Friday, December 16, 2022

Advent Ghosts 2022: Silent Night

 The Tailor smiled at your snowy beard as she sowed buttons onto your crimson coat. You smiled back, a half-conscious response. You knew exactly what she was thinking. ‘He looks just like Santa Claus’.

The store-clerk nodded approvingly as you handed him an oversized sack. The same thoughts were flashing through his brain and it was second nature to encourage them.

The man at the gun shop was different. Didn’t even bother to glance up from his copy of ammunition weekly as he handed you the silencer. You smirked, ‘Silent night’ indeed. At Christmas red was better camouflage than black.

Advent Ghosts 2022: I told you so

 A bill outlawing Christmas presents? You were ecstatic. No more hard-earned money siphoned to corporations.

I wanted to get our son something small anyway. You waved away my concerns, pronounced it was like pulling off a band-aid.

There was that Academic on TV warning about an ancient manuscript and gift-giving keeping evil spirits pacified. As Christmas approached his message never changed but he grew disheveled, desperate to be heeded. You scoffed.

Christmas morning. The bedroom door burst open, revealing the silhouette of our son, blood-stained knife in hand, eyes rolled back in his skull.

‘I told you so’ isn’t enough.

Friday, December 17, 2021

Advent Ghosts 2021:The Cracker

 Multihued lights spiraled their way around the Christmas tree mesmerizing the families clustered around the restaurant’s sea of tables. Jeff ignored them, mechanically chomping down on a mouthful of ham. Christmas had been his life for the decades he’d worked at Hallmark crackers. ‘Budget cuts,’ explained his boss, an upstart who couldn’t tell a cracker snap from tissue.

Jeff chuckled. Safety checks were another victim of those cuts. Scattered explosions would bury Hallmark under an avalanche of lawsuits.

“Buck up mate.” A jovial fellow exclaimed, offering a cracker.

The blood drained from Jeff’s face when he discerned a familiar logo.  

Friday, December 18, 2020

Advent Ghosts 2020: Christmas Lights

 “Oh, look how pretty the lights are John!” Sarah exclaimed, practically bouncing in her boots.

Seemingly endless rows of fairy lights lit up the house like the constellations on a clear night.

“Can we take a closer look?”

“I don’t see why not?” John shrugged, “That’s what Christmas lights are for right?”

The creature hunched in the shadows as still as the mountains it had outlived, cold eyes intently staring as it’s prey ambled closer. It was a trick almost as old as the creature itself and had served it well in the depths. Food always came to the light.

Friday, December 20, 2019

Advent ghosts 2019: The Deal

Martin flopped into bed. The sheets engulfing him and dispelling whirling thoughts of litigations.

"Did you put the milk and cookies out?" Sarah asked "Timmy will be devastated if you haven't.

"All sorted" Martin lied.

An empty glass and a few sprinkled crumbs and Timmy wouldn't know the difference.

Santa was furious. Somehow these short-lived mortals kept the memory of their deal alive, binding him with libations through guest rights that no Fae could break. Although perhaps not here. Santa smirked as he spotted the bare kitchen counter. He stalked towards the child's bedroom, licking his lips all the way.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Review: The Core by Peter V. Brett

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Having captured the lead mind demon Alagai Ka and discovered that queen demon is set to lay a new set of queens leading to a civil war of sorts between that demons that will result in humanity's destruction, Arlen, his wife Rena and Ahmann hatch a desperate plan to have Alagai Ka lead them to the core and stop it. While they are gone the leaders of the rest of humanity need to try and keep their people alive through sustained attacks by the demons.

Pacing has been an issue in the middle books in this series but is well handled in the finale. I found a good balance between the main and secondary plots. I also found Brett cleverly introduced material for outrigger series without compromising on what was happening in this one.

It was particularly interesting to see the issue of faith addressed particularly between the interactions between Arlen and Ahmann. For me this was the strongest development in Ahmann's character throughout the entire series.

Overall a well balanced finale. 8.5/10.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Review: The Witchwood Crown by Tad Williams

Thirty years have passed since the events of Memory, Sorrow and Thorn, King Simon and Queen Mirimele have seen their kingdom of Asten Ard move from strength to strength but not everything has gone their way. Thier son and heir John Josua died from illness in his early tenties, leaving behind two children. The Eldest, prince Morgan , is a wastrel who doesn't have any interest in learning how to rule a Kingdom, much to the despair of his grandparents.

Meanwhile Utuk’ku, the Norn queen, has apparently awoken and preparations are made to invade the lands of men once more. A small squad is dispatched on a seemily impossible mission to catch a living dragon. Among them is Nezuru,the half blood daughter of the Hikeda’ya Lord Viyeki and his mortal slave concubine Tzoj, who begins to question her place in Norn society. This is excabated when she meets Jarnulf, a human seeminly working for the Norns who has his own agenda.

One of the things Williams did extremely well in the briding novel The Heart of What was Lost was humanize the Norn characters, making the reader root for both sides of the conflict. However none of that is present in this novel sadly, with all of the Norns even Viyeki coming across as arogant. 

Pacing is generally quite slow with lots of streches without the plot seeming to advance much.

Through Simon (and a lesser extent Mirimele) Williams is able to delve into the struggle of aging and brings a real depth to these charcaters.

One of the most intriguing things for me was the vast discrepancies between Simon and Mirimele's meomories of John Josua and that of Morgan's. 

Overall I found this novel a mixed bag, with some issues with pacing and characterization. 7/10.