Friday, June 26, 2009
Elissa Elliot’s debut novel “Eve: A Novel of the First Woman” swept me away completely. I was impressed at how the author kept me intrigued in a story that most people already know the plotline. Eve is on her deathbed and recounting her life to her eldest daughter Naava. The story is told through the eyes of herself and each of her female children. The novel is mostly about the life of Adam and Eve and their children after they have relocated outside of Eden after their banishment. I was amazed at how normal these characters felt to the reader. So often in literature Eve is made into a goddess figure and in this story she’s just a normal woman with normal personal, family, and religious issues. She is trying to come to grips with her banishment from paradise and from God and at the same time raise six children.
The family dynamics are pretty interesting; Eve wants to go back to the Garden and so lives in her past; Adam just wants to accept where they are and have a normal life; Cain doesn’t want anything to do with God and just wants to conquer the world; Abel just wants to be left alone with God and his sheep; Naava wants to be revered for her beauty; Aya keeps the family glued together; and little Dara and Jacan, the twins, are a little lost in trying to emulate those around them. The children have been told about Eden and how God created their parents but since they weren’t there and God has already left them the children have difficulty believing. To them it’s all just a fairytale and thus difficult to place their faith in. Some of the children believe and some do not.
The story becomes very interesting when the family realizes that there is a city not too far away. Each family member approaches the city with a different perspective. Not only is there a huge culture shock between rural and urban living but also because this city doesn’t worship the same deity. This city has many deities and different creation stories. This juxtaposition creates a great clash of sensibilities.
Sunday, June 7, 2009
C. C. Humphreys’ “Vlad: The Last Confession” is a very intense novel. It is definitely not for the faint of heart as parts of the book are extremely gory. I almost put it down within the first hundred pages because I was starting to have nightmares!!!
“Vlad” is the story of Dracula, not Bram Stoker’s gothic vampire but the real life guy. Vlad Dracula was a Wallachian prince and warlord that fought in a very violent manner in order to protect his realm and throne and also while on crusades to cleanse his land of Infidels. I love historical novels and so I enjoyed that aspect of this one. However, the beginning of the book, where Dracula is a child and turning into the warped man that he became, was probably the most interesting for me but also the most disturbing. I could have done without some of the graphic torture scenes. Unfortunately from a technical standpoint it was definitely needed to help explain the man who emerged from the boy.
There is also a really touching love story that slips in and out of the progress of the story. The depth of their love was remarkable and acted as a huge juxtaposition against some of the brutality. Also, there is the tribulation between Dracula and his best friend from childhood, Ion Tremblac, as they become men together and also his beloved teacher and mentor from his school days, Hamza.
I learned a lot about 15th century living from this novel but I don’t think that I could read it a second time as it was a bit too gruesome for my tastes. I’m glad this was a library book because I don’t have to have it lurking on my bookshelves ready to pounce out at me. I was surprised to find that I was more disturbed by the real man than by the fiction that was created around him. A vampire seems like a teddy bear next to this monster!