Robin Bott

Wild swan 1793 Reputation points Help-d956b624e3a70f299ff60fb4f6e79359
  • The Angel's Game

    Shadow of the Wind's darker cousin

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    Having loved Shadow of the Wind (CRZ's first English-language hit), I was really looking forward to this. Although the tone and plot are quite different from SOTW (despite some fascinating overlap), and it times this did throw me, this is another outstanding effort, and I am excited to read that CRZ has another 2 books set up in his gothic early 1900s Barcelona. I couldn't put it down, I'm gutted that it's finished... and it makes me want to read SOTW all over again! (maybe if only to finally confirm which I prefer) As SOTW totally seduces it's reader into the book-lover's world, this book is written from the perspective of a somewhat cynical writer, David Martin's, as events transpire to help him rise above his wretched existence, to that of a popular (if misunderstood) writer. But success and recognition seem to come from the wrong sources, and he ends up striking a sinister deal... but with who, and what are the consequences. Whilst CRZ brings to life Barcelona and parti...Having loved Shadow of the Wind (CRZ's first English-language hit), I was really looking forward to this. Although the tone and plot are quite different from SOTW (despite some fascinating overlap), and it times this did throw me, this is another outstanding effort, and I am excited to read that CRZ has another 2 books set up in his gothic early 1900s Barcelona. I couldn't put it down, I'm gutted that it's finished... and it makes me want to read SOTW all over again! (maybe if only to finally confirm which I prefer) As SOTW totally seduces it's reader into the book-lover's world, this book is written from the perspective of a somewhat cynical writer, David Martin's, as events transpire to help him rise above his wretched existence, to that of a popular (if misunderstood) writer. But success and recognition seem to come from the wrong sources, and he ends up striking a sinister deal... but with who, and what are the consequences. Whilst CRZ brings to life Barcelona and particularly some of the buildings in it (by the way, does nobody ever lock their doors?), credit must be given to Lucia Graves for her translation from the original Spanish (as for SOTW). Translations can end up as bland affairs, but Graves and Zafon bring the city and its inhabitants to life and the wording always seems rich and lush and totally irresistible - you would not guess this was a translation unless you were tipped off. Thank you Carlos, and I look forward to returning for more! (more)

  • Notes on a Scandal

    a superb example of the 'unreliable narrator'

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    The key to this book is not the supposed main story of the teacher and the pupil's shocking affair, but the manner in which it is told. The jealousy and manipulation with which the narrator writes, judging others whilst being totally oblivious to her own behaviour, is incredibly believable and powerful. Having seen the film since reading the book, I was also extremely impressed with Dame Judi Dench's portrayal of the narrator, she clearly understood the purpose of the character brilliantly. I would recommend both the book and the film (read the book first, of course).

  • American Psycho

    A rare case where the film outshines the book

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    I found the large majority of American Psycho shocking for the sake of being shocking, and not that entertaining. The film adopts a nicely tongue-in-cheek tone that I did not pick up in the novel. Upon more recently reading Less Than Zero, one of Bret Easton Ellis' earlier books, I realised what his point was with American Psycho: the frustration and ennui that arises from a 'perfect' life of richness and success, and the need to find something more to entertain oneself, to go beyond more boundaries. This point is very well illustrated in (the much shorter) LTZ, and I would highly recommend it as a partner piece to this. The point is much better put in this book, and this I feel naturally follows on (although very different). Although I've not re-read American Psycho since reading LTZ, I believe the experience would be much enhanced.

  • The Lighthouse Keeper

    it's been a while since a book has freaked me out quite like this...

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    the novel describes two parties' experiences in relation to a true story in which 3 lighthouse keepers went missing: the 1900s 3-man relief team for this group, including a keeper who has vowed to find out what happened to the original team, and a modern day young team camping out on the same island. When Rebecca (modern girl) discovers the diary of Alec (one of the relief crew) she reads their experiences with increasing horror. The great thing about this book is the continual build up of tension through a series of increasingly disquieting events, until the books shocking climax. Once this book has hold of you, you will not want to put it down until you find out what happens. In my opinion, Alan Baker provides just the right levels of answers and mystery throughout, so that at the end I felt still intrigued but not cheated. Not typically a horror fan (other than zombies), this book was very different from anything I've read, but hugely entertaining throughout. Alan take...the novel describes two parties' experiences in relation to a true story in which 3 lighthouse keepers went missing: the 1900s 3-man relief team for this group, including a keeper who has vowed to find out what happened to the original team, and a modern day young team camping out on the same island. When Rebecca (modern girl) discovers the diary of Alec (one of the relief crew) she reads their experiences with increasing horror. The great thing about this book is the continual build up of tension through a series of increasingly disquieting events, until the books shocking climax. Once this book has hold of you, you will not want to put it down until you find out what happens. In my opinion, Alan Baker provides just the right levels of answers and mystery throughout, so that at the end I felt still intrigued but not cheated. Not typically a horror fan (other than zombies), this book was very different from anything I've read, but hugely entertaining throughout. Alan takes great delight in his descriptions of the sea, the storms, the fogs, and the numerous strange phenomena going on. He brings it all to life magnificently. (more)

  • Creeping into the Light

    disquieting

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    it's great how stories so short can make you feel so uneasy. each of these you could easily finish on a short journey - but you'll want to push on through to the next and the next, until you're done. The metafictitious nightmare The Tower is a great opener, and it really sets the tone for the rest of the book. Without wanting to give the stories away too much (there are a number of well-executed twists throughout), I'll say there's aliens, dreamworlds, the living dead and even the devil. However, for me the real stand out story was Looking For Narnia. This read quite differently from the others, and I found it extremely moving, especially the epiphany that closed it off. Powerful and entirely believable.

  • The Secret Speech

    In Russia, book reads you

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    Whilst this falls short of the towering achievement that I consider Child 44 (TRS's first book), this is still a very enjoyable thriller. Replacing Stalin's State background of the original with more ambiguity (are we still supposed to fear the State? are we really free to speak our minds now) allows for a very different context for the same characters to navigate. This definitely took a step towards a more typical thriller, but part of me can't help but think TRS was writing this for the Big Screen (Child 44 is coming to cinema's courtesy of Ridley Scott). Advice: if you enjoyed his first book, this is definitely worth your time, but this won't win over any new fans. Definitely go for Child 44 first!

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