Quick Or Creepy? My Belated Book Reviews For July

July was BUSY for me, but thankfully I still found plenty of time for reading! And with a slightly longer commute to and from work, I have that much more extra reading time each day. Given the speed at which I got through the first two books this month, I hoped that I would have read more. However, my third book of July was a beast! (If I’m being perfectly honest, I finished it during the first week of August). But I’m still ahead of the reading goal I set for myself for 2022, so I’m not worried at all.

Stardust by Neil Gaiman: I cannot stand jumping into a movie part-way through – even if it is a film I’ve seen before. There are, however, some exceptions and Stardust (2007) is one of them. This is one of my favourite movies and I have and will re-watch it and jump in part way through if it’s on TV or if someone else is watching it.

So why the hell has it taken me 15 years to read the damn book?!

I think because I know I love the movie so much, I was always waiting for “the perfect moment” to read it. But I’ve read all of the other Neil Gaiman books on my shelf, so it was finally time to dive into Stardust the novel.

Now, obviously, there are differences between the book and the film. But since I’m already so familiar with the core elements of the story, I tore through this book in no time at all. And as a fan of both the movie and Gaiman’s other works, I enjoyed every single page.

The only disappointment is that my favoutire character from the film, Captain Shakespeare (Robert DeNiro), is not actually in the book! Johannes Alberic is the captain that appears in the book. And although he is a likeable character, it’s just not the same.

Still, I will absolutely re-read the book and re-watch the movie. This is hands down one of my top 3 favourite Gaiman stories.

Nothing but Blackened Teeth by Cassandra Khaw: When I saw a picture of the cover on Goodreads, I knew I had to have this book in my collection. And when I found one copy left at a bookstore on my way home from TFCon, I couldn’t resist bringing it home. I took a look at the length of the book and thought, “I can read this in one sitting.” And I did!

Not only is it a shorter novel/novella, but the prose has a nice flow to it that made for easy reading. Although there were a few WTF moments that made me double take and re-read passages – but that’s just because the subject matter was messed up.

That being said, I wish that some of the more horrific moments had had more time on the page. Certain moments of suffering seemed to pass in the blink of an eye, and the ending was abrupt and came too quickly after one of the most disturbing passages in the book. It was both good and bad because on the one hand, I was frustrated that that part of the book was so short. On the other hand, it left me wanting more in a good way.

Another element I really enjoyed was the complex relationship dynamics between the characters. As someone who writes about “complicated families”, I have realized that I also enjoy reading about those kinds of dysfunctional relationships.

The Complete works of H.P. Lovecraft: I first read some of Lovecraft’s work during a horror fiction course in university, and although I loved “From Beyond” I didn’t get what all the fuss was about. Years later, when I started diving deeper into the world of horror, I started to realize just what an impact he has had over the horror and cosmic horror genres. And now that I’m trying to read more horror stories and watch more horror movies in order to improve my own craft, I knew that it was time I read more of Lovecraft’s work.

Now, thanks to my horror course, I am well aware that Lovecraft was a horrible person. It’s one of those instances where I have to try to enjoy the art while being mindful of the faults of the artist (any Harry Potter fans should be familiar with this situation). Thankfully, Lovecraft has been dead long enough that his work is now public domain. I didn’t want anyone to make a cent off of my reading his works, but I had no trouble finding a free PDF copy of his complete works.

Now, I knew going into it that Lovecraft was horrifically racist, but some of the racism in the stories shocked me because it was so much worse than I expected. I’m so glad I didn’t spend any money on this.

But, given his influence in the horror genre, I am glad I read this 700+ page PDF. Racism aside, not all of his stories were enjoyable. The ones that were written in third person, contained little or no dialogue, and/or were heavy in mythology were usually the hardest for me to get through. I didn’t retain a whole lot from those stories.

Personally, I find that his stories were stronger when he wrote them in first person point of view. And maybe it’s because I was already familiar with the stories, but the ones that have inspired film/television/video games etc. were my favourites. And maybe that’s why those were the ones that got turned into movies – because they are stronger stories.

After reading the whole collection, I think “From Beyond” is still my favourite story of his. I also really enjoyed “The Colour out of Space”, “Herbert West – Reaminator”, “The Rats in the Walls”, “Cool Air”, “The Shadow over Innsmouth”, and “The Thing on the Doorstep.”

If you too would like to read theses stories, but don’t want anyone to profit off of Lovecraft’s work, here is the link to that PDF.

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