Monday, December 19, 2011

Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil's supply of human teeth grown dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real; she's prone to disappearing on mysterious "errands"; she speaks many languages--not all of them human; and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she's about to find out.

When one of the strangers--beautiful, haunted Akiva--fixes his fire-colored eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?
-Plot summary borrowed from Goodreads

I'd walked past this book a dozen times in bookstores and every time I thought "Oo what a pretty cover... But 'winged stangers'? Star-crossed love? Meh..." Then I noticed the bit about a mysterious shop, monsters, and an interestingly named, blue-haired heroine. That was enough to convince me to give the book a chance and I am so glad I did. 

Taylor's writing is fantastic. I cared instantly about Karou, couldn't wait to learn more about the "monsters" in her sketchbook, and was completely drawn into the shadowy streets of Prague. It may seem redundant to point out the magic realism in a fantasy book, but that's honestly one of my favorite things about this book. Even the mundane seems magical thanks to Taylor's lush writing, and it makes you feel that even our own world is full of weird, strange, terrifying and wonderful things just around the corner. Her writing style reminds me of books & stories by Neil Gaiman, Charles DeLint, Alice Hoffman and even Jorge Luis Borges, and I don't mean to imply that she is copying any of them. She's just that good. 

I'd write more about the plot, but I think this is one of those books where the more discoveries you make for yourself, the better. I will say that I loved it, that it is one of my favorite books I've read all year, and that the ending will leave you on tenterhooks for the sequel.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Why Labyrinth is a Classic, Or: Why Sarah Would Kick Bella's Butt

