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Search tags: Delilah-S-Dawson
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review 2018-10-06 02:10
Clockwork Caravan Carnival
The Mysterious Madam Morpho - Delilah S. Dawson

 

Criminy’s Clockwork Carnival was in full swing.

 

This is a novella, so the shorter page count (100ish pgs) hampers character and plot depth a bit, but I think the author did a fantastic job with what she had. This is listed in the Blud series as coming before Book 1 – Wicked as They Come but as the main couple from Wicked is already together, I wasn't sure why. Even if familiar or not, you'll get an introduction and refresher on the various characters that make up Master Criminy's Clockwork Carnival. The world building leaves a little bit to be desired as it isn't fully explained how Blud people and animals (vampire like creatures) exist in this other world; it is like Victorian time period Earth but not quite.

 

She stared down into the nest of books and hidden miracles. Before, the trunk had held hope. Now, in the wrong hands, it held evidence enough to hang her.

If you’ll trust me, I think I know how best to keep your charges safe.”

Their eyes met over the trunk. She felt as if she stood on a precipice, one step away from freedom or doom. “I find that I trust you, Mr. Murdoch.”

God help you, Madam Morpho.”

 

You'll feel for Imogen as you learn her story, Mr. Murdoch less so as I don't think he ever fully emerged from the shadows and fully showed up on the pages. He builds the clockworks and mechanics for the caravan carnival, I would have liked to have seen him interact more with his creations and what was the story behind his partner/friend Vil? They were a calm, cool, and tentative couple and I liked how they worked together but, again, the page count wasn't quite there to build their relationship.

 

Arm-in-arm, they watched Torno lift his weights, his strength defying physics thanks to Criminy’s magic. Emerlie juggled hedgehogs and rode her unicycle high up on the wire, her lime and magenta costume glowing against the velvety night sky. Next up came Abilene and Eblick and the two-headed Bludman, each waiting behind a curtain to amuse and entertain and, in the twins’case, terrify. A collection of bizarre creatures floating in large jars of liquid was surrounded by a crowd so deep that Imogen caught only a glimpse of the horrors within. They passed Letitia in her turban, telling fortunes in a sequin-spangled tent.

 

Even though the overall world building was somewhat absent, the immediate caravan carnival world was delightfully detailed and created. There was a sense of unknown, magic, wildness, freedom, jovial companionship, and troubles. I wish I could see the shows.

 

Her name is Madam Morpho,” Henry said sharply. “And she doesn’t speak to the riff-raff.”

 

The main story thread comes from Imogen on the run from her former boss and hiding out in the caravan. I thought the sense of danger and romance was eclipsed by the descriptions of the people and clockworks that made up the caravan carnival. I also thought the magic and wonder of the butterflies Imogen stole got lost in the mix, they could have brought more sense of wonder if utilized more. The ending brought an extremely gruesome conclusion to the issue of Imogen being in danger. I suggest reading this in October to appreciate and enjoy the grisly ending, the spooky vampire like creatures, and the sense of magic and wonder.

 

Imogen,” he said, voice ragged as he stepped closer to her, his feet brushing the wide swing of her skirts. “Are you aware that I haven’t seen a woman this close in more than six years?”

That seems excessive,” she murmured. “Are we such fierce creatures?”

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text 2018-10-05 00:17
Reading Update: 40%
The Mysterious Madam Morpho - Delilah S. Dawson

 

“There aren’t many cut out for caravan life, my girl. Most of those who stick around are running away from something or other. We’re a band of misfits, but we protect our own."

 

A little bit different, a little bit parallel universe with steampunk, horror (bludbunnies and blud people, think vampires), and a traveling carnival caravan filled with mysterious individuals.

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review 2018-08-07 08:59
Phasma
Phasma (Star Wars): Journey to Star Wars: The Last Jedi - Delilah S. Dawson

Star Wars Episodes VII and VIII’s most underutilized badass in chrome gets her own novel . . . in which she continues to be underutilized as her story is told by someone who heard it from someone else who was “there.”

