Author: Tom Holt
Title: Earth, Air, Fire, and Custard
Publication Info: London : Orbit, 2006.
This is the third in a series of J.W. Wells stories where the hapless Paul Carpenter finds himself forced to work in a company that’s really a front for the magic business of a bunch of goblins. In this adventure he has to deal with the lack of love in his life, pointless errands for his boss, dying several times, a parallel universe made of custard, bovine divinity, and setting reality straight several times over. The plot and twists are overly complicated but that’s part of the fun. The humor in this book is sharp and while the book may be overly long, I enjoyed catching up with Paul and company.
Author: William Ritter
Narrator: Nicola Barber
Publication Info: HighBridge, a division of Recorded Books (2014)
This detective novel set in 1892 in a fictional city in New England openly acknowledges that it is a Sherlock Holmes pastiche in the opening pages. Even “Sherlock Holmes with fantastical and supernatural elements” has been done before, but Jackaby remains fresh and entertaining. The title character is an investigator who can see evidence of the paranormal. The story is narrated by Abigail Rook, a young woman seeking adventure who steps off the ship at New Fiddleham and quickly becomes Jackaby’s assistant embroiled in solving a series of grisly murders.
The narration wisely stays with Abigail as we see Jackaby slowly become a warmer character, but still retaining an air of mystery. The story has a lot of humor mixed with moments of horror, although nothing overly terrifying. It’s a fun story and I will seek out other installments in the series.
“Monsters are easy, Miss Rook. They’re monsters. But a monster in a suit? That’s basically just a wicked man, and a wicked man is a more dangerous thing by far.”
This makes them dreaded creatures, feared and hated by any who hear them, a treatment far disparate from the honor and appreciation they used to receive for their mourning services. Banshees themselves are not dangerous, though, just burdened with the task of expressing pain and loss.
That the battles are usually in her head does not lessen the bravery of it. The hardest ones always are.
Happiness is bliss–but ignorance is anesthetic.
Recommended books: The Diviners by Libba Bray, The Monster in the Mist by Andrew Mayne, The Dante Club by Matthew Pearl, The Technologists by Matthew Pearl, The Night Inspector by Frederick Busch, and The Alienist by Caleb Carr
Author: Oscar Wilde
Title: The Picture of Dorian Gray
Narrator: Paul Lincoln
Publication Info: Dreamscape Media, LLC (2016) [Originally published in 1890]
Sometimes you decide that you should make up for having never read any works of Oscar Wilde and learn that this book is far weirder than you ever imagined. The Picture of Dorian Gray is highly melodramatic and is tuned to Victorian era sensibilities of morality. This portrait in this book famously ages while it’s subject remains young and beautiful, but the story is not about aging but the representation of Dorian Gray’s evil acts in the visage of his picture. I was also surprised about how frank this book is about homosexuality for the time. At any rate, it’s a nice surprise to finally read a book you think you know what it’s about, only to find yourself very surprised.
Recommended Books: Death in Venice by Thomas Mann