There are a lot of voices to listen to in Delirium, and they’re all talking about one thing: a lost manuscript.
The search begins with the source, the poet Arthur Rimbaud, the manuscript’s author. We hear first the voices of Rimbaud, his lover Paul Verlaine, and Verlaine’s wife, Mathilde, giving us a glimpse of the world as it was then, in the late 19th century. Other voices add to the story as we follow the manuscript through the 20th century and into the 21st.
Knitting the story together is the central narrative of Andrea Mann, who, in 2004, goes in search of Rimbaud’s lost poem, La Chasse Spirituelle. Andrea’s meeting with a young man at Rimbaud’s grave starts her on a journey that may or may not connect her with a manuscript that, if genuine, would be worth a great deal of money. It’s not the money, though, that intrigues Andrea. We sense that the lost poem represents something else.
The intertwining threads of the history of the manuscript—caught up with its various custodians in the senseless tragedy of World War I, the cruel barbarity of World War II, and the lives, hopes, and dreams of ordinary people—I found fascinating. Andrea Mann’s story I found less so. Perhaps because part of her search involves knowing, or not knowing, what is real and what is not, I was never sure what was real and what was not. While that may have been a conscious choice by the author, it kept me too cautious, unwilling to enter fully into Andrea’s story. As in real life, if I believe I’m being misled, I will stay a bit removed from a situation. That remove also made me too critical—even judgmental—of Andrea. I never really got a sense of who she was; I only saw her jerked around by the manipulations of others.
Delirium is an ambitious book. I believe the author did not quite achieve her ambition in telling Andrea’s story, but it was a worthy attempt. I’m still mulling over many of the issues she raised and questions she never answered fully. And I’ve also started reading fin de siecle French poetry.
I received this free of charge in return for an honest review on behalf of the Awesome Indies.
Caged follows the story of Jon, a meek young man who possesses an unusual ability to read people. Pirates kidnap him from his hometown in the hopes of utilising his abilities in their business deals. This plot is quickly sidelined as he soon becomes enmeshed in a love triangle with Captain Baltsaros and his first mate Tom.
Caged is a decent erotic fantasy with characters and story that are more developed than usual for the genre, but it’s not extraordinary. There are extremely frequent and graphic sex scenes between the main characters that often involve bondage.
The prose is passable, but some passages are overwritten. When I came to “pearls of desire” I snickered. Caged kind of reminds me of the trashy novels I used to filch from my stepmother when I was too young to be reading such stuff. Although the sex in them was straight, not gay, the descriptions pretty much followed the same pattern, and the tone was the same, emotional and romantic.
Structurally, I didn’t feel that there was much of a plot. Rather a collection of small events happened with no clear goal and no obvious antagonist until 80% of the way through. I found the pacing very slow, but the focus is on the erotica. The scenes tended to jump around in time, which I sometimes found confusing.
The first two books of the Baal’s Heart series are in my all-favorite list. Bey is a fabulous writer. I could feel myself seeing this world. I could feel what the characters were dealing with. This is not dime-store erotica. This is a deeply emotional dive into the human psyche. The characters are well fleshed out. I love all the main characters, but Tom… How I wish I could bring that man to life. This book is sexy… even for someone like me who doesn’t even read erotica. I can just imagine the genius it takes to create an entirely new world and such beautiful characters… such a beautiful story. Bey is a force to be reckoned with.
The Plague is an entertaining and generally well-written science fiction story about a future where humans are a plague on the universe. It has all the elements that sci if fans will love – intelligent alien monsters with squishy tentacles and glistening scales, technological wizardry, deadly space battles, and even a touch of romance and a smidgen of magic.
Earth was destroyed long ago, and now New Earth has gone the same way. Humans are once again shifting planets. I’m unsure of the time frame of this event, because though the author labels this part of the story The Near Future, whether that is near to me, or near to the rest of the story, I’m not sure. I don’t think it really matters that much in this somewhat disjointed form of story telling.
Four characters start in different places during the same time frame but in different, seemingly unrelated, situations, their only link the world they inhabit. But as the story continues, some of these characters come together, and each story informs the other. Added to that are scenes from The Near Future and The Far Future which complete the story by giving us a view over a long period of human future history. Instead of these scenes coming at the end, they are peppered throughout the story. Some may not like this leaping about from character to character and between time periods, but I think it gives the story an interesting dynamic with the glimpses of the future juxtaposed against the events that set the future along that path.
Each character is well-drawn and complex and their individual stories are strong, but the overall plot is not as strong as the individual strands that make it up. Near the end, the threads do start to converge and give of sense of an overall thrust to the story as the characters fall on different sides of a battle between the Defiled and the Assembly. I assume there will be sequels because the individual stories paused rather than ended, and the book clearly set the scene for future developments.
The book is sleek and well-edited, the only difficulty I had with it was the beginning. I simply had a hard time getting into it. The first and second scenes suffered from a lack of description, so I couldn’t get a visual of the setting and very little on the characters. The author didn’t introduce a central character up front either, so I didn’t know who the story was actually about until some way into the scene when I discovered that it was a first person narrative. Even then, I couldn’t figure out who the narrator was and what role he played in the scene. His relationship to one of the other characters only became apparent at the end of the scene. Perhaps I simply missed these things, but I doubt I would be the only one who finds the beginning scenes a little vague.
The second scene also introduced many terms for aspects of the world but without any explanation, so I could only guess what on earth (or not on earth in this case) the narrator was referring to. The author also introduced many characters in a short space of time and before the central character – another recipe for orientation difficulties.
Scene three, however, I found excellent. The main character was introduced up front, the threat was real, the visuals clear, the writing immediate and engaging, and by the end of the scene, I was rooting for Forge and the Flora. Things were looking up. And that standard continued throughout the rest of the book.
The author has used the characters and the world of his cartoon series for this novel, which explains, but doesn’t excuse its early problems. Graphic fiction has pictures, but novels need description to create those pictures in the readers’ minds. Much about a world can be seen and understood in a glance with a picture, whereas it needs to be explained in a novel without associated graphics. The author provided me with the comic as well as the novel, but the novel should stand alone.
All up, if you can hang in at the beginning until things start to come together then the rest of the ride is great.