by Chris Wooding
Pub: 2001 292 pages
Thaniel, just seventeen, is a wych-hunter. Together, 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 hunts 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.
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.