The Wolves of Midwinter

Saturday, January 28, 2012

"The Wolf Gift Countdown ":Interview with Anne Rice"

1. One of my favorite elements of your stories has always been your ability to humanize creatures that have always been dehumanized, or were seen as aberrations in the eyes of civilization. It was refreshing, for me, to see immortals that aspired to find answers to existential questions. From your hints about "Wolf Gift, on your Facebook, I know you won't be offering us a werewolf that wakes up, after being a werewolf for the evening, to find that he unthinkably massacred dozens of people.What sparked this conscious decision to deviate from the generic, tormented werewolf who inadvertently kills people when going into one of his werewolf (drunken) rages? 

Anne Rice:"You know there is a pattern to my fiction, no matter what the subject.  I am always interested in the hero, whether it is Jesus Christ, or the vampire, or the mummy, or the witch.  I want to get into the mind and heart of the outsider, and the supernatural hero is the ultimate outsider. So of course I have little interest in the old idea of the werewolf as some one who has no consciousness of his bestial nature and is destined only for release through the silver bullet.  I naturally have gone into the mind of a werewolf who is fully conscious during his transformation and knows what he is doing as he experiences his new and wondrous animalian strength and instincts. It is inevitably for Reuben a sensuous experience.  As my vampire fiction explored the "freedom" and heightened senses of the vampire, The Wolf Gift explores the same for hero, Reuben Golding, who discovers that he can use his powers, in fact, must use his powers to intervene for the innocent and against the violent and the guilty.  Yet Reuben, in the wolfen state, is still an immensely powerful and effective killer and destroyer. He finds himself doing things which ordinary human beings cannot justify doing.  The subject is as always for me the matter of good and evil, and the strange mix of good and evil in each of us, and in all of us."

2. Another thing that intrigued me was the novel's promise of a "nostalgic" return to San Francisco where we were first introduced to Louis. I know a lot of your older fans, in particular,  are very overjoyed by this. Is "The Wolf Gift's" setting a turn down memory lane for you as well? 
Anne Rice: "It was time for me to revisit San Francisco and northern California. I was ready.  It took me years after leaving the south to actually write about the south.  And it has taken me years after leaving the Bay Area to have the distance to write about it.  I found myself walking the streets of San Francisco and Mill Valley, and the paths of Muir Woods with great pleasure.  I just loved once again roaming the Mendocino Coast with its chill winds and gray skies, and pounding surf.  The whole northern California landscape came alive for me in a new and vivid way in the Wolf Gift.  I have since gone north to visited all the sites of the Wolf Gift, and loved it.   This is after all a landscape I knew and loved for 30 years, and it was inevitable that I would write about it, especially after my cathartic southern years.  Reuben is a child of San Francisco, one of the greatest and most cosmopolitan cities in the country, and a city whose beauty rivals that of New Orleans.  I feel so grateful that I have spent so much of my life in these two unique places.  Maybe I had to return to the south, and write about it in many novels, before I could be free to really engage with northern California.  It all feels wonderful to me now, writing of North Beach restaurants, and San Francisco's splendid nighttime skyline, and the roads of the Wine Country and the Redwood forests."

3.This is probably far too early to ask this, but could you see this novel as possibly becoming the first book of the"Werewolf Chronicles?" Or, is this novel pretty self-contained? 
Anne Rice: "Yes, the Wolf Gift could certainly be the first novel of a series.  Yes.  One never knows.  But the characters are so alive for me, and there is so much more to say there, and so much more to tell.  The cast is very busy in my mind right now.  However the Wolf Gift as written, I hope, is a fully realized novel.  Reuben's quest has its climax in the book, and that matters very much to me.  In the past, I've written what I thought were fully realized novels with cliff hanger endings, and it always disappointed me when people focused less on the climax and more on the cliffhanger.  So I avoided the cliff hanger ending here, in the hopes that readers would see the more fully realized elements of the story.  But...yes, it could be the beginning of a series about Reuben and his "kind." 

Thanks Anne Rice again for your receptiveness, and for answering these questions with detailed answers!!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Heart of Existence

A gun misfires
That clangorous noise is so deafening
The soldiers of God stood in unison
Marching towards my hiding place
My mind is my refuge
Can God find me here?

