Okay, so it's not a classic like so many of you would think. It's one of MY classics. Way back when I was still fairly new to reading fantasy fiction - and NO! it's not Tolkien! I'm talking about the good ole TSR novels from the world of Ravenloft. This was way back when Gen Con was still held in Milwaukee, WI (at least i think it was), and I was still considered a newlywed being married to my hubby at that time for a mere 3 years.
I just finished reading Death of a Darklord by Laurell K. Hamilton. Yes, it's the same Laurell K. that created one of my favorite characters - Anita Blake. :-) :-)
This is what I like about Revenloft - it's dark and it's scary. It has monsters that are truly monsters and they act like monsters. They don't sparkle and they don't get all googly eyed in love. This book didn't have a happy ending with rainbows, puppy dogs and lolly pops. The best way I can describe it is that it reminded me of the reason so many enjoy Shakespearean tragedies - they don't have happy endings either, but the stories are good. :-)
I'm sure that there are more people that will disagree with me than there are people that would agree. I really don't care, and here is why. I think the whole paranormal genre has gone too soft. You have Louie from Interview with a Vampire whining and crying over this dead wife, then over that little girl that acted more like a vampire than he ever did. Oh yeah, and he made himself seem like such a victim to that bully Lestat. Oh shut up Louie!
I mean, you have the true classic monster, Dracula, that is so heartbroken over his dead wife that he spends centuries looking for her - which came in the form of Mina. But have you ever read the book or really watch the movie? He's still a monster and even with his broken heart, you don't get any impression that he's anything else but that monster!
Laurell K. Hamilton starts her Anita Blake series with the monsters being monsters and her hunting them down to dispose of them as needed. But her later books in this series has her falling in love and getting all magical and stuff. I'm pretty sure that it sold way more books than the original books, but come on! Anita Blake was so awesome without all of that oogly-googly-heart-in-the-eyes romance. Yes, this is my personal opinion. I can imagine what the series could have become if the general public and their $$ didn't dictate which direction these books went in. You could have had an awesome series that is more comic book worth than what there is now. I've seen a few trade paperbacks of the Anita Blake books, but those were the clean ones - the ones before the romance - where the characters were exactly what I expected them to be. Those were comic book worthy and I'll be curious to see how far they get in that comic book series before they stop having enough story to be able to keep clean. :-)
Okay, so back to Death of a Darklord...
Let's go back a bit to talk about why I like or dislike certain writers. I love seeing characters come to life and Laurell K. Hamilton definitely does that in this book. The two main characters, twins, just pop out of the book. She adds little quirky things about these kids that shows what kind of personalities they have. How they learned to knit and all of the gifts that they made their family members... it's little things like this that make me fall in love with a book. This was a whole whopping page and a half of the total book, but it stayed with me for the rest of the story. It made their banters more real - especially when Blaine was trying to describe how a young horse that didn't like Elaine was just young and full of vinegar. Elaine replied by snapping that if the horse was so full of vinegar that it should be a pickle. :-) :-) Okay, okay... maybe you just have to read the book for that to be as amusing as I think it is. :-)
No, there are no happily ever afters in this book.... and it's so refreshing!!! :-) :-) One of my friends asked me why I haven't downloaded the final book of the Fifty Shades series and I'll tell you why. Because it's going to have a happily ever after ending! That's why! Sure, our two fucked up, neurotic, emotionally unstable... oh, pick a phrase - characters will surely have an adventure on their hands with Ana's former boss trying to hunt them down, but we all know that she and her Mr. Grey are going to be all happy and perfect with ice cream, fairies and everything that is good on their side. :-) :-) Yeah, can you tell that I'm getting tired of these kind of books? :-) :-)
So, if you want to read a good story without it being too happy and cheery at the end, just choose any of the Ravenloft books. :-) They all pretty much do the same thing. Or you can try reading Edgar Allen Poe and get the same thing. :-) :-) But there is just something about sinking my teeth and enjoying a good "trashy" fantasy novel that almost makes me feel guilty - like the kind of guilt where you eat those extra three pieces of cake. :-) :-) Yes, if you can imagine what I look like, I have as close to a Cheshire cat smile on my face right now. Yum! :-) :-)