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A Spoopy Love Affair With Books

Jean, 39, lover of sci-fi, horror and fantasy, reader of comic books, conqueror of genre fiction.

Currently reading

Wytches Volume 1
Scott Snyder, Jock
Progress: 45 %
Bad Moon Rising
Jonathan Maberry
Progress: 160/534 pages
The Immortal Iron Fist: The Complete Collection Vol. 1
Dave Lanphear, Derek Freidolfs, Tonci Zonjic, Jelena Kevic Djurdjevic, Clay Mann, Dean White, David Aja, Khari Evans, Roy Allan Martinez, Victor Olazaba, Francisco Paronzini, June Chung, Nick Dragotta, Mitch Breitweiser, Javier Rodriguez, Stefano Gaudiano, Dan Brereton, M

Review: By Blood We Live by Glen Duncan

By Blood We Live - Glen Duncan

This is an odd beast, so to speak. The last in the Bloodlines Trilogy, it doesn't really focus on any through-thread from the other books, but instead refocuses on the vampire Remshi and his story. Make no mistake about it: This is Remshi's tale, even Talulla's part in it revolves around the resolution to his story. But I still really liked this book, better than Talulla Rising, even though, as a conclusion to a three-book tale, it leaves a lot to be desired in that it is no conclusion at all. I've actually never seen anything billed as the last in a series that leaves quite so much (read: everything) open-ended.

With WOCOP gone, the Vaitcan's gotten in on the action with the Militi Christi, but I never really felt the threat, because they're introduced so quickly and operate on the sidelines, by hearsay and word of mouth, as far as our characters are concerned. I suppose I was just supposed to think CATHOLIC CHURCH BAD! But I didn't. They just seemed like a poor substitute for the disbanded organization that we did actually know something about in the last two books. And, apparently, the world is starting to learn about the existence of vampires and werewolves, a development that... Listen, this is purely personal choice, but when I read slipstream horror and fantasy fiction, I prefer it to be what could be happening just outside of my knowledge; when it completely enters the realm of fantasy by "outing" the mythological creatures, a certain sort of magic is lost for me. It works with, say, The Southern Vampire Mysteries, because it's part of the premise of those books. But here, it felt intrusive (though I admit that this is totally a personal preference). And since it only ever takes place through the first person narration of mythical creatures, you never actually feel the impact of what it could mean; it seems incidental, even at the end when we're told, not shown, that the shit is hitting the fan.

So, what did I like? I loved Remshi. I loved Justine. I felt myself sort of tolerating Talulla's narration to get back to their bits. Talulla's voice has been strengthened, though she still doesn't talk like an American, and while it's not quite as bad as it was in Talulla Rising, the problem is still there, of sounding like a man with different pronouns. Bless Glen Duncan for trying, but I think in trying for, say, a Gillian Flynn-type heroine, he bit off a bit more than he could chew, by way of genuinely understanding the psychology. Justine made me realize how a woman could be written, by Duncan, as damaged and strong, and how prominent, for me, his failings with Talulla were.

I think Duncan's style is such that even the real depth he's imbued in the novel comes off as sort of superficial, gloss, with a typically cynical glazing of 'what is it all for?' And while I like the glibness of his writing, it sometimes undermines its own meaning. The characters from Talulla Rising are still sadly lacking any real, clear personalities (other than Maddy, who deserves her own book series, IMO.) The use of Browning's poem Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came seems an odd addition, and while I understood the message he was trying to get across (futility, the circuitous nature of things, the great ending unknown), it all seemed so arbitrary to have Remshi literally live the events of the poem. Why? It's not like, as he calls it, the Beguilement, the connection of all things; the things he's seeing, that are guiding him, don't appear and he interprets them in such a way. He's literally living out the poem, and that just made me, ultimately, go... why?

But I did like it, in spite of it all. And I'd probably give the trilogy as a whole a solid five stars when read together. His irreverence and his depth, as well as his deft hand with the purplest of prose, recommends Duncan, and the story, and most of the characters are compelling throughout.