Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Literary Pumpkins!

Hello all!

I was googling around, looking for some good Halloween pumpkin carving ideas, and I wanted to share with you my favorite literary pumpkins. Enjoy!

1. Classics

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Frankenstein's Monster from Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1818) and Dracula from Bram Stoker's Dracula (1897). Although these images are recognizable due to their popularization by Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi in the 1931 films,the classic stories have been well served by the publicity.


2. Sherlock Holmes

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Gotta love the famous detective! Sherlock Holmes from Arthur Conan Doyle's stories (1887).


3. Jane Austen

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An elegant pumpkin for the fan of classic literature.  Sense and Sensibility (1811), Pride and Prejudice (1813), Mansfield Park (1814) and Emma (1815), among others.


4. Poe's Raven

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"The Raven" by Edgar Allen Poe.


5. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

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I am partial to the Hogwarts' crest because it has a certain nostalgia for me: reminding me of the books that were still about the school. However, the Deathly Hallows symbol is also cool, so I included it. Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling (1997-2007).


6. Lord of the Rings
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These take a significant time to do well, but look so cool. I did not include the Eye of Sauron largely because it isn't really canonical. The Ring's inscription and the Fellowship from The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R Tolkien (1954).


7. Camp Half-Blood

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Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan (2005-2009).


8. Narnia

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The Chronicles of Narnia were a huge part of my childhood, so when I saw this one, I had to include it! Lucy and Mr. Tumnus from The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis (1984).


9. Cheshire Cat

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Any cat with a big grin is instantly recognizable as the Cheshire Cat from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll (1865).


10. Cthulhu

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This is my favorite. It is on point thematically while being both rare and recognizable. Cthulhu from"The Call of Cthulhu"  by H.P. Lovecraft (1928).


Let me know if you try any of these!

Monday, October 10, 2016

I Am Not Writing from Beyond the Grave: Narrator in A Natural History of Dragons

I recently finished the first three novels in Marie Brennan's Memoirs by Lady Trent series: A Natural History of Dragons (2013), The Tropic of Serpents (2014), and Voyage of the Basilisk (2015).

Summary

Lady Trent, the world's foremost dragon naturalist, tells these stories about her pursuit of scientific research at the expense of her reputation. A Natural History of Dragons chronicles her trip to the mountains of Vystrana, when she was still Isabella Camherst, with her husband and others to study the dragons living there and the political and social implications of their discoveries.

I found the series enjoyable, if not necessarily exciting. The tone is similar to Novik's Temeraire series, in that the main character comes from a world governed by manners. I was also reminded of the Rain Wilds Chronicles' Alise Kincarrion, who was also bookish, obsessed with studying dragons, and plagued by social pressures. The dragons, though, do not exhibit human-like intelligence.

First Person Autobiographical Narrator

I was particularly intrigued by Brennan's use of the First Person Autobiographical narrator. Lady Trent is writing to interested fans the "true story" as opposed to the one they've read in tabloids.

Drawbacks

Such a narrator, by consequence of their age and wisdom in hindsight, takes something away from the suspense and excitement of a story. Especially when she says things like, "I am not writing this from beyond the grave." Lady Trent creates distance between the reader and the action, but also the reader and Isabella Camherst. Since Lady Trent often compares herself with her earlier character, the reader is forced to do the same, observing Isabella from without instead of investing in her personality and circumstances.

Benefits

However, Lady Trent does lend a sense that a larger world exists outside the story, which is a reliable world-building technique. Furthermore, her pragmatic sensibilities make a for a wonderful juxtaposition of realistic tone with fantastical content.

Conclusion

I am fond of Lady Trent's character, but I think the events of the stories would have been made more impactful without her constant reassurance that all will be well.

Nevertheless, Brennan's series is entertaining, and I am eager to read the last book, as soon as it comes from the library!