 

This is only the second work by Dawson that I’ve read, the first being The Perfect Weapon (Star Wars short story), and I have to say I liked TPW much better. And it’s not that Phasma isn’t good. It’s got plenty of action and adventure and aliens and the requisite super-harsh Star Wars desert environment. I didn’t care for the third person present tense shifting to past tense, but that was a minor issue. The framing of the story just didn’t work for me.

 

Resistance spy Vi Moradi is caught by the First Order on her way back from a fact-finding mission. What was she digging into? Phasma’s past. What does her captor just happen to be interested in? Phasma’s past. WHAT ARE THE ODDS?! (Never tell me the odds!) So the majority of the book is Vi reciting—in the prosiest of non-conversational basic—the story of how Phasma met Brendol Hux and came to join the First Order. Her interrogator just lets her indulge in prolixity for twelve hours or so, and Dawson has to go to the trouble of establishing his inexperience in interrogation to explain his remarkable forbearance. Alas, I never really bought into it.

 

What really got my goat was that such a huge deal was made of Phasma’s survive-at-all-costs personal code, including a strong implication that if the First Order’s best interests ever conflicted with hers she’d burn the whole thing down, and that could have led to a payoff in the films so much bigger than what we got. In the end, this just felt like a weak 378-page justification for Phasma lowering the shields on Starkiller Base when she had a blaster to her head. *cue Sad Trombone soundbite*

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review 2018-07-16 19:49
Kill the Farm Boy
Kill the Farm Boy - Delilah S. Dawson,Kevin Hearne

Let me start by saying that I did not finish this book, and it truly pains me to say that. I'm a bit obsessive about finishing anything I start, and I tried, but a person can only stand so much drivel. While Ms Dawson is new to me, I absolutely loved Hearne's Iron Druid series - the wit, the action, the characters, etc. So, when I saw this one, I had to read it. I didn't expect this to be anything like the Iron Druid series, but I also didn't expect so much adolescent humor and well, that's pretty much it. I get the idea of taking a trope, or several of them, in a particular genre and creating a fun parody, but despite the claims, Monty Python this is not. From the very first page, it felt like the authors were trying to see how many puns, bad jokes, and satirical moments they could cram into each and every page. I'm sure there was some kind of story in there somewhere, but I don't think plots and storylines were the point here. Sometimes less is more, and that certainly could've been put to good use in this case. Add to that the feeling that a lot of words in the book came from a word-a-day calendar and I was over it. Don't get me wrong, I did find the occasional funny line, but what's funny once can become old when it's done over and over - On the same page! (Again, the less is more adage comes into play here.) If you like corny lines about poo, boogers, vomit, and penises, then this may be the book for you, but the 'humor' was lost on me. Color me disappointed in this one. 

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review 2018-06-16 03:10
A Comedic Fantasy Tells a Good Story While Playing with Too-Familiar Tropes
Kill the Farm Boy - Delilah S. Dawson,Kevin Hearne

Ugh. I wish the eARC didn't say I needed to hold off any quotations until I could compare it with the final copy -- or maybe, I wish I had noticed that very tiny print before I got half a draft of this finished. On the other hand, I was having trouble narrowing down which of my lengthy options to use, because, if nothing else, this is one of the more quotable books I've read in the last couple of years.

 

Kill the Farm Boy is a comedic fantasy, a satirical look at fantasy and even a parody of the genre. But what makes it effective is that for all the comedy, there's a decent story and some solid characters throughout. It's be easy for it to be a collection of jokes, with no story; or a tale full of character types, not characters. But Dawson and Hearne avoid those pitfalls.

 

The titular farm boy, Worstley, is going about his typical day, full of drudgery when an inebriated pixie shows up to announce that he is a Chosen One -- one who is destined to save, or at least change, the world. To demonstrate her power, the pixie gives one of his goats, Gustave, the power of speech. The goat isn't too happy about being able to speak, but since he was destined to end up in a curry in a few days, decides to travel with the newly appointed Chosen One, his former Pooboy. The pixie, having Chosened Worstley, disappears. Worstley the Pooboy (hey, Taran, worse things to be called than Assistant Pig-Keeper, eh?) and Gustave head off on a quest for glory.

