Tag Archives: Handling the Undead

[REVIEW] Handling the Undead – John Ajvide Lindqvist

John Ajvide Lindqvist
Handling the Undead (Hanteringen av odöda; translated from the original Swedish into English by Ebba Segerberg)
Penguin Text (AU: 2nd March 2009); Quercus (UK: March 2009)
Buy (UK)

The author of the wonderfully bleak vampiric Let the Right One In explores zombies in Handling the Undead.

In the Swedish summer, it’s not just coincidence that citizens’ heads are aching. The power surges…and then nothing. But life has changed for some of the dead: they have risen.

The sudden death of author/illustrator Eva is a shock, but even more startling is her reliving – she can even speak. But as her case is so different, Eva is being kept away from her comedian husband David and their son. It’s a bad time to have a birthday, but rabbit Balthazar makes things better for Magnus – and us readers.

Grandmother Elvy and granddaughter Flora both have the Sense, but only Elvy receives a vision of the Holy Mother telling her to spread word that the End of Days is near.

When journalist Mahler hears of the reliving, he unearths grandson Elias from his grave. Mahler tries to train him to become more human, but Elias’s mother Anna is at her wits’ end.

The novel is character-driven, rather than plot-driven, and it results in a somewhat incoherent read. The characters’s reactions and emotions are believable, the Heath is delightfully creepy, and I certainly wanted my own Balthazar. But I don’t quite understand how the reliving happened, what set off the power surge, why it affected everyone, and why telepathic abilities suddenly abounded.

It’s confusing, but also a brilliant study of how humans cope in extraordinary circumstances.

P.S. A few years ago the author visited Melbourne to promote Let the Right One In. Here‘s photographic evidence that we met.

March 2009 Releases

Got all your selected February 2009 Releases? Good, now it’s time to organise your March purchases:

Caitlin Kittredge
Second Skin (Nocturne City, Book 3)
Macmillan St. Martin’s (US: 3rd March 2009) – mass market paperback
Buy (US) Buy (UK) Buy (CA)

When werewolves from Nocturne City’s oldest packs start showing up shot through the head execution-style, police officer Luna Wilder must find out what’s killing them and why…before she becomes the next victim. Luna traces the killings to a band of shapeshifters made of smoke and shadow who drink the blood of their victims for strength. Believed to exist only in legend, their race is all too real – and now their leader, Lucas Kennuka, is out to wrest Luna’s heart from her beloved Dmitri. To make matters worse, Dmitri is suffering from a mysterious illness brought on by a demon bite, and his condition grows more grave with each passing day. Now Luna must rely on Lucas to defeat an invisible enemy – a serial were-killer bringing death and destruction to all who stand in its path…

John Ajvide Lindqvist
Handling the Undead
Quercus (UK: 5th March 2009) – paperback
Buy (UK)

Something very peculiar is happening in Stockholm. There’s a heatwave on and people cannot turn their lights out or switch their appliances off. Then the terrible news breaks. In the city morgue, the dead are waking up…What do they want? What everybody wants: to come home.

Kit Whitfield
In Great Waters
Random House Jonathan Cape (UK: 5th March 2009; AU: 15th March 2009) – hardcover
Buy (US) Buy (UK) Buy (CA)

In a tense, divided court, a young princess watches her mother struggle to hold the throne. On a remote coastal estate, a scholar finds a child washed up on the shore. Anne. Henry. A Christian princess of the royal blood. A pagan bastard, groomed all his hidden, lonely life to make a grab for the crown. Since the ninth century, when the deepsmen invaded Venice, an uneasy alliance has held between the people of the land and the sea. That alliance was brokered by the warrior queen, Angelica, half landsman, half deepsman, the mother of the royal houses of Europe. Now, centuries later, no navy can cross the seas without allies in the ocean – and without deepsmen guarding its shores, no nation can withstand invasion. The hybrid kings keep the treaty between both sides, protecting their people from the threat of war. The royal blood is the key to peace, and ferociously protected. The penalties for any landsman who tries to breed with a deepsman are severe; the fate of any ‘bastard’ child, born of such an illegitimate union, is terrible. But the royal house of England is staggering, collapsing under the weight of centuries of inbreeding. Anne prays for guidance, a way into the future without hatred or bloodshed. Henry holds with fierce certainty that only the strong survive. But if either of them is to outlive the coming conflict, they may need more than faith alone.