Once upon a time,
I drowned ceremoniously in a baptismal pool
I sputtered…
As I floated back to the surface

“Yes, I believe, I believe…”

With one panicked wheeze, I stared through misted eyes
A jubilant congregation clapped
I’m confused..

Where is God?

  I dreamt of angels bespangling trees
Where are they?
This fleeting vision is trapped in the perimeters of my mind
Outside, I see nothing but my ordinary surroundings
A thought struck me…
Am I forsaken?
Or is God just me,

whispering through the isolation of my mind?

A gun was thrust into my hand
Some sergeant with stately clothes
Screamed hoarsely for me to shoot at the prisoner
A small, whimpering child

The enemy?
“Are you a man?”

Am I human?

“Its God commandment to kill this “thing,”
 He’s not one of us
The child was like me
Recoiling from the mad violence

As I stared despondently at the child,
I stoically pulled the trigger,
Hearing the child’s cries
Cut through the fabric of my being,

I died….
Was this God’s doing or man’s?
Where is God hiding?

I awakened after the holy war
We happily celebrated over the heathen corpses
Except me, I stared in horror
Did I do this?
Was I part of this?
God, Why oh Why??

Back in church,
I dreamt only of my death
Weighed down with stones in my pocket
Drowning, dying
In the pool of tears
Take me elsewhere…
Beyond here...
A meadow hidden within the shadows..

The pastor roared
“Those who fail to believe,
Die a second time.”
Flashes of the corpses of those innocent children
Tore through my mind…
Their bleeding bodies haphazardly
Stacked atop each other..
They were dead once,
And they’ll die again
Does God smile mutinously upon this
Dream of Mankind??

After church,
I miserably drowned myself with wine
Was it really his blood dulling the pain?

All of this sacrificial blood seeping through my veins
Mixing  with the blood of those I killed
Was it all just metaphoric?
Could Jesus really be there, somewhere?
Dying from our sins?

The morning sun illuminated my bleeding body
Lying against the dark wood floor
What did I do?
Did someone stab me?
The knife was laid next to me
Smeared with my blood
Dripping from my open heart

A Sunday school memory danced through my mind
“Children, do you know Jesus lives within our hearts?”
Did I kill him, or has he been let free?
I laughed at the thought of Jesus crawling out of my heart
Then standing over me with a sardonic expression..
I was always here…

Saturday, January 21, 2012

"The Wolf Gift" Review"

  Disclaimer: I tried very hard to stray away from offering any spoilers. It has always remained a personal policy to keep from posting spoilers because I want readers to enjoy reading reviews without fear of ruining the great experience of reading any book without foreknowledge of certain surprising revelations in the story.

Anne Rice’s newest novel The Wolf Gift  symbolizes a return to familiar territory for Anne Rice fans. It also showcases Anne Rice’s search for a new spiritual perspective within her life. Beginning in early 2011, many of Anne Rice’s Facebook posts contained inklings of a new supernatural story which featured werewolves as the central focus of the new project. Upon reading this post, I knew that Anne Rice desired to return to place that she fondly loved within her earlier novels. It was a metaphoric paradise where she can poetically seek new meaning within her life.

    On the outside, “The Wolf Gift,”  has elements that are reminiscent of
Interview with the Vampire  from the San Francisco journalist to the California setting. Also, the intoxicating, sensual prose returns in majestic form within the story as it effortlessly immerses the reader into a beautiful oasis where Californian redwood trees are foregrounded against a inky night sky. Against this blackness, the natural world filled to the brim with a host of different forms of biological life are seeking meaning in their own unique way. The werewolf within this environment happens to be the proverbial “top dog,” or an elite species that is a new evolutionary phase of both” humans” and “beasts.”
                  Except, Anne Rice’s supernatural creatures are far more human than bestial in any sense. As with all novels, the supernatural creature represents ourselves, composed of both “primal” and “rational” senses as we carve out meaning about the nature of morality, or the questionable existence of God or some higher power. These supernatural creatures allow us to freely ponder our own existential questions within  a rich fictitious setting. “The Wolf Gift,” primarily focuses on the tough philosophical question of “the problem of evil,” what types of acts constitute the label of that word “evil?”  This question is intrinsic to the existence of the werewolf as these seemingly abstract concepts appear tangible within their construction of the world.  Except, this tangibility paradoxically introduces more questions than answers about the nature of evil.