 

Despite the book's title, we don't spend that much time with Worstley -- instead the focus shifts (for good reason) to a band of hero--well, a group of companions. There's Fia -- a fierce warrior from a distant land, who just wants to live a life of peace with some nice roses -- and some armor that would actually protect her (not that there's anyone who minds seeing here in her chain-mail bikini). Argabella, a struggling bard who is cursed to be covered in fur -- she's basically Fflewddur Fflam and Gurgi combined (last Prydian reference, probably). Every adventuring party needs a rogue/thief, this one has to settle for the klutzy and not necessarily bright, Poltro, and her guardian, the Dark Lord magician, Toby (though some would only consider him crepuscular), of dubious talents. I can't forget Grinda the sand witch (no, really), Worstley's aunt and a magic user of considerable talent.

 

There are no shortage of villains -- and/or antagonists to this party. There are some pretty annoying elves; a hungry giant; Løcher, the King's chamberlain and mortal enemy of Grinda; Staph, the pixie behind the Chosening; as well as several magical traps, Lastly, there's Steve. We don't meet him (I'm betting it'll be in Book 3 when we do), but throughout these adventures we how much this world, and our heroes lives, have been turned upside down my the worst Steve since one (allegedly) unleashed the preposterous hypothesis that Jemaine was a large water-dwelling mammal. Steve . . .

 

The writing is just spot-on good. Dawson and Hearne have taken all these various and disparate themes, tropes, characters and surrounded them with a lot of laughs. There's some pretty sophisticated humor, some stuff that's pretty clever -- but they also run the gamut to some pretty low-brow jokes as well. Really, these two are on a tight comedic budget, no joke is too cheap. The variation ensures there's a little something for everyone -- and that you can't predict where the humor will come from. I will admit that early on I got annoyed with a few running jokes, but I eventually got to the point that I enjoyed them -- not just in a "really? they're trying it again?" sense, either.

 

For all the comedy -- Kill the Farm Boy hits the emotional moments just right. There's a depiction of grief towards the end (spoiler?) that I found incredibly affecting and effective. There are smaller moments -- less extreme moments -- too that are dealt with just right. Maybe even better than some of the bigger comedic moments. This is the reward of populating this book with fully-realized characters, not just joke vehicles.

 

I have a couple of quibbles, nothing major, but I'm not wholly over the moon with this (but I can probably hit sub-orbital status). There was a bit about a fairly articulate Troll being taken down by a female using (primarily) her wits that could've used a dollop or five of subtly. Clearly they weren't going for subtle, or they'd have gotten a lot closer to it. But it bugged me a bit (while being funny and on point). Secondly, and this is going to be strange after the last 2 posts -- but this seemed to be too long. Now, I can't imagine cutting a single line, much less a scene or chapter from this, but it just felt a little long. I do worry that some of Poltro's backstory is too tragic and upon reflection makes it in poor taste (at best) to laugh about her -- which is a shame, because she was a pretty funny character until you learn about her.

 

This is probably the best comedic/parody/satire fantasy since Peter David's Sir Apropos of Nothing -- and this doesn't have all the problematic passages. I've appreciated Dawson's work in the past, and you have to spend 30 seconds here to know that I'm a huge Hearne fan, together they've created something unlike what they've done before. Well, except for their characteristic quality -- that's there. I cared about these characters -- and they made me laugh, and giggle, and roll my eyes. This is the whole package, folks, you'll be glad you gave it a chance.

 

Disclaimer: I received this eARC from Random House Publishing Group - Ballantine via NetGalley in exchange for this post -- thanks to both for this.

Source: irresponsiblereader.com/2018/06/15/kill-the-farm-boy-by-delilah-s-dawson-and-kevin-hearne-a-comedic-fantasy-tells-a-good-story-while-playing-with-too-familiar-tropes
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