Review: Agnes Grey by Anne Brontë

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At age 19 Anne Brontë left home and worked as a governess for a few years before becoming a writer. Agnes Grey was an 1847 novel based on her experience as a governess. Bronte depicts the precarious position of a governess and how that can affect a young woman. Agnes was the daughter of a minister whose family was in financial difficulty. She has only a few choices for employment. Agnes experiences the difficulty of reining in spoiled children and how wealth can corrupt morals.

There are some spoilers in this review.

As I am not a fan of Jane Austen I did not expect to enjoy the works of the Brontë sisters. This is due to the fact that until now, everyone I have spoke to who is a fan of one is also a fan of the other. I first read the Brontës at University starting with Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë followed by The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë. While I did not enjoy Jane Eyre, to my surprise, I cannot say the same for The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. I believed that I had already found my favourite Brontë which was a bold claim to make having neglected Emily’s works. I hope to read Wuthering Heights this year.

 

Having enjoyed Anne Brontë’s second novel I was eagerly anticipating Agnes Grey which I requested from my local library. My first impression was almost the opposite to my first impressions of Charlotte’s work Jane Eyre (Jane as a child was far more interesting.) I enjoyed (only) the beginning of Jane Eyre and felt that, Agnes Grey in comparison was lacking a certain entertainment value, it seemed already to a slow burner. However, I expected I would soon get more immersed when the plot began to unravel. It is in fact overall slow-paced and less action packed than Jane Eyre which in my opinion is positive as Charlotte’s novel has perhaps too much going on.  I compare the two novels due to their authors and the fact that they both centre around a governess.

 

I realised fairly quickly that there was a feminist narrative in Anne’s novel, a bold move for a female author (albeit under a pseudonym) in 1847. As a feminist of her time Agnes was, on occasion, the provider of great wisdom and can therefore be a positive influencer as her role of governess requires,

 

“Filling her head with all manner of conceited notions concerning her personal appearance (which I had instructed her to regard as dust in the balance compared with the cultivation of her mind and manners)” (102)

 

However I was not fond of Agnes’s character as I found her to be far too critical of others to be a moral, likeable person, often going over the top with her descriptions of others, for example:

“My only companions had been unamiable children, and ignorant, wrong-headed girls, from whose fatiguing folly, unbroken solitude was often a relief most earnestly desired and dearly prized.” (155)

This quote in particular had me loathing Agnes as I failed to view her as more amiable than the children in question. As their governess I would have thought that she would want to make these children better people rather than wanting to run away from them in what can only be described as dramatic despair. Our protagonist then shares her fears that in solitude she will, heaven forbid, become less intelligent and less moral. In all honesty I felt I was almost choking on her morality that was being forced down our throats on almost every page.

One of her primary criticisms of Miss Murray is that she is too boy-crazy. This, in itself, is fair and Agnes gives good counsel to her pupil on such matters several times throughout the novel questioning her liking for having “so many conquests” (135) by asking “what good will they do you? I should think one conquest would be enough.” (135) However, twenty pages later we read Agnes informing her readers that

“The gross vapours of earth were gathering round me, and closing in upon my inward heaven; and thus it was that Mr Weston rose at length upon me, appearing like the morning star in my horizon, to save me from the fear of utter darkness” (155)

It was at this point of the novel when I began to like the character of Miss Murray more than Agnes herself. Miss Murray is, at the very least,  more aware of her flaws whereas Agnes sees nobody else but Mr Weston who exhibits “human excellence.” (155) Her liking for Mr Weston, which happens far too quickly (we first hear her discuss him on page 139) without ever having a meaningful discussion with him, immediately consumes her. She thinks of Mr Weston for the rest of the novel which takes away her independence, which was until this stage of the novel the one quality I could praise her for. As, though she is kind, she is kind only outwardly, therefore I assume her intention for any act of kindness is her own reputation. Her kindness in fact, seemed somewhat of a joke on page 165 when she hears of Mr Weston’s sorry tale and notes “I pitied him from my heart; I almost wept for sympathy” almost wept? almost? is this yet another moral brag? I should mention she goes on to say “but’, thought I, ‘he is not so miserable as I should be under such a depravation.” did you pick up on the human excellence that is Agnes Grey?