**Another article copied by me, Emily, for ease of reading and commenting. Enjoy! 
Suburban Fantasy, Gender Politics, plus a Goblin Prom: Why Labyrinth is a Classic
Muppet Week on Suburban Fantasy, Gender Politics, plus a Goblin Prom: Why Labyrinth is a Classic
Labyrinth was Jim Henson’s second collaboration with artist Brian Froud, following The Dark Crystal four years earlier. Labyrinth was clearly a very different, more expansive type of project; Henson and Froud were joined by George Lucas as executive producer, Monty Python’s Terry Jones wrote the screenplay, and rock demigod David Bowie signed on to star, as well as write and perform the movie’s soundtrack.
Whereas The Dark Crystal is often seen as Henson and Froud’s freewheeling homage to fantasy àla Tolkein, Labyrinth is much more structured and far more aware of its influences; it’s also wonderfully allusive and meta at points, filled with references to the Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Andersen, L. Frank Baum, Lewis Carroll, Maurice Sendak, and Walt Disney. And yet the movie doesn’t limit itself to clever references — it’s very clearly participating in the classic tradition of works like The Wizard of Oz, the Alice books, and Where the Wild Things Are, in which a young protagonist escapes a humdrum existence into an exotic, sometimes threatening, alternative reality.
Muppet Week on Suburban Fantasy, Gender Politics, plus a Goblin Prom: Why Labyrinth is a Classic
The film opens with our teenaged protagonist, Sarah, lost in her own little world, preferring to hang out in costume reciting plays in the park than she is in “normal” teenaged stuff like dating. The first ten minutes of the movie do a stellar job of setting up Sarah as the heroine of her own suburban fairy tale, the put-upon Cinderella who stomps her way huffily through interactions with her more-exasperated-than-evil stepmother and nice-but-clueless dad. It’s a tribute to Jennifer Connelly’s performance that Sarah manages to exhibit all the hyper-dramatic martyrdom of your average 16-year-old while still seeming sympathetic and likeable — it’s easy to identify with her in the same way that we identify with Alice, or Dorothy Gale, or Sendak’s Max.
Perhaps on some level, the petty tyrannies of bossy adults, no matter how well-meaning, are always going to strike a chord with anyone who’s ever been a kid. In spite of Sarah’s mini-tantrum over having to babysit her baby brother (played by young Toby Froud, whose parents met while working on The Dark Crystal), it’s hard to blame her for feeling unappreciated and angry at not having any say in the matter…except that she is, unexpectedly, given her say. By none other than Mr. David Bowie.
Muppet Week on Suburban Fantasy, Gender Politics, plus a Goblin Prom: Why Labyrinth is a Classic
Well, technically, Sarah’s wish is granted by Jareth the Goblin King, who happily complies with her request to spirit the screaming Toby away to his castle, to her immediate regret. She demands that Jareth return the baby, and when she refuses to accept his gifts or be swayed by his arguments, he leaves her at the titular labyrinth, telling her that she has thirteen hours to solve it and rescue her brother, or Toby will remain with the goblins forever. Confidently, even cockily, Sarah sets off on her quest, but soon finds that her expectations thwarted at every turn.
She is consistently frustrated by the bizarre, whimsical, through-the-looking-glass logic of the labyrinth and its inhabitants, fails to ask the right questions, acts on her assumptions rather than facts. She learns the hard way that faeries bite, and that a good many other things in the labyrinth are not what they seem to be. As a friendly worm tells her early on, “You can’t take anything for granted,” and Sarah soon internalizes that advice, learning to think for herself, accepting that she won’t always get her way, facing up to the fact that reality isn’t going to bend itself to her whims. The labyrinth is nothing but a continuous series of choices, but as Sarah finds herself in control of her destiny, she soon realizes that choices can be a tricky, and all decisions have inescapable consequences.
Muppet Week on Suburban Fantasy, Gender Politics, plus a Goblin Prom: Why Labyrinth is a Classic
She also begins to make friends along the way, but even that isn’t easy. Sarah’s first companion on the journey is a dwarf named Hoggle, and their relationship is forged through a complicated process of distrust, bonding, betrayal, guilt, and redemption: Girl meets Goblin-like creature, Girl is disgusted by Goblin-like creature and his craven, fairy-killing ways, Goblin helps Girl after girl bribes Goblin, Goblin abandons Girl, then saves her, then double crosses her by means of a spiked peach, finally learns to be heroic and is forgiven. Like everything else in this film, friendship and trust is anything but simple; it’s a learning process, with ups and downs, and entails risk as well as reward.
Meanwhile, as Sarah makes her way through the labyrinth (as well as the series of epiphanies and life lessons lurking around every corner), Jareth watches her progress with increasing displeasure, pouting on his throne while sporting a riding whip and high-heeled boots, as goblin kings are wont to do, and occasionally performing a baby-juggling musical number. As much as I’m tempted to make fun of Bowie’s over-the-top performance (and costumes. And wig and makeup), I actually think he was a brilliant choice for the role. If we think about Labyrinth as a commentary on the role of fantasy in the modern world, a kind of updated fairy tale for the late 20th century, who better to embody the lure of the fantastic than a rock star, especially as one as otherworldly as Ziggy Stardust himself?
Muppet Week on Suburban Fantasy, Gender Politics, plus a Goblin Prom: Why Labyrinth is a Classic
Characters like the Goblin King, or my own personal favorite fairy tale villain, the Snow Queen, tend to represent an unsettling mix of childhood fantasies and adult fears and desires; they draw their would-be victims in through a disturbing blend of infantilization and seduction. Throughout the movie, Jareth attempts to distract Sarah with baubles and gifts, and when that fails, he simply tries ordering her around: “Sarah, go back to your room. Play with your toys and your costumes. Forget about the baby.” Unable to deter her, he has Hoggle slip her the aforementioned poisoned peach, spiked with some sort of potent magical Goblin-roofie.
