Enter Cassandra Clare: The Mortal Instruments & The Infernal Devices

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What is Love?

Baby, don’t hurt me.

Don’t hurt me…

No seriously, it’s pointless. I’m immortal.

Ever since the mainstream media and pop culture was introduced to the notion of sparkly vampires, I have often not been very welcoming to the idea of ‘paranormal romance’ or indeed very romantically charged literature at all. Actually, I have been hiding from most of the young adult novels that catch my eye. Which is bad, because really I do love a good, angsty teen romance just as much as the next girl. In my most recent readings, maybe with the exception of some instances in Scott Lynch’s Red Seas Under Red Skies, I haven’t really come across anything that made me swoon like an unbalanced, malnourished princess. I was more distracted by dastardly pirates, thieves, alchemical warfare, rune magic, killer ghosts, bloodshed and other normal things that consume a lady’s imagination. Sure, the likes of The Castings Trilogy or The Rune Lord books all had lovely romantic relationships between certain characters. But they were made steadfast in that the social and cultural contexts of these stories were well portrayed and pretty awesome which always helps. In other words, OTHER COOL STUFF WAS HAPPENING. There was balance. It was good.

I guess what intially intrigued me about Cassandra Clare’s books, when I was recommended them by a good friend (Hi Aileen!) was how she talked about the characters. Her descriptions really showcased this amazing connection to most, if not all of them. The Shadowhunter world sounded like a great concept. Overall, her relationship with the books seemed like this beautiful, epic adventure. I wanted in on it. Badly.

I say this now, and yet I actually did quite an awful thing when I stalked determinedly into town to buy the books. I saw that the author of a not so favored paranormal romance series had written a line of praise for the book that was printed on the cover. I immediately recoiled from it like a vampire from daylight (DID YOU HEAR THAT MEYER? DAYLIGHT) It took ALL my will power not to put the book down. Eventually I kicked myself for being so shallow and cynical and I bought the books.

You know that feeling when you discover a new pair of socks that are comfortable beyond belief? And you start wearing said socks everywhere just so you can squish your toes into the super soft fabric? That’s how I felt when I started reading the Cassandra Clare series. Except instead of squishing my toes, I was squishing my face…into books. So – after all my time attempting to avoid most young adult fantasy novels – these books came along, smacked me in the face and screamed “JUST LET US IN, AISLING. WE WILL MAKE YOU HAPPY.” So I did. And I have to say…I really liked it. These books really are like crack for fantasy freaks.

Now, I should probably note here that I actually didn’t read these books in the right order. I actually read the Infernal Devices books first and then moved on to The Mortal Instruments and YES – to any fans of the books that might be reading this- I know that’s not the ‘proper’ way to do it as The Mortal Instruments came first. But that’s how I did it. So ya’ll are gonna have to deal with it. *insert diva finger snap here*

The Infernal Devices

I began my endeavour with Clockwork Angel & Clockwork Prince. And honestly, I’m really glad I did. My first thoughts were precisely formed as “Oh, hello Victorian London. It’s been a while.” After reading so much fantasy set in alternate worlds with cultures totally alien to my own, it was really quite refreshing to see some familiar place names and descriptions. And Ms. Clare certainly knows how to use her settings.

Clockwork Angel: Will Herondale.

The book follows a young, newly orphaned Tessa Gray journeying from New York to Queen Victoria’s London to be with her brother. Of course, like a young naive protagonist should, she stumbles into the London fog to find that far more sinister things await her there. Tessa becomes embroiled in a plot that unleashes a power she never knew she had (shapeshifting, which I imagine is tough for a girl at the tender age of sixteen) So, first we see her trapped in the Downworld held captive by witchey women with scary fingers then BOOM! Tessa is rescued and thrown into the folds of the Nephilim, or Shadowhunters. An order of Demon Hunters, descended from the Angel Raziel. You’re typical ‘buffyesque’ squad of people who save souls, kick ass and have super human power that can be channeled through rune marks tattooed on their skin. Also, they have a recurring trait of being beautiful. That could just come with the whole ‘descended from Angels’ hook.

Clockwork Prince: Jem Carstairs & pretty Dragon Cane.

Clockwork Prince: Jem Carstairs & pretty Dragon Cane.

So Tessa, now totally in the dark about the reality of her past, teams up the Nephilim at the London Institute (which for some reason always looks like a cross between Wuthering Heights manor and Giles’ Magic Shop from Buffy in my head) in order to get to the bottom of not only her true story but also to stop a greater evil from taking down the Nephilim and reeking havoc in the city with evil clockwork robots of DEATH. And in the midst of all this there forms some very VERY frustrating ‘romantic plot gymnastics’ as I like to call them. I rarely get riled up over love triangles. But I seem to have made a special exception for this one. I won’t give too much away but I will say that these books got me through some very mundane days at work. (‘Mundanes’ or ‘Mundies’ is also the name given to normal human beings in the series) The characters are lovable, the story is more or less well paced and the fighting team spirit created at the institute emphasizes the already strong relationships that Tessa forms with the young Nephilim she meets

I think I made the right choice in what book to start with. The Infernal Devices gave me a really good insight into the world that Cassandra Clare has created. It solidified the addiction really. I wanted more Shadowhunters. I feel that it totally prepared my dormant squealing teen girl bookworm for the very contrasting sights and sounds of The Mortal Instruments.

The Mortal Instruments

Going straight from Clockwork Prince to City of Bones took some adjusting. Different city, different era. Overall, everything was just…faster. If I have indeed described these books as ‘crack’ a more accurate description for The Mortal Instruments is ‘speed’ compared to The Infernal Devices. I would put that down to the change of scenery. Cassandra Clare’s urban fantasy route for these books does suit the concept of Shadowhunters prowling through the ‘Downworld’. Of course, in most cases, a bustling city like New York has always been a go-to place for action and adventure in the depths of a paranormal underworld.