    Surprisingly, this book improves upon her other books where some minor characters were sometimes caricatures rather than characters. This problem was more apparent in her later
Vampire Chronicles books that partly lost their razor-sharp, artistic edge that  was finely sharpened within her earlier novels. Fortunately, the Wolf Gift  attests to Anne Rice’s newly discovered creative spark that she alluded to in Facebook posts after leaving Catholicism. All the characters were developed meticulously and far more than just caricatures. Many of her critics have always misunderstood the power and mystique of her sensual prose that really enhances the cinematic power of her depictions of the werewolf transformation. There were instances that reminded me of some her finest works like Memnoch the Devil,  or The Vampire Lestat  where the prose contained so much realistic detail that I effectively lost my sense of reality temporarily. Except, Anne Rice books have the uncanny ability to imbue you with a different sense of reality altogether.

   To those who have never read Anne Rice’s books, the attitude of fans that believe that Lestat, or Anne Rice’s characters might be real seems insensible. From reading her books, this belief makes perfect sense as even the stubborn realist such as myself often imagines the possibility of meeting such prodigious characters like Lestat, Marius, Armand. After reading “The Wolf Gift,” there are now a litany of new characters that I can only dream were real. This sense of kinship with her characters made reading the final pages a very melancholy experience. Much like finishing an episode of Anne Rice’s favorite tv series such as Rome, Lark Rise to Candleford, or Downton Abbey, departing from the exciting world of “The Wolf Gift,” was extremely painful. To this day, after finishing the last pages, I still have stinging separation anxiety.

      Does “The Wolf Gift,” deserve such effusive praise? In my humble opinion, it does because Anne Rice outdoes herself with this book by compiling the greatest elements of her best novels, and admixes them with some new philosophical insights, and interesting characters with an array of unique gifts. As always, Anne Rice’s stories appear menacing with their Gothic undertones albeit
The Wolf Gift  also involves a rich sense of optimism and reverence for the complex, enigmatic world that we live in. Some of the quieter sequences of the novel lull you into a sense of peace before the novel descends into a darker, more boisterous scene. Due to this exceptional quality, the book never overwhelms you instead it mystifies you, and grants the reader that sense of wonderment which JK Rowling, Madeleine L’Engle, Ursula K. Le Guin, and JRR Tolkien adeptly filled their readers' minds with.

      Hopefully, all Anne Rice’s fans will not be disappointed with this wonderful tome. To me, it has a rich array of all those qualities that define an Anne Rice book: philosophical musings, antique houses described in florid detail, sensuous prose, and old--school English Gothic elements. On the other hand, it also involves a fresh take on the “werewolf” who has recently been revived by
Twilight.  After reading The Wolf Gift, you’ll be left in limbo because the story just leaves you with such a deep impression of awe that its impossible to consciously sort out your opinion immediately after reading it.

        On Feburary 14th, prepare yourself a cup of coffee or tea and then find a comfortable seat. Once you start reading, you’ll be detached from reality and be unable to stop reading for awhile. Another symptom of finishing this book happens to be an insatiable need to research everything about werewolf lore, and also to check out the films that are referenced within the book. Personally, I cannot wait to hear every one's reactions to the story.  I think its safe to say that Reuben, and the cast of other colorful characters within this story will win over the hearts of any readers. Thank you Anne Rice, for your receptiveness to fans, and for writing such an excellent book!!  Also, thanks to Knopf publishers for providing the advance reader copy of this book!! It is very much appreciated.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Interview with Maria V. Snyder (Author of Poison Study, Touch of Power)& "Touch of Power" Contest details 1.Yes, this is one of those general questions, but what did inspire the idea for this story?

