Monday, May 7, 2012

Lady Languish by SCD Goff

Title: Lady Languish
Series: Lady Languish
Author: SCD Goff
Rating: 2 stars

The Plot
Eve Languish doesn’t understand why her parents have sent her off to St. Rita’s School for Young Ladies, especially since she has never even left her family’s estate Ballymore. It is not until her parents’ tragic death at the end of term that she learns the truth: Her father is a vampire, and as his daughter, she is a rare half-vampire creature called a dhampyr. Not only that, but her father’s brother Malachy, also a vampire, has determined that he must kill her. Now Eve must gather together what allies she has left in the world to save herself from an untimely death.

The Good

What I liked best about Lady Languish was the tone. The story takes place in modern Ireland, but many of the elements – the elite boarding school, Eve’s ancestral home, the lifestyles of the vampires – evoke a kind of Victorian Gothic feel. The sense of being in both the past and present reflected Eve’s lack of familiarity with the outside world, as well as the longevity of the vampire characters.

I think there is also a potential for some interesting vampire mythology in the story. Vampires seem to form societies that follow ever-changing trends. Right now the vampires in mode are the violent vampire-supremacist kind, but the reader gets the impression that it has not always been this way, and may be different now in other regions.

The Bad

I spent a good deal of Lady Languish thinking that it was a much better book than it actually was. I get this feeling sometimes with books, that I have some amount of certainty going into them that I am in for a decent read, and I am willing to forgive some strangeness of the plot. (I actually have a theory that many people make this assumption going into all books and are reluctant to let it go, which is how they end up praising books that I find completely unreadable. Alternately, I’m just picky.) I think it was a combination of the tone of the book, the antiqued-looking cover art, and the self-deprecating review request that made me expect great things from the book.

Whatever was putting a halo around the book started to fall apart about a quarter of the way through the book when Eve goes home from boarding school. That is the point I realized that nothing that had happened had anything to do with the rest of the book. Yes, the fact that Eve was sent away to boarding school was relevant to the plot, but everything that happened there was totally irrelevant, except for the fact that she made friends with one girl. Which really could have been covered in a single sentence like, “BTW, I met a girl named Sive at boarding school. I’m not quite sure how to pronounce her name, but we became friends.” Actually, that explanation might have made more sense than what we actually got, which was Eve and Sive only being sort of friends and then acting like they had a much closer relationship.

I had a lot of issues with the motivation of the main villain. We get a number of scenes from Malachy’s point of view, which I think are supposed to reveal to us that he is both conflicted and a pawn in vampire politics. Really, these chapters just tell us that he has no consistency of character whatsoever. I mean, if you’re going to kill your own brother, at least have the decency not to be inexplicably wishy-washy about it.

The Romance

Eve’s love interest is a vampire named Lorcan who she finds one night in her parents’ crypt. I’m still not sure what he was doing there in the first place. I think that Malachy was trying to kill him as well, but I’m not entirely clear on why. Anyway, Eve being the nice person that she is invites him into her house and only attacks him once to check and see if he is a vampire. Despite the fact that she has no evidence of him being a good vampire – or actually any personality whatsoever, given that he rarely speaks – she decides that she is in love with him. I can only attribute this to the fact that she has been very isolated her entire life, and he’s the first boy she ever met. 

I do have to say that it was a refreshing change to see the guy being vapid and mute, as this is a trait far more common among female love interests.

Will I read more?

On top of all these problems – story and romance not making much sense, incomprehensible villain motives, large sections of irrelevant narration – the book was pretty boring. Eve spends most of the book waiting around to be killed, or else doing plot-irrelevant things like shopping or playing field hockey. Theoretically she and her allies are simultaneously thinking of ways to save themselves, but they never seem to come up with anything more inventive than “lock ourselves in our rooms and stake the vampire.” All of this combined is enough to make me say that I am extremely unlikely to pick up the next installment, whenever it should appear.

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