The Mortal Instruments: City of Blood, Love & Nerdy Shadowhunters

The Mortal Instruments: City of Blood, Love & Nerdy Shadowhunters

Enter, Clary Fray A nearly sixteen, red headed fire demon. Just kidding, Clary leads what could be vouched for as a normal life. Nerdy artist girl, reads manga, Artist mother, dead father, best friend who’s besotted with her. Normal. Until she starts seeing demons in nightclubs. Thus ensues the whirlwind of chaotic descent in the Downworld of New York for Clary. Much like Tessa, she’s cast into the nearest Shadowhunter Institute and is given reasons to doubt her seemingly normal life. And of course, it wouldn’t be a true Cassie Clare endeavour without a racy Shadowhunter tryst.

Of course, Clary’s introduction to the Shadowhunter world is inevitably linked to evil that is on the rise. Shadowhunter gone crazy, Valentine Morgenstern decides to come back from the dead and cause trouble in the dark corners of Manhattan. And from there on, its mostly kick ass demon fighting, flying motorcycles, discovering well kept secrets and most of all, heartache.

Along with the decade and the loacation, Cassandra’s writing mood changes entirely in the Mortal Instruments, which was quite nice to see. All the manners of Victorian London in the Infernal Devices were satisfyingly stifling for the story in The Infernal Devices. The shift to a faster, sexier modern age gave me the feeling that reading The Mortal Instruments was like reading a version of Cassandra Clare in sweat pants as opposed to…a suit? A monacle? Let’s stay with monacle. I’m sure she wears them in reality anyway.

I’ll admit, it’s not the smoothest story in the world. There’s a couple of itty bitty plot holes. But let’s not dwell on the negative. What really matters in this series is the battling werewolves, slimy demonic thingys, pretty fairies and hilarious warlocks which all circulate a most…let’s use the word interesting… romance between Clary and the devilishly handsome Shadowhunter, Jace Wayland. As I predicted, from listening to past recommendations, the characters had a lot of staying power with me. Particularly the characters Simon Lewis (Clary’s adorable, geeky best friend) who initially provides an awful lot of comic relief in City of Bones and awesome references to nerd culture; and Magnus Bane (who is actually also in the Infernal Devices books too, being a sexy warlock and immortal and all that). So really, say what you like about the plot, Cassandra Clare seems to have a flare creating awesome characters.  Clary, for all of her frustrating qualities, is actually rather well written as well.  No matter how much I yell at her about making bad decisions, I still quite like her as a character.

Overall, Cassandra Clare has certainly struck a well pitched chord with this book. For me, I see it as the kind of book that you become quite familiar with the mechanics of, it’s almost predictable. The Heroes journey of descent into the underworld. We all know the score really, ‘Buffyesque’ teenagers kicking ass, friendly monsters, psycho path father figures, unrequited love… and yet…you just can’t get enough of it. Or at least that’s what I am currently going through.

And I’ve only just finished the third book City of Glass.

So, my fellow bloggers, I beseech you. Do not do as I have done and neglect such stories for silly reasons like a profuse hatred for a certain franchise of books and movies that clouded most of the hype about young adult fantasy/horror novels. Go forth and read Cassandra Clares books! Let the stormy clouds of romance and horror engulf you. It will be fun, I promise.

On a side note, I feel I must also say something about the movie that is in the works for City of Bones before I shut up. In particular, the casting of said movie. Don’t worry, I’ll be brief:

Lena, Johnathan, Aiden and Jared: I have faith in you guys. You can stay there.

Jamie and Rob: We may need to have serious words when this is done. Don’t let me down.

Well. That settles that.

Off I go to finish reading The Treachery of Beautiful Things by Ruth Frances Long. It’s good to be back in the game.

Peace Out.

Blog Wars: A New Blog,The Blog Strikes Back & Return of the Blog. Also, BenD & Octocon 2012.

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When Aisling looked upon her blog-o-sphere,

The land was barren and coarse.

The Unicorns were on vacation in Florida.

The Koala Sheep had flown south for the winter.

The sea of Rainbow Coloured Narwhals had frozen over.

So she wrote another blog…

with a terrifying first person introduction. 

Now, I know what you’re all thinking.  Actually, I don’t. Personally, I think being telepathic would totally suck. But it sounded like a good opening line didn’t it? No? Okay. The reality of the situation is that I stopped being a student and have been trying out the whole ‘working girl’ thing. Hence my prolonged absence from WordPress. I figured I would step out into the working world once more, challenge myself, wear shoulder pads and learn new and exciting things! The only thing that it has taught me so far is that the most amusing things lose all meaning when one works in retail. More specifically the words: “Thank you, have a nice day.” After much usage, repetition and the general degenerative effect that mundane tasks have on the brain throughout the day the phrase turns into something along the lines of: “Thengyoo heffanzday.”

It’s a pity really, I wear shoulder pads quite well. If I may say so. So, without further ado, here is a list (you guys like those, right?) of awesome things that have been happening that I think are…awesome (Degenerating brain cells. Retail. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.)

Living In Dublin…Again:

It’s a funny thing. You would think a person would never miss the wafting smells of urine and the The Liffey. Or the large crowds of people who have a terrible habit of stopping right in front of your path in the middle of Grafton Street to have a conversation with their friend. And yet, I realize now that I have indeed missed Dublin quite dearly. And now that I’m back within the large, comfortable bosom of my wonderful family and friends the aforementioned things don’t really bother me as much. (Except, perhaps the smell of urine in most places. That’s still gross.) In fact, I may just run for Mayor. Spruce the place up a bit. Some glitter on a porta-loo here, a ribbon on a hobo there. Make the wearing of funny hats at all times compulsory, turn some of the main buildings inside out and fill them with jam.

Alright. So I don’t have a promising future as Mayor of Dublin. But hey, a girl can dream can’t she?

Not Being In College:

NO MORE ASSIGNMENTS FOREVER. With this new found freedom I will have more time to meet ‘fly honeyz’ at night, pimp it up in the ‘clubz’, ‘roll’ with my homies and work on my Fluttershy Cosplay.

As opposed to the first three things, that last one is actually totally real. Pony fo’ life yo.

Bitches ain't shit but ponies and unicorns.

Bitches ain’t shit but ponies and unicorns.

