Standalone Sunday is a feature created by Megan@bookslayereads where each Sunday a standalone book (not part of a series) that I loved or would recommend will be featured!
I love that meme as it takes little time to do (I’m always running like the real busy bee I am) AND I get to promote a book I really loved. This is the perfect idea for me!
If you want to play, feel free but don’t forget to tag Megan’s blog.
This week I’m choosing a book you’ll either love of hate. It’s horrific and beautiful at the same time. I’ll let you make your own mind maybe based on my review here below. I nominate The Land Of the Beautiful Dead by R. Lee Smith for this Standalone Sunday.
Happy reading! 😀
It’s the first time in a very long time I’m nearly speechless…
It’s a book you’ll really, really hate and could also utterly love. I don’t know how many time I thought stopping my read.. just to go back again as I was fascinated by this horrific world.
I was rebuked by this apocalyptic universe where women trade sex to survive, just to eat, to have clothes to wear. The Earth is poisoned, the Eaters are roaming and attacking living humans. They are not alive any more but moving anyway. The sex trade was so “matter of fact”, so common it repulsed me even more. It went against my every belief. Only the God or angel (we don’t know what he is exactly) Azrael and his court of beautiful undead people enjoy luxury and safety. Azrael can’t be killed, ever and it’s not for lack of trying.
Azrael, is ugly by our standards (open wounds, a ghost of a nose, bones nearly sticking in places, etc.) and he came first as a vengeful God, cruel for creating the Eaters and destroying mankind slowly. The first time Lan saw him, he was remote, impassive, seated above everyone, hidden behind one of his masks, presiding his court of undead people.
His Children were cruel as well, mad somehow but the more my reading progressed, the more I understood their endless sufferings. They were trapped in a simulacrum of “life” they did not choose, dying of boredom, resentful and lashing their despair at others in cruel torture. They played awful games with Lan and relished in hurting Azrael. And this made me hurt for him.
Yes, you’ve read correctly. I was hurting for Azrael, the monster. And that’s the magic of this book. Nothing is as it seems. It’s not black or white. He is cruel but not. When I read what happened to him at birth, how he suffered at the hands of humans, how lonely he’s been, all I could do was weep for him.
Each time he realized, thanks to Lan, the mistakes he made and was sorry for it even if he tried to hide his sadness, I cried. The monster was not a monster anymore. He was a beautiful creature, seeking redemption with the help of Lan.
Lan was a strong heroine, loving, warm, selfless, humble. She did not play coy, she did not pretend to be something else than a wh**e. She was so down to earth, conscious to be a small woman but at the same time, so determined to barter “in pieces” to save mankind she was one of the strongest characters I’ve read about. She had not an ounce of ill will and did not want to hurt Azrael, even if he was the cause of her people’s suffering.
Determined to sell herself to save humanity, she’ll battle with all the “lessons” she had to endure to become suited for this court (manners, music, gowns). She was a breath of fresh air and could not understand why someone would use a fork to eat when hands would work just fine.
She may be uneducated but she had the intelligence of the heart and she was used to trade favors to gain something. She saw, really saw Azrael, beyond his outer ugliness, beyond his actions and soon realized he was so alone. She ached for him, for what he had to suffer and “tamed” him.
They were both alone in the world and they found comfort in each other.
I won’t tell more about this story but be warned this could be a very difficult but enlightening read. I’ve never read such a book so far, utterly well written, revolting, horrific and equally fascinating, enthralling and beautiful. It’s been a unique experience.