Trisha Telep (ed.)
The Mammoth Book of Paranormal Romance (Anthology)
Running Press (US: 8th March 2009) – paperback
Buy (US) Buy (UK) Buy (CA)

If love transcends all boundaries then paranormal romance is its logical conclusion. From the biggest names around, here are 24 tales to take you to another time and place. Let Alyssa Day, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Cheyenne McCray, Jeaniene Frost, Ilona Andrews, Kelley Armstrong, Maria V. Snyder, Carrie Vaughn, Allyson James Marland and others show you powers beyond your wildest imaginings. Within these pages mythical beasts, magical creatures of all shapes and sizes, heart-stoppingly handsome ghosts, angels, and mortals with extra-sensitive sensory perception play out the themes of extraordinary desires.

Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Fate (Bailey Morgan, Book 2)
Random House Delacorte (US & CA: 10th March 2009) – trade paperback
Buy (US) Buy (UK) Buy (CA)

For the past two years, Bailey Morgan has lived a double life: high school student by day, ancient mystical being by night. As the third Fate, Bailey literally controls the fate of the world, but as Plain Old Bailey, her life is falling apart. She’s got a tattoo that was supposed to be temporary (but isn’t), friendships that were supposed to last forever (but might not), and no idea what her future holds after high school graduation. Then Bailey meets the rest of the Sidhe, an ancient race defined by their power, beauty, and a sinister habit of getting what they want at any cost. Before Bailey knows it, she’s being drawn into an otherworldly web more complicated than anything she weaves as a mortal Fate.

Carrie Ryan
The Forest of Hands and Teeth
Random House Delacorte (US & CA: 10th March 2009) – hardcover
Buy (US) Buy (UK) Buy (CA)

In Mary’s world there are simple truths. The Sisterhood always knows best. The Guardians will protect and serve. The Unconsecrated will never relent. And you must always mind the fence that surrounds the village; the fence that protects the village from the Forest of Hands and Teeth. But, slowly, Mary’s truths are failing her. She’s learning things she never wanted to know about the Sisterhood and its secrets, and the Guardians and their power, and about the Unconsecrated and their relentlessness. When the fence is breached and her world is thrown into chaos, she must choose between her village and her future – between the one she loves and the one who loves her. And she must face the truth about the Forest of Hands and Teeth. Could there be life outside a world surrounded in so much death?

Eric Garcia
The Repossession Mambo
Harper (CA: 11th March 2009; US: 31st March 2009) – mass market paperback
Buy (US) Buy (UK) Buy (CA)

Twenty years in the future in Toronto, two disturbed veterans who have returned from war in Africa take up lives as repossession agents for a union company who makes artificial organs, pursuing customers who are unable to make payments for the implanted organs.

Keri Arthur
Deadly Desire (Riley Jenson, Book 7)
Random House Bantam (US & CA: 24th March 2009) – paperback; Hachette Piatkus (UK: Date; AU: Date) – mass market paperback
Buy (US) Buy (CA)

Guardian Riley Jenson always seems to face the worst villains. And this time’s no different. For it’s no ordinary sorceress who can raise the dead to do her killing. But that’s exactly what Riley expects to find at the end of a trail of female corpses used – and discarded – in a bizarre ritual of evil. With pressure mounting to catch one fiend, another series of brutal slayings shocks the vampire world of her lover, Quinn. So the last thing Riley needs is the heat of the upcoming full moon bringing her werewolf hormones to a boil – or the reappearance of a sexy bounty hunter, the rogue wolf Kye Murphy. Riley has threatened Murphy with arrest if he doesn’t back off the investigation, but it’s Riley who feels handcuffed by Kye’s lupine charm. Torn between her vamp and wolf natures, between her love for Quinn and her hots for Kye, Riley knows she’s courting danger and indulging the deadliest desires. For her hunt through the supernatural underworld will bring her face-to-face with what lurks in a darkness where even monsters fear to tread.