The resulting hallucination finds Sarah in the midst of what my friends and I always refer to as “Goblin Prom”: dressed in a very grown up, gorgeous ball gown and gloriously big hair, Sarah makes her way through a claustrophobic masquerade ball filled with vaguely threatening masked dancers and Bowie/Jareth, in his best formal glam Goblin King finery. As the soundtrack swells, the sexual undertones of the masquerade are unmistakable — Sarah is clearly the innocent, suffering the smirks and laughter of the debauched, almost predatory revelers swirling around her. She’s the only one not wearing a mask, since even Jareth hides behind several disguises as he quasi-stalks her through the crowd.
Muppet Week on Suburban Fantasy, Gender Politics, plus a Goblin Prom: Why Labyrinth is a Classic
Finally, he reaches her; they begin to dance and as he sings to her, we realize that this is, undeniably, a seduction scene…and something is very wrong. Fighting her way back to reality, Sarah realizes that her time (and Toby’s) is running out, and, in what is simultaneously the worst special effect and the most punk rock moment in the entire film, smashes her way out of Bowie’s smarmy, sexy, smirky distraction-bubble. It’s an amazing sequence — beautiful and unsettling and creepy, and her rejection of Jareth in the scene is powerful precisely because of the uncomfortable juxtaposition of Connelly’s youth and innocence and the much-older Bowie’s rock star magnetism and sinister allure.
The film tends to oscillate between these strategic attempts to distract Sarah by appealing to more selfish, childish desires on one hand and more adult, exotic freedoms on the other. This makes sense the more we realize that the Goblin King is entirely Sarah’s own creation — her belief in him brings him to life, gives him his power, and he needs her imagination and innocence to survive, but she is not prepared to have her whole identity squeezed into an obedient, docile package as a naïve little girl, and not as the prospective Mrs. J. Goblin King, either.
In their final showdown, Jareth offers to fulfill all of Sarah’s dreams, for a price, telling her, “I ask for so little. Just let me rule you, and you can have everything you want.” It’s clear at this point that Sarah must make a choice between the occasionally unpleasant uncertainties and unfairness of life in the real world, or surrender herself to her fantasies by giving up her free will, agency and power, and she barely hesitates before answering, “You have no power over me.” BOOM. Game over, Major Tom.
Muppet Week on Suburban Fantasy, Gender Politics, plus a Goblin Prom: Why Labyrinth is a Classic
With that one line, balance is restored. Sarah and Toby find themselves safely back at home, and while Sarah is relieved to be back, the movie takes the extra step of assuring her (and the audience), that the world of the labyrinth will always there if she needs it. This has always been one of my favorite aspects of Labyrinth — as much as I see it as a continuing the great coming-of-age-through-fantasy tradition of classic children’s literature, the last scene reassures us that fantasy isn’t necessary meant to be shut out or ignored, any more than reality is. There’s no black and white here: in real life as in the labyrinth, it’s impossible to be a slave to logic. Reality has room for the irrational and the fantastic — life should be a healthy mix of both, and clinging to either extreme is problematic — rejecting reality, or completely rejecting fantasy and imagination are equally unacceptable, by the movie’s reasoning.
I’ve always thought of Labyrinth as the anti-NeverEnding Story — where the power of imagination eventually trumps all in the latter, Labyrinth is all about the balance between the real world and imagination, and about finding joy in both. It’s a sentiment that runs throughout all of Jim Henson’s career, but I’ve always seen it most clearly, here, in his tribute to all the great works of imagination that inspired him along the way.
There are so many amazing things I haven’t had a chance to mention in this film — the truly wonderful script, replete with delightful, Pythonesque touches, the fabulous characters (Ludo! Sir Didymus!), the gorgeous design and puppeteering—but I’m aware that some people love this movie, and others think it’s ridiculous, and there are people in both camps that completely dismiss it as anything but pure camp. And I just have to say that I could not disagree more — I adored Labyrinth as a little kid, and even more as a teenager, then throughout college and I still love it now as an adult, for many, many reasons. But the reason I love it most is that it features a headstrong young female protagonist taking on the world in jeans and sensible shoes.
If that doesn’t sound like much to you, then take into account the fact that the movie revolves around Sarah’s refusal to be treated as a princess (a word never once used in the script). One of the things that this movie does brilliantly is systematically reject the usual “princess” trope — Sarah’s happy ending isn’t going to be found on the arm of some fantasy heartthrob; her adventures in the labyrinth force her to abandon any such princess-y delusions. Her identity is her own, and she isn’t about to be swayed by any bedazzled, leather-loving, tight-panted gigolo with a castle, even if he is some sort of king.
It’s an incredibly subversive approach to the usual fantasy heroine that seems to go unnoticed in the midst of all the muppetry and cleverness and stunning visuals, but to a kid raised on Disney and mediocre sitcoms, it was simply revolutionary, camp or no. In the end, Sarah was allowed to be exactly who she wanted to be — not a child, not an adult, but very much her own person all the same. Labyrinth is a movie about learning to think differently, learning to think for oneself, regardless of people’s expectations, and even more impressively, it’s also a film that practices what it preaches. For that reason, I think that even Alice and Dorothy and Max would agree that this film is, and always will be, a classic.
Muppet Week on Suburban Fantasy, Gender Politics, plus a Goblin Prom: Why Labyrinth is a Classic