Octocon 2012

Yes. October 2012 shall always be a fond memory now, as it will forever be the month that I finally took the advice of a very good friend and went to Octocon. Which, for those of you that don’t know, is a Science Fiction Convention in Dublin.    I am not ashamed to admit that I am a girl with geekish tendencies. I read a lot of fantasy, watch an awful lot of sci-fi and have a lot of friends who are nerds of a similar persuasion. I have often dreamed of the ultimate convention experience… Going to San Diego dressed in a kick ass costume (either Kaylee Frye or Samantha Carter. I haven’t decided yet) stalking Joss Whedon and Neil Gaiman, buying ALL the pretty book and comic things. The flashy, gaudy, wonderful experience that I get spoon fed from the likes of the internet. Needless to say, Octocon opened my mind a whole lot more to the possibilities within what I shall call the “Con experience” (not to be confused with experiences of people who are called Con).

This was my very first convention. Ever. So obviously, putting my preconceptions of Sci-Fi Conventions aside, I really did not know what to expect. The good friend that I mentioned before filled me in somewhat so I knew there would be panel discussions, I also knew there would be lots of well to do Irish Sci-Fi/Fantasy people. I was actually quite nervous. If I had to sum up losing my Octocon virginity in one, descriptive line it would be this: It was like being in a big sparkly, warm bubble on another planet where inter-dimensional academics and creatives do magic tricks and spin eye popping yarns about their adventures. I genuinely felt like I was back in college, going to seminars and listening to all these awesome people talk about some of my favorite things in the world. I ACTUALLY TOOK NOTES. For something that wasn’t college related! Do you want to know how long it’s been since I’ve done that? NEVER!

To give you an idea of the Convention and its general goings on, the Guest of Honour this year was none other than renowned Science Fiction writer Liz Williams; who gave a talk on the Philosophy of Science and was generally very awesome to listen to. Just reading the titles for some of the panel discussions got me a bit hyper. They had a pretty good variety of topics ranging from how far you can stretch a Zombie story, awesome Space Cowboys, the growing popularity of Superhero blockbusters, the impact LGBTQ characters in Young Adult books and the presence of religion in science fiction. And that’s only a few! I know right?

I also successfully fulfilled my role as the ‘awkward new girl’ as I spent most of my time staring at all these awesome smart people like a big moon eyed cow while they talked about Stargate, Doctor Who and Cowboy Bebop. But to be honest, I didn’t mind in the slightest. I thoroughly enjoyed the entire experience and got to meet a hell of a lot of awesome Irish Sci-Fi/Fantasy writers and enthusiasts. You must all go next year and experience the same awe and wonder as I did!

http://www.octocon.com/category/tags/octocon-2013

I should also note that on top of this new experience, I got to see my friend Shelly crochet TWO Daleks during the panel discussions. She crochetted DALEKS. PLURAL. Being someone who failed at the simplest of knitting tasks at a very young age, I personally see this as I feat of amazing skill. This particular friend has a Tumblr dedicated to her wonderful Dalek creations. You should all look at it, for it will benefit your retinas greatly: http://1001daleks.tumblr.com/

 

BenD

This section of the blog also involves a very good friend of mine. BenD is the first feature length film by one Seamus Hanly and he spent the best part of this year and last year making it. I had the absolute privilege of being cast in this film, which has been described by one reviewer as a ‘David Lynchian nightmare’ and took part in the adventure that was its production. Any film enthusiasts that like their stylistic films should be quite excited about this. Mr Hanly’s creation is dark and fast paced with some delightfully sporadic shifts in dialogue tone that carry both witty humour and meaningful connections between the characters. Seamus’ film also showcases the talents of the very talented Colm Kearns, who carries the film very well as Ben Dexter. Watch this space my friends, this film isn’t just ‘another Irish film’. A phrase that we all know leads to those pretentious explorations of the Tragically Funny Irish Identity Story. I, for one, am pretty sick of that particular gopher hole (because gophers live in holes, that exist in other holes, inside films).  Seamus and his crews’ endeavours have achieved something that is unique and quite enjoyable to watch. Which is made even more awesome by the fact that Seamus made this film with a very low budget that mostly came out of his own pocketses. In fact, you should all watch the trailer! If you do, I’ll thank all of you in my Golden Globe acceptance speech…or I’ll just give you a virtual hug. It’ll probably just be a virtual hug. It’s okay though. It will be filled with cake.

 

Well, I have waffled on for long enough methinks. Don’t you think it’s awful that waffling in speech or writing does not actually have a necessary social compulsion to consume waffles while doing so? That’s a law that needs to exist. Waffles make everything better.

Join me on my next adventure which involves me being unhealthily addicted to Cassandra Clare novels.

Until next time, Unicornlings.

Peace Out.

 

The Many Fates of Snow White: Black Magic, Vampires & Death by Dancing

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Gather around children…

It’s time to desecrate Fairy Tales.

Yay!

So recently I went to see Snow White and the Huntsman and was entirely indifferent about the whole experience. Yes, Kristen Stewart’s apathetic chipmunk face was annoying, the character development with the supposed friendship/love interest Chris Hemsworth was little to non-existent and Charlize Theron was hot as a crazy evil witch…these were all features that I had anticipated. What I was really thinking about for most of the film was the original German fairy tale and the other adaptations of it that I had encountered before I decided to pay money to see Kristen Stewart scrunch her eyebrows.

With the arrival of fairy tale film adaptations like Red Riding Hood, Snow White and the Huntsman and the impending other Snow White film on its way (Mirror, Mirror) the film industry seems to have a case of Fairy Tale Fever.  So, since many may often forget about the original tale and the themes it implies, and are unaware of other very interesting adaptations of Snow White & her Stepmother…I have decided to share my thoughts on some of these with you lovely people and show you just how weird and disturbing Fairy Tales can be.

Let us begin at the beginning! The original fairy tale Snow White & the Seven Dwarves by the Brothers Grimm is a story that probably would have frightened me as a kid. As we all know fairy tales were and still are used as warnings to bold children and somewhat impact their perspective on good and bad.  However, since all I got was the watered down Disney version and only read the original text in my later years…it didn’t really have as big an impact on me. Sad really.

1) Snow White & The Seven Dwarves by the Brothers Grimm

So it begins… A lovely Queen pricks her finger on a sewing needle, three drops of blood in the snow (probably embodying the cycle of sexuality), a pleasant image of having a pretty daughter and POOF! A crazy beautiful girl is born to a King and Queen. Queen Dies. Enter…THE STEPMOTHER. And of course, because the Stepmother is not a blood relative, or virginal and pure like her stepdaughter she  is inevitably portrayed as an evil, vain psycho obsessed with her reflection. She becomes insanely jealous of this child (and she is very much a child) with her skin as pale as snow, lips as red as blood and hair as dark as ebony. So, the Queen makes several attempts to kill her.