Cassandra Clare
City of Glass (The Mortal Instruments, Book 3)
Simon & Schuster Margaret K. McElderry (US & CA: 24th March 2009) – hardcover; Walker (AU: 24th March 2009) – paperback
Buy (US) Buy (UK) Buy (CA)

To save her mother’s life, Clary must travel to the City of Glass, the ancestral home of the Shadowhunters – never mind that entering the city without permission is against the Law, and breaking the Law could mean death. To make things worse, she learns that Jace does not want her there, and Simon has been thrown in prison by the Shadowhunters, who are deeply suspicious of a vampire who can withstand sunlight. As Clary uncovers more about her family’s past, she finds an ally in mysterious Shadowhunter Sebastian. With Valentine mustering the full force of his power to destroy all Shadowhunters forever, their only chance to defeat him is to fight alongside their eternal enemies. But can Downworlders and Shadowhunters put aside their hatred to work together? While Jace realizes exactly how much he’s willing to risk for Clary, can she harness her newfound powers to help save the Glass City – whatever the cost? Love is a mortal sin and the secrets of the past prove deadly as Clary and Jace face down Valentine.

Richelle Mead
Frostbite (Vampire Academy, Book 2)
Penguin (UK: 30th March 2009) – paperback
Buy (US) Buy (UK) Buy (CA)

Rose loves Dimitri, Dimitri might love Tasha, and Mason would die to be with Rose…It’s winter break at St Vladimir’s, but Rose is feeling anything but festive. A massive Strigoi attack has put the school on high alert, and now the Academy’s crawling with Guardians – including Rose’s hard-hitting mother, Janine Hathaway. And if hand-to-hand combat with her mom wasn’t bad enough, Rose’s tutor Dimitri has his eye on someone else, her friend Mason’s got a huge crush on her, and Rose keeps getting stuck in Lissa’s head while she’s making out with her boyfriend, Christian! The Strigoi are closing in, and the Academy’s not taking any risks…This year, St Vlad’s annual holiday ski trip is mandatory. But the glittering winter landscape and the posh Idaho resort only create the illusion of safety. When three friends run away in an offensive move against the deadly Strigoi, Rose must join forces with Christian to rescue them. But heroism rarely comes without a price…

Yanni Kuznia (ed.)
A Fantasy Medley (Anthology)
Subterranean (US: March 2009) – hardcover
Buy (US) Buy (CA)

In “Zen and the Art of Vampirism,” Zoe Takano, the only vampire in Toronto, a city filled with supernatural creatures of Kelley Armstrong’s Otherworld, finds her place in the hierarchy threatened by two interlopers. “Riding the Shore of the River of Death” returns us to the world of Kate Elliott’s Crown of Stars. Kareka, daughter of the begh of the Kirshat, hunts to take a man’s head. It is her last opportunity to prove herself as a man or else she will find herself restricted to the role of woman and wife in the clan forever. Robin Hobb revisits her Farseer world in “Words Like Coins.” Mirrifen, a failed hedge-witch’s apprentice who has married to find security finds that threatened by a severe drought and the appearance of a pregnant female pecksie. C. E. Murphy takes us to frozen Moscow in “From Russia, with Love.” Baba Yaga’s daughter is a barmaid at a dive when Janx and Eliseo Daisani walk in. They discover, as they compete for the girl’s affections, that Baba Yaga has plans for Janx and that her beautiful daughter had merely been the bait.

September 2008 Releases

Have you already bought or pre-ordered August 2008 Releases? Onto September then…

Kim Harrison
Every Which Way But Dead (The Hollows, Book 3)
HarperCollins Eos (US: 2nd September 2008)
Pre-order

There’s no witch in Cincinnati tougher, sexier, or more screwed up than bounty hunter Rachel Morgan, who’s already put her love life and soul in dire jeopardy through her determined efforts to bring criminal night creatures to justice. Between “runs”, she has her hands full fending off the attentions of her blood-drinking partner, keeping a deadly secret from her backup, and resisting a hot new vamp suitor. Rachel must also take a stand in the war that’s raging in the city’s underworld, since she helped put away its former vampire kingpin – and made a deal with a powerful demon to do so that could cost her an eternity of pain, torment, and degradation. And now her dark “master” is coming to collect his due.