In the Study books, Yelena has the power to heal, but it’s but one of her many skills.  So after writing the Study books, I wanted to explore healing powers more in depth.  I had this vague idea about a healer or an apprentice healer during an epidemic.  She was either going to be sought after for her powers – like everyone wanting her, or be hunted.  I wasn’t sure.  Then one night my daughter couldn’t sleep and she wanted me to tell her a story.  She knew all my other books, so I started telling her about this healer.  And every night, she’d ask, “What’s next?”  That’s why Touch of Power is dedicated to my daughter.

2.Within "Touch of Power," the way the magic operates seems striking similar to the "magic" in
your Poison Study books? What are the differences?

The difference is that in the Study books, magical power surrounds the world like a blanket and the magicians use “threads” of power in order to start fires, move objects, read minds.  While in Touch of Power, the magic is a gift from the various elements of the world.  There are forest mages, air mages, moon magicians, life magicians, healers, etc...  each gets their power from the “living” essence of these elements.  Except healers, they get their powers in a rather unique way that’s still linked to the world.

3. Was there any unique research required for this book? With past books, I'm aware that you've visited prisons, studied the way glass is made, and learned the craft of fencing.

For this book most of my researched focused on the various plagues and epidemics throughout history.  I wanted to learn what happened after these plagues, how the survivors coped with the bodies and grief and with the everyday tasks of life.  I also studied up on guerilla warfare tactics.  Small elite forces fighting against a larger army will come into play in the next book, Scent of Magic.

4.Weather-related metaphors, and images are pervasive in your stories. It really adds to the realism of your books. You've written "Storm Glass" which involved magic that related to weather. But, do you have any plans to ever write a story where weather is a central focus? Strangely, I can see you writing about storm chasers!

LOL!  I love the show Storm Chasers on the Discovery channel!  As for all those weather metaphors, I guess that’s just my meteorology degree creeping in. J  I did write a short story about a college student, who is a meteorology major at Penn State University who gets attacked by a big strange dog.  It’s called The Coldest Game and is the Bewere the Night anthology edited by Ekaterina Sedia.  And I have another story about a weather wizard in Black Gate Magazine titled Cursing the Weather.  Oh, and my middle-grade novel, Storm Watcher has been recently picked up by a small press (no details yet).  Wow – that’s a lot of “weather” books!  If I ever write a book about Heli the Stormdancer from the Glass books, weather will most certainly play a major part in the plot.

5.At the moment, What is your favorite film/tv show/album? (You can just answer one out of the three or all three)

I haven’t been to the movies in ages so I haven’t seen any current ones.  As for TV show, I’ve been enjoying Bones for a number of years – the dynamic between the two main characters is lots of fun to watch.  And my favorite album right now is Matchbox Twenty’s Mad Season.

6.Would you ever expand any of your preexisting short-stories into novels ?

There are a few I’d like to expand on.  Sword Pointfrom the Eternal Kiss anthology is one, and I’d like to write a sequel to Mongrel from Running with the Pack.

7. Are there any plans to have assassins within future stories in this series?

Assassins in my healer series?  Maybe.  I know that’s vague, but I wouldn’t want to give anything away. Thanks again, Maria V Snyder for taking the time to answer these questions!! Contest Details: (If you haven't already read my review of "Touch of Power, click the cover art below!!) If you're interested in obtaining your own copy of "Touch of Power," leave a comment with your name and email address (use this format for email address :pokemonzelda(at)yahoo(dot)com) Another requirement for entry involves becoming a follower on the blog. If you have no idea how to become a follower, there should be an area on the right side-bar on the blog where the counter for the number of blog followers are listed. There should be an icon that says "Follow this Blog." The rest is pretty self-explanatory. The winner will be notified via email on the deadline: Tuesday January, 24th 2012! Good luck, and thanks to both Harlequin/Maria V. Snyder for the complimentary copy.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

"The Wolf Gift" Countdown"

Dracula Ball/ "Wolf Gift" Promotion

   By clicking the image above, you'll be redirected to the Live-journal page that contains details about this upcoming event in "Philadelphia," on the 4th of February. It looks really fun though I'm still undecided about going. For my readers in the Philly area, this is a great opportunity to party it up before the launch of "The Wolf Gift." Supposedly, one of the door prizes near midnight will involve free reserved copies of "The Wolf Gift," which will be personally signed at the upcoming Anne Rice signing on the 14th.

