviews of Prince Lestat and Prince Lestat and the Realm of Atlantis

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review: PRINCE LESTAT AND THE REALMS OF ATLANTIS by Anne Rice (Knopf/Arrow)

RiceA-VC12-PrinceLestat&RealmsOfAtlanticUSPBThe twelfth Vampire Chronicle novel upends, once again, the origin story

“In my dreams, I saw a city fall into the sea. I heard the cries of thousands. I saw flames that outshone the lamps of heaven. And all the world was shaken…”

Lestat de Lioncourt is no longer alone.

A strange, otherworldly spirit has resurfaced, taking possession of his body and soul. All-seeing, all-knowing, its voice whispers in his ear, telling the hypnotic tale of Atlantis, the great sea power of ancient times…

Prince Lestat is seduced by the power of this ancient spirit, but is he right to trust it? Why has Lestat, leader of the vampires, been chosen as its bodily host?

And what of Atlantis, the mysterious heaven on earth? Why must the vampires reckon so many millennia later with the terrifying force of this ageless, all-powerful Atalantaya spirit?

It falls to Lestat to discover the truth.

I do love this series. As I have written (so very many times) on the site, I consider Rice’s The Vampire Lestat and Queen of the Damned to be one of my favourite books — I always read them together, so I think of them as one. With each novel, Rice has built on the impressive vampire mythos she’s created. In Prince Lestat, the author took a pretty bold step in developing the mythology: in fact, she pretty much upended everything we’ve come to learn so far. I was surprised, and a little nervous, when I realized that, in Prince Lestat and the Realms of Atlantis, the author was going to do it again… Continue reading

Interview with DARYL GREGORY

Vt7GelpOLet’s start with an introduction: Who is Daryl Gregory?

What an impossible question! From the books I’ve read on neuroscience and consciousness, it’s clear that the contiguous self, this “I” who is typing this, is an illusion generated by the brain. Let’s not even mention the illusion of free will. So how about this? “You” and “I” will agree, for convenience, that there’s a person called Daryl who has somehow chosen to write a book. Ready? Here goes:

I’m a writer who lives in Oakland, California, and exists primarily on a diet of beer and coffee. I’ve written six novels, the novella We Are All Completely Fine, which won the World Fantasy Award and the Shirley Jackson Award, as well as short stories, comics, and video games.

And now you may be regretting this interview. Continue reading

Quick Review: TRAJECTORY by Richard Russo (Knopf)

russor-trajectoryusA new anthology from the Pultizer Prize-winning author

Russo’s characters in these four expansive stories bear little similarity to the blue-collar citizens we’re familiar with from many of his novels. In “Horseman,” a professor confronts a young plagiarist as well as her own weaknesses as the Thanksgiving holiday looms closer and closer: “And after that, who knew?” In “Intervention,” a realtor facing an ominous medical prognosis finds himself in his father’s shadow while he presses forward – or not. In “Voice,” a semiretired academic is conned by his increasingly estranged brother into coming along on a group tour of the Venice Biennale, fleeing a mortifying incident with a traumatized student back in Massachusetts but encountering further complications in the maze of Venice. And in “Milton and Marcus,” a lapsed novelist struggles with his wife’s illness and tries to rekindle his screenwriting career, only to be stymied by the pratfalls of that trade when he’s called to an aging, iconic star’s mountaintop retreat in Wyoming.

I’m a relatively recent convert to Russo fandom. I read the author’s campus novel, Straight Man a few years ago, and started to collect all of his other novels. I finally got around to reading the Pulitzer-winning Empire Falls, which I very much admired. Ever since, I have been eager to read more of his work. Trajectory collects four of Russo’s shorter fictions, and offers an excellent entry point in to his fiction. I very much enjoyed this book. Continue reading