The Wolves of Midwinter

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Review of Out Of The Underworld: The Life and Death of Mortimer Drake Book 2

Be forewarned that this post is only being posted here temporarily. The same post is posted on my newly remodeled Wordpress blog:
Amazon (Kindle Edition)/ Barnes&Nobles (Nook Edition)
*Please Note-This copy was recently re-uploaded and re-edited by Greg Wilkey, thus the print copy is out-of-print on Amazon. The ninety-nine cent copy for both the Kindle and Nook are still available.*

    Interview with Greg Wilkey (More questions to come next week, when the review for the third Mortimer Drake novel is posted)
1.FF: This is definitely the inevitable sequel question, but how was the writing process different this time with Out of the Underworld? What new challenges sprang up? (I'm sure the writing process never become as seamless as the iconic Hollywood scene, where the writer types a whole draft magically overnight on his classy typewriter.)
** Greg: Writing the sequel was very different for me. I think it was because I felt like I was really getting to know my characters. Their actions and reactions were more natural to me. I had a better sense of where I wanted to take the story, but I was also surprised at how much influence the characters had over me. There were times when the direction I had planned suddenly changed because of something I hadn't planned. It was all very exciting. By the time I got to the end of the second book, the outline for the third and fourth books were already forming in my head. Working on Out of the Underworld definitely brought Mortimer's world to life for me.

2.FF:Earning an invitation to Anne Rice's first reappearance at the Lestat ball in New Orleans must have been exciting. How will you be featured at this year's Lestat ball? Will this appearance be your first official book signing?
** Greg:The invitation to the Vampire Lestat Ball was a complete shock to me. I have been a fan of Anne Rice's work since I was close to 25 years now. I have always wanted to attend the Ball, but never had the opportunity. When I received the e-mail from Anne asking me if I would like to attend and be featured as an indie author at Undead Con, I couldn't believe it. Of course I accepted immediately! She put me in contact with Sue Quiroz, the amazing woman in charge of the events, and we began to make plans. I have had a few book signings and I have been featured at a few small festivals and book clubs, but this will me first time at an event of this magnitude. I am very excited and quite honored.

3. FF: What movies have you watched recently that have fueled your inspiration for the fourth Mortimer Drake book that I'm sure the readers of my blog will be anxious to hear about?
** Greg: Oh wow, I love movies almost as much as books. Mortimer's world is a very active and dark place. I love the movie Priest. I like the twist on the vampires in that story. I recently watched The Avengers again. It sparked some unique ideas for the fourth book. I love that movie. The new Iron Man was great, too. I am forever re-watching old horror movies and anything on the Syfy network. I am a big fan of the cheesy movies. I just can't help myself. My books are heavily influenced by my childhood memories of the great super hero comics of the 80's. I love the action and the adventure. I want fast-paced drama in every chapter.

Thanks again Greg Wilkey for taking the time to answer each of these questions, and partake in this interview and hopefully subsequent interviews in the future (for each of the Mortimer Drake books)
Synopsis (Taken From Amazon Product Detail Page)
    " Mortimer Drake and his family continue to work towards a new understanding of how to survive as a supernatural family living in the mortal world. Unexpected events have altered their close-knit family even more as Mortimer’s mother gives birth to a baby girl. Is she human, vampire or something entirely different? A new battle in the war among the Undead begins as the Mother and Queen of the vampire race is discovered."
Review:Warning:This interview is heavily saturated with Youtube clips to enliven the review, plus semi-spoilers, but not real spoilers, not enough to ruin your suspense-filled experience of the book.

As someone that has spend multiple semesters wading through books with the single-minded goal of thoroughly analyzing them for meaning, I am dependent on books like Greg Wilkey's  very fun, action-packed vampire series-The Life and UnDeath of Mortimer Drake-  to spare my mind the madness that starts to set in, once I forget the fact that there books can be purely entertaining, and not just intellectually stimulating. I don't want to say this series is pure camp, only because of the negative connotations related with that word. Even though the plot does indeed pay homage to the adventure-filled plot lines of older adventure shows, cartoons, and movies of everyone's nerdy childhood, there is still quite a lot of subtle depth in both the characterization and plot within this series. Again, it's not heavy duty drama or Downton-Abbey style soap opera filled with an astonishing number of interlaced plot contrivances (good plot contrivances, of course).
   Instead of merely accessing the book for its quality in this review (that's too dull and pedantic for a book series like this), I will reveal three spoilers, all offered up with enigmatic details and suitable allusions to other tv shows and films that reminded me eerily of scenes from the story. Being a complete, die-hard nerd, I cannot help but throw in the pop-culture references in a series of books that really are comic books in novel form.