Bridget McGovern is already writing another post about this movie for Bowie Week...coming sooner than you’d think. Also, she would like to apologize to her three younger siblings for repeatedly trying to get the goblins to come and take them all away. Especially since it never worked.

Me again! Labyrinth has been one of my favorite movies for years, and this article made me remember/realize why. There is so much to love here and really, who doesn't want to dress like a princess, live through a fairytale, befriend some muppets, and vanquish an overly-eyeshadowed goblin king/David Bowie? I know I would.

I thought McGovern did an excellent job of examining the themes at play in this film, and I had never thought to compare it to the current trends in YA literature. How had I not, though? The Sara/Jareth dynamic has paranormal romance all over it, albeit in slightly more vague ways and (thankfully), the tension is never acted upon. If you missed out on this movie as a kid, now might be a perfect time to check it out. I rewatched it after reading this article and I can say that to me, it honestly did not feel too dated, which is something I am very grateful for. 

To those of you who have seen the film, what do you think?

Friday, December 9, 2011

Love Triangles in YA

**The blog post below was written by Diana Peterfreund, author of The Killer Unicorn Trilogy. I, Emily, Fantastic Finds blogger, copied it for the sake of easy reading and so that I could discuss it afterwards. Enjoy!

Love Triangles in YA

There has been a lot of discussion recently on the state of love triangles in the current crop of YA literature. Most of the discussion has focused on how gosh darn prevalent it is, with a lot of the usual refrain of “I’m so sick of love triangles” or “do all YA novels have to have love triangles in them” and etc. Some of the discussion has raised the point that there seems to be a particular focus, in love triangley books, for there to be a girl choosing between two guys, rather than the other way around. Others have pointed out the fact that book publisher publicity departments get a lot of mileage out of pushing a “Team X” vs. “Team Y” campaign on readers (I’m looking at you, Hunger Games).
While I will not deny that there are a lot of novels out there that have borrowed the love triangle formula (in the mathematical sense) that worked so well in Twilight, it’s not a singular occurrence. Also incredibly popular after the worldwide, game-changing, publisher-floating, industry-saving and genre-creating success of Twilight? Books about EVERYTHING that Twilight was about. Books about vampires, books about beautiful immortal people, books about unusual families of paranormal humanoid creatures living amongst us, books about girls with paranormal boyfriends, and books in which high school girls fall into extraordinarily quick and everlasting love. All of these are available in ready supply right now, all of them owe at least some part of their current popularity to Twilight.
This is a good thing. People finding new things they like in books and then reading more books about those things? Wonderful.
And one of those things, yes, is “a girl in love with two boys” love triangles.

I have only published one book with that kind of love triangle in it: My first novel, Secret Society Girl, which came out in 2006, right when Meyer was lighting the world on fire with New Moon. Like Bella, my character Amy has to make a choice between two boys she likes who both like her.
However, I have written two books with this supposedly rare “two girls one guy” love triangle: Rites of Spring (Break), in which Amy competes for the affections of a guy, and the upcoming For Darkness Shows the Stars, which is based on Persuasion, and therefore includes the Anne Elliot — Captain Wentworth — Louisa Musgrove triangle so beloved (or beloved-to-behated) by its fans.

So, having published one of these and seen years worth of reader reactions (and read enough reactions to the Persuasion one to know it’s the same), I can tell you right now why the Twilight kind is more popular:
  1. most of the readers of these types of novels are girls
  2. These readers are moved by the “tough decision” facing a heroine with two fabulous guys after her.
  3. Which leads to “team” formation, by individual readers, in fan circles, and by publicity departments.
  4. Whereas the heroine competing for the affections of a guy against another girl gets one reaction: beat the “other woman.”

