14 January, 2010

Book 42 - Queen Victoria: Demon Hunter (no seriously that's its name)

It's coming up one year since I started blogging. I've got ten weeks to blog the remaining 11 books. However, being the incredibly over-excited young person I am, I'm already planning a new reading challenge for my second year blogging. It'll involve a quick and dirty site revamp, a banner (I've been meaning to put one up for ages) and a new approach to the books I read. So what's the challenge for year two? I guess you could say that it's a mystery...

Meanwhile, how about a little historical fantasy?

Title: Queen Victoria: Demon Hunter (2009)

Author: A. E. Moorat

Why this book?:
Because it's called Queen Victoria: Demon Hunter. I mean, really.

So what's it all about?
In a somewhat alternate reality, the night that Victoria learns that the King is dead and she will soon be the Queen of England (and, you know, everywhere else) she is attacked by a succubus, her life saved by the mysterious Maggie Smith. Maggie, it seems, has a very particular role: protect the incumbent ruler from demon attack, and make sure that the Devil never gets to put a finger in the ruling pie. Needless to say, this comes as something of a shock to Victoria.

Her thoughts are soon directed elsewhere - to politics, of course, and to her country that may still follow France's example and revolt; but also to her cousin, Albert, with whom she has fallen hopelessly in love. The good news is that Albert loves her, too: the bad news is that he is almost certainly the son of a demon. The really bad news is that Victoria's parents aren't exactly who she thought they were, either, and Victoria and Albert, for all their good intentions, might just be a match made in hell...

The Good and the Bad

One of my friends called this book "a waste of a perfectly good title" and I am forced to reluctantly agree. It starts out very strongly, with prostitute-eating zombies and Victoria fighting for her life, but afterwards, when Victoria is learning how to Queen, as it were, and angsting over Albert, my interest waned, and not even a kidnapping and a werewolf attack could bring it back. I think the problem is that Moorat tries too hard to mingle fact with fiction - a lot of the incidents in the story did actually happen, but few of them are really that relevant to the plot and as a result the story continually builds up tension and then loses it again. Or perhaps it's simply Moorat's style - there were several high-action scenes where I ended up skipping ahead rather than impatiently reading every word to see what happened.

The other problem is that I found the supernatural elements weren't quite concrete enough - there was religion mixed in to them, with the idea of the anti-Christ and the devil, the dead walking the Earth, but I didn't really buy it, not without the other side of the battle for good and evil being mentioned as well - Victoria, as the head of the Chruch of England, surely would have considered where God and Jesus were in this equation. I know, I know, I'm probably demanding too much from a story about Queen Victoria fighting demons but I think it may have helped the story to be less muddled (and more interesting) if the pseudo-religious bits were left out.

Having said that, the book does have the occasional good joke:
"Amazed, Quimby looked at her, then gazed at her internal organs quivering on the boards. She had the body of a weak and feeble woman, he thought, distractedly, but she had the heart and stomach of, well, a seemingly invincible zombie."
So should I read it or what?
Enough one-liners to cause a chuckle, but not enough to save the book's confusing plot or bad pacing. I wouldn't recommend.

Link of the day:
One of my favourites show ever ever, Never Mind the Buzzcocks.


Andrew Holmes said...

Ah well. Thanks for reading it anyway, and good luck with the remaining 11 books.


Shannon SVH said...

I just started laughing when I saw the title of this one. Was not expecting that! Sounds pretty bad. Thanks for taking the bullet on that one.

HelenB said...

Andrew - I'm sorry I couldn't give your book a more favourable review overall, but the bits I enjoyed I really enjoyed, and I look forward to reading more of your works in the future.

Shannon - it is seriously an amazing title.

Sadako said...

Aw, too bad it wasn't that good.

You got an author to comment, though. Whoa!