It was also my opinion that she often used people to her own avail, including Nancy and Miss Murray. There was also her constant worrying about her reputation above all else while she was teaching her pupils not to do so that lead me to think  of her as hypocritical. It felt as though her narrative was aimed at lecturing the reader on morals when the protagonist herself was exhibiting few.

One character I was fond of was Agnes’s mother who, upon being widowed, wrote back to her father rejecting his conditions of acceptance. Agnes’ grandfather did not approve of his daughter’s marriage and subsequent children and found her choices shameful, he then, upon her husband’s death,  agreed to overlook all of her mishaps (of which there were none in reality) and add her to his will if she admitted to all of her mistakes. After writing her reply she asks her daughters “Will this do children?- or shall we say we are all very sorry for what has happened during the last thirty years; and my daughters wish they had never been born; but since they have had that misfortune, they will be thankful for any trifle their grandpapa will be kind enough to bestow?” (214) queue the applause.It is strong moments like this, of which there are a few, that make Agnes Grey an important novel in history regardless to personal taste. I personally wish these moments were more consistent. In fact the novel as a whole seems to be disjointed perhaps due to the autobiographical elements.

As you now know I had many issues with this novel. The plot is unimaginative and due to my dislike towards Brontë’s protagonist I found little value in this novel outside of the few uplifting feminist scenes, which of course were not perfect for today’s times but make this novel important nevertheless. I do not believe Agnes underwent any positive character development in the novel or formed any positive human relationships. To conclude, I will not be recommending this novel to anyone. As previously mentioned I would like to read Wuthering Heights and perhaps Vilette. Are there any Brontë novels you would recommend I read or review? If so be sure to leave a comment. This is my third Brontë novel and I have only enjoyed one.

 

Sophie

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March Wrap Up

In total last month I read seven novels and six graphic novels. I only read one classic which will hopefully never happen again for the remainder of 2017. My book of the month was Muriel Spark’s The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie which is in fact the one classic of March. You can find a review of my book of the month here. My favourite graphic novel was Sex Criminals Volume One: One Weird Trick by Fraction and Zdarsky as it was the most original of the six. The Honourable mention of March goes to Cress by Marissa Meyer which I can’t say much about as it is the third book in a series.

 

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Since its publication in 2003, nearly 7 million readers have discovered “The Kite Runner.” Through Khaled Hosseini’s brilliant writing, a previously unknown part of the world was brought to vivid life for readers. Now, in this beautifully illustrated graphic novel adaptation, Hosseini brings his compelling story to a new generation of readers 

The Kite Runner Graphic Novel by Hosseini, Andolfo, Valsecchi and Celoni. I have previously read the original novel which is one of my all time favourites so this was a reread for me. It was adapted well although it took a while to get into as I felt that in the beginning too much of the story was missed and it felt patchy. This is of course not a problem readers who haven’t previously read the novel would have. I really enjoyed the artist’s interpretation of the characters and liked the colour palette.

 

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“Y” is none other than unemployed escape artist Yorick Brown (his father was a Shakespeare buff), and he’s seemingly the only male human left alive after a mysterious plague kills all Y-chromosome carriers on earth. But why are he and his faithful companion, the often testy male monkey Ampersand, still alive? He sets out to find the answer (and his girlfriend), while running from angry female Republicans (now running the government), Amazon wannabes that include his own sister (seemingly brainwashed), and other threats.

Y: The Last Man by Vaughan, Guerra and Marzán Jr. This was my first Vaughan graphic novel and while I know it won’t be my last I don’t think this one is outstanding. Nevertheless it was entertaining and I enjoyed the art therefore I will be continuing with the series. That being said, having only read this volume I cannot see myself buying the series, I will try and request Volume Two from my local library.

 

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‘Elizabeth is missing.’ Maud keeps finding notes in her pockets with this message scrawled on it, but she can’t remember writing it. That said, she can’t remember much these days: the time of day, whether she’s eaten lunch, if her daughter’s come to visit, how much toast she’s eaten. Still, the notes about Elizabeth nag at her. When was the last time she spoke with her best friend? It feels like ages ago…

Frustratingly, no one seems willing to help Maud find her: not the police nor Elizabeth’s son – not even Maud’s own daughter or granddaughter. It’s like they’re hiding something.

