Water Bodies is a bleakly enjoyable wade through the vice and folly that have got us into our catastrophic predicament. Its humour and wit are dry and acerbic; it meanders this way and that, revealing the illogicality and the primitivism, the superstition and the hate brandished by those who seek to expel, to exclude, to neutralize the demons whom they believe wish to devour them.
All in all, Nance has done a marvelous job in creating a well-written, suspenseful novel. His language is crisp and fresh, and his world-building is authentic, and his pacing just fast enough to keep readers at the edge of their seat, but slow enough to let them enjoy the ride. He has crafted a compelling, engrossing novel with more than one scene of gritty-realism that will prickle the back of your neck.
The story line travelled along at a comfortable trot, characters make their introductions and the chapters were just the perfect length to hold my interest, and before I knew it, a couple of hundred of pages had quickly passed by. Was this The Great Gatsby meets Alistair Crowley? Wrong again. Eye of the Moon is a classic gothic tale flawlessly composed with the author’s persona that is evident on every page.
Ranging from downtrodden pensioners to wealthy villa owners to ineptly corrupt bureaucrats, Leon’s secondary characters lead Brunetti through complex situations imbued with Italian history and passion, but often tainted by modern Italy’s ineffectual political system.
In the manner of Dorien Grey and his Dick Hardesty series, Aterovis has crafted a group of characters who are very credible. From the imperious homophobic father, the demoralized mother and on to the optimistic girlfriend, as well as each of the other actors in this work; the individuals are not always likeable. They are, however, plausible, well-fleshed and convincing.
It’s January and absolutely frigid in Fox’s world. Her little town of Hodgekiss really exists with one bar/restaurant, a new vet but no doctor, and eccentric, white characters who either work for the railroad or are ranchers. A few refer to ‘yotes, which intrigued me as I’ve never heard it before. It’s the dimunitive version of coyotes.
Spann skillfully navigates us through a large cast and new setting with multiple pivotal locations, as well as Hiro’s hidden emotional landscape. As the investigation goes on, tensions between Iga and Koga escalate. The flashpoint is coming; daggers and katana swords are drawn, Hiro and Neko grapple, and when it finally happens, the book’s title takes on more than one meaning.
Spann effortlessly brings us into Hiro’s world of both violence and grace where katana swords and ritual burial armor coexist with the intricate art of flower arranging. The details reflect rigorous research, down to the measure of a room based on the number of tatami mats and the cadence of the characters’ speech. You can almost smell the cherry blossoms.
Lazar is the master of the extended series, building his characters over years, slowly and richly so they become real to the reader. Little by little the characters backstories are revealed, even as we move forward in time and meet children and grandchildren. For readers coming back to the stories, there are plenty of ‘easter eggs’ or references to pick up on.
The plot moves fast, the narrative driving the reading towards its final unnerving twist. It all happens almost too quickly. James’ writing is so smooth, and the story so powerfully plotted, that its easy to miss how neatly the shifts are between the individual voices, the many delicate links between cause and effect and the parallels between adults and children as we move from one character to another, the way the reader is unwittingly drawn into the toxic culture of privilege that underpins these characters, or how subtle the thematics.