In Darkside, Jonathan Starling discovered the existence of a secret part of London ruled by the descendants of Jack the Ripper and populated by werewolves, vampires and other creepy-crawlies, as well as human criminals of every imaginable type -- blackmailers, thieves, con men, cat burglars, bounty hunters.
Now, in Lifeblood, a gruesome murder has Jonathan and Carnegie, his PI werewolf friend/mentor/protector on the case. They quickly discover that their investigation is connected to the Ripper family and may also shed light on Jonathan's mother's disappearance twelve years ago. Just as quickly, they discover that there's someone out there who will kill to prevent them from solving the case...
Lifeblood is a strong follow-up to Darkside. It's heavy on the action, awash in gallons of blood and features a fight scene every three or four pages. The descriptions of the different parts of Darkside continue to be imaginatively gruesome and easily, the highlight of the book. Definitely recommended to fans of Darren Shan's Cirque du Freak novels.
While I've totally enjoyed both books currently available to those of us in the US, they are geared towards an audience a bit younger than the books we usually cover here at Guys Lit Wire. But I chose to highlight them for a specific reason -- the story behind them. According to an article I found via J.L. Bell's Oz and Ends, the storyline and the ideas behind it didn't come from the author, but from focus groups:
Hothouse uses a market research company to put story ideas to children, who are observed from behind a one-way mirror. Using dummy covers, short excerpts and blurbs to prompt conversation, researchers ask the children their opinions on which characters, plots and ideas they enjoy most. Each child is also visited at home by a researcher, who finds out what kind of books they already own and read. Drawing on this research, Hothouse commissions a team of writers accordingly.It's similar, I think, to what book packaging companies like Alloy do, and even to what the Stratemeyer Syndicate used to do -- but it seems like Hothouse has gone a step further. I'd love to know what you all think of the idea.
Bookshelves of Doom)
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