Maud resolves to take matters into her own hands, and begins digging for the truth. There are many clues, but unhelpfully, they all seem to point to another unsolved disappearance: that of Maud’s sister Sukey just after the war.

Could the mystery of Sukey’s disappearance lead Maud to the truth about Elizabeth? As Maud’s mind retreats into the past at a frightening pace, alienating her from her family and carers, vivid memories of what happened over fifty years ago come flooding back to give her quest new momentum.

Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey. This is a book that had lots of hype. I enjoyed the novel although perhaps enjoyed its sub-plot the most. The characters are memorable and while it will not be making my 2017 favourites I would recommend this book to others. Especially those who enjoy unreliable narrators. It was a fast and entertaining read.

 

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Carmel Wakeford becomes separated from her mother at a local children’s festival, and is found by a man who claims to be her estranged grandfather. He tells her that her mother has had an accident and that she is to live with him for now. As days become weeks with her new family, 8-year-old Carmel realises that this man believes she has a special gift…

While her mother desperately tries to find her, Carmel embarks on an extraordinary journey, one that will make her question who she is – and who she might become.

The Girl in the Red Coatby Kate Hamer. I didn’t enjoy this one as much as Healey’s crime novel. I found the characters less memorable and while Hamer’s novel was entertaining overall, I found myself getting bored about halfway through.

 

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The classic bestselling book the subject of a play, a movie, and a song that tells the darkly fascinating story of a young, unorthodox teacher and her special, and ultimately dangerous, relationship with six of her students.

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark. Read more here!

 

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Charlie is a freshman.

And while he’s not the biggest geek in the school, he is by no means popular. Shy, introspective, intelligent beyond his years yet socially awkward, he is a wallflower, caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it.

Charlie is attempting to navigate his way through uncharted territory: the world of first dates and mix tapes, family dramas and new friends; the world of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, when all one requires is that perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite. But he can’t stay on the sideline forever. Standing on the fringes of life offers a unique perspective. But there comes a time to see what it looks like from the dance floor.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. Another hyped novel, this book read like a classic and has some memorable characters, although in my opinion Chbosky’s novel has stronger male characters than female. Nevertheless The Perks of Being a Wallflower made my list of Top 10 YA novels.  You can read more about my thoughts of the novel by clicking the title link. I also watched the movie adaptation this month which I also really enjoyed, especially the dance floor scene.

 

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From the author of The Sky Is Every­where, a radiant novel that will leave you laughing and crying – all at once. For fans of John Green, Gayle Forman and Lauren Oliver. Jude and her twin Noah were incredibly close – until a tragedy drove them apart, and now they are barely speaking. Then Jude meets a cocky, broken, beautiful boy as well as a captivating new mentor, both of whom may just need her as much as she needs them. What the twins don’t realize is that each of them has only half the story and if they can just find their way back to one another, they have a chance to remake their world.

I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson. If only I’d read that Goodreads blurb before reading, “For fans of John Green” I agree with this comparison. This was a hyped novel that I honestly found underwhelming, I found it full of clichés, I did not like the relationship between the two main characters or even the characters themselves. While I did enjoy Noah’s narrative more I still did not particularly enjoy Nelson’s YA novel. It is also really long so overall an unfortunately disappointing read.

 

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Though they have the vote and the Pill and haven’t been burned as witches since 1727, life isn’t exactly a stroll down the catwalk for modern women. They are beset by uncertainties and questions: Why are they supposed to get Brazilians? Why do bras hurt? Why the incessant talk about babies? And do men secretly hate them? Caitlin Moran interweaves provocative observations on women’s lives with laugh-out-loud funny scenes from her own, from adolescence to her development as a writer, wife, and mother.

How to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran, another book I did not enjoy this month which I’m deeply disappointed by as it is one of my reading goals to read more non-fiction, memoirs included. However I will not be reading any of Moran’s other works, the humour was not for me.

