Thursday, October 15, 2009

Book Review by Aimee: The Evil Seed, by Joanne Harris

Having finished this book, to quote W.B. Yeats: my wretched dragon is perplexed.

Word of warning; this will only be a MINI book review, rather than a full book review, because I think the writing in this novel reflects something that is only 'halfway there'.

The Evil Seed is an often confusing. sometimes numbing and other times flamboyantly lovely read - a strange hybrid of Samuel Taylor Coleridge's "Lesbian Vampire" poem 'Christabel', and the videoclip of Guns n Roses 'November Rain', with a sprinkling of The Secret History and a couple of Interview with the Vampire remarks. Unfortunately, the originality, creativity and unique books of all such mediums referred to in the previous sentence are lost in the inexperience of Harris' first attempt at writing.

The novel intrudes on the mind of uni student and artist Alice at a vulnerable time - she is reminiscing about her former romantic relationship with Joe, but suddenly she finds herself having to house the new girl he is besotted with: Ginny. Ginny is like the hottest Kate Bush you ever did see, and perfects the look of 'Little Girl Lost'. But her friends are kinda weird - it takes three invitations for them to step across a door threshold into your house, and they only like to come over at night, if at all possible.

At first, Alice believes that jealousy is the culprit responsible for her ill feelings towards Ginny, but when she finds an old diary of a gentleman's run in with a Kate Bush vampire, Alice begins to suspect that the truth about Ginny may be very sinister indeed...

Joanne Harris, the author of such mini masterpieces as Chocolat, wrote this book when she was a fresh, impressionable 23 year old. She admits herself that she struggled with the idea that the book should be republished, once she became famous and everything. And I have to be frank and say I understand her concerns. I could see glimpses of the glorious, but overall I felt that lingering university student angst, that 90s love for gothica in its darkest and most grunge-like form and a sense of an author that hadn't quite found her voice just yet.

This book is, overall, romantic and lusty and bloody. The vampires (though they are never referred to as this, only 'Nightwalkers') are of the monstrous, ravaging type. They can hypnotise and manipulate people into doing whatever they please, and they appear to live only for hunger and fear.

At times the writing screamed for simplicity, and instead was overwritten, but I enjoyed the Byronic character of Daniel (diary guy), though the modern-day Alice lesser so.

This was a little too dark, musty and derivative to be a great read, but I still consider it to be a good read, particularly if you like books like Wuthering Heights, or Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles and require a quick fix of packet blood. Yeah, I know it's not as good as the live stuff. But hey, even vampires can't have home-cooked gourmet every night. And as far as takeaways go this stuff aint devoid of your daily dose o' vitamins. Just take care with the bony bits.

3 stars.


Nana Fredua-Agyeman said...

I love Gothic writings and Horror. I believe I would love this. Thanks for the review

Briony said...

Have you read Sleep Pale Sister? It's another one of her books that has been rereleased since it was first published. I enjoyed it, but I kind of felt the same way that you did about this one. (That said, I know I'll buy it and read it, because I love Joanne Harris)