Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Slither by Joseph Delaney

Tension; check. Monsters; check. Assassins; check.

I keep scratching my head as to what makes me pick up these horror books over and over. I'm the person who sits through horror movies with her eyes closed. Who gave up on "It" by Stephen King because it scared the sneakers off her feet. The one who had nightmares after seeing, "Jurassic Park." The person who lifts a Goosebumps book and drops it making the excuse she'll read it another time. For someone who doesn't do well with violence and gore, why do I keep having these sugar-like cravings for Delaney?

The books are a quick read. They are entertaining; I plow through ink in eager anticipation of the many bizarre monsters. They ooze tension in life and death situations and the females tend to be strong characters. Or maybe there is some latent Viking blood in me that secretly enjoys these books or the toned down children's version of the horror genre is more manageable for my touchy horror disposition. Whatever the reason, I have read ten of these books and will probably continue to do so even though I wonder why.

This book could stand alone from the series and seems like it might have a purpose in the eventual showdown with the Fiend. The Spook is not in it; only the witch, Grimalkin. The protagonist is an unemotional rat-like vampire, Slither, who alternates chapters with the voice of a human teenager, Nessa, who is at his mercy. Slither makes a deal with a farmer that his three daughters will not be bothered by him sneaking in at night to suck their blood if the father leaves the oldest to him after he dies. Every 40 years, Slither's government requires citizens to give them a female slave and Slither wants Nessa for this purpose.

When the father dies, the three daughters leave the farm with Slither. He has promised the farmer, who has provided him with wine and livestock blood over the years, to bring two of the daughters to their aunt and uncle. Once they set out one disaster after another strikes, leaving the group in multiple life-or-death situations. When Nessa saves Slithers life more than once, he finds himself acting in ways that are not "normal" for his species usual stoic murdering mentality.

The writing is functional - can't say I've scribbled any beautiful passages in my reading journal. Slither is a cold-blooded killer that would normally be a villain in most stories. He is bent on trying to not show weakness or be emotional, but he finds it hard to fight his feelings when Nessa shows unconditional love toward her sisters and bravery in battle. He is the character that struggles internally; moreso than Nessa. Her voice doesn't get the same page-time as Slither's. Readers might find Slither a hard character to connect with emotionally, but I found him curious. There are some nice plot twists that I didn't see coming, but I read the book in warp-speed so I wasn't on detail-mode. (And my detail-mode is not impressive even when I slow down.) Hence, you might see the plot twists coming.

This series reminds me a bit of "The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel" by Michael Scott, in that what was originally intended to be a smaller series has been stretched into one that goes on and on. Many of the books are separate adventures with the same characters. Seems like it should have ended a long time ago, but hey, I'm still reading them. Whatever. Like I said, I find them entertaining.

Action; check. Villains; check. Head scratch; check. Smile; check.

Reading Level 5.5
3 Smileys

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