Monday, January 31, 2011

Review: A Festival of Skeletons - Oh My!

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A Festival of Skeletons

By RJ Astruc

OMG, what had I gotten myself into? Yes, I had accepted to read and review a new "Dark Comedic Fantasy." My first. Actually, I didn't know the specific genre since it came to be as scifi/fantasy, so I decided, what the heck... It's not that I don't enjoy laughing, but I have found that what other people find very humorous is oftentimes just not funny to me. So, as a professional reviewer, I decided to review the storyline and not worry about whether I thought it was funny--and do the best I could...

RJ Astruc is an excellent writer and I would love to see her work when she's not on a bender. What? She says that in her bio. (Check out her web site by clicking the title of this article.) So as I started to read, it was easy to become interested in the basic storyline, even if I was not even smiling at her dark comedy...but of course, as her bio claims, her husband has six nipples, so she can't have everything, right?

A Festival of SkeletonsFirst of all, most of her characters are found on the front cover of her book. I found as I got further and further into the story, I would go back to check out the character and study the individual one I was reading about--she's done an excellent job of describing them in word, but her artist, Jonatan Iversen-Ejve has also done a great job of portraying them! Ok, I admit it, the characters soon grew on me, even the "merkind."

So I found myself in Kamphor. I should let you know that there is magic there and some individuals and/or merkinds have the capability to use it. Like Mr. Sink, the one on the cover in the middle holding a skull. You may immediately think he is a cross-dresser; and he has gotten to like it now, but originally, he was advised to dress lighter to deal with his issue--being able to know when somebody was going to die. Fortunately, Mr. Sink is a mortician (or did he become one because of his ability, I'm not sure)

Mr. Sink was the only one who would give employment to his two assistants. Joshua is the hunk on the left of the cover (with the "shiny" ax). Vona Urgarth is the Merkind and is very grateful for her job, given that she eats both her own kind and...whatever... One other character I'll highlight is Percy (next to Mr. Sink on the right); he's nothing special--except that he's only 17 and he can get (and does) any woman he wants. Not very long after he had met Vona, however, Percy finds he is in love, the enduring kind...

The underlying story is a whodunit! Young women are being killed and mutilated. Most have been prostitutes; however, one of Percy's lady friends is also an actress and when she had to try out for a part, she had dressed for it and mistakenly was also killed. Although his affection was now with Vona, Percy felt he had to help find her killer.

The police, specifically, Mr. Sink's neighbor Arifia Fawles (yes, she's on the cover) believes Mr. Sink and or somebody from his household, is guilty. Actually, she's way off base because Mr. Sink is trying to solve the crimes as well! There is one man who hates Mr. Sink, but who was once his assistant. He is the brother of a woman with whom Mr. Sink was in love. In fact, she had asked him to marry her, but when she kissed him, he drew back suddenly. She was so shocked that she ran from him, out the door, and was hit in an accident. Her brother, Mr. Torvault hating Mr. Sink became a mortician and opened a competitive business on the other side of town.

Now, I'm not even going to mention The Knife, who used to kill like the present deaths were being done and who had never been caught. Nor am I going to mention The Fifteen Step Program that was started by Mr. Sink's lover and now headed by Joshua--you'll see a step beginning every chapter--like, Step Fourteen: Don't turn on those who try to help you.

I'm also not going to mention the Necromancers, the box full of skeletons, The Sentinel. I'm especially not going to go into the relationship between Vona and Percy, nor that when Mr. Sink is arrested, the members of the Step Program are brought into help...

Really, I'm not going to tell you any more. You have got to read this book to believe it. So what if I didn't laugh, it was gruesome enough and unbelievably sarcastic in other spots. Anything and everything you can think of just might be in this book...
Ok, I didn't love it but I couldn't put it down--hmmm, strange...maybe the magic... 
For the genre, it is an excellent addition. If you are already a fan, then ENJOY!


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