Sunday, December 19, 2010

Book Review: The Haunting of Alaizabel Cray by Chris Wooding

The Haunting Of Alaizabel CrayThe Haunting Of Alaizabel Cray by Chris Wooding
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Thank you, Chris. After the disappointment that was STORM THIEF, I definitely needed THE HAUNTING OF ALAIZABEL CRAY (THoAC) to redeem my faith in you. Not that I could ever give up on you after "The Braided Path," of course. Every writer has a stinker or two (or more) in their bib. But THoAC is definitely not a stinker; in fact, it's among your best, and a five-star offering as far as I'm concerned.

You grabbed my interest with the young wych-hunter, Thaniel Fox, and never let up. I was fully invested in Thaniel's history, his relationship with Cathaline, his romantic feelings for Alaizabel, and the entire fog and gaslight, top hats and airships, post-war atmosphere of Wooding's Gothic Victorian alterna-London crawling with nocturnal wych-kin, serial killers, and clandestine cultists.

The story zipped along and gave me the same feeling I get when I read HELLBOY or Tom Sniegoski's LOBSTER JOHNSON. It's a story full of fun and engaging characters with full-on dynamic personalities. THoAC is a very cinematic ghost/action story in quasi-pulp, superhero-hybrid form. I could easily see the "movie" as it played out in my mind.

My only minor complaint is that Wooding can sometimes have a tendency to wax flowery in his prose, which can slow down the action a pace, but his descriptions are so vivid and poetic, I really can't say I mind all that much. I do wish the publisher had put a more riveting cover on this book, however. I'm sure the blah stock art and hideous typesetting impeded sales for this one on retail shelves. Too bad, because THE HAUNTING OF ALAIZABEL CRAY is definitely worth your time!

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Five stars (out of five). Highly recommended! Especially to fans of Gothic supernatural, Victorian ghost tales, Hellboy, BPRD, witches, warlocks, and pulp-style Lovecraftian weird tales stuff.

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