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Darkness on His Bones: A vampire mystery (A James Asher Vampire Novel) Paperback – June 1, 2016
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"Hambly continues to mix vampire fiction and historical mystery in a way that will delight her fans” (Booklist)
"This book is a solid continuation of a strong series" (Publishers Weekly)
"Put it this way: given a choice between reading 99% of anything else out there and Barbara Hambly, I will, given free will, always opt for Ms. Hambly. Always." (T Stewart, reviewer)
Simon. Something frightful has happened to Jamie. Please come . . .
Top customer reviews
This book. Hambly couldn't write a bad novel if it was specified in her contract. and this is one of her better efforts is a successful series. I can't discuss more plot than the blurb gave away, but the settings--Paris on the outbreak of the Great War and Paris in the reign of Henry of Navarre--are both well done and to my knowledge accurate. (Hambly was a medievalist, and it shows.) Most of the characters are familiar from previous volumes. They're consistent, and all the characters are believable and interesting. I'd say I spotted the Big Reveal about 2/3 through, though not the resolution. And remember Bujold's explanation that "the plot is what the book's about: the theme is what it's REALLY about." Just as, in a good mystery you suddenly understand the true significance of all the clues, when the resolution came, I suddenly understood what the book had been about all along. But the book. You may want to read Those who Hunt the Night first, but you'll certainly want to read this one.
I tend to read mysteries and series like this in big gulps of enjoyment, going straight through the plot. But I'm quite interested in literary devices and how a book is put together. On a first read, I may not pay as much attention to that as the plot, which is why I do tend to reread books I liked. And this novel, I think really repays rereading.
On my first read, I enjoyed the book, but it wasn't my favorite in the series. I got impatient with a few things: I was tired of Jame's constant harping on wanting to kill all the vampires. I got tired of Lydia's obsession with not wearing her glasses, etc. But I really enjoyed finding out more about Ysidro, and in some ways this is his book: we find out more about his background as a young vampire in this novel.
I decided to reread this novel when the newer book in the series came out (Pale Guardian), because honestly, the books were blurring together in my head and I couldn't really remember what had happened in this one. So I planned to skim over it, then found myself simply rereading the whole thing, and I really came to an appreciation of how good this novel and this writer are from it. Yes, we see Jame's agony over collaborating with the vampires, who are, indeed, killers. But this time, reading more slowly and critically, I was able to see how the author juxtaposed Jame's feelings towards the vampires with his feelings towards his own government. This is, in the end, a book about war and about morality: when is it moral to kill is one of the enduring questions of the series, but also of this particular book. Is Ysidro's killing to keep him alive so different from the what is done in war? We see evidence of what happens from decisions James Asher was forced to make as a spy, and those make us reflect on what the vampires do. At one point in this novel, James notes that the vampires are, indeed, human too. And this is what makes the book so remarkable I think: the point is, humans are killers, whether alive or undead.
Of course, Hambly is a historian, and as always, that is clear in this novel. One of the reasons I have so loved this series is because of the time period it is set in, before (and now during) WWI, a period of great upheaval and change. The history of this time is carefully described in the novel (but never in a way that overwhelms the story), and it adds a weight and gravity to the novel. We know what happened. We know how many died, and it is interesting to see our characters poised on that precipice of disaster.
The questions this author raises in her work, whether it is in this series or the Benjamin January series, are serious questions. They are questions of morality and justice, questions of history, I might say, as Hambly casts her imaginative eye back over the past and looks at through a new and unique lens. They look like entertainment: these vampire stories, these mysteries, and this author knows how to tell a story that moves us and entertains us. But if we listen--and perhaps through rereading--we see that she offers much more than just entertainment. This still isn't my favorite in the series, but I'm glad I reread it. I wouldn't suggest starting with this one if you haven't read her work before, but do give this series a read: there is much to ponder in this parallel world. I love this author!
But, as another reviewer commented, I was delighted to get more of Don S.'s back story. And Hambly's descriptive powers gave me goosebumps repeatedly. All the WWI history was a bonus.
Most recent customer reviews
Sets up a First World War sequel nicely