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'On the whole I am glad I will never be twenty and have to go through all that again' - Off the Cliff

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Sun Mar 16th, 2014


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09:11 pm - 'On the whole I am glad I will never be twenty and have to go through all that again'
As I said about about Lavie Tidhar, there's a fine line between a romp and a mess. I'm not sure where A Study in Silks comes, but a very short way into it it's looking rather like a mess. And it's a recommended book at Bakka, which surprises me.

Billing someone as Sherlock Holmes' niece is kind of pointless unless she's going to act like Sherlock Holmes, I say. And instead she's an ex-circus performer and mechanical inventor (in a world where mechanics are the Steam Barons' monopoly) and magic-wielder (in a world where magic is outlawed by the Steam Barons as challenging their monopoly) and traveller with the raggle-taggle gypsies-oh, and several other things that seem a bit much.

Or else, unless Uncle Sherlock puts in an appearance: which he hasn't done yet.

So far there's some really clunky steampunk stuff, but at least no vampires or werewolves, though that magic thing sounds too close to Fae for me. (Mind, I don't object to vampires and werewolves, or even Fae, if they're given the proper brisk unadoring treatment. Am very fond of Gail Carriger's wolves and vampires, who are not beings people swoon over.) And even at this early date there's a love triangle, with the heroine ohh just not able to help herself from being turned on by an aristocratic total loser. Possibly the book is intended as YA-steampunk rather than steampunk straight, and YA must always have romance in it-- usually with really boring men. (Hence the title of this entry.) Another joy of the Parasol Protectorate was that Alexia despised Lord Maccon in a highly suspicious manner all through book one, and at the start of book two was married to him. That's how one should handle romance. Offstage, no angsting, no triangles.

(I *was* pleased at finding what I thought was a Jewish peer of the realm, Lord Roth, but googling tells me that it's a common Scots or English name- "ethnic name for an Anglo-Saxon, derived from rot (meaning "red" in pre-7th century), referencing red-haired people." Ah well. Probably a good thing. He has Evil Automata in his attic, which are now not likely to turn out to be golems.)

But this is why I expect to be reading Sugawara no Akitada for the foreseeable future.

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Comments:


[User Picture]
From:avalonjones
Date:March 17th, 2014 10:21 pm (UTC)
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It does sound rather precious, but then again, I've never considered myself a Holmes aficionado of any sort, so maybe it doesn't matter. The "niece" thing also bugs me just because it sounds so Mary Sue, but there you go.
[User Picture]
From:flemmings
Date:March 17th, 2014 11:02 pm (UTC)
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Mary Sue, yes. Being Sherlock Holmes' niece is bad enough to start without all the (extremely unlikely) rest. That settei requires a relentless tongue in cheek, or frivolity, or artifice, or anything but deadly serious YA romance.

And I speak as a Holmes lover.
[User Picture]
From:i_am_zan
Date:March 17th, 2014 10:51 pm (UTC)
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Yes Roth is quite a common Scots name I'm afraid. ^_^. One such that I knew however (he is a Scots) is that he has black hair!

And true romance is usually really off stage. (But that could be my convent upbringing ^_~)

Edited at 2014-03-17 10:53 pm (UTC)
[User Picture]
From:flemmings
Date:March 17th, 2014 11:04 pm (UTC)
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Lotta Spaniards washed up in Scotland after the Armada, I'm told-- never mind that Celts generally *are* a dark-haired people. It's the Sassanach that are specifically called red here, though, when one naturally thinks of A-S as blond.
[User Picture]
From:i_am_zan
Date:March 19th, 2014 04:42 am (UTC)
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Have finished Study in Scarlet, and am now reading Sign of Four. ^__^

I am also reading "Apparitions (:) (-) Ghosts of Old Edo" by Miyuki Miyabe. It's a lovely (in that "grandmother telling you ghost stories just before bedtime") natsukashii book. I vaguely recall you mentioning one of her books a while back. I saw it in Kino yesterday, much to my wallet's despair.

Happy reading is all I can say. ^__^

[User Picture]
From:flemmings
Date:March 19th, 2014 01:08 pm (UTC)
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How are you liking the Holmes? I'm rather fond of it still, so it's not all nostalgia.

Yes, Apparitions was the one I got- the English translation. They're a lot less frightening than English ghost stories for some reason: maybe the very human groundedness of them.
[User Picture]
From:i_am_zan
Date:March 19th, 2014 06:30 pm (UTC)
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I am loving it still as well. I was actually afraid that I might not ... because I was about eleven when I first chanced upon them. I still am being amazed at the power of his deductions and still am in love with the friendship that Holmes and Watson have.

I am also thrilled that due to the acting prowess (of both Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman and aided a lot by Cumberbatch's curls and cheekbones) the present day television re-boot has ensnared the next generation. So the boy is reading 'Study in Scarlet', the girl is reading 'The Adventures', I just finished 'Sign of Four' and will embark upon 'The Hound' tomorrow. The family that reads together ... has something else to talk about together, also it is half term here for a week. The children seem happy enough to spend it reading with us. Like I said ... thrilled. ^___^

Yes they are a lot less frightening. Also for some reason (even having never been) I am in adoration of the sense of place that I get from 'Apparitions'. Even though it is scary in that 'just seen out of the corner of your eye', it feels comforting and familiar. (If that makes any sense at all)

Also on your rec ... I picked up 'Ghost Bride' and I thoroughly enjoyed that too, for much the same reason. Plus so many things I can relate to. From shophouses, to Malay superstition, the Baba's (Peranakans') ways and even how so many of the things are still pervasive in present day to a lesser extent on the LRD and to a much greater one in Malaysia. Where sometimes, time seems to stand still.

The appearance of Dragons is a huge plus of course. I knew ... I just knew it!!! So I was quite satisfied with the end.

Ahhh I hope you don't mind the ramble. I think it really has been a while since I picked up so many books. (of course not to your level ... but a lot more since the beginning of this year, already more than the whole of last year - and that can only be a happy thing and I am quite in glee with the state of things)
[User Picture]
From:flemmings
Date:March 20th, 2014 02:04 pm (UTC)
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I was about eleven too, reading The Valley of Fear on a wet grey November day, which is perfect Holmes weather. I'm glad he held up for you too. And glad the family is into it: Cumberbatch and Freeman can be a great incentive to seek out Doyle but Doyle doesn't necessarily provide the same elements that one watches Cumberbatch and Freeman for. 'But he's *not* a high-functioning sociopath at all! He's just a very cold fish!!'

I find townsmen's Edo nostalgic just by nature, possibly because everyone else does too, Japanese and 19th century foreigners alike. Totally vanished world-- which was god knows dangerous and uncomfortable by anyone's standards, and esthetically unpleasing by mine; but something about the cozy townsmen's Edo speaks to people in these bustling overcrowded Tokyo times. (Edo was just as crowded if not more so, but at least people *cared*, is the impression I get.)

I figured people over there would like The Ghost Bride for different reasons than I do: overwhelming familiarity rather than new and different. Happy to hear it's a good book whichever.

Leisure to read is a blessing indeed, esp. if everyone around you is doing it too.

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