Jackie Kessler
Hell’s Belles (Hell on Earth, Book 1)
Kensington Zebra (2nd September 2008)
Pre-order

Once upon a time, Jezebel was a powerful succubus, capable of seducing men and sucking out their souls. But that was before Hell put a bounty on her head. Now her only chance to escape a fate far worse than death is to live as a mortal, losing herself in a sea of unfamiliar humanity, in a place where sinners walk hand-in-hand with saints – a place like New York City. Working as an exotic dancer is a piece of cake for a former demon who once specialized in sex. But she hadn’t counted on meeting sexy Paul Hamilton, a man haunted by his past. Good-bye, succubus; hello, lovestruck. But Hell hasn’t stopped looking for her. The secrets Jezebel holds are the most dangerous of all, the kind every demon in the Underworld would do their worst to protect. Demons are closing in, which is enough to make Jezebel shiver in her G-string. But it’s her love for Paul that’s going to have deadly consequences…

John Ajvide Lindqvist
Handling the Undead
Quercus (UK: 4th September 2008)
Something very peculiar is happening in Stockholm. There’s a heatwave on and people cannot turn their lights out or switch their appliances off. Then the terrible news breaks. In the city morgue, the dead are waking up…What do they want? What everybody wants: to come home.

Suzanne McLeod
The Sweet Scent of Blood (Spellcrackers.com)
Hachette Gollancz (UK: 4th September 2008)
Pre-order

When Mr October, a sexy calendar pin-up vamp, is accused of murdering his girlfriend, an old debt is called in and Genny is forced to help prove his innocence, risking her job and the protection it offers – and threatening to expose her own dark secrets. Searching for the killer plunges Genny deep into the hidden heart of vampire society. It’s not long before she realises that she and Mr October are both unwitting pawns in a centuries-old power struggle between London’s non-human communities…and it’s not just her own neck that’s at stake, but the lives of all London’s supernaturals.

Lilith Saintcrow
Hunter’s Prayer (Jill Kismet, Book 2)
Hachette Orbit (UK: 4th September 2008)
Pre-order

Jill Kismet, Dealer in Dark Things. Spiritual Exterminator. Demon Slayer – it’s not the type of work you can put on a business card. But every city has people like me. Usually the police have us on payroll as consultants, because what ordinary cop can face down a Were or an ordinary shapechanger, or an Assyrian demon? Not to mention the silvers or the Black Mist, the adepts of Sorrow House or of the Middle Way? What ordinary cop stands a chance against a Trader, even? People disappear all the time, it’s an epidemic; some of the disappearances are murder, some are fugitives, some are kidnapped by other human beings. Some of them are even found again. But a good proportion of them are taken by the things that go bump in the night. And then it becomes a hunter’s job to bump back. Hard.

Rachel Caine
Midnight Alley (Morganville Vampires, Book 3)
Allison & Busby (UK: 5th September 2008)
Pre-order

Claire Danvers’s college town may be run by vampires but a truce between the living and the dead made things relatively safe. For a while. Now people are turning up dead, a psycho is stalking her, and an ancient bloodsucker has proposed private mentoring. To what end, Claire will find out. And it’s giving night school a whole new meaning…

Marta Acosta
The Bride of Casa Dracula (Casa Dracula, Book 3)
Simon & Schuster Pocket (US: 16th September 2008)
Pre-order

Milagro De Los Santos is having serious problems planning her wedding to fabulous Oswald Grant, M.D. Her future in-laws loathe her, her dog just died, and Oswald’s family has a genetic anomaly that makes them crave blood. Then her extravagant best friend hijacks the role of wedding coordinator, and the secretive Vampire Council assigns conniving Cornelia Ducharme to guide the couple through the ancient vampire marriage rituals. To top it all off, Milagro’s career is on the skids. She’s reduced to ghost-writing the memoirs of a loony little man who claims to be a shapeshifter. And why does Cornelia’s decadent, way too attractive brother, Ian, always show up whenever Milagro is away from Oswald? When a series of accidents interferes with wedding plans, Oswald worries that Milagro is cracking under the pressure. Is she just paranoid, or is a hidden enemy trying to make sure Milagro doesn’t wed the undead?

Liz Maverick
Irreversible
Dorchester SHOMI (US: 30th September 2008)
Pre-order

Katherine Gibbs is engaged. Engaged, popular, gorgeous, and living a life of sheer perfection. This is her best week ever. The trouble is, it’s manufactured. She’s lived this week over and over and doesn’t know it. L. Roxanne Zaborovsky, Katherine’s best friend, is outside looking in. Once again, Kitty’s life is being stolen away by a man as twisted as he is brilliant. This time, there’s something Roxy can do. The barriers of time are like the walls of an apartment – or the bars of a prison – and they can be demolished. She just has to start the jailbreak. Walter “Q” Sheffield is hot, smart, and just the man to free Kitty. A time-anomaly specialist, he can split seconds, erase hours and make the most of a minute. The one thing he can’t do? Relationships. But hate and revenge have Kitty trapped in the vagaries of time, and only love will get her out. And that love must be…IRREVERSIBLE.

