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Ghosts of Albion: Accursed, by Amber Benson, Christopher Golden Book Review | SFReader.com
Ghosts of Albion: Accursed, by Amber Benson, Christopher Golden Genre: Horror Publisher: Del Rey Published: 2005 Review Posted: 1/2/2008 Reviewer Rating:
Reader Rating: 6 out of 10
Ghosts of Albion: Accursed, by Amber Benson, Christopher Golden
Book Review by Jeff Edwards
Have you read this book?
After their grandfather is murdered and their father is possessed by a demon, Tamara and William Swift jointly inherit a legacy and become