Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Friday, October 06, 2017

Getting a glimpse of Certain Dark Things while attending the Picnic at Hanging Rock this FrightFall

This is week one of Seasons of Reading's month long FrightFall readathon and in honor of the new format, I thought it would be good to do a progress report post each week here at LRG.

So far, I've finished one book and halfway through another, which is not bad,I suppose. The pair of books that I started out with are miles apart from each other when it comes to delivering the scares yet are eerily effective in their own way:

CERTAIN DARK THINGS(finished): Silvia Moreno-Garcia's follow-up to her tale of musical witchcraft,Signal to Noise, goes all-out on the supernatural but keeps the emotional pace of the book down to mortal levels.

The setting is Mexico City, one of the few vampire free zones in the world, where Atl, the youngest daughter of an Aztec line of blood drinkers, takes refuge. Her family was wiped out by a family of Necro vamps, determined to take their territory and she barely manages to survive on her own, even with a genetic enhanced Doberman at her side.

With only one or two possible contacts to help her flee the country, Atl takes up with Domingo, a street kid who falls instantly in love with her. Bonding with a human is risky for Atl but the need for his blood and assistance is too great. Domingo is fine with Atl being a vampire and even being her "Renfield" but he hopes for something more as time goes on.

Meanwhile, Nick, the vicious eldest son of the Necro family is on the hunt for Atl, along with a local gang who prefers to keep the streets safe from all nocturnal invaders who recruit a new cop in town named Ana Aguirre, who has some experience in the vampire killing department.

 As Atl makes her plans to head out of Dodge,so to speak, the ultimate fight or flight instincts come up to the surface for all concerned.

As with her earlier novel, Moreno-Garcia showcases her gift for blending realistic characters with otherworldly elements and that ability is brought to the next level. As much as I adore Atl and Domingo as a couple, their relationship is not overly romanticized yet very touching. The pacing is brisk yet allows for some much needed character development time that pays off by the end.

The world building here is wonderful, complete with an informative glossary at the end of the book that relates various vampire myths from other cultures. Frankly, it's refreshing to see a more diverse view of vampire lore that the standard Hollywood version(which is playfully mocked here) and with more of the good word of mouth that the book has already gotten, Certain Dark Things should pave the way for other culturally creative works in this genre:

PICNIC AT HANGING ROCK(still reading): This Australian novel by Joan Lindsay, originally published in 1967, is considered a classic in that country yet most Americans would know it best from the 1975 film adaptation directed by Peter Weir(which is about to be remade for streaming on Amazon).

We begin at Appleyard College, a proper girls' school in 1900, where the students and teachers are sent off to the title location as a Valentine's Day treat. During that trip, a trio of senior girls and one of their instructors wander off from the rest of the group and seem to vanish without a trance.

Apart from the hysterics of a younger girl,Edith, and the frantic days later search by a visiting Englishman named Mike, there are few clues as to what happened. Even when one of the girls does strangely turn up, there are more questions than answers to be found.

The story is a slow yet steady burn as just about everyone in the community is in an uproar over the bizarre incident. From the headmistress,Mrs.Appleyard, who is concerned about what this will do to her school's reputation to Albert, a local groomsman worried about the effect this has had on his friend Mike, the tension rises with each page turn.

This is not a book to be rushed through,although I consider it a bonus that my copy is the 50th anniversary edition with an introduction by acclaimed writer Maile Meloy(said intro I will read upon finishing the book,as suggested by the author). It may seem brief and sedate but appearances are deceiving, as the old saying goes.

I might even check out the original film before Halloween, as it's fear factor is held in the highest regard as is this sinister short novel of girls who are truly gone in the most chilling sense of the term:

Meanwhile, I've gotten a start on Matt Ruff's Lovecraft Country,which is very intriguing so far and dipping into The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla by Lauren Willig(which also part of my Series-ous Reading challenge for the year).

There's still time to join in the FrightFall fun and more info, check out Seasons of Reading(there's a link in the first paragraph of this post) and yes, we do have a hashtag on Twitter(#FrightFall). Probably after I finish up with Picnic at Hanging Rock, my reread of Stephen King's Firestarter will begin although I may have to bring another SK book to this party.

Granted, this is a late selection but since King just released this special sleeper hit with the help of his son Owen, a little tardiness is not the worst thing to deal with here:

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