July 14th, 2012


Books 91-92: The Wolf Gift and 50 Shades of Red Riding Hood

Book 91: The Wolf Gift.
Author: Anne Rice, 2012.
Genre: Horror. Paranormal Romance. Werewolves
Other Details: Hardback. 406 pages.

Reuben Golding, a 23-year old reporter for the San Francisco Observer, is interviewing the owner of a grand mansion located on the rugged coast of North California. The owner, Marchent Nidek, is a glamorous 'older' woman (all of 38 years!), who is planning to sell the house she recently inherited when her missing uncle was finally declared legally dead. While there he falls in love with the property and given that he has a handy trust fund, decides he'd like to buy it. Collapse ) During the night there is a horrific attack and Reuben is bitten by what at first appears to be a wild animal. During his recuperation he begins to undergo a rather unexpected transformation into what he, and later the media, dubs the 'Man Wolf'. His exploration of his new nature doesn't bode well for local baddies as his 'nose for evil' ends up with him becoming a man-wolf vigilante. Eventually he becomes aware of a guardian group of werewolves from whom he hopes to learn more about the 'Wolf Gift'.

I adore werewolves (though not quite as much as one character in the novel did!) and it was nice to see Anne Rice returning to her horror roots even if she's come a little late to the werewolf sub-genre. Having loved her early works, I was willing to give this one a chance. Anne Rice's re-imagining of the werewolf legend proved to be one of those novels that provided a couple of afternoons of enjoyment but didn't make me want to buy my own copy or rave about the book, apart from sharing one aspect of the storyline that I expect was not meant to be found funny.

I found it a quite literary novel with knowing references throughout to werewolves in legend, literature and film. There is also a fair amount of theological musings. In general, I found it an engaging story and a fairly appealing cast including Reuben, though I failed to fall in love with him as I had Louis all those years ago. His level of privilege, along with his good looks (people are continually commenting on how handsome he is), reminded me of one of those pretty but rather bland young people who tend to populate American TV series. Collapse ) Although no announcement has been made, Rice has said she's planning a sequel.

Book 92: 50 Shades of Red Riding Hood.
Author: R. R. Hood, 2012
Genre: Short Story. Parody
Other Details: Ebook - 19 pages.

"It was a romance that the world would never understand. He was a big bad wolf; she was just a young woman with no self-respect. Little Red Riding Hood knows it’s wrong. She knows their needs would never match. Yet she finds herself inexplicably drawn to Mr Wolf and his ‘specific tastes’. Repetitive, badly written and poorly edited, ‘Fifty Shades of Red Riding Hood’ has all the ingredients necessary to become a runaway success." - synopsis from 'Goodreads'.

I learnt of the existence of this short parody when a Facebook friend posted a link to its Amazon.co.uk page. Although I have not read the original work it is sending up, I have been exposed to enough reviews and snippets of to appreciate its humour. It was made all that more amusing having recently read Anne Rice's The Wolf Gift with its unintentionally funny scenes of Collapse ).

I also appreciated the end note by R. R. Hood which does make a serious point about abusive relationships in fiction and real life.
book and cup

#72 Dead Man's Folly - Agatha Christie (1957)

Dead Man’s Folly I think I have read twice before – and have seen a TV adaptation too – so maybe it was no real surprise that I began to remember things after about 60 pages. It all remained very muddled in my head though and so I had to read on to see what I had remembered correctly.
In Dead Man’s Folly, Hercule Poirot is summoned to Devon by Ariadne Oliver – a character of Agatha Christie’s that is quite obviously a thinly disguised self-portrait. I’ve always really rather liked Ariadne Oliver, she is an eccentric, and like Poirot, something of a stereotype – still Agatha Christie novels are not the kind of novels to take too seriously. Ariadne Oliver is involved in the preparations of a fete in the grounds of Nasse House – as part of the preparations Ariadne is designing a muder hunt – like a treasure hunt with clues hidden around the grounds. Ariadne tells everyone at Nasse House that Poirot is there to present the prize however her real motive in getting Poirot to Devon is because she is convinced that “something is wrong” There are the usual collection of Christie types scattered around Nasse house and the immediate surroundings, a young married couple, a cynical young architect, the former owner of Nasse house living in the lodge, Sir George Stubbs the wealthy new owner and his much younger wife, who is apparently rather suggestible and the bitter secretary come housekeeper. The day following Poirot’s arrival the Fete gets underway – a local girl guide is to play the part of the body in Mrs Oliver’s murder hunt – only Ariadne’s belief that something was wrong proves all too accurate when she and Poirot find the poor girl dead in the boathouse. Within a couple of hours it is also obvious that the beautiful Hattie Stubbs is missing.
One of the criticisms often levelled against Agatha Christie – is that she cheats. Well – yes she does – in that Fred Bloggs will later turn out to be Joe Brown who disappeared down the Amazon seventeen years earlier and hasn’t been heard of since. Some people don’t like the fact that the reader therefore doesn’t have all the information – and so can’t solve the mystery themselves. That has never bothered me. The reader can make a shrewd guess to the who without knowing the why and how after all. I think I always prefer to have everything revealed to me at the end anyway, and so I don’t try to work it out – that’s the job of the detective. This was perfect easy reading for me – as I never tire of dear old Poirot.