(Note: this is very typical Louisa Musgrove treatment in Jane Austen fandom.)
If the other woman is a normal woman with faults like the heroine, she is labeled an irredeemable b****. If the other woman is a saint, she is allowed to be pitied, but we still root for the heroine to get the man. Why? Because to do otherwise would mean the reader is rooting against the heroine. And, almost without exception, that ain’t good.
In Rites of Spring (Break), Amy does not win her love triangle. And despite the fact that I very clearly demonstrate that the guy at the center of it is NOT the one for her, and soon after I embroil her in a fabulously delicious romance with a new guy, you would not believe the number of emails I get demonizing both other parties and wishing that Amy had won. Even though, if she HAD won, she would not have going on to her wonderful romance that they also say they love so much.
The way I look at it is like this: even if you know your ex or the guy who would never ask you out in high school  was TOTALLY wrong for you now, you still want to look drop-dead gorgeous at your high school reunion, right? Just because you’re better off without them doesn’t mean they shouldn’t still pine for you. It’s not the most enlightened of all feelings, but it’s a fantasy.
(Hello, exes. Yes, this is what I Iook like every single day. No, I do not currently have bags under my eyes because Q was up half the night or applesauce in my hair because, well, see previous.)
And it’s that fantasy — of having multiple people madly in love with us, that is so compelling to so many readers.
But here’s the problem: because it’s so compelling, and because publisher publicity departments (understanding this visceral response readers have to this storyline) have pumped it up, its prevalence in the book on the shelves and, perhaps more importantly, in the marketing material for books on the shelves, has trained readers to expect a love triangle in their novels When people complain “why does there have to be a love triangle in every YA novel” they are often complaining about things that a few years ago would not have been considered a love triangle at all.
How do I know this?
Because there was no love triangle in Twilight.
Bella loved Edward, and Edward loved Bella. There might have been a few other people who were interested in dating Bella, just like there was some lingering resentment on the part of Rosalie that she hadn’t good enough for Edward while Bella was, but neither of those things weighed particularly heavily on either of these characters’ minds (and Rosalie has been long since happily matched up).
But if that book were published today, with the microscope readers have been trained to place on any whiff of something that might be a love triangle, they might see this:

And maybe that’s a compelling story, told from the point of view of Mike or Jacob. Poor guys, they secretly love Bella, but she only has eyes for the vampire. Indeed, as the series progressed, Meyer chose to dwell on this facet of Jacob’s story. But that’s as the series progressed.
I read reviews of books all the time where they talk about love triangles that range from a stretch to completely non-existent. I have received emails about the “love triangle” in Ascendant. At first, I spent a lot of time scratching my head. Then I realized they were referring to the fact that Astrid is pursued by one boy while dating another.
To me, that was no more a love triangle than the fact that every boy in Forks instantly goes ga-ga over the “new girl” Bella is somehow indicative of a love tetrahedron.You kinda need love to have a love triangle. Or at least the idea of choosing one over another. The love triangles in my friend Carrie Ryan’s books (The Forest of Hands and Teeth, etc.)? LOVE. TRIANGLES. Mary is in love with Travis but betrothed to his brother. Gabry feels enormously guilty over her growing attachment to Elias after her old boyfriend got infected with the zombie plague… for her. Angst galore! What will she choose? Who will she end up with?
If you’ve read Ascendant, you know that’s not Astrid’s problem. And not in the sense of “she has bigger problems” (which she does), because girls on the run from zombies ALSO have bigger problems, but more in the sense that those questions are not on the plate for her.
However, I also agree with Carrie’s point in her own post on love triangles, in which she says:
“To me, that’s the essence of a love triangle — each man is a viable choice for the heroine but each speaks to a different part of who she is.  The heroine isn’t choosing between two men, she’s choosing who SHE wants to be and that will dictate who the right match is.”
I first read about this conceptualization of a story’s love triangle in a screenwriting class in 2005, and it really stuck with me. When I looked at the love triangle in my first book through this lens, I realized not only why neither prong would work but who, in fact, it was that was right for my heroine.