 

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The Definitive Deadpool by  Fabian NiciezaJoe MadureiraJoe KellyTony MooreDaniel WayRob LiefeldPaco MedinaAlé Garza , Brian PosehnGerry Duggan

This was as I expected it to be, some of it was entertaining and witty and other parts I found boring. The problem probably stemmed from the fact that while I enjoy certain superheroes I am more a fan of X-Men and Batman than other Marvel characters or in this case individual Marvel characters. I am not an Avengers fan for instance as I think they always try too hard to be funny. Therefore I guess I’m trying to say take my words with a pinch of salt.

 

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Callum is a nought – an inferior white citizen in a society controlled by the black Crosses.
Sephy is a Cross – and the daughter of one of the most powerful, ruthless men in the country.
In their hostile, violent world, noughts and Crosses simply don’t mix. But when Sephy and Callum’s childhood friendship grows into love, they’re determined to find a way to be together.
And then the bomb explodes . . .

The long-awaited graphic novel adaptation of one of the most influential, critically acclaimed and original novels of all time, from multi-award-winning Malorie Blackman

Noughts and Crosses Graphic Novel by Blackman and John Aggs, another reread for me. I enjoyed the graphic novel and found that the story flowed better in this adaptation than it did in The Kite Runner: A Graphic Novel however I liked the art less. I would recommend the novel over the graphic novel. 

 

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Suzie’s just a regular gal with an irregular gift: when she has sex, she stops time. One day she meets Jon and it turns out he has the same ability. And sooner or later they get around to using their gifts to do what we’d ALL do: rob a couple banks. A bawdy and brazen sex comedy for comics begins here!

Sex Criminals Volume One: One Weird Trick by Fraction and Zdarsky, a highly original and funny graphic novel. I can’t go into it without spoilers but I will vaguely say that I had an issue with the characters introduced at the end of the novel and what they were there for. I will also try to request Volume Two from my local library.

 

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Cress by Marissa Meyer. I can’t insert a blurb for this one as it is the third in a series. However, I will be doing a spoiler review of The Lunar Chronicles once I have read the final novel Winter.

 

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Combined for the first time here are Maus I: A Survivor’s Tale and Maus II – the complete story of Vladek Spiegelman and his wife, living and surviving in Hitler’s Europe. By addressing the horror of the Holocaust through cartoons, the author captures the everyday reality of fear and is able to explore the guilt, relief and extraordinary sensation of survival – and how the children of survivors are in their own way affected by the trials of their parents. A contemporary classic of immeasurable significance.

The Complete Maus by Art Spiegelman, a family history of the holocaust. This graphic novel is deeply effecting and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Anything But Books Tag

1. Do you have any favourite cartoons?

WE ARE HUGE ANIMATED MOVIE FANS.

We have also been known to watch the occasional episode of Phineas and Ferb, no shame.

(S) I don’t watch adult cartoons like Family Guy/American Dad etc but have seen a couple of episodes of Bob’s Burgers which I did enjoy, just not enough to go out of my way to watch more.  My childhood favourites were Rugrats and Recess.

(D) If its Disney then I am happy, I do enjoy Family Guy, especially the Star Wars episodes. I will also watch American Dad if it’s on although it is not my favourite. I did see a bit of the new Cartoon Clone Wars when we were in Disneyland Paris and thought it was pretty good.

 

2. Name your favourite songs right now.

(S) At the moment I’m enjoying Give Me Love/Gorgeous by Izzy Bizu, Comes and Goes by Covey, Wandering Aengus by Johnny Flynn and Vancouver Time by Leif Vollebekk.

(D) It would have to be Frightened Rabbit, a Scottish Indie Band, and in particular their two songs ‘Die like a Rich Boy’ and ‘A Lick of Paint’.

 

3. What could you do for hours that isn’t reading?

(S) Watch movies, TV-Netflix/Tennis, a few trashy programmes that I love like Teen Mom2 and Are You The One. I often talk with my favourite people for hours, go walking. I like Playing Games-Board games/Drinking Games and listening to music- Spotify/Records.

(D) Me and Sophie are big Movie Buffs and have been to see 3 films at the cinema in one day before. I also go to the Gym, maybe not for hours but for at least an hour haha. I also enjoy watching TV Series and playing on my Playstation.

