22 April 2008

Dark Children's Story Grown Up

Today I finished Baltimore, or The Steadfast Tin Soldier and the Vampire by Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden. A wonderful, creepy horror book with dark, stylized illustrations, this novel is a great read. Told in a series of interlinked stories about Baltimore and his three acquaintances, it takes place sometime after World War 1. At the beginning we get Baltimore's story, how he had to lead a suicide mission into enemy territory and survived to discover a worse horror than war and simple, awful death. He sees vampires feasting on corpses. These aren't pretty, suave vampires but nasty, stinky shapeshifting ones. He wounds the leader, who he later calls the Red King. The Red King then targets the human race as a whole, spreading the plague of vampirism though no one else seems to call it that. We see how Baltimore's three companions met him and why they believe his strange tale.

I am not even coming close to doing this one justice. I really loved it. I've always, even as a child, found Hans Christian Andersen's children's stories a little too much for me. They are all dark and at best melancholy. I can barely think of The Little Match Girl and i start crying. Whoever decided that was a proper Christmas story was stoned. But I loved this book and i give it a 6!

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