Semi-Spoiler #1-There is a heart at the center of the plot.

  Uncannily, Out of the Underworld bears a lot of resemblance to  Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom,  except Alexander's sister Lena and Alexander's mother have a formidable charm to them that is incomparable with Indiana Jones' blonde hair sidekick that screams incessantly for help all throughout this rather lackluster sequel. Why do I bring up Temple of Doom? Well,there's an important, treasured item within the story (not divulging the full title because I don't want to disperse the novel's rich air of mystery) that involves a heart-the literal organ in our body.  I will offer this comforting spoiler- this heart is strikingly different from the way hearts are barbarically torn from highly memorable, traumatic scene from the weakest of the Indiana Jones film. Thankfully, Out of the Underworld  is not the weakest of the Mortimer Drake novels.


Semi-Spoiler #2-The chamber that holds this precious heart is a cave . 

    Relating back to the atmosphere of the story, there is a mysterious cave sequence that conjured certain recognizable images of cave tropes from both recent television series and movies. There are a panoply of these types of cave images, but the role that the cave plays within the series recalled images from Aladdin, which prominently featured the good old-fashion image from classic mythology of a treasured genie lamp or some other esoteric treasure being buried within a cave, and the intrepid hero can discern these various hazards and recognize then how to see  through their deceptive qualities. In the end, it will be this hero that will have the capacity to find the mysterious item in the cave, thereby unlocking a treasure that will have serious ramifications on the rest of the plot. Without spoiling anything for new readers of the Mortimer Drake  series, Out of the Underworld  does feature its own Cave of Wonder sequence, along with an intrepid hero and his respective sidekicks that will indeed find the famed "heart." Since both  Indiana Jones Temple of Doom and Aladdin  are being compared in this review; I decided to throw in the cave of wonder scene with audio from Indiana Jones that was cleverly woven into the video.

Semi-Spoiler #3- Adding intrigue to the mystery of the cave and the heart, there is mythology that works as the fabric of mystery that fully ties together this entire plot-thread.

    In the previous installment of the Mortimer Drake Chronicles,  Growing up Dead,  there was a rich mythological origin story that refashioned the myth of Persephone and Hades as the purported tale of the origin story of vampires. Let's face it! Nearly all adventure stories that contain high stakes and great suspenseful moments need their layer of mythos, which adds to the novel's preternatural atmosphere. This is the well-formulated element that effectively suspends our disbelief, and fully believe temporarily that the world of the novel might very well be a truly tangible realm all of its own.
   When reading of the way that Greg Wilkey builds on the same myth and puts it into question by adding parallel explanations of it, I became more and more intrigued by the very notion of there existing multiple forms of the same story. If these myths were passed down generation to generation in the oratorical fashion (spoken aloud in a dramatic tone, normally before an audience of engrossed people), the accounts that proceed from the supposed, unidentifiable original myth cannot be found.
    In the nineties, there was an excellent television series, and while the series, appropriately entitled Storyteller,  does not explicitly feature the Persephone myth. It does feature a Persephone cameo, during the sequence where Orpheus entreats Hades to revive his deceased lover, Eurydice. Has anyone noticed that Hades has this malevolent ability to just snatch away those we love? Interestingly, the exploration into what or whom represents Hades in the Mortimer Drake  series is one that kept interesting me all throughout my reading of the second novel. Anyways, watch this scene play out, and you'll also recognize that I have managed to feature a cave in all three of these clips. Basically, caves are an important symbolic architecture, when you're trying to build up a plot from the cement base of the first novel. Fittingly, Out of the Underworld serves as the book that explores some of the ensuing results of the aftermath of the huge plot twists at the end of the last novel. More importantly, it  symbolizes Mortimer's deeper exploration into his complex identity as a vampire, a human, and the complex legacy that he puzzles over throughout this novel. With so many well-timed plot twists within this novel, I cannot wait to see where the plot of third book leads.


      With all these awesome hijinks and intriguing mysteries that make this series truly gripping entertainment, a paltry 99 cents for the Kindle edition never looked more enticing.

            If you're interested in starting the series and rediscovering vampires without all the Twilight-esque elements, this is the series for you!!

            Check out the below links for more information about Greg Wilkey's Mortimer Drake series:
Greg Wilkey's Author Website
Greg Wilkey's Facebook Fan Page
Amazon Link for the First Book in the Series

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