Monday, October 10, 2016

The Familiar Volume Three Book Review

by The Wanderer

Author: Mark Z. Danielewski
Publisher: Pantheon
Genre: Science Fiction
Series: Familiar Volume Three: Honeysuckle and Pain
Pages: 880

Buy on Amazon!

(Spoilers for The Familiar Volumes 1 - 2).

It just keeps getting better. Slowly ... but surely ... but strangely. Here is what the characters from The Familiar are currently up to ...

  1.  Xanther - continues to remain attached to her cat, but is now suffering from lapses of deteriorating mental health. Close relationships with her mother and especially her twin step siblings are becoming troubled.
  2. Astair - is obsessed with writing her thesis, while hoping to figure out why Xanther's cat is more that it seems.
  3. Anwar - continues to worry about the family's finances, while continuing to work on a coding project from a suspicious employer.
  4. Jingjing - is preparing to head to Los Angeles to find his aunt's cat.
  5. Isandorno - is dealing with internal issues within the Mayor's organization.
  6. Shnorhk - continues to drive his cab, until a strange occurrence makes it's way into his life, too.
  7. Ozgur - obsesses about Elaine and past relationships, while investigating a new grisly death.
  8. Cas - now with Mephisto continues her run across the country.
  9. Luther - is living an extravagant and dangerous lifestyle now that he's more closely associated with Teyo.
 A full length novel is probably one of the most difficult art-forms to generate any kind fear or "scariness" from. I've read creepy short stories and novellas, but a full length novel is whole other order. House of Leaves remains the only book that's ever really scared, me or at least messed with my head to the point where it started to affect the way I acted around my house. Honeysuckle and Pain really seems to step up the fear element. It doesn't surpass House of Leaves, but it's sowing some seeds that certainly have me believing that some where in the next twenty-four volumes that it could. 

Xanther is still the star, and a lot of the "strangeness" that's happening around her falls somewhere between fascinating and terrifying. As a character, Danielewski makes her so easy to empathize with. One of her standout scenes is a flashback sequence where she remembers spending her birthday with her biological father at a waste treatment facility.

Cas, Luther, Isandorno, and Jingjing's plots move forward in small increments. Isandorno's witnessing of the Mayor's brutality in Into the Forest establishes him as an absolutely psychopathic villain. Teyo also enters the story as a link that could potentially bring together Luther, Isandorno, or Ozgur in the future. The Mephisto reveal at the end of Into the Forest was a great way to end the story, and tie Anwar into whatever Cas's mixed into.

Some new mysteries make there way into the plot, too via Shnorhk and Ozgur. While Ozgur's is another murder, the gruesome details of the murder are unnatural. How that's going to play into the other eight narratives, is only anyone's guess, but one can't help and think of Xanther's cat. I guess you could say not a whole lot happens to Shnorhk. He has an awesome set of rules that he explains in detail about making left turns at lights, which just about any sane driver can relate to.  But in terms of the mysterious, his story makes a callback to Xanther's in One Rainy Day in May.

I'm loving The Familiar. Points for character intersections are now set up for almost everyone, and as the story slowly starts merging different plots, the pacing and action and especially tension makes 800 plus pages go by in a hurry. 

Score: 9.1

No comments:

Post a Comment