 

4. What is something you love to do that people may be surprised by?

(S) I love to sing, in the car, shower, and with family. I also love to go to the Ballet and watch Tattoo Tag videos on Youtube as well as some family Vloggers.

(D) I suppose this depends on who you class people as. People who know me even slightly will know I am obsessed with Cars, I think this is probably not surprising though. I do however love all things Disney which probably surprises people the most.

 

5. What is your favourite unnecessarily specific thing to learn about?

(S) I like learning about the people/Imagineers who have windows dedicated to them on Main Street. I also love learning about my favourite songs but specifically where they were written.

(D) I would say Cars and F1 but that’s a bit obvious. I do however love History, in particular Irish History. One of my favourite films is ‘The Wind that Shakes the Barley’ which is about the Anglo-Irish War. It’s a brilliant film and everyone should watch it.

 

6. What is something unusual that you know how to do?

(S) I have a habit of remembering people’s postcodes and I can also list all of the states of America. I have no idea why I can do these things, especially the postcode thing but I have almost zero interesting skills outside of reading, I can read whilst walking for hours and be completely engrossed in the book. I do this so often that I find myself stopping where I need to (to cross a road for example) automatically.

(D) I have what the doctors say is called Laxed Joints, this enables my knees and elbows to bend further than they are supposed to and weird out anyone near by. This ability helped when I was stacking shelves and needed to get something from behind another product as I could bend my arm the wrong way and reach it.

 

7. Name something you’ve made in the last year.

(S) I can’t draw and I can’t do DIY, I did make a tribute to our wedding out of wedding cards we received from close friends and family. It’s framed in our house and I love it.

(D) Not made anything unfortunately. I have decorated the house but not ‘made’ anything.

 

8. What is your most recent personal project?

(S) This blog. I love writing and reading and my passion for both is only enhanced with the ability to make new content everyday. I’m also trying to justify myself less…

“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.” ― Bernard M. Baruch

(D) I did make a New Years Resolution to watch 50 New Films this year, so far I have watched 8 and therefore I am a little behind.

 

9. Tell us something that you think about often, maybe while staring out windows.

(S) I like to make lists in my head about anything and everything or think of how I would describe the day to friends and family in different countries. I also like to create stories and cast people in the movie adaptation which would obviously spring from the major success of my novel. I also think of the soundtrack of said non existant movie.

(D) My favourite daydreaming topic is what I would do if I won the lottery. (I haven’t actually put the lottery on in months but I am still daydreaming about it). I quite often catch myself in a trance, dreaming about driving my Aston Martin through Monte Carlo.

 

10. Give us something that’s your favourite but make it oddly specific, not like your favourite food but your favourite food when you’ve been studying for hours and forget to eat.

(S) My favourite food to eat on arrival in my hometown is a Pizza Crunch Supper – This is  deep-fried pizza and chips with chippy sauce (a thin, vinegary brown sauce.) A childhood favourite which I must get whenever I am back in Scotland. On a different note I also like dancing in the kitchen with my mum and my sisters on Christmas morning.

(D) This is a hard question as I eat practically everything. My favourite snack however would have to either be an M&M Peanut McFlurry from Disneyland Paris McDonalds or a Churro from DisneyWorld.

 

11. Name the first thing that pops into your head.

(S) Castles.

(D) Hedgehogs…

 

Monthly Reading Goals: March, April, May

To help myself stay organised with my reading and my upcoming blog posts I have created a monthly plan. I will be uploading two book reviews a month, minimum. This month I’m already hoping to write a review on Du Maurier’s Rebecca. As it is my year of Classics I am hoping that by the end of the year I will have at least twelve full reviews of different Classic novels as well as various mini reviews.

 

This month I am dedicating my time to the books I have picked up from my library. I have previously posted a haul and have since then read two books and two graphic novels and today exchanged them for another two books and two graphic novels that I had requested. I will be posting my TBR for the Borrowathon next week which is a readathon running from the 19th-26th of March I will be taking part in. Along with the other books I mentioned in our March TBR I have enough to read a book a day for the rest of the month, which I am hoping to accomplish.