 For now, less than 40 days remain for the release of "The Wolf Gift," Be on the lookout for more exciting, hair-raising posts related to "The Wolf Gift" countdown!

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Cache of "Vampire Chronicle" Philosophy Posts

For your convenience, I have compiled all the links for each of the "Vampire Chronicle" philosophy posts for those who might not have read them before. It was painstaking work to have to go through all my posts to find each individual link, but I felt this would prove helpful to anyone who might not have read these posts before, or are interested in re-reading if they're even worth that kind of honor.

Over the course of the next few months, I really want to have an  in-depth analysis of Anne Rice's "The Wolf Gift," before delving into a new series of Vampire Chronicle philosophy posts centered around "The Vampire Lestat," and "Queen of the Damned." With college, I don't know how I'll prove to succeed in creating these posts. It all depends on my energy level, and free time.

Related to "Interview with the Vampire"
Part 1   Overview of the philosophy of "Interview with the Vampire
Part 2: Claudia: the preserved child
Part 3: Duality: Mind/Body Problem

Related to "Memnoch the Devil": (Its not exactly philosophical per-say.)
Part 1: Spiritual Therapy for the Disillusioned: Attack of the "Conscience"
Part 2: The Splendor of Heaven

"The Wolf Gift" Countdown"

The Medieval "Werewolf:" Overview of Marie De France's Bisclavret

      Typically, we view the werewolf through the modern lenses where he is a raging beast that has primeval urges, and has no control over the manifestation of these dangerous urges. Werewolves are wildly unpredictable, and their known ferocity symbolically represented  the indiscriminate, inhuman feelings that a beast with no human instincts felt. To people who conceived the image of the werewolf, the werewolf might have been the embodiment of the fear of any living organism without the rational powers that help us to imaginatively transcend our "primal" selves. Ruthless acts of violence of any kind leave us with a deep impression of terror. As a whole, "nightime" and "evening" represented the hours of subversive activity where God could not divinely intervene into the wiles of sinister creatures, entities, and individuals. Shakespeare consciously borrowed this poetic theme as a means of establishing the "evil taint" within his tragedies that would smother the whole of play into a sheet of seemingly ineradicable evil.

    Curiously, Bisclavret,  a medieval poem that features a werewolf does not use the atypical archetype of the bestial werewolf. Instead, the werewolf  preserves his rational powers which were an important asset for any pious Christian during the middle ages to fastidiously preserve. Easily, sin, in the form of "concupiscence" or sexual immorality, could easily corrupt someone. Within Bisclavret,  the werewolf's wife at the beginning of the poem is still unaware of her husband's secret transformation of the werewolf. As her husband dodges her paranoid inquisitions about the nature of his behavior, he finally succumbs to her persistent, emasculating questions and divulges dangerous information involving his true werewolf existence. At this time, the husband's life could be endangered by monarchical forces as the very fact that he can become a werewolf during a temporary period of time signifies that he might have made a pact with Satan. More importantly, the taint of unholy desires lies embedded within his soul that should be cleansed of anything that is not of "God."

    Fascinatingly, the wife leaves the husband in a mad pursuit as she cannot tolerate the truth of his evil nature. Interestingly, the king and his court later discovers the "werewolf" when he remains a werewolf as the wife had stole his clothing which metaphorically represents his reputation that she tries to sully. Furthermore, the werewolf's biased story about his wife overstepping her boundaries and emasculating her husband by not being submissive earns the sympathy of a court that is mostly male. While it is overtly clear that he is a werewolf, they think the wife is insubordinate and disrespectful of male authority figures. Therefore, they ignore her accusations about her husband's violent rages characterized by the traditional idea of werewolves. To the wife, the notion that her husband is a werewolf resembles his hidden sordid nature, and his abusive behavior. All of this is implied as Marie De France had to write this poem as if offering adulation to the male authority figures within her world. Within the preface of the poem, she offers her fealty and respect for the king at the time. On the surface, she seems to be dutifil in terms of her place, as a female, within society. This collection of rewritten stores and poems, told formerly in an oratorical manner,were meant as a gift to the king, and also a symbolic act of submission to men  at the time.

