November ‘Hopeless’ reviews#1

 

New England Gothic By Nimue Brown , illustrated by Tom Brown

I am, as some readers may be aware, an unapologetic a fan boy when it comes to Tom Browns art, Nimue Browns writing and the world of Hopeless Maine they have created. The graphic novels are works of great beauty, if slightly tentacle infested, marsh light, grim, dreadful, tragic beauty… both in terms of the art work and the writing. Perhaps my love of these books stems from my innate passion for the Gothic, the Lovecraftian and the darker sides of human nature in fiction. The overwhelming feeling I had when I first read ‘the gathering’ the first of these novels, was the desire to read more, an learn more of this strange isolated lost world of spoon-walkers, fog monsters and grim folk just trying to survive in the face of it all.

That was a feeling that has stayed with me through out the later graphic novels, indeed, if anything the desire to know more has only grown stronger with each glimpse into the strangeness of the island and its inhabitants.

This was why I wasted no time in signing up for the Kickstarter the Browns and Kieth Errington ran a couple of months ago, for the creation of two illustrated prose books set in and around the Hopeless mythos. These books ‘The Oddatsea’ and ‘New England Gothic’ the latter of which was written by Nimue, the former by Kieth, and both with art by Tom, arrived a couple of weeks ago in the post, along with several stretch goal treasures which were utterly delightful.

A few days after the kick-starter was announced Nimue was kind enough to send me a manuscript copy of New England Gothic. Something I was both delighted and surprised to receive. It may surprise you to learn I did not read it all. What I did do was read enough to know I loved it. I stopped reading it at the time for two reasons.

The first being that reading a novel in a word document is for me far from the best way for anyone to read a novel. All the more so when like me, you are a writer yourself. The second been that i did not want to spoilt the story ahead of getting my hands on the printed book. Which is not to say I was ungrateful to receive an advance copy of the book in manuscript form, as I said I was utterly delighted by this. But having read the first third of the book I knew that this was a book that deserves to be read while laying on the sofa, music playing in the back ground, in a room lit only by a reading lamp, with a cat nestling on your legs, and a cup of tea going cold on the coffee table at your side… So I forced myself to stop reading it on my laptop screen and set about watching for the post man for the next couple of months…

hopless 1

New England Gothic tells the story of Annmarie Nightshade, who is not quite an orphan, but is raised, with a degree of resentment, by the church orphanage and when we first meet her she is standing at a hiring fair in the hopes of been hired by, well, anyone. Regardless of whom may offer her a job she is determined to leave and make her life beyond the hated orphanage. A place she leaves with but one regret, the friend she is leaving behind.

Annmarie is one of several fan favourite characters from the early graphic novels, while not a central character as such, it is she how sets events in motion when she rescues the young Salamadar from her family… The events in this novel take place several years before, and follow the young Annmarie as she becomes the character we know and weep for in the graphic novels… It also offers an insight or three into just why she might go looking for Sal in the first place… Indeed that is just one of several mysteries from the graphic novels upon which light is shed in this tale, but for every veil parted, new mysteries are forged. There is depth to this tale, like all the Hopeless tales. And as you find yourself peering into the dark ink depths, something in those dark depths may just invite you down for a drink. If your lucky that is an offer of a cuppa, or else that something means to drink your soul. This is Hopeless after all…

What really makes the novel, beyond the beautifully realised setting of the island of Hopeless, and Nimue’s ever exceptional writing, are the shades of grey in Miss Nightshade’s character. She is far from a two dimensional ‘gifted’ good girl fighting against ‘the darkness’. Annemarie walks a somewhat ambiguous moral grey line which is at times more than a little dark. A line that gets darker as the novel moves towards it climax. There is real depth and feeling here. She’s not always doing good things for good reasons, but she is usually doing what she thinks is probably for the best for her own reasons, which are not always reasons of the bright and shiny kind, sometimes they are just reasons… In other words Annmarie is very human, and it is her humanity that makes the whole novel draw you in further. Her humanity and the desire to know more, and turn the next page…

As its traditional for me to give out tentacles for book reviews…

6out 6

If you have read the Hopeless Maine before then this is definitely a book for you, and if you haven’t, well why the hell not? Honestly you don’t know what your missing, go read them, and this now… Your soul will be better for it.

Or else it will be eaten by the thing in the fog…

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You can get all the hopeless books including this one by clicking on the link below…

THE LINK BELOW

 

A review of The ODDATSEA , the second of these books will follow once I have a moment or three… *spoiler buy that too 🙂

 

This entry was posted in amreading, book reviews, books, Canadian steampunk, cthulhu, dreamlands, fantasy, fiction, goodreads, Goth, grathic novels, horror, indie, indie novels, indie writers, IndieApril, indieoctober, indiewriter, Lovecraft, steampunk and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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