Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Lesser Dead by Christopher Buehlman

Calling an author "the next (insert famous author here)" has become de rigueur in book reviews.  Christopher Buehlman defies such categorical description.  Yes, he is an author of horror novels; but he is also an historical, literary humorist of the first rate.  Likewise, his books refuse such simple definition as a single genre. He's written of the black death in medieval France; modern wizardry in upstate New York (not nearly as benign as it might sound); and my personal favourite,  creepy 1930's Southern gothic.  His knowledge is sweeping, and his research is astounding.  He'll make you laugh out loud, but it's often just a distraction while he's sneaking around the back to terrify you.  Not always; he's not that predictable.  But often.

I have read each of Christopher's books a different way.  The first, Those Across the River, I read aloud to my then boyfriend (now the hubby) while we were driving north from Florida.  The book takes place in the deep South, and it was one of the best, and most terrifying, drives ever.  It remains one of my favourite books of all time.    The second book, Between Two Fires, I listened to during my commute.  It was very well narrated (although not by Chris himself), and I half expected someone to come lumbering out of the woods along the side of the road.  His third novel, The Necromancer's House, I read in hardcover the second it came out.  And I laughed and jumped and shivered and even cried a little.  It takes place in an area I know and love very much, and so that one had extra points before I even cracked the cover.  I wasn't disappointed.  :)

Fast forward, or maybe backpedal, to his newest novel, The Lesser Dead.  It's a
Bonus, his covers are fantastic!
vampire novel, and I loved it.  That really says something about this author.  If you know me, you know that I really don't do vampires; but when this book was announced, I pre-ordered it the first day I was able.  And I started listening as soon as it was finished downloading.  It was an extra inspiration that the author himself reads this one.  He has the voice for it, and he knows his material like no one else, so I was really excited when I heard that he did his own narration this time.  (I've since put in my personal request for him to narrate his others, including the first three. You know, in his spare time).

The time is the 70s.  The place is New York.  The feel is creepy, gritty, and dark.  Very dark, and not just because they are vampires.  Make no mistake, though, these are vampires as they should be.  No glitter, no romance, no happily ever after. Did I mention they are kids?  Not all of them, but a good number (a bad number?) are children and teens; or at least they were when they turned.  Just because they are kids, though, doesn't mean you can relax.  In fact, it keeps you on your toes even more, knowing they are children.  After all, anyone who has known a 7 year old girl or a 14 year old boy knows you had better not close your eyes on them for a second.

I don't like giving a synopsis of a book I am reviewing; I know some people who like to go into a book blind, and I respect that.  I will say this book took me on a ride worthy of the NYC subway system, with turns and stops I was not expecting. It was at times horrifying, humorous, sad and hopeful; but not necessarily in that order.

Read this book; or even better, get the audiobook.  Then you can sit back and let him tell you this story.  Trust me; you'll love it.

You can click through the links to see his website and find more information about each of the books, including the covers, excerpts and information about getting your hands on your very own copies.  He didn't pay me (or even ask me) to say that.  Christopher is just a really great guy in all his guises (Christoph the Insulter, Churchyard O'Shea, and bestselling author), and I am lucky to know him (and be a church mouse).

Thanks for listening.

1 comment:

Merlyn Fuller said...

wow, what a great review!

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