(When Meyers claims in interviews that the books are anti-human, this is what it means. If you can swing your vampirism the way the Cullens do — going off and eating venison in the woods — there is absolutely no downside to vampirism. Bella’s choice reflects the fact that, very reasonably, she’d rather be an eternally healthy, beautiful, young, powerful, awesome vampire then get old, get sick, get hurt, and die in a frail human form.)
But of course, all choices a character makes is reflective on who she is. The choices that Astrid makes in Ascendant regarding her love life have very little to do with the boys involved, and everything to do with her depression, isolation, and eventual nihilism. And though you can argue that Giovanni is a reflection of one facet of Astrid’s character, choosing him would not magically make that Astrid manifest, and Astrid knows it.
One of my favorite scenes in Buffy the Vampire Slayer comes from season five. Buffy and her friends have just overcome a spell that was meant to split Buffy into her component parts: normal girl and vampire slayer. Her boyfriend Riley tells her that he loves all of her — both parts. That to him, she is indivisible.The tragedy comes when later in that same episode, he posits that it is this elemental wholeness of Buffy that makes her unable to love him. (And where he goes from there is truly tragic.)
(I know a lot of people dislike Riley because of the things he did AFTER this revelation, and I used to be right there with you, but upon repeated rewatching, I’ve come to the conclusion that Riley’s mistakes — and he makes plenty — are not so much him having a problem with a strong woman — since he ends up marrying another — as him deciding, maybe or maybe not falsely — that he’s not good enough for Buffy without magical powers. To be discussed in detail later. People often liken Astrid and Giovanni to Buffy and Riley, though I think a more apt corollary would probably be Buffy and Xander, which never happened on the show.)
Buffy may have chosen Riley, but choosing to have a relationship with this nice, normal guy (instead of her occasionally sociopathic vampire ex-boyfriend) doesn’t make Buffy a normal girl. Over and over in the series, Buffy is forced to make a choice between her love life and her job, often explicitly. Save Angel, or save the world, etc.? Again and again, they ask Buffy who she is, and her answer is “slayer.”
Sometimes, the triangle doesn’t even involve another guy. Sometimes it’s about the heroine choosing not to be with someone, full stop.


Me again! So, what did you think? I had always been annoyed with what I saw as the love triangle trend. After reading this though, I had to stop and re-evaluate some of the books I thought had that. That alone diffuses most of my crankiness at this seemingly over-abundant trope.

Also, I loved what she articulated about how when a heroine (or hero) chooses between two potential partners, they are basically choosing a side of themselves. Will Katniss be a revolutionary guerilla fighter (Gale), or will she gravitate towards family, togetherness, and peace (Peeta)? Granted there is a danger of oversimplifying here, but this idea pretty much diffused any further crankiness for me, anyway.

Any thoughts?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Name of the Star

The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

The day Louisiana teenager Rory Deveaux arrives in London marks a memorable occasion. For Rory, it's the start of a new life at a London boarding school. But for many, this will be remembered as the day a series of brutal murders broke out across the city, gruesome crimes mimicking the horrific Jack the Ripper events of more than a century ago.

Soon "Rippermania" takes hold of modern-day London, and the police are left with few leads and no witnesses. Except one. Rory spotted the man police believe to be the prime suspect. But she is the only one who saw him. Even her roommate, who was walking with her at the time, didn't notice the mysterious man. So why can only Rory see him? And more urgently, why has Rory become his next target? In this edge-of-your-seat thriller, full of suspense, humor, and romance, Rory will learn the truth about the secret ghost police of London and discover her own shocking abilities. -Plot summary borrowed from Goodreads

I didn't read the description very carefully for this book. I saw the GORGEOUS cover, something about Jack the Ripper and maybe ghosts, and knew I had to have it. I'll admit I was disappointed for about half a minute when I realized that this is set in contemporary London and featured an American heroine (I'm an Anglophile. It's a disease). But after that 30 seconds was over, you couldn't have pulled this book out of my hands for love or money.

It. Is. So. Good. Rory's voice rings true immediately and she is a bunch of fun. I was amazed at how authentically written both the American and English characters were, so I checked the bio flap and it turns out she spends her time in both countries. The only other writer I know of who can capture both voices so convincingly is Joss Whedon, who spent much of his student life in England. But I ramble.

This works so well as an American in England story, a school story, a crime thriller (interspersed with Rory's story are occasional chapters detailing the misdeeds of "the modern Ripper," a ghost story, and best and most surprisingly, a paranormal investigation story!! My favorite! ^_^

I spent my time equally snorting over my tea and being on the edge of my seat worrying about the Ripper. Best of all, this is apparently the first in a planned series: The Shades of London. I'm crossing my fingers that the next installments are as good.