   Many critics have often carelessly read Bisclavret  as some kind of cautionary tale about insubordinate wives who overstep her boundaries. Originally, when I read the poem, I almost committed the same error of relying on my initial interpretation of the poem. When we read stories for the first time, the first reading represents the formative stages of reading which is the most superficial of all interpretations of any text. Its fine to read that way when reading a story for entertainment purposes. When making any declarative analyzes about a piece of text though, you have to read a text multiple times and even be rather knowledgeable about the historical context of the story. Yes, Bisclavret  unmistakably vilifies defiant women because the story was probably originally crafted by men within a village to  to warn women about the dangers of trespassing their societal boundaries.

     Whether I'm reading too much into the text or not,  Marie De France seems to utilize the poem as a story that subtly reflects the ignorance of the patriarch within her society. Interestingly, the wife, at the beginning of the poem, has legitimate reasons to be suspicious of her husband who sneaks away from the homestead in the middle of the night and strangely strips off his clothes which the wife construes to mean that he is being adulterous. Later, she runs off with another knight for very good reasons because the husband reveals the truth of her suspicions when he admits that he transforms into a "werewolf" at night which represents his bestial nature. Also, it shows that at the core of his heart lies something rather impious. He is hiding the fact that he becomes unrestrained at night, and that all passionate feelings come unbidden.Sadly, the court sympathizes with the "werewolf" as if the wife, with her reasonable accusations, is the one who is blameworthy for daring to ruin her husband's clean reputation. In the end of the poem, the wife is cursed, along with her offspring, much like Abel and his progeny within the Bible.

     As a whole, Bisclavret  reveals the insidious nature of medieval misogyny. During that time, men were expected to be adulterous . Knowing their guilt, they often used women as scapegoats for their inability to remain chaste and honest within a marriage. Many of the medieval philosophers are rather fiery when it comes to speaking about the seductive danger of sexual desire because they themselves had probably experienced firsthand the danger of giving into such dangerous passions without any reservations. Werewolf, vampires, and demons were all manifestations of the feared creature that is so depraved that they lack the inability to receive salvation from God. In many ways, they were the very epitome of our fear that we have the potential to be irreversibly damned for sins that we might have not consciously committed. This fear of the loss of "rationality" or "prudence" can be seen Dante's epic poem: "The Divine Comedy." Additionally, one of the most highly revered philosophers of the time, St. Augustine, explicitly describes the loss of reason being the source of the gravest of sins.

      Essentially,in Bisclavret,  the male authority figures are largely dismissive of the husband's vices and instead use women as the source of inordinate passion within men. Soon enough, witches would thus become a far more prominent evil than werewolves. As result, the number of  suspected "witches" or autonomous women would be the major scapegoat for the sin which some men seemed too prideful to admit to. We still this vilification used by some Christian fundamentalists towards women in terms of the abortion issue.  Oftentimes, rape victims or impoverished, single women are viewed, by these Christians, as people who are likely to commit the grievous sin of abortion.  From these individuals,we seldom hear about the strangely unmentioned responsibility of the men involved. For these reasons, historical texts like Bisclavret  should never be overlooked, or dismissed based on its age: the underlying message within anything from any historical period, informs us about the faults of humanity, and the ongoing struggle for all humans to seek meaning in a chaotic world.  

Monday, January 02, 2012

"The Wolf Gift" Countdown"

The Werewolf's Beloved Moon

Once upon a time, serenity filled my craven soul
Now, it overflows with toxic vengeance
The woman who I doted on never eloped
Nor has she dreamed of me
Since the day we kissed
In her heart, there burned a lust for someone
Who had neither my face,or my heart

Where was my heart?
It only throbbed loudly
When I phased into
The very manifestation
Of my bereaved,vengeful soul
It was a wolf;
My heart's howl signaled its release

The memory of her flaxen hair
Waved in my memory
That warmth of being kissed was welcoming
Unlike the brutal heat of my werewolf body
Which overheated with the rage over
This woeful loss
How dare she have passion for someone else?

