blo Teens Read and Write: The Haunting of Alaizabel Cray

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Haunting of Alaizabel Cray

The Haunting of Alaizabel Cray
by Chris Wooding
Pub: 2001
292 pages

Thaniel, just seventeen, is a wych-hunter. To
gether, he and Cathaline--his friend and mentor--track down the fearful creatures that lurk in the Old Quarter of London.

It is on one of these hu
nts that he first encounters Alaizabel Cray. Alaizabel is half-crazed, lovely, and possessed.Whatever dreadful entity has entered her soul has turned her into a strange and unearthly magnet--attracting evil and drawing horrors from every dark corner. Cathaline and Thaniel must discover its cause--and defend humanity at all costs.

I heard about The Haunting of Alaizabel Cray from Aimee at My Fluttering Heart and I’m glad I took her advice about reading it.

Wooding does a fantastic job quickly enveloping you into an alternate dark and mysterious Gothic London. His vivid description is one of the best things about the book, drawing you in with his atmospheric writing.

- There was no fog tonight: the torrential downpour had torn it to tatters and it had retreated to the hollows, lurking in thin shreds around cold graveyards and derelict wasteground.

- His jowls were covered with a patchy map of bristly stubble, and one of his eyes was filmed with a milky cataract. He snorted as he ate, and turkey juice dripped down his chin. Alaizabel had seen people as repulsive before, but she was sure that she had never been so close to one out of choice.

-The shriek sliced through them like blades, making them cringe as it turned its one good eye on Crott. It lunged again, thrusting its claw into Crott’s chest, reaching inside and grasping his heart as if it were an apple in a basket.

Sometimes the description slowed the pace, but I appreciated the writing so much that I kept with it. Along with all the suspense, tension and just plain creepy, Wooding throws in a bit of humor here and there to help lighten things up.

Many of the monsters are those of lore and myth but they are written with fresh and creative strokes. The characterization is excellent. Wooding manages to give depth to people that are only alive for a few paragraphs, and the main characters have many layers.

At one point you are even rooting for the serial killer (not the main bad guy). He’s kind of a Hannibal Lecter character that you know is really bad but he does some good things too.

Alaizabel goes through significant changes from a scared young girl to a confident and courageous young woman. Thaniel is charming mixture – young and innocent in many ways but mature, confident and effective as a wych hunter.

The growing affection between Thaniel and Alaizabel is believable and sweet, rather than the wham bam love at first sight kind of stuff. The story is really more adventure than romance, and has a dose of philosophy thrown in just for fun.

Subplots are cleverly woven into the tale, and like tributaries to the larger river, they all end up leading smoothly into the main storyline. The final battle is very exciting. Thaniel and Cathaline pull off a brilliant move in one of the last skirmishes, and while I thought the final explanation of certain events fell a bit flat, it didn’t take away from this being an excellent read.

I got this from the library but I’m going to buy it because I want to go through and take my time appreciating the effective writing since I skimmed at times to get to the action.

THE COVER: Lame. Boring. Can’t find anything good about it at all. Well, I suppose I like the font but that's about it. So sad because the content is worthy of an awesome cover.

FIRST LINE: The airship lumbered low overhead, its long, lined belly a dull smear of silvery light in the fog as it reflected the gas lamps of the city beneath.

Ugh. Too dull of a start for me. And it goes slow like this for several pages before we get some action.

The Haunting of Alaizabel Cray can lumber along at times, but pick this one up and stick with it. You’ll see excellent writing, meet some fabulous characters and have some fun.


Blodeuedd said...

It does sounds great, good of you to take up on that advice.
But yes I am with you on that cover, so very boring

Terra said...

I have been looking forward to your review of this ever since I saw your teaser. I am glad to hear that you enjoyed it! I'll have to read it myself sometime.

Thanks for the review!

IceJewel said...

I agree, the cover is too boring! It has nothing that will give any kind of creepy look.
Hmmmm, If you would actually buy this book after reading it, then, I guess, I should hunt this book down in my local library !!

Tales of Whimsy said...

Fab review!

mariska said...

Agree with you for the cover ! What is it actually ?

Great review Alyssa. I should look this book on Book store :)

April (BooksandWine) said...

I've heard really great things about The Haunting of Alaziabel Cray (probs spelled that wrong...)

Excellent review, hope you get the chance to fully appreciate the book soon, sometimes that can be hard with a towering TBR :-)

Melissa (i swim for oceans) said...

I agree that the first line isn't much of a hook for me...great review! :)

Sandy said...

Hmmm... will keep my eye out for this one then. ;) although I have to agree, the cover does not reel me in :/

Natalie said...

I've had this one on my TBR list for awhile, but I haven't gotten a chance to read it yet. I usually enjoy description, so this one might be right up my aisle. I'm glad you enjoyed it :)

Carrie at In the Hammock Blog said...

This sounds really interesting!!

in which a girl reads said...

I LOVELOVELOVELOVE this book. I'm so glad you liked it too :)

YA Book Queen said...

I'm not feeling the cover either, but I'm LOVING your review! I just requested it from my library online!

Eleni said...

Nice review, I never heard of this book, sounds good though!

Ladytink_534 said...

This sounds really neat! Fantastic Fiction has a different cover for it and it looks really neat. I'll have to see if my library has a copy!

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