Tag Archive: fantasy


“Set 10 years after spelunkers stumbled into a literal Hell and later led a supposedly successful expedition to kill Satan, this story opens on Halloween, when underground creatures abduct dozens of children and slay any adults trying to stop them. Grieving mother and widow Rebecca Coltrane, the media-anointed public face of the disaster, makes clever political use of the publicity to launch a major military expedition underneath the Earth in search of her daughter and the other missing children. As war brews underground between the explorers and the quasi-human hadals, aboveground tensions increase between China and the U.S.” –Publisher’s Weekly

This is the first review I have ever done for a book I couldn’t finish reading–not because the writing was bad or the plot unbelievable. In fact, I found the writing very good and the plot deeply intriguing.  Unfortunately, the horrors that manifested quickly became too real and hit too close to home for me to finish the book and maintain my peace of mind.

I picked up Deeper on a whim as I scanned the bargain section at Barnes & Noble. The opening lines piqued my interest, with an intriguing voice and a set of circumstances worth exploring. I started reading and was quickly sucked into interesting narrative voices and a crazy world where hell exists, and it lives several thousand feet below the earth’s surface. The book explores this world through the point of view of five different characters. Normally this bothers me, but each character–though of different gender and backgrounds–all came across as authenticate and well-developed. The author also described an unusual world–a world I came to find by accident actually has some merit in science based on a nonfiction book with a similar title to the prequel for Deeper, the Descent.

The problem started about a hundred pages in. This was the first instance of violence against children. As a mom I took this pretty hard. I put it down for a couple of days then decided to plow my way through, hoping for a silver lining. I worked my way through another hundred and fifty pages, suffering nightmares the whole way until finally the book took a turn that as a mother I just could not go. I put it down for good.

After reading some reviews and doing research on the author I discovered that the storyline dead-ends with no resolution. I found this rather unsettling and can only guess at why this is the case, but I can say that I did like the premise and the writing, and if you don’t have kids I would say it may be worth your reading, but if you are a parent do not read this book. It will only add to your pre-existing stock of parental dread and worry.

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In this installment of Villain Archetypes, we look at the classic villain boilerplate I like to call “The Runner Up.” This person always comes in second next to the hero, whether in terms of professional or romantic conquests (sometimes both). The constant thwarting fuels a deep-rooted hatred spurred by jealousy and an intense desire to be the one in the spotlight. Oftentimes, the Runner Up is always in second place because they are lacking in intelligence, creativity, strength, charisma, or some combination thereof.

Because they know they can’t best the hero on their own, the Runner Up decides to join forces with another villain. This villain tends to be less flamboyant, but also more intelligent and cunning than the foolish Runner Up funding the endeavor. Unfortunately, the Runner Up can’t control their partner, and suddenly finds themselves in an even worse situation then before (third place).

I’ll use iron Man 2 as an example since it just came out and even non-comic book geeks will be able to follow the story. Weapons manufacturer Hammer continually falls in second place to Tony Stark both professionally and personally. Frustrated, Hammer is willing to work with a convicted felon Vanko in order to best Stark on his own turf.  As predicted, Vanko is an unstable and unwieldly villain in his own way and bent on doing more than just show up Stark–he wants murder.

This theme is common in all types of superhero media, from movies and comic books to television shows and novels. Jealousy is an old motive. It’s just more fun when they have superpowers and gadgets.

As a huge comic book geek, I have been a fan of Neil Gaiman since I got my first Sandman comic. His prose does not disappoint. Neil has a classic storyteller voice, and a gift for crafting unusual worlds and plots far from the typical mainstream stories. One of his older works, Neverwhere remains one fo my all time favorites.

Neverwhere follows Richard Richard Dick Mayhew (makes sense after you read it) as he plunges deep into the subculture of London. Gaiman creates a beautiful underground society, complete with its own rules, morays, physics, and economy. He leaves no stone unturned as he paints a picture of a world full of discarded and forgotten things finding new life and purpose. Each character is vibrant, even the basic archetypes, and the villains are the kind you love to hate and hate to love and are almost sad to let go. It is also one of the few books I have ever read that had a truly satisfying ending (endings often disappoint me). To this day I cannot pass by a homeless person, tunnel, or other underground structure without thinking, what if? I give it three thumbs up–I borrowed the extra one from a friend.

I’m a big fan of creativity and passion, especially when it manifests into a well executed projected. One Tolkien fan, Kate Madison, exemplified this when she spent her own time and energy to write, direct, and raise money to create an hour-long prequel to the Lord of the Rings series. Her movie, Born of Hope, was produced on a shoestring budget less than $30,000, but the quality rivals the megamillion dollar production of the trilogy. It truly is a tribute not only to her passion and love for the story, but her dedication, artistry, and ability to produce such a thing. Watch it below: