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Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Review of Strike, by Gemma Rice.


If ever a book was written for a specific gender, this is it. So, what the devil is a man doing reading fiction that was so obviously written by a woman, for women? I can only respond that the nature of the writing was such that I was instantly engaged. The ability of this writer to sustain her sensual and sensuous narrative at such length without becoming either boring or repetitive was extraordinary. As a man, I began to see through female eyes into the world of sensation and emotion in a way I haven't previously experienced in writing.
A further barrier to my reading this book should have been that it's in the 'Vampire (or Vampyre)' genre, which isn't a subject I'm really interested in. That the tale kept me reading until the end says a great deal for the quality of the writing and story-telling.
I won't discuss or explain the plot, which I suspect contains elements common to the genre, as well as unique elements of its own.
Characters are what most compel me when reading and the people (and 'demons and monsters') inhabiting this novel are wonderfully drawn. They are vibrant, credible and rounded beings.
I could have done without the biblical references and asides, but I imagine these are all part of the expectations of those for whom this genre is familiar. Some of the 'science' lacked the rigour that would make it credible but this didn't really detract from my enjoyment of the book.
That the erotic element was aimed at women was clear from the start and, whilst it did nothing for me in terms of arousal, it did educate me in the ways in which some women respond to certain stimuli. Gemma Rice uses her skills subtly as she weaves the various threads of the story and leads the reader to believe one thing whilst something else entirely turns out to be true. As a reader, I found I was empathising with the point of view character, as she made discoveries about the strange beings she encountered, and about the unsettling world she was drawn into, but mostly about herself.
I would have rejected this book out of hand, had I known its subject matter and intended readership at the start. I'm glad I was drawn in to the story at once and compelled to read it through. It was a book I enjoyed for many reasons.

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