Somnophilia. Told you so.

Somnophilia. Told you so.

We don’t even see the father intervening… or actually appearing in this version of the story again for no stated reason. Although some say that he is present as the partriarchal voice of judgement that the Queen hears from her mirror. Aside from that it’s just back and forth with the Evil Queen and Snow White… and the dwarves being absolutely useless in the midst of the feud.

The story should really be called Snow White and her Crazy Evil Stepmother.

Really, for all of Snow White’s beauty and kindness and being a ray of  domestic, house cleaning light to seven little men…she’s a really easy target. She gets away lucky with the merciful huntsman the first time the queen tries to kill her so she can maintain her beauty queen title and eat Snow White’s liver and lungs. Her LIVER and her LUNGS. Most people think she eats a heart. The other three times the Queen was very lucky that this Snow White kid was as innocent and naive as she was. She manages to nearly kill her three more times; once with magical staylaces for a corset that almost crushes her to death, again with a poisoned comb and then of course, the poisoned apple. She does all this in a silly disguise and Snow White, after SEVERAL warnings from the dwarves about NOT LETTING ANYONE IN THE BLOODY HOUSE, still falls victim to the Queen’s attempts.

So she dies after biting the apple…but not really. A lot of adaptations say that she falls into some sort of coma. However, in the original German story, it states that it only looks like she’s sleeping, retains her beauty and does not decay. Maybe she is, maybe she isn’t. I’ve decided to stay impartial to this. So, enwrought with grief for their beloved pretty housemaid. The dwarves put her in a glass coffin on top of a mountain. Because that is TOTALLY normal. Enter prince charming, who sees this pale, dark haired girl lying in a glass coffin and is all like; “Damn, I love that woman who may or may not be dead or sleeping.”

Tell me that doesn’t come across as the prince having latent necrophiliac tendencies? If you don’t think so… then it most certainly implies he’s a Somnophiliac (where sexual arousal is stimulated by intruding on and awakening a sleeping person).

So now you suppose he kisses her with loves true kiss and she wakes up right? WRONG. In the Brothers Grimm version, the Prince is having is servants carry the coffin of this total stranger to his home (Because that is ALSO TOTALLY NORMAL) when they trip over a shrub that conveniently jolts free the piece of poisonous apple stuck in Snow White’s throat. So you’d think the servants get some credit here right? Nope.

Snow White and the Prince get married and the Stepmother gets the really raw deal of not being the fairest in the land and being invited to the wedding only to find out that she was only invited so the Prince and Snow White could make her wear scalding hot iron shoes and then make her dance until she drops dead. That’s really high school prank kind of stuff.

2) Disney’s Snow White & the Seven Dwarves

 Basically the same as the original without all the death & with lots more comedy and a hell of a lot more singing and dancing. You should totally watch it if you like the idea of birds singing to you as you bake pies and falling in love in the space of five minutes.

Snow White Diluted

Snow White Diluted

3) Snow White: A Tale of Terror (Film)

*Warning! Spoilers Ahead!*

The film does what the title implies, it sticks to the darker features of the original tale except there’s no actual reference to the name Snow White… instead the Snow White character is seen through Lily Hoffman. The daughter of a Lord in what appears to be a medieval setting. We have the same story as before; apart from the very present father figure in Sam Neil who portrays Lily’s father Frederic Hoffman; a grieving widower who falls for the charms of Lady Claudia, played by Sigourney Weaver, the story’s evil queen character. At first it seems that the stepmother genuinely wants to bond with Lily, she even gives her a puppy! But this Snow White is evidently more feisty and rebellious teenager than the original one (she totally doesn’t thank her for the puppy and throws a cup of wine in Claudia’s face after the wedding.)

Although it’s clear she is being rejected as a maternal figure by Lily, Claudia’s hatred for Lily still stems from her own narcissism. She keeps Lily in dressed in girls clothes until she comes of age, Lily rebels by wearing a dress that belonged to her mother to a ball at her fathers castle. Lady Claudia, now heavily pregnant, sees how pretty she looks and becomes so incredibly jealous that she goes into labour and delivers a stillborn boy. It’s after this grueling ordeal that she literally splits in two and starts plotting revenge on Lily, who she blames for the death, with her reflection in her mirror. This displaces the previous notions of the mirror as a patriarchal figure and focuses more on the queen’s inward struggle with her identity as a mother. Her revenge is all Black Magic and Doom, literally. She obsesses about bringing her stillborn back to life, keeps Frederic sedated with poisons and magic and infects everyone at the castle with the Black Death.

Talk about a temper.

Snow White: A Tale of Sigourney Weaver Totally Losing It.

Snow White: A Tale of Sigourney Weaver Totally Losing It.

Meanwhile, Lily makes her escape into the depths of the forest from Lady Claudia’s brother (The Huntsman) and runs into, not Seven Dwarves, but Seven Combatant Miners who are anything but vertically challenged. These guys are not the chubby little friendly people we saw in the cartoon. They are hard-done-by thieves and cut throats that threaten Lily with rape at first. But lo! She forms a friendship with the tall dark mysterious leader of the pack…I don’t need to tell you what happens after that.  Even with all these big men protecting her, Lily still eats the apple (Biblical reference perhaps?) and develops a kind of locked-in-syndrome, as opposed to falling into a coma. Leaving her a awake and aware yet fully paralyzed until the apple piece is literally shaken out of her.

You can do the rest of the fairy tale math yourself.

Personally, I thought this adaptation was really good. It kept the whole story quite dark and real. Snow White isn’t just ‘As White as Snow’. Lily confronts Claudia and gets her revenge (kinda like in Snow White and the Huntsman). She stabs Claudia’s psycho alter ego mirror with a big knife and watches her burn to death. That’s gutsy. And Sigourney Weaver is quite awesome as the evil queen. There’s a lot of emphasis on her descent into the pits of madness after the loss of her son, something you wouldn’t get from the original story. This strengthens an additional theme of maternity, something that she longs for but is exactly what Lily refuses to give her. In general, the two lead female characters are a hell of a lot stronger than the original story implies.