Richelle Mead
Succubus Dreams (Georgina Kincaid, Book 3)
Kensington (US: 30th September 2008)
Pre-order

Some days, a girl just can’t catch a break…especially when the girl in question is Georgina Kincaid, a shape-shifting succubus who gets her energy from seducing men. First there’s her relationship with gorgeous bestselling writer Seth Mortensen, which is unsatisfying on a number of levels. It’s not just that they can’t have sex in case Georgina inadvertently kills him (generally a turn-off for most guys). Lately, even spending time together is a challenge. Seth’s obsessed with finishing his latest novel, and Georgina’s under demonic orders to mentor the new (and surprisingly inept) succubus on the block. Then there are the dreams. Someone, or something, is preying on Georgina at night, draining her energy, and supplying eerie visions of her future. Georgina seeks answers from Dante, a dream interpreter with ties to the underworld, but his flirtatious charm only leaves her more confused – especially as the situation with Seth reaches crisis point. Now Georgina faces a double challenge – rein in her out-of-control love life, and go toe-to-toe with an enemy capable of wreaking serious havoc among mankind. Otherwise, Georgina, and the entire mortal world, may never sleep easy again…

Cover Art for Kelley Armstrong & John Ajvide Lindqvist

Left to right: Kelley Armstrong’s The Summoning (UK) and John Ajvide Lindqvist’s Handling the Undead. That last one is a zombie novel, so that should fill the zombie void in your reading schedule.

My Reading Wishlist has been updated with some new titles, and new release dates, thanks to this afternoon’s investigation.

Return of Fangirly Squeeing

This photo was taken earlier this year. To the left is dopey-looking me. I don’t usually seem that short, but…Beside me is a tall, thin, blond Swede by the name of John Ajvide Lindqvist. You may remember me raving about his first novel, Let the Right One In (published in the US as Let Me In; published in his native Swedish as Låt den rätte komma in). You can read my review at Amazon UK.

Good news, everyone! His second novel, Handling the Dead (published in Swedish as Hanteringen av odöda) has a release date. Well, for the UK, anyway. 8th May, 2008. Mark it on your calendars, folks – according to Wikipedia, it has zombies, which means that hopefully at least Mark Henry and Carrie Ryan should be interested.

JAL’s short fiction collection, Pappersväggar, hasn’t been translated (or published) into English yet. But I’ll be patient.

And now for the fangirly squeeing. I read a lot of urban fantasy, written originally in English. Let the Right One In stood out in more ways than one.

*It’s set in the 1980s
*The setting is Blackeberg, a suburb of Stockholm (in Sweden, of course)
*The narrator, Oskar, is a kid
*Håkan is one of the most intriguing and disturbing characters I’ve ever read

And here’s the big clincher:

*Vampirism isn’t glamorous

In English-as-a-first-language urban fantasy, vampires are pretty much desirable (by the love interest, anyway). They’re good to look at, they’re seductive, and you’d pretty much let them bleed you dry.

JAL’s vampires are a lot more believable – they smell. After all, these are dead people we’re talking about. Undead is still somewhat dead, let us not forget.

I loved the book. That’s not to say I don’t like other vampire fiction – Jennifer Armintrout‘s “Blood Ties” series immediately springs to mind as a favourite. But I seriously do recommend Let the Right One In to anyone and everyone who’s looking for something truly different and extraordinary.

And now in other news
*I think I’m getting seriously crackers, have no idea what I’m on about most of the time. Don’t know what’s happened to my humour. It’s either subtle to the point that it’s hard to tell if it’s even there, or I’m just plain crackers.

*Have figured out how to pay for things online with my debit card – and used it to buy Vicki Pettersson‘s (and others’) Holidays Are Hell 🙂

*I’m revising my Reading Wishlist with new titles and release dates – this could take some time.

*The single version of Gwen Stefani’s “Early Winter” is missing bits that were in the album version. This is annoying. Nevertheless, you can check out the filmclip here.