 

During April I will be dedicating my time to the works of Shakespeare. I would like to read five tragedies and five comedies. Please leave your recommendations! My favourites as of yet are Hamlet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Romeo and Juliet. I have also read and enjoyed Much Ado About Nothing, The Winter’s Tale and Richard III. In addition I am hoping to watch many tv/film adaptations of his plays and perhaps some retellings. I am beyond excited to read more Shakespeare plays as I have owned his Complete Works for quite some time.

 

In May I will be making a start on the books I have been given for our Annual Reading Challenge along with Classic novels that are constantly recommended to me.

 

But for now, my next blog post will be a post dedicated to my 10 favourites, the theme for which this week is Young Adult novels.

 

Sophie

On the Road – Review

Prior to reading On the Road by Jack Kerouac I was really optimistic, I had heard lots of good reviews and lots of people were talking about it. Not to mention it has appears on so many ‘100 books to read before you die’ lists. Already it sound like I hate it but that is not the case. It’s not that it’s a bad book; it is just a very difficult book to read when you have a busy lifestyle.

I am going to discuss the plot a little and try not to spoil anything for our readers. The Story is about Sal Paradise who is the narrator and his travels across America. There are five parts of the novel that are five different stints of being On the Road. Sal’s friend Dean Moriarty is a prominent story line in the novel. The novel is set in 1947-1950 in America in the post-war beat culture. Its all about the Jazz scene in America at that time.

The first stint On the Road was my favourite by far the endless ‘newness’ that Sal discovered and the fact he was constantly just scrapping by, getting a job here and there when required. At this point in the novel I was really enjoying the novel. Dean’s character, in other words he is a bit of a character, shines through. At some points you feel as though Sal would like to be like Dean and not have a care in the world and some times you get the impression that he feels sorry and even wants to avoid him at times. The first stint ended due to the inevitable lack of money and Sal needing to go back home to New York to his Aunts house to recoup both energy and money.

The novel continues in the same vain with slightly different experiences along the way. This is the main issue I have with the novel. I feel like every chapter is almost identical to the one before and it just feels like you are constantly reading the same thing in a different location. The fact that it feels like a chore to continue at times puts me off massively.

Dean Moriarty first of all comes across as a bit crazy and insightful turns out to be a complete nutcase who is actually a bit of an arsehole. I would not look up to him in the way Sal does and if anything I would try to avoid him like most of the other characters strive to do.

The fact that nothing really life changing occurs and the fact that Kerouac didn’t actually live these moments makes the novel a bit of a flop. I enjoyed it however I do not think I will be picking it up again anytime soon. I do however have it on good authority that Kerouac’s Big Sur is a much better novel and actually truthful. I therefore look forward to reading that in the future. I am however going to check out the 2012 film adaptation by Francis Ford Capolla of One the Road as I feel the story lends itself quite well to a movie.

To conclude, if you haven’t read it you have to according to all of the lists but its really not that great. Its not terrible but its not great. I am sorry if you read this and feel like I am talking a load of rubbish and you really loved it but lets face it that is the beauty of free speech. I hope you enjoyed this kind of moany review and stay tuned for further content coming up.

The Saga of Darren Shan: Part One

I began reading The Saga of Darren Shan on the 30th March and was halfway through the series by April 12th. The Darren Shan Saga consists of 12 novels centred in our own world though full of supernatural beings. I started this series as the first novel ‘Cirque du Freak’ was one of the books in my Annual Reading Challenge.

I have not read the series or any of its companion series before. These books were highly recommended to me as they are among Danny’s childhood favourites. The series, as you may expect, is about the life of Darren Shan. Darren Shan tells his readers that this is a true story and that all of the names in his books have been changed for the characters’ and reader’s protection.

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‘Cirque Du Freak’ opens with a depiction of Darren’s home and school life. I was surprised by how well written the characters were considering this is book one in a twelve part series. I had expected to fall in love with the characters throughout the numerous instalments but found myself fully invested from the outset. I loved the mystery of the first novel as the very real and relatable friendships and familial relationships coincided with the fantastical, unnerving magic. We are cast into the supernatural world alongside these teenaged characters and our reactions mimic their own. One thing I liked about the first book in particular was that it was in no way patronising as children’s (specifically YA) novels often are. I gave book one a five star rating.