Snow, Glass, Apples by Neil Gaiman

Strap in guys, because Neil Gaiman is about to remix this fairy tale business with his short story Snow, Glass, Apples. This is not your basic ‘once upon a time’ job. Gaiman has shifted the focus of the well known fairy tale, and has written his version from the perspective of the stepmother, watching her life fall around her at the hands of a child who, according to her, is not what she seems. Already an established writer of all things dark and fantastic, Gaiman has very much put his own spin on this story. The title I find quite effective and mysterious as it signifies the three main aesthetic elements of the story, without so much as a connotation to the hero or the villain. Very un-fairy tale, and yet so intriguing.

So Neil relays the tale of the young queen, beginning with a young love affair with a King and her fear of his daughter, whom she claims to have an unusual thirst… for blood. The child is described as Snow White would be, pale white skin, black hair and blood red lips, but we are now seeing it from an entirely different angle. After the Queens initial and fearful encounter of this girl’s blood lust, the King is taken out of the picture, dying a pale and weakened man with new scars on his body, the queen obviously suspicious of the daughter. And so this Queen, unlike the others, claims to have cut the girls real heart from her chest and hung it from her ceiling where it continued to pulse with faint life.

Through the Queen’s clairvoyant mirror, we see this child as something demonic, bloodthirsty roaming the dark forests and strike fear into the Queen’s subjects. We see her seduce and drain an old monk of his blood. Even her Prince, who surely comes along, is claimed by the Queen to have an unusual fetish for ‘cold’ and ‘still’ women (Implying Vampires AND Necrophilia. Nice.)  The usual themes of maternity and patriarchy don’t really exist much in this version, through the eyes of this particular queen, we see a monstrous, sexually aware female that is totally alien to her and her world. Perhaps Gaiman’s Queen in Snow, Glass, Apples is a window into an unstable mind of the original queen? Exaggerating her perspective of a girl that threatens her place in a new home? Or perhaps you’ll see it her way? Either way you may see it, the story is a very well written and very dark re-telling of a fairy tale. So much so that I don’t want to give TOO much away.  At present, I shall only say that if you do enjoy a good spooky fairy tale, and if you haven’t read it already….READ IT!

(http://www.holycow.com/dreaming/stories/snow-glass-apples/_ Copyright (c) Neil Gaiman, 1994 )

So, young friends, what did we learn today? Probably that more recent adaptations of Snow White & the Seven dwarves are becoming significantly more bad ass than the original one. Which was initially pretty dark. I suppose I should mention, that Snow White and the Huntsman was actually a good adaptation in my opinion too. Despite the presence of Kristen Stewart. It stuck to similar story lines as Snow White: A Tale of Terror did. There was the same dark, gothic elements and a lot more fantasy. And of course, its all about the happy fuckin’ ending where Snow White is still seen as a virtuous ray of hope in a dark world. So much so that they just HAD to bring the Forest Spirit from Princess Mononoke in to ‘bless’ her as the one to stop all the evil. I just had to laugh at that part. Seriously though, they look pretty much the same.

Aside from all that, I suppose you could say we learned that you should always be original in your disguises when taking revenge, if you try to cut out a vampire girls heart you will most definitely piss off their boyfriend and hot iron shoes will probably never be fashionable. I leave you with another interesting, amped up adaptation of Snow White:

Peace Out.

The Lies of Locke Lamora

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Sometimes you read a good book and your brain goes ‘Mmmmmm’.

Sometimes you read a brilliant book, have a brain orgasm and you immediately shove the book in all of your friends faces.

I’m sure you’re all familiar with these sensations. The Lies of Locke Lamora, for me, was the latter. Written by Scott Lynch, this story is definitely a page turner. Lynch has brought us into a formidable alternate world filled with Alchemy and mystery and further into a city that’s rife with revenge, secrets and thievery.

Isn't it PRETTY?

Isn’t it PRETTY?

The story is true to the title in that it follows the Life and Lies of one Locke Lamora. Also known by reputation as the Thorn of Camorr, a local urban legend that portrays a dastardly thief, who is a ‘friend to the poor’ as well as ‘a ghost who can walk through walls’. And of course, Locke Lamora is neither. Nevertheless,  trained as a very eager young thief and a ‘graduate’ of sorts in the art of ‘false facing’ and deception Lamora and his partners in crime (the very aptly named Gentlemen Bastards) are exceptionally good at what they do; even if their methods don’t really suit the laws and taboos that exist between the nobility and the treacherous underworld of the ancient City of Camorr.

The City of Camorr is up there on my list of fantastical places that I kind of wish was real. In the descriptions, the city is made out to resemble our own worlds Venice in Italy. An ideal location for this particular story with dozens of waterways slinking through labyrinths of stone and magnificent towers of a very alien material called Elderglass. Which really sounds quite beautiful. The culture and history of the city was something I also loved reading about. You get a very good insight to this in specific ‘Interludes’ in the story that are dedicated to the past learning experiences of Locke and his Gentlemen Bastards. The band go through rigorous training in just about everything; from immersing themselves in the various religious orders of Camorr to high society cooking and etiquette (which reads DELICIOUSLY).

And so it is in the midst of the hustle and bustle of the City of Camorr, mainly in the darkened dank areas where there are lots of unappealing types, our anti-heroes find themselves caught up in a clandestine war. A war that has the utmost decency to reveal itself in the middle of one of the biggest scams the Gentlemen Bastards have ever pulled. Drat! And so, the boys are in the hot seat and chaos ensues that triggers a lot of unpleasant situations and a lot of quick thinking on Locke’s part. I do believe a very prominent figure in Popular Culture has a quote that sums up this book in a very accurate and original way:

“Secrets and lies…IT’S ALWAYS SECRETS AND LIES!” – Homer J. Simpson

If Scott Lynch’s brain had some kind of biological window/thing that projected images, I would very much like to peer into it and see his vision of this amazing and intricate world he’s created. Especially the City of Camorr, with its unearthly Elderglass Towers and colourful characters…and of course the Austershalin Brandy… in fact, all the liqour in Camorr sounds awesome. I’ll take several crates of everything if it’s ever invented. Which is highly unlikely as most of it is made through a mystical art of alchemy with things that only exist in a fantasy world. DAMN YOU SCOTT LYNCH.

