Friday, June 25, 2010

romance, knives, and one particular parasol

Two books I've managed to cross off my reading list lately:

If you read Ellen Kushner's Privilege of the Sword like I told you to, I just wanted to remind you that you might want to go back and read Swordspoint if you haven't done that -- or jump ahead and order a copy of Kushner's short followup story to Privilege, "The Man with the Knives". It's being sold, via mailed request only, as a limited-edition paperback chapbook sort of thing for $20 including shipping, is printed on paper that's gorgeous to the touch, and comes with a folded bit of artwork by Thomas Canty. Kushner's use of the language in this short is just as decadent as its presentation, making the story, altogether, a pleasure to read. However, if Privilege was double chocolate chip cookies? "The Man with the Knives" is lemonade that no one's told you is being served add-your-own-sweetener style. The sugar bowl is right there, but you might find yourself cursing at the cook after your first big glug.

A book which I didn't curse at even once is Gail Carriger's Soulless, the first in her Parasol Protectorate series. But I did giggle at it a lot. Or with it, rather, because although it’s a book about people who take themselves Victorian levels of seriously (i.e., Seriously with a capital “S” and, probably, multiple layers of undergarments), Soulless is in it for the romp. And it's a wondermous romp, featuring all the nude werewolves, gay vampires, daring escapes, and canoodling that I've come to expect & adore in urban fantasy/romance -- just, the "urban" is an alternate-history 19th century London. Which is really just an excuse for added hilarity and fabulousity, assuming that you're as amused and impressed by comedies of errors, bustles, and dirigibles as I am. The plot and characters tend to be a bit predictable in this book, but that's not preventing me from craving the second one in the series. (It doesn't hurt that someone or something in the book is at least as obsessed with cephalopods as I am. Go Team Cephalopod!)

Loosely relatedly (erm, to urban fantasy, not cephalopods), and not to criticize Soulless for what it is but as an open question to all authors & consumers of supernatural romance at large: Why is it that there aren’t any books in popular circulation in which the female lead is the ancient beastie and the male lead is the human ingénue who catches her interest?

If such books do exist and I just don’t know about them, please enlighten me! But, assuming there aren't, I figure it’s a combination of it being more simple/fun to tell a story through the eyes of the person who'll be most like the readers -- a human and a n00b who’ll need the supernatural parts explained -- and of age and gender stereotypes indicating that the man should be the older, more powerful party in the relationship.

But I wanna hear your opinion! Would you want to read a story about Civil War-era vampire Sookie moving back to her hometown and falling for the psychic boy next door? Or, say, assuming that Darla and Angel were interesting characters, about Darla’s decision that Liam was a person she wanted to chat up eternally?


TheLadysRevenge said...

SO basically in my vampire script that I haven't touched in two years, I should swap characters and make my girl the vampire, and vise versa? Hmm... intriguing...

Lauren V. said...

I think I would like to read that story!

OR it might not work at all. I'm not sure! But it'd be interesting.

Maria Melee said...

I bought Soulless. It's up next on my reading list!

Lauren V. said...

Hurrah! We'll have to gossip about it when you're done. I think you'll love it.