Fantasy Realms

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Tuesday, September 13, 2005


Title: Abarat
Author: Clive Barker
Pages: 431
Rating: @@@@@
Price: $6.99 (paperback)

NEW! Abarat in three words:


Candy Quackenbush lives in the most boring town in the U.S.: Chickentown. They’re known for...chicken farming. When her spiteful teacher tells the class to find ten facts about Chickentown, Candy’s not happy. She doesn’t want to write about chickens. She asks around, and comes upon a bit of juicy history that doesn’t appear in the textbook. When the teacher reads it, she’s furious that someone could turn in such nonsense, and consequently, Candy is sent to the principal’s office.
For some reason, she refuses. Instead, she walks out the door, down the street, and out of town into a grassy field she’d never seen. That’s when the weird things start happening. She meets John Mischief – and all the other Johns, who live on his horns. They plead with her to turn on the lighthouse – though, why there’s a lighthouse in Montana is a mystery – and doing so, she summons a sea that sweeps her into the Abarat.
As one from the Hereafter, our world, Candy causes a stir. Many factions are attempting to rule Abarat, including Christopher Carrion, who rules the Gorgossium, the island where it’s always midnight! Who is this Commexo Kid, and why is he so…generous?
Candy, caught in the middle of several plots for multi-world domination, is sought out by Carrion, his minions, and Rojo Pixler. Not only is she a link to the Hereafter, but she has the Key to…something, she’s not quite sure.
Candy has no problem staying in Abarat; she felt called to leave her world, and the only thing holding her there was a dysfunctional family. She feels as if she knows about Abarat, like she’s been there before. Snatches of memory, a vision in the 25th hour, and a feeling of connection never felt before seem to mean more than she’s realizing.


Many times, I get so lost in the plot that I can’t see the pictures. With this book, it’s nearly the opposite. I didn’t read the illustrated version – though one of my friends specifically bought that edition – but the vivid visions of so many species and creatures left me breathless. From the island of midnight, with nightmares galore, to late afternoon, with things beyond your dreams, this is the most lively, bright novel I’ve read in a long while. It’s difficult to think of words to accurately describe the chilling feeling of Carrion’s nightmare collar, or the sleek grace of the Tarries.
All that makes sense, because this came, originally, from paintings. Clive Barker painted over 300 pictures (100 of which illustrate the first book) before writing the books themselves. All the islands (each of which is a time of day, if you didn’t get that) are so brilliantly portrayed that I don’t even need the pretty, bright pictures.
The characters are original too. Malingo reminds me vaguely of Lump (from The Witch’s Boy), and the talking cats seem familiar, but other than that…I’ve never heard of any character who has seven other brothers living on his head. Carrion simply is a nightmare himself, taking pleasure in the living horrible thoughts that float around his collar. And our heroine, Candy, is s strong character, though at times she falls into the “narrator” trap; where the main character(s) loses their personality and becomes more of a viewpoint.
One last point that I want to say, is that I appreciated how Barker wrote about a real life, and a real family. Candy’s household is far from perfect: Her dad’s an unemployed drunk, her mom’s spineless, and the entire danged town smells like chickens!
Definitely a good book, and though I gave it a 3 out of 5, it’s more of a 3 and a half.

Sorry about the long-time-no-update. With school starting, everyone's schedule is busier, not just kids'. So expect updates on weekends (probably Saturday nights). I realize that I haven't reviewed any of the books I said I would. There's a reason for that.
Just let me think of one.
Well, I like to procrastinate, and I will do Alaizabel Cray, but I'm going to wait until I go through it and pick out all the deeper meanings, which I have to do anyway.

Now, my updated "COMING SOON" list:
The Haunting of Alaizabel Cray -by Chris Wooding
Thief of Time (Discworld) -by Terry Pratchett
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince -by J.K. Rowling (If anyone didn't know that...)
The Wee Free Men -by Terry Pratchett
Protector of the Small -by Tamora Pierce (Possibly her new book, depending on release, how fast I get it, etc.)
The Riddles of Epsilon -by Christine Morton-Shaw
Chanters of Tremaris -by Kate Constable
Wicked -by Gregory Maguire (Probably not, because of...past PG-13-ness.)
Silver Crown -by Robert C. O'Brien (Though Paige, I don't have the book so there will be a wait.)
Cry of the Icemark -by Stuart Hill
And more!

Really, I'm just too lazy to remember the rest! See ya next time!


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