Ahem.

In conclusion, this book is awesome and you (YES YOU) should read it as it will benefit your eyes and cure any boredom related disease that you have.

Now, that concludes this bloggish fangirl rant. If you’ll excuse me, I must go sell my possessions so I can buy the sequel; Red Seas Under Red Skies… toodles!

Peace Out.

Anime Madness Part 2: D-Gray Man & Sands of Destruction (Plus A Surprise Bonus Feature!)

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…and lo, out of the ashes rose something that resembled strings of sentences regarding Anime.

And it was good.

And the people rejoiced and threw ceremonial watermelons at chipmunks.

And that was good too, but not for the chipmunks of course.

DISCLAIMER: NO CHIPMUNKS WERE HARMED IN THE WRITING OF THIS BLOG.

Ladies & Gentlemen, let the madness continue. I have been itching to write about these two Anime series as they brought me much joy during my rigorous procrastination sessions. Chop chop, no time to waste! Onward to demons and magic!

D – Gray Man

Enter; the world as we know it, well, maybe a good few centuries into the past let’s say the 19th Century… and not actually our world. This version of our world is threatened by a Demon-Maker, The Millenium Earl. Feeding upon the grief of humans, The Earl molds these desperate and clinging souls into demonic weapons, ‘Akuma’ soldiers, pawns in his war against humanity and the God that they believe in.

I believe this is the part where you all collectively go ‘Who ya gonna call?’

(go on do it, indulge yourselves)

D-Gray-Man

D-Gray-Ma

The answer? A kick ass army of humans that wield weapons made of a celestial material called Innocence. Of course, they call themselves exorcists. Though I’m quite sure you guys knew that already. The exorcist we follow is the young, yet wise beyond his years, Allen Walker. A boy with a Parasite type Innocence Weapon (his left entire arm) who begins his journey as a fully qualified Exorcist of  The Black Order at the tender age of 15.  Although I was hesitant at first regarding D-Gray Man, demons and magical exorcists are a dime a dozen, I really, really enjoyed this anime series.

Allen is accompanied by other young Exorcists each sporting unusual not to mention gender specific weapons with funny names. Observe:

a) The only girl exorcist at The Black Order, Leenalee Lee (yes, that’s her name) fights Akuma with her weapon known as, wait for it… THE DARK BOOTS (oooohhoowwoooo spooky). These babies are plain old black boots that transform into high heels, sprout wings and deliver devastating blows when activated. They also give Leenalee a great excuse to wear teeeny tiny shorts and skirts during the series. Yay.

Leenalee Lee and THE DARK (sexy) BOOTS

b) Then we have the mysterious yet charming Lavi who wears an eye patch for unknown reasons and wields an anti-akuma weapon called Iron Hammer. He also refers to this as his ‘Big Hammer, Little Hammer’ as it can grow to RIDICULOUS sizes (he achieves this in battle by screaming the words ‘GROW GROW GROW’…giggle) The Hammer is also often used for transport on long journeys.

Lavi & his Big Hammer, Little Hammer

Lavi & his Big Hammer, Little Hammer

Believe me, there’s a string of other lovable characters in tow. I could talk about them for a very long time. But I won’t.

The series begins mostly with Allen & his cohorts picking fights with small time demons and discovering new Exorcists to join their cause. Such as the awkward Miranda Lotto, who finds her Innocence weapon in a Grandfather clock. Her innocence can temporarily stop and reverse time. Handy, no?

The journey towards some kind of earthly peace continue and all of our protagonists are sent on miniature journeys of self endurance and enlightenment. Good and Evil become intertwined as each character assesses the true nature of power, constantly developing their uses of it to benefit the mankind and the trapped souls of the Akuma Weapons.

So, over all the series has your typical war stained backdrops, steadily woven together with cryptic evil of the Earl and his subjects The Noah (descendants of the biblical Noah, basically evil humans with terrible stigmata and evil powers) against the determined Exorcists  to create that bigger picture of loyalty, love and courage in the face of utter, slimy, black despair.

With fun & comedy along the way, guaranteed.

Sands Of Destruction

An anime series based on the Japanese Role Playing Game of the same title. The first things that came to mind when I started watching this short but sweet series were two very specific words: Super Cute.

Rather like Gurren Lagnann (see my previous post)  this particular world is inhabited by humans and a dominant race of Beastmen and (for convenience’ sake) is covered with a vast Sand Sea. We follow the protagonist Kyrie Illunis, an innocent boy with an unknown past who excels at cooking and cleaning. Whilst living disguised as a Beastman, Kyrie encounters chronic fatalist & awesome giant blade fighter lady Morte Urshela, a member (the only member) of the World Destruction Commitee. Disillusioned by the inequality and injustice that the human race has suffered, she steals a device known as The Destruct Code (fabled to destroy the entire world when activated) and is intent on destroying the world dragging a very unwilling Kyrie in her stead.

Sands of Super Cute Destruction

Sands of Super Cute Destruction

Along their path to “world destruction” the duo pick up some wanted and unwanted company. The first and most important side character is the ADORABLE dwarf bear warrior Toppy Toplan, who insists that there are two kinds of EVERYTHING and finishes all his sentences with the word ‘Kuma’. He becomes their smallest comrade and loyal friend who packs a hell of a punch for a creature so tiny. Also, did I mention that he’s adorable?

"I will kill you with this stick, Kuma."

“I will kill you with this stick, Kuma.”

But it’s not all cuddly fuzz bears for our adorable protagonists. OH NO.  Inevitably, where there is a threat of destruction, there is also the threat of salvation and our heroes(?) are constantly being tracked down by two Beastmen from the World Salvation Commitee. A calm and calculating half wolf called Naja and a bad tempered dragon lady named Rhi’a. You’ll notice that I have spent most of the time talking of these wonderfully drawn characters and hardly enough about the story line. The hard nose of this story (because stories have noses) and it’s outcome seems to really revolve around Morte and Kyrie (aptly named, no?) and Morte’s inner struggle with her feelings for the world she hates so much and the future with her new comrades that she is (quietly) reluctant to lose.

