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review 2018-09-07 15:48
"Seraphina - Seraphina #1" by Rachel Hartman for the Cryptozoology square
Seraphina - Rachel Hartman

Seraphina lives in a world where, for the past forty years, dragons and humans have lived in an uneasy truce, facilitated by the dragons' ability to take on human form.

 

Now that truce is under threat by an older generation of dragons that cannot set past wars and enmities aside and are willing to to stir inter-species fear into hatred in order to return to open conflict (Is it just me, or would this cast as dragons Jacob Rees-Mogg, Boris Johnson and the other right-wing English nationalists who want to reject forty years of peace and prosperity in the EU to pursue dreams of Empire and reestablish a feudal England with themselves at the head of the patriarchy? Yeah, that probably is just me).

 

 

Seraphina, in her first few months at the human court, finds herself positioned to influence the outcome of this plotting if she places her own future at risk.

 

This is a light, fast, fun read that satisfies as long as you accept a Young Adult Fiction paradigm. There is a pervasive innocence in worldview across all of the main characters, all of whom are young and none of whom have experienced or cannot really imagine the mundane evil of hate-driven violence and cruelty.

 

The main players are young enough to be on the edge of creating their own identities. They are all special in their own way. Shame-based secrecy turns Seraphina into a liar, which frustrates her desire to be herself and limits her ability to see who she really is.

 

The book tackles some interesting themes: the role of emotions (human) and rationality (dragons), the fear of the other, the slowness of change, the apparently transcendental power of love, the role of music in bringing together rational structures to express emotions. Perhaps more daringly, it tackles Seraphina's own dysmorphia and her acts of self-harm, the potential that comes from mixed races, provided that the mixing isn't hampered by prejudice and shame and the isolation of being a bastard in a world of inherited power. 

 

It has some interesting ideas about the impact on dragons of having to live in human form, about knowledge as a hoard of treasure that dragons would lust after, maternal transmission of memories and the practice of memory excision to maintain an ordered dragon mind. I loved the sub-species of dragon techno-geeks who make devices for the fun of it.

 

It does not examine or challenge the society's use of royalty, rank and privilege but does substitute a matriarchy for patriarchy although it's really just women behaving like men.  

If you accept what the novel sets out to do and put your mind into wishing our heroine well, then this is a fast, fun novel with good plot twists, strong world-building and some original ideas.

 

I had fun because I was mostly able to do this. My enjoyment was limited by the fact that the naive romance dragged a little for me and asked me to spend attention on it when I'd rather have known more about the effect of music on dragons but that's a minor niggle.

 

cryptozoologists Mike Finn Halloween Bingo Card-018I read this for the Cryptozoology Square in Halloween Bingo

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review 2018-03-01 20:14
The Devil's Colony - Bill Schweigart
The Devil's Colony - Bill Schweigart

In a trilogy pertaining to cryptid monsters, I find it fitting that the final book in the series centers around the most horrible monster of all - man. The evil that man has inflicted on each other is astounding to think about. Hatred and bigotry come front and center in Schweigart's The Devil's Colony. Ben and Lindsay are once again called on by billionaire cryptozoologist, Richard Severance. This time, it's to infiltrate the compound of neo-nazi Henry Drexler. Henry is the son of a former Nazi SS officer and scientist who was assigned by Hitler to find proof of the dominance and superiority of the Aryan race throughout history. Now Henry is using his family's fortune and remote camp location in the Pine Barrens Woods of New Jersey to welcome all neo-Nazis and white supremacists who want to join him in continuing his father's dream. But what else has Henry unearthed in his research of his father's past?

 

The Devil's Colony is different than the previous two entries in the trilogy. The first two, The Beast of Barcroft and Northwoods centers around the cryptid monsters that are unleashed and causing havoc. In The Devil's Colony, the story focuses mainly on the horror's of man and the cryptid monster is a side dish to come in during the last act. According to some reviews I've read, this difference may have tripped up a reader or two. However, it didn't spoil the story for me. I enjoyed Schweigart's tale and thought it hit many of the right notes. Perhaps, the cryptid portion of the story could've been sprinkled a little more throughout so that it didn't seem like two different stories trying to be mashed together. All in all, I enjoyed the trilogy and look forward to more from Bill.

 

 


4 Nazi SS Swords out of 5

 

 


You can also follow my reviews at the following links:

 

https://intothemacabre.com

 

http://intothemacabre.booklikes.com

 

https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/5919799-ken-mckinley

 

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review 2017-05-09 08:02
Vampires: From Dracula to Twilight: The Complete Guide to Vampire Mythology by Charlotte Montague
Vampires - Charlotte Montague

A rather short, basic, introductory text to vampire mythology and literature.  This is most certainly not a complete guide to vampire mythology and tends to be rather repetitive.  The physical book is apparently very pretty, but the e-book is just a regular run-of-the-mill ebook.  This may be a book for teenage Twilight fans and the like, but for a serious researcher or just the curious, other books will be more useful.

Better books on the subject include:


  • Anything written by Claude Lecouteux, but specifically "The Secret History of Vampires" and "The Return of the Dead".  Lecouteux writes scholarly books.  

  • For a more informal style, Mark Collins Jenkins has written an informative book titled Vampire Forensics: Uncovering the Origins of an Enduring Legend.
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review 2017-04-23 12:12
Monsters Among Us: An Exploration of Otherworldly Bigfoots, Wolfmen, Portals, Phantoms, and Odd Phenomena by Linda S. Godfrey
Monsters Among Us: An Exploration of Otherworldly Bigfoots, Wolfmen, Portals, Phantoms, and Odd Phenomena - Linda S. Godfrey

A rather boring collection of supposedly monster eye-witness accounts. There is limited analysis or hypotheses regarding the sightings.

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review 2016-04-16 11:25
The Hollow Earth Enigma by Alec MacLellan
The Hollow Earth Enigma - Alec MacLellan

This is an interesting and well written book that explores the belief that the Earth is hollow and may be inhabited.  This book discusses things such as legends and writings from the earliest civilizations, the aurora borealis, UFOs, giants, fairies, subterranean entrances at the poles, the possible structure of other planets and other phenomenon - not to mention, the idea that the earth's interior is solid is only a hypothesis that has not been definitively proven.  The book is a bit dated and would benefit from newer information.

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