Originally, she accused me of being adulterous
Was my chivalry a deceptive facade
That hid my sordid passion?
Did our internal souls truly love others,
but never ourselves?
Perhaps, the face of our passion was truly never
The ones we convinced ourselves of being
Passionately in love with

Confusion was the over-domineering feeling
Surmounting all known human thoughts
Within this primeval
Werewolf mind
Why couldn't I kill her, or cast a curse upon her?
I could only feebly mourn the loss of our love
Which became so paradoxical
To the extent of becoming nonexistent

With the ravenous hunger roaring within
My forlorn spirit,
I howled to the indifferent face
Of the Full Moon
Whom had the face of my lover
While the solemn howl resounded through the
Lonesome darkness of the evening
I swore that small rain drops
From the developing storm clouds
Shadowing her darkened gaze
Tickled my nose

Howling desperately once more,
I incoherently pleaded for repentance
Except, her face and light became unseen
Tucked beneath the blanket of clouds
Strolling across the naked sky and
Bringing a torrent of her tears
Once she finally departed from my world

"The Wolf Gift" Countdown:

Updates on Nonexistent Theme/New Plans:

       As usual, it seems that I have neglected my duty to be updating this blog with the planned posts that were supposed to revolve around certain supernatural entities/figures/individuals/creatures that related partly to the supernatural aspects of Anne Rice's novel. "Mummy" month have a few stray posts, and now witch month which was to be this month, January 2012, will probably not happen as originally planned. By nature, I'm scatter-brained and that factored in the nonexistent presence of any of the posts that I had promised everyone.

   Instead of having such a wide topic, I am narrowing down the focus of the countdown posts to "werewolves." On Anne Rice's Facebook page, a number of her passionate fans have been posting "Wolf Gift" related countdown posts that pertain to wolves in general. I'll be doing the same thing for the next forty days or so till the release of the much anticipated Anne Rice novel.

     Along with these posts, I'll have a four-part interview which Anne Rice obligingly allowed. I'm still amazed by her receptiveness to fans. The questions were rather difficult to write as her books really made a very deep impression on me. Additionally, I wrote some rather dense questions as there are so many underlying elements that are pivotal to appreciating the artistry of her books. Every time, I ponder certain sequences from her books; new questions are raised while many interesting insights are developed.

    Please respond to the posts, and help convince me to keep making contributions to these countdown posts!Be on the lookout for many wolfish posts over the course of January, and early February!! 
        Review of Maria V. Snyder's "Touch of Power"

Originally, I had a marginal amount of book reviews here several years ago.Over the course of the last year, the average number of reviews per month has dwindled on this blog due to college, and work on a potential novel. This is something that has been lamentable in my life;however, it is quite necessary when considering the sheer business of my schedule. Other times, I have become disenchanted with book reviews because everything I attempt to read seems uninspired, or is filled with pedestrian prose. There have been a dozen of fantastic examples that have made me re-interested in writing more book reviews (Wolf of Tebron by C.S. Lankin,,Jon Sprunk's assassin series). One of the notable examples of a book that really infused me with enthusiasm for this blog initially was Maria V. Snyder's Poison Study which was an impulse buy from Wegmans. Another factor in my decision was a passing reference to the book by one of my friends two years earlier in high school who mentioned that "she was insanely addicted to the series."

     After buying the book, I still had some doubts, and one of them revolved around the fact that it was published by "Harlequin." Yes, that indeed seems like a trite reason for someone who presents themselves as a reasonably open-minded person. Nevertheless, the images that name conjures is men with bedroom eyes, and perspiring torsos who are irrevocably smitten with women with violet eyes, and sadomasochistic tendencies though these women have the veneer of being pure virgins. Maria V. Snyder's  Poison Study,  and her subsequent novels eventually debunked my preconceived notions. First of all, her stories were insanely fun to read, and her characters were very well-developed. Eventually, her characters would become friends that I reunited with when re-reading any of her novels much like how I always find myself re-watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer episodes because I sorely miss the eccentric characters who felt weirdly like friends.