Personally, I came away from the whole viewing experience with a  new goal to benefit mankind by acquiring a dwarf bear and teaching him to say ‘kuma’. He will be wonderful. My overall rating for this Anime Series is pretty good, I wish I had a Sega or a Nintendo so I could attempt to play the game. So, if you’re looking for an Anime series that is short, sweet and to the point that comes with an extra kick of swashbuckling Sand Pirates and a giddy little surprise at the end of the plot, this is the very show for you (most suited for quiet and warm evenings in with your favorite person/teddy/pet or if you have a combination of all three, go crazy!).

AND NOW FOR OUR SUPER SPECIAL SURPRISE BONUS FEATURE!

Sekirei

Sekirei: Just LOOK at those personalities.

Sekirei

Good Gorram Shinsplints where the hell do I start? This is by far the most ridiculous & hilarious anime series I have watched in my entire life. I can easily sum it up in one very plain, blunt word: BOOBS.

I am not joking folks, this raunchy Anime series tells the story of a mysterious, humanoid alien race of 108 men & women (mostly women) that have unbelievable fighting powers. Fighting powers that can only be unlocked by mucous contact, a passionate kiss from a ‘special’ person known as their Ashikabi. These are humans with unique genes that empower the Sekirei, and after the mucous contact has been made (isn’t that a lovely image?) the Sekirei is bound to serve their Ashikabi in any way possible. In this case, all the Sekirei in Tokyo are isolated within the confines of the city by the evil company that discovered them, IBM, and are forced to find their Ashikabi & fight to the death by the crazy evil Game Master, Hiroto Minaka.

Our protagonist is the awkward loner Minato Sahashi who starts out by acquiring his first Sekirei Musubi entirely by accident (she literally falls from the sky and lands on his face). From then on, he steadily becomes a popular Ashikabi choice for many other Sekirei. So… poor awkward Minato is surrounded by women with VERY large breasts who love him dearly and swear to fight to the death for him to win the GRAND PRIZE of the deathly Sekirei Game…

Watch this series at your peril…or if you really, really like boobs.

Well my dears, that about wraps up my mystical journey into Anime madness for the time being. There may be more journeys like it to come. But we won’t know when…because they are so DAMN mystical.

Until next time Unicornlings,

Peace Out.

Anime Madness Part 1: Devil May Cry & Gurren Lagann

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Cartoons are awesome.

Who doesn’t like to watch colourful pictures on the tellybox?

Especially when the pictures involve badass Anime chicks and dudes kicking ass and defeating fantastical demon monster robots. 

Ergo, Anime is Awesome.

If the above really doesn’t appeal to you; you are probably not human. (Or maybe anime isn’t your thing, which is cool.)

This week, I have decided to dedicate some blogs to a few wonderful Anime & Mecha Anime series that I have recently spent most of my allocated procrastination time watching. Because I so intensely enjoyed watching  these shows, I am going to take a moment now to say that I am placing them all under an umbrella statement of wonderfulness and will recommend all of you to watch at your leisure. So, for all of you that love you some post-apocalyptic/alternate history anime worlds…

Check These Bad Boys Out:

Devil May Cry

Yes, some of you may be quite familiar with the Video Game Franchise. This Anime series IS based on the plot of the game, as far as I know. I have not had the pleasure of playing the video games (Aisling Fail) but I thought the TV series was BADASS. So I have a feeling that the games are probably just as awesome.

So the world is full of demons (SHOCK HORROR!)  and the cocky, half-demon devil-hunter Dante is there to make their slimy horned heads roll. He carries a GIANT sentient sword that NO regular person could EVER carry (á la anime) and is very partial to Pizza (no olives) and Strawberry Ice Cream Sundaes ( I can relate, Dante, I can relate)

While there is not much to be said about the fairly standard plot motivation, I really liked some of the characters on offer in this series. The mysterious character ‘Lady’ whose origins are unknown is one that intrigued me most. She’s basically a fellow demon hunter with serious trust issues. Still, what the hell is her deal?  There was too much ‘wall’ in front of her character for my liking, however, I did only watch the TV series.

(Here is usually where I fret about not having read the manga series or played the games, so if you have done so and haven’t bothered with the series, think of me as your poorly financed conduit.)

As the demons steadily work towards their climatic unveiling of an uncontrollable evil, we get glimpses into other characters such as Trish (a lightning shooting demon made in the image of Dante’s mother) and the incredibly annoying Patty Lowell who, for all her whining, tends to keep Dante in check. The Demons themselves are pretty well presented, as expected. There is an implied ‘hierarchy’ that seems to stem from Dante’s demon father ‘Sparda’, I can’t get into that without giving everything away, but essentially, I would have liked to have seen more development in this area . Again, I will probably have to read more on that.

Overall, with regards to Cultural Context the dystopia in the backdrop is not really commented on. Just kinda hones in on Dante and his ‘Devil May Cry’ business. The demon slaying is the priority and the gory and grim imagery makes that happen for us viewers. I really did like this series, I love demons and blood as much as the next girl. The only real problem I had with it was that there are only 12 episodes and there seemed to be an awful lot missing or out of focus. Of course this may have a lot to do with the fact that the series is so short and my lack of insight into the entire Devil May Cry franchise. However, I DO think I shall be going to my nearest comic book establishment and scoping out the manga or purchasing the video game.  So if these features are your bigger interests, I’d say look into them for more background knowledge.

It will also automatically make you a very cool person.

Devil May Cry Like a BADASS

Devil May Cry Like a BADASS

Gurren Lagann

GET READY TO ROCK.

This Mecha Anime is fully loaded with action, humor and an exciting post-apocalyptic backdrop that will make you wish for the world’s end.

So, Gurren Lagann (also known as Teggen Toppa Gurren Lagann) begins in a fictional future on earth where the evil Spiral King Lordgenome has forced humanity to live in subterranean villages. Until, the shy and insecure digger Simon and his delinquent older friend Kamina uncover a mechanical gunman while mining and break out of their underground village and into the surface world.

Their adventures follow them and their human comrades (Team Dai-Gurren!) rising up and fighting against the tyrannical Sprial King and his Beastmen in their gunman robot Gurren Lagann.

I loved this series.