 

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The suspenseful atmosphere continues into book two ‘The Vampire’s Assistant’ as Darren enters a new stage in his life. The second instalment brings new characters that I loved. The magic is a much larger part of the storyline and we are learning a lot more about supernatural beings. I found this novel outstanding for a second book in a series as they are often lacking. It was again fast paced and I loved the ending. The tragedy continues in this novel and the relationships are almost as turbulent. I also gave this book a five star rating.

 

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‘Tunnels of Blood’ is the third book in the series and I was unfortunately disappointed with this one. I could not shake the feeling while reading this instalment that it was nothing more than a ‘filler’ as its main purpose seemed to be to add one new element that can be used in the following books to progress the series. In my opinion, its plot lacked the imagination of the first two. I once again enjoyed the relationships, a strength of this particular instalment is the theme of brotherhood. I also liked the new female character as the series in general is filled with fantastic male characters and there seems to be one central female character in each novel (if even.) The appearance of the enemy in this novel seemed a little far-fetched to me, which is saying a lot due to the fact the pages are filled with fantastical beings of all appearances. My main problem with the enemy was that the descriptions were a little juvenile and lessened the fear Shan could have provoked on his readers. However the new element was interesting (there is a similar element to the world in the Vampire Academy series) and there was an interesting fight scene. I gave this novel a rating of three stars.

 

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The next instalment is ‘Vampire Mountain’ which involved a trek. Darren Shan meets a pack of wolves in this novel and fights a bear. This novel really brought the chilling atmosphere back as there was an added importance to Shan’s movements. Again new characters were introduced and the novel ended on a high. The endings of these novels are done particularly well so that the final chapters of each book read like the final scene of the episodes in Game of Thrones series four. Darren Shan has a way of leaving his readers hungry for the next instalment. By this stage in the series you are so immersed in Shan’s world that you are at once dying to read more while missing the previous books, settings and characters. I gave the fourth book in the series four stars.

 

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The fifth book ‘Trials of Death’ has been one of my favourites so far. Darren Shan goes through a Tri-wizard Tournament-esque challenge aptly named The Trials of Death.  This novel is about Darren proving himself to his new found community and learning their ways. What is really cool about this instalment is that we learn the ways of life, beliefs and sayings of these supernatural creatures. Before each stage they make a hand gesture called The Death’s Touch which means “Even in Death, May you be triumphant” it was appropriately eerie. I loved the new characters and despite finding it a little predictable loved the addition of Larten’s back-story. I can’t wait to read his spin-off series! Once again the ending is brilliant and I gave the fifth book a five star rating!

 

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That brings us to the final book in this post, ‘The Vampire Prince.’ The sixth book brings us halfway through the series, for this reason I tried to read it slowly. I was also afraid I would not enjoy it as much as ‘Trials of Death’ which was ultimately the case. The politics of the supernatural world are at the forefront of the novel. Darren Shan is being nursed back to health, things are looking bleak and a character is lost. This book provides for character development in the following instalments. Its plot is very dramatic and at times a little silly. Although it did not live up to its predecessor the main struggle Shan faces is interesting and this novel is again action-packed. I gave this novel three stars.

If you like paranormal books I would definitely recommend this series! Some of the books are better than others as is the case in most series but they are always action-packed, full of wonderful characters and suspenseful endings and you can read a typical instalment in a day. I have since read book seven titled ‘Hunters of the Dusk’ which I hope to include in ‘The Saga of Darren Shan: Part Two’ review-post next week. Until then, happy reading!

Sophie

 

 

 

Disney Book Tag

As we watched and enjoyed Disney’s The Good Dinosaur this week I thought it would be the perfect time to finally do the Disney Book Tag, accompanied by my sisters Amy and Christie! 

 

1. The Little Mermaid – a character who is out of their element, a “fish out of water”

A: Mr Poe from Lemony Snicket’s “A Series Of Unfortunate Events” has to be the least capable character in any book series

S: Pip from Great Expectations, particularly when it comes to relationships but also in dealing with his new status

C: Quinn from the Gone series, although this character develops hugely throughout the series when the Fayz first happens he is completely out of his depth.

