BOOK & BLOG
November 15, 2009
Books of the Week:
I had time to read something besides “required” reading while I was visiting my mother. Soulless had been recommended to me by so many people that I was eager to read it. At first, I wasn’t sold on Soulless. I expected something flashier, I guess. Set in Victorian England and definitely on the steampunk side, the book features spinster Alexia Tarabotti, who stands out in her family like a dark swan among fluffy ducklings. From her dead father, Alexia has inherited her much-disparaged dark complexion and her condition . . . she has no soul. The result of this unusual condition is that when Alexia touches a supernatural being, she cancels its magic and it is revealed in its true form and is powerless. Alexia is the nemesis of Lord Maccon, head werewolf of London, ever since an incident involving a hedgehog. But Lord Maccon comes to appreciate Alexia’s finer points in a passionate way. The crisis in Souless deals with the sudden appearance in London of vampires who haven’t been trained. In fact, they’re positively rude. The vampire hives in London disclaim all knowledge of these disgraceful vampires, but they’re coming from somewhere. Alexia and Lord Maccon grow closer as they search for the answers.
I’ve met Caitlin Kittredge a couple of times, and I was curious to read something she’d written. Street Magic will appeal to people who enjoy Jeaniene Frost’s books, I think. Pete Caldecott, now a cop in London, met Jack Winter, musician and mage, when she was sixteen. Something awful happened to them then, and Pete has never recovered from it. She has been convinced for more than a decade that Jack died that night in the graveyard. When she finds him again as a result of his tip about a missing child, she’s shocked and dismayed to find that Jack is a rail-thin junkie, and though she’s furious with him for not contacting her, she’s also determined to get him off drugs. The consequences are astounding. As Jack’s magic resurfaces, so do the dreadful events the two face. More children go missing, and though Pete finds them, they’re in terrible shape. Pete takes a little longer to face her belief in magic than (it seems to me) any sane woman would, and I have a lot of trouble believing that the police force would accept Pete back on the job after her extended and unexplained absence, but the ongoing action of the book and the complicated relationship between Pete and Jack make Street Magic an entertaining read. I look forward to more by Kittredge.
I’m turning my head when I see Christmas decorations, but I’ve asked my kids for Christmas lists. I’m still planning our Thanksgiving feast, but I’m already trying to figure out a schedule for Christmas. I have one tiny pumpkin sitting on our gate to remind me of Thanksgiving, but I’m wondering if I should buy some new tree ornaments for . . . you guessed it, Christmas.
In other words, I’m trying to turn a blind eye to Christmas so I can giving Thanksgiving its due, without much success. While my right hand is working on the November holiday, my left hand is already preparing for the December one.
When I was a child, the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas seemed like an interminable stretch. We didn’t even thinking about Christmas until Dec. 1, and my family never put up decorations until perhaps a week before the holiday. Of course, that was when all trees were live, and they just wouldn’t keep much longer. And the day after Christmas, those decorations came down. My mother was always of the opinion that when it was over, it was over.
I don’t blame retailers for trying to make as much money as they can, especially in this economy. But I do think the essence of Christmas can be lost when it’s stretched over three months. All the decorations were out in Home Depot two weeks before Halloween. Christmas should be a concentrated event, not a long- drawn-out money fest, and I’m not even broaching the topic of the spiritual aspect of the holiday, the true reason we even celebrate the day.
I don’t offer a solution. I can’t think of one. I don’t think things are going to change. But I liked Christmas better the other way, when it was concentrated and special and wonderful.
You can probably read essays and blogs and magazine articles that all express this very idea. And you can read them for three months. I’m offering my two cents, though. It makes me feel better.
Enjoy Thanksgiving, okay?
© 2009 Charlaine Harris