      Touch of Power,Maria V. Snyder's latest novel, has managed to create the same cast of eclectic, endearing characters that have really helped to make her books such engrossing reads. Within this novel, the magic of the Study Series has made a triumphant return except this time the apocalyptic undertones that have underpinned a slew of recent young-adult books has crept its way into this book. During the first half of the novel or so, the novel expertly immerses us immediately into the action. The prologue itself was very sharply plotted as it preserved a certain measure of mystery. It was not one of those novels that begins with a seismic exposition dump that ruptures the flow of the remainder of the novel. From the first action-packed sequence, Avry, the witty, resilient healer, finds herself with a band of men of unknown origins.
     In many fantasy novels, This part  represents the travel sequence where the author can meticulously unravel the mystery of the characters, and allow for the audience to finally form emotional connections with the characters. Maria V. Snyder wisely uses this part of the novel to intersperse the needed exposition over the course of the next dozen pages. The effect is seamless as the reader never becomes aware of the author's measured manipulation of the plot.

        As I became more familiar with the characters, I begin to discern some parallels between the characters. At first, I was fearful that these characters were reproductions of earlier characters from Maria V. Snyder's novels. Thankfully, there were enough differences later in the novel to rectify this problem which a lot of authors, including myself, seem to struggle with. When you've read enough books by a certain writer, you tend to start noting some similar traits being used for similar characters.  Yes, Avry might seem to have some qualities that Yelena had except she seems more spunky. Also, some of the trials that Avry encounters would have been resolved differently by Yelena. Moreover, I'm pretty sure that Avry or Yelena would not be able to navigate the air-duct system that Trella, from the Inside Out/Outside in series, is pretty adept at finding secret passageways in.  The core struggle for all these female characters is seeking power and confidence in disillusioning circumstances.

   Each novel represented a different metaphor for different challenges that individuals must internally face to realize their full potential. Within the Study series, Yelena learns different aspects of magic as if to reflect the intricate process of self-discovery that Yelena undergoes throughout the novel. While in the Glass series, Opal learns the limits of her glass magic. Part of her struggle related to feeling unimportant in a world of magicians that seemed remarkably more powerful than she is. The glass orbs that she later utilizes as part of her glass magic could represent her "ego." She could become greatly corrupted by the intensity of magic if she allows her egotistical side to dominate. Glass,like our egos, are fragile and thus need to be cared for with prudence and a considerate mind for others. While Trella within the Inside Out/Outside in series is horrified by the political corruption of her world so she begins to live an insular life within the air-ducts of her world to hide herself away from the external world. Throughout the novels, she learns to use these air-ducts not to exacerbate  her feelings of isolation  from the chaotic world, but to learn to use her intrinsic powers to improve her exterior world which will allow herself to fully exist both outside and inside of herself.

        Within Touch of Power, Avry learns about the plague of violence and egotism that seems to have literally plagued her world. Similarly to the Hunger Games novels, the political structure of her world has become fractious. It is a deeply polarized world due to the grave fear of this mysterious plague. For both Avry and the reader, we ask questions about the origins of this plague. Perhaps, the plague originates from some institution or individual  that she was once enamored with. Like ourselves, Avry desperately wishes for civility within this chaotic world of hers. She is deeply frustrated by the limitations of her magic which she wishes could effect miraculous change upon this unsettled exterior world of hers. Throughout the novel, Avry must learn more about the nuances of herself and others while coming to grips with the profound limits of her magic. At the end of the novel, we are left with hints about a sequel that promises to unravel more significant details about this new fictional world that Maria V. Snyder has brought to life with vivid detail.

        Overall, I really loved acquainting myself with a new slew of diverse characters. As always, the dialogue was witty, and often made me laugh aloud which resulted in questionable stares from people around me.(Why are people so confused about the fact that books can actually make people laugh?") While, there were some striking similarities between some of the characters in this novel, and others: there was a clear evidence that Maria V. Snyder definitely strove to make many of them have enough differences so that this really did not become too problematic. If you need something richly entertaining, and generally fun to read, I highly recommend that you read this novel or any of her novels.

Thank you Harlequin for the ARC, and for continuing to publish these fantastic books that debunk any myths about the Harlequin label!!