2. Cinderella – a character who goes through a major transformation

A: Morpheus from the ‘Splintered’ series. As the name suggests, this character goes through a huge transformation (taking place before the first book is set) and continues to change throughout the series as he interacts with the other characters

S: Simon from ‘The Mortal Instruments’ Simon both matures and survives various ailments (no spoilers 🙂 )

C: Coal from Shiver- though he is never quite ‘fixed’, he does become a much more trustworthy, serious (when needed) character.

3. Snow White – a book with an eclectic cast of characters

A: The Hobbit

S: The Help by Kathryn Stocked

C: Eragon by Christopher Paolini

4. Sleeping Beauty – a book that put you to sleep

A: Allegiant by Veronica Roth- I think that this is mainly due to the ‘twist’ ending wasn’t very hard to guess even at the end of the first book, and I was just waiting for it to happen.

S: How to be Both by Ali Smith. This Man Booker Prize shortlisted novel is a duel-narrative, I enjoyed one narrative and found the other boring and disappointing.

C: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, I didn’t feel attached to any of the characters and therefore didn’t really care what happened to them.

5. The Lion King – a character who had something traumatic happen to them in childhood

A: Christopher, from ‘The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time’. What happens to Christopher in his past contributed to his interesting character even more, and allowed for his character’s development throughout the book.

S: Neville Longbottom who arguably has the most tragic past out of all the Harry Potter characters and is definitely the most under-appreciated.

C: Leisel from The Book Thief- from the start of the novel, her life is quite tragic.

6. Beauty and the Beast – A beast of a book that you were intimidated by, but found the story to be beautiful

A: Great Expectations- the books reputation as well as its size and age at first put me off the idea of picking it up, but when I did I found that it was even better than I’d thought it would be

S: A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway, I think Hemingway is intimidating in general however A Farewell to Arms was particularly intimidating to me due to the fact it is often described as a war novel. However I found myself crying on the last page, I found the romance not only surprising but moving against the backdrop of World War.

C: Eragon. The Inheritance Cycle includes some huge books but, due to the amount of action and tension throughout, I found it very enjoyable to read.

7. Aladdin – a character who gets their wish granted, for better or worse

A: Rose, from the Vampire Academy series (without spoilers, this one’s regarding a certain attractive Russian man far too attached to his leather duster).

S: Frankenstein- This one is pretty self-explanatory.

C: The Story Of A Boy Who Went Forth to Learn Fear ( from Grimm’s fairytales)- the protagonist goes through various nightmares during his quest but after all of this, the thing which finally makes him shudder is not scarring in the slightest.

8. Mulan – a character who pretends to be someone or something they are not

A: Count Olaf, again from ‘A Series Of Unfortunate Events’, as though the character doesn’t love many things, cross-dressing is something he’s apparently very passionate about.

S: Magwitch from ‘Great Expectations,’ really any character from ‘Great Expectations’ as Dicken’s characters are extremely well written and complex. I chose Magwitch because as a character he is the most deceiving.

C: Johan from the Monster manga series, though I’m not sure this is valid as he technically didn’t hide who he was, his characters role remains in the dark for some time.

9. Toy Story – a book with characters you wish would come to life

A: Any one of ‘The Mortal Instruments’ books. Though this series has already been mentioned in this tag, I had to include it here because of how many amazing characters it has (in particular, I would love it if Alec and Magnus came to life).

S: The BFG by Roald Dahl because that would be magical.

C: Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland because I would love to witness a Hatter’s tea party.

10. Disney Descendants – your favourite villain or morally ambiguous character

A: Cane, from the ‘Gone’ series. He’s my favourite character in the whole series, and I love that, though he’s clearly a villain at the book’s beginning (dramatic entrance included), he matures into an even better character, as he’s still very ‘morally ambiguous’ as a good guy

S: Queen Levana- I have yet to read her spin-off novel ‘Fairest’ but think she is an excellently creepy dictator.

C: Kaz Brekker form Six Of Crows is one of my favourite characters of all time (yet almost every character in this book is amazing and morally ambiguous).