The story was really awesome and the characters were very engaging. The depiction of earth under the sway of Spiral Power was something I immediately got on board with. A power regarded as dangerous for the evolution and constant development it brings and Simon begins as the digger whose drill (strong-ass-manifestation-of-spiral-power) will ‘Bust Through The Heavens’? Awesome.

Simon’s character is a great one to follow, along with the many interesting ones they meet on their travels. His relationship with Kamina is heart wrenchingly lovely in the first episodes; they endearingly refer to each other as ‘Bro’ and are constantly bouncing egos off each other, particularly when Simon starts out as incredibly insecure and doubtful of his role in the world. The other key character is Yoko who you will love, if not for her actual character, for her cleavage alone. A badass chick whose a dab hand with an electric rifle and struts around in a bikini top and hot pants? I ask you, what is there not to love?

There’s a lot to love about the politically charged plot too. There’s something about overthrowing power that just makes me want to dance with fire. The existing regime in Gurren Lagann that casts mankind underground and controls its numbers in an attempt to repress it, is fought against by the mighty Team Dai-Gurren in their shiny giant robots (YAY!).

The politics and a true fight for a balance of power becomes much more evident as the series continues. In accordance with this quest for power, the overall theme of spiral power and energy becomes more dominant as the series goes on. The theme itself is imagined as a spiral, a shape that represents something infinite and constantly developing/moving much like the very capable human race. Eventually, the development of earth and spiral power is stunted by another nemesis, the anti-spiral. Who steals the moon and is presented as a badly drawn person. No Lie.

And this is ONLY THE BEGINNING. The series becomes this giant energy ball of excitement, or at least I was excited. And it’s not just the ballsy fighting robot action that gets to you, it’s the humour and the characters that got me more than anything. This series is evidence of some really good character writing, I beg you all to watch it if your partial to anime or beginning to become partial to anime. I will most definitely be looking into the manga.

Gurren Lagann: Kamina, Simon & Yoko

Gurren Lagann: Kamina, Simon & Yoko

And that, my friends, is where it’s at.

As you can see, this blog holds giant raging piles of nonsensical awesome for you spry young readers, particularly those unknown to the anime world, to go out and discover for yourselves!

Isn’t that WONDERFUL?

Next time, there will be more demons.

Peace Out.

Poem Thing: In The Half Light

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So I wrote this thingy a while ago.

Here it is:

 

…In the Half Light

 

 

Dreamscape

Sleep is a bitch tonight

Howling through shattered windows

Making unconscious decisions

To clog the mind with preoccupations

Memories

Images

Faces

Ribbons

Blue

Cups of Tea

Black

As the night was

With…who?

Dark Brown Eyes with trimmings of faded gold around the iris.

Sitting in the freezing cold with a book so far away from the real world that it is hard to define what…

What?

Garish lights

Gorey films

Gorey; Grandfathers birthday

There was never substance in those little cocktail sausages.

Phallocentricity

Men are killing machines

Blue Eyes

Ethereal Bliss

It is absolutely hilarious that human nature has brought us this far.

Diversity

To want is to have, when one cannot have, one falls apart.

We refuse to say Desire

We refuse to say Dilemma

Sleeping Potions and Slow Motions

“Needs have priority over wants”

Third year Home Economics

LOVE YOU LOTS AND LOTS

Always the first thing

Bright Eyes

 Little Revolutionary

Still bent on changing the future of our world through buying pints of Becks

Blue Eyes

Not knowing what love is

“What if Alice got stuck in Wonderland?”

All too well known

All too well

Well?

If only I had the chance to colour everything

Inside the lines

I am so sorry

Ripped Seams and Recurring Dreams

Button Bracelets

Fairies with whiskey wings

Singing to the walls

Stinging throats

Chauvinist Pig

“Fuck off with your Kate Bush”

Cats with marshmallow teeth

Driving to the pier at 4 am just for kicks and screams

Insomnia

Spiral Staircases

Down

And down

Making sure all six foot five of the hearts last investment is still inAustralia

…weekly

Reading shadows on the walls

Reading shadows on library books

Just Reading

Pulling out hairs

Putting on airs

“I haven’t seen you in weeks, How are you?”

Starry Lies and Night Skies

Flashbacks

Bottomless glasses of wine

“You’ve raised the bar there!”

Gestures

Pig Symbolism

Believing…everything

Blind religion

Speckled night sky overGrafton Street

Shivering violently in high heeled boots

Warm hands

The perfect parka at your side

 Cold swollen excuses for lips

Silence

Guilt

Dementia

Replay

So Long

Brown Eyes

Flicks of Fire

No

Yes

NO.

Melodies and Minds at Ease

“I look just like Buddy Holly”

Amber Curls

Spooning on Alien Floors

Pretty Dresses

Living…

Well, Trying

Scaring the fuck out of each other

“Did you get home ok??”

Oak floors

Dancing shoes

Eat,

Sleep,

Breathe,

Music

Disc Jockey king

“If you play Animal Collective I will have your babies”

Close Proximity

Nirvana

Teenage Fanclub

Silence upon silence

Screw This

“…Did I tell you about my?”

SHUT UP

Blue

Blue

Blue

Slow Jam

Crossed Wires and Flat Tyres

Customer Service

Tits and Teeth

Tall drinks of water

Endless cups of Tea

Supervising Chaos

“This is the statute to life”

Thank you so much

For nothing?

“Hey you Xx”

No.

Yes.

Yes.

Yes.

Actually…No

Queens, Kings and Mitten Strings

“What the Devil has gotten into you??”

A little careless manipulation always happens at some point

…right?

Ignorance

Denial

Rivers in Egypt

Regrets

More Regrets

Counting Freckles

One

Two

Three

Can you still see me across all that water?

Running

Letting go

Loose

Free

Shiny

Looking through the pint Glass

Seeing

Playing Crystal Maze for hours and wanting to buy the soundtrack

Being a piece of the puzzle

…again

Knowing Love in a tiny Music Box

“BAMBI!”

Young nights

Long days

Filling in the blanks,

At last

Sunflowers

 Red brick houses

Aching muscles

“…if I had known you were back…I”

Liars

Thieves with honest hearts

Blackmail served with stars

Cross fires

Living in a secret super nova

 Fighting for your own…

Loving every micro second.

Peace Out.