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Posted July 6, 2009
This book, decorated with a simple dark cover featuring what can only be described as a clockwork angel (piqued your interest yet?), gets two reviews because it's nearly two books in one.
As a fiction book Heaven's Bones is a historical steampunk fantasy with prose that betrays its author's poetic prowess. It paints a beautiful picture, with a precision that brings both the fantasy aspects and the historical aspects to life. In some books the world building is explicitly detailed, in this one while the setting is rich and full, it's the characters which are explicitly detailed. In fact, so much character building is done that it leads to the book's only flaw, that being a front-heavy feel with a slow progression of the over arching plot. The Angels, from the cover and the blurb, which likely sell the book to readers, don't even materialize until over a hundred pages in and all the character's relationships and associations aren't fully revealed until after the 200 page mark.
It's easy to fall for the pretty prose, but become frustrated with the scattered feel of it.
But this isn't just a fiction book. Heaven's Bones is actually a Ravenloft title. The aspects of the popular role play setting are integrated with just as much care and skill as the Victorian era, steampunk, and Civil War era time lines. There is no blatant connection (in fact I found myself second guessing whether it was meant to be a tie in at all) which, as a reader who is first being introduced to Ravenloft, allows for more eagerness to try the book, and an easier immersion into some of the concepts. The only familiar feature I spotted was The Mists, so delicately written that they became a character all their own, which of course is the main tip off that the reader (or the player, in the case of the game) might be venturing into Ravenloft.
This also shifts the previous complaint, making seemingly ineffective storytelling become catering to readers who love characters and concepts over solid things, like plots. Seeing as readers of RPG fiction love to read about the character but like open ended possibilities (need I mention the Drizzt Do'Urden saga?) this makes Heaven's Bones' seemingly slow opening pace just as deliberate of a plot element as everything else previously mentioned.
All in all, Heaven's Bones is beautifully written, does indeed have steampunk Victorian era Angels, as well as psychics, cursed twins and someone suspiciously similar to Jack the Ripper. It has major crossover appeal but not only will it have gamer readers feeling clever for recognizing the "in-joke" Ravenloft elements, it will have non-gamer readers much more willing to take the plunge since the book doesn't make them feel like they're missing twenty years of back titles needed to understand what's going on in this book.
And did I mention the prose was pretty?
Posted November 24, 2008
I Also Recommend:
For avid fans of the Ravenloft RPG setting, good news! Wizards of the Coast has released this new novel in the series. You can also read "Mithras Court" by David A. Page, the second book in this new series. Sadly, it looks like WTC has little faith in this new line and "Mithras Court" may be the last of them. However, whether you are a fan of Ravenloft or simply a fan of gothic horror, this is a wonderfully written book! Many twists and turns, all with a satisfying ending!<BR/><BR/>The reader is taken to London in the 1800's, and introduced to a series of characters whose lives will intertwine in the most horrifying ways. The author even plays with the back-story to the "Jack the Ripper" murders in the Whitechapel district. For those who don't know, the world of Ravenloft, (simply called "The Mists" in the novel), is a world that reaches out into other worlds, (in this case, our own Earth's history) and using powerful Mists that act as deadly teleportation devices, seeks out the most vile and evil creatures a world has to offer. Usually, these creatures (or people) are tragic figures, with no hope of redemption. The Mists create a new world for the beings they snatch away, a mockery of the world they once knew. Their victims are trapped in these pocket worlds or domains, with no hope of escape. There, the dark powers that lurk behind the Mists, toy with them and try to make them turn to their darker natures. However, a small few, sometimes redeem themselves, but that doesn't always lead to a happy conclusion.<BR/><BR/>I can't reveal the plot, for fear of giving too much away, but the book's jacket cover (and the blurb here at BN.com gives you enough information to get you started. If your looking for a spooky tale, in the gothic tradition, or a Ravenloft fan, longing for a new tale, then I highly recommend this book! Embrace the Mists and enjoy!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 4, 2008
Where have they been hiding this book. It was fabulous. I loved how the characters were so revealing and the nature of the story could have taken so many turns. You will be pleasantly surprised!!!!!!!!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 25, 2010
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