Brings little that’s new to the world of literary vampires, but its unconventionality should leave readers with fanged...

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Trailer Vamp - Love Bites

A JOSH BLACKTHORN ADVENTURE

Grayson’s debut comedy trails a relatively young vampire helping his high school crush—the woman who turned him—stop a powerful old vampire with plans for world domination.

When Josh Blackthorn’s vampire sponsor leaves on business, the two-year vamp’s replacement is Becky, who gave Josh his first bite at their high school reunion. Becky requested the gig to ask Josh to join in her fight against her evil stepfather, Günter Van Helsing. The bloodsucker may have killed Becky’s father, and he also seems to have hypnotized her mother into marriage—practicing the same mind control he’s plotting to use against the world. Are the fledgling vamps a match against a vampire more than a century old? A number of vampire novels have a tendency to list guidelines for the undead, particularly when one is the narrator, but Grayson’s story thankfully avoids this. He allows the specifics of vampire life to unfold gradually (Josh quells the garlic myth with a quick joke about using it as a spice), without interrupting the main plot of stopping Van Helsing and rescuing Becky’s mom. The majority of vampire attributes cover familiar terrain: Senses are heightened, stakes kill and sunlight is tolerable with enough sunscreen. Grayson adds a few atypical touches—vamps reflect in mirrors and werewolf-killing silver bullets prove lethal to vampires. Josh and Becky’s romance isn’t fully fleshed out, relegated mostly to Josh’s jealousy over the presumed closeness between Becky and his human pal Steve. But Josh and Becky’s scenes together are pure regalement, especially when they spend the book’s second act practicing hypnosis and psychokinesis to combat Van Helsing’s powers, leading to their donning aluminum-foil hats to block the old vamp’s mind reading and caps to cover the foil so they aren’t seen as conspiracy nuts. The final act involves a somewhat typical attempt to infiltrate the villain’s HQ, but Grayson retains a good amount of humor throughout and incorporates subtle wordplay: “Vampires are suckers for the gothic look.”

Brings little that’s new to the world of literary vampires, but its unconventionality should leave readers with fanged smiles.

Pub Date: June 4, 2013

ISBN: 978-1480179066

Page Count: 376

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Aug. 20, 2013

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An original project worth watching as it shapes up to something that may be quite magnificent.

BERLIN

BOOK ONE

This black-and-white historical narrative, written and illustrated by Lutes, collects eight volumes of his ongoing comic book set in Berlin during the late ’20s. It’s a multilayered tale of love and politics at the beginning of the Nazi era, as Lutes follows the stories of three characters: a 20ish art student from the provinces, a textile worker, and a young Jewish radical. Their lives intersect in only the subtlest way—Lutes depicts them crossing paths at some great public events, such as the Mayday march that closes this part of his book. And Lutes plays with perspective in a visual sense as well, jumping from point-of-view frames to overhead angles, including one from a dirigible flying above in honor of the Kaiser. At street level, Lutes integrates his historical research smoothly, and cleverly evokes the sounds and smells of a city alive with public debate and private turmoil. The competing political factions include communists, socialists, democrats, nationalists, and fascists, and all of Lutes’s characters get swept up by events. Marthe, the beautiful art student, settles in with Kurt, the cynical and detached journalist; Gudrun, the factory worker, loses her job, and her nasty husband (to the Nazi party), then joins a communist cooperative with her young daughters; Schwartz, a teenager enamored with the memory of Rosa Luxembourg, balances his incipient politics with his religion at home and his passion for Houdini. The lesser figures seem fully realized as well, from the despotic art instructor to the reluctant street policeman. Cosmopolitan Berlin on the brink of disaster: Lutes captures the time and place with a historian’s precision and a cinematographer’s skill. His shifts from close-ups to fades work perfectly in his thin-line style, a crossbreed of dense-scene European comics and more simple comics styles on this side of the Atlantic.

An original project worth watching as it shapes up to something that may be quite magnificent.

Pub Date: June 1, 2001

ISBN: 1-896597-29-7

Page Count: 212

Publisher: Drawn & Quarterly

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2001

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A not-very-illuminating updating of Chaucer’s Tales.

THE CANTERBURY TALES

A RETELLING

Continuing his apparent mission to refract the whole of English culture and history through his personal lens, Ackroyd (Thames: The Biography, 2008, etc.) offers an all-prose rendering of Chaucer’s mixed-media masterpiece.

While Burton Raffel’s modern English version of The Canterbury Tales (2008) was unabridged, Ackroyd omits both “The Tale of Melibee” and “The Parson’s Tale” on the undoubtedly correct assumption that these “standard narratives of pious exposition” hold little interest for contemporary readers. Dialing down the piety, the author dials up the raunch, freely tossing about the F-bomb and Anglo-Saxon words for various body parts that Chaucer prudently described in Latin. Since “The Wife of Bath’s Tale” and “The Miller’s Tale,” for example, are both decidedly earthy in Middle English, the interpolated obscenities seem unnecessary as well as jarringly anachronistic. And it’s anyone’s guess why Ackroyd feels obliged redundantly to include the original titles (“Here bigynneth the Squieres Tales,” etc.) directly underneath the new ones (“The Squires Tale,” etc.); these one-line blasts of antique spelling and diction remind us what we’re missing without adding anything in the way of comprehension. The author’s other peculiar choice is to occasionally interject first-person comments by the narrator where none exist in the original, such as, “He asked me about myself then—where I had come from, where I had been—but I quickly turned the conversation to another course.” There seems to be no reason for these arbitrary elaborations, which muffle the impact of those rare times in the original when Chaucer directly addresses the reader. Such quibbles would perhaps be unfair if Ackroyd were retelling some obscure gem of Old English, but they loom larger with Chaucer because there are many modern versions of The Canterbury Tales. Raffel’s rendering captured a lot more of the poetry, while doing as good a job as Ackroyd with the vigorous prose.

A not-very-illuminating updating of Chaucer’s Tales.

Pub Date: Nov. 16, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-670-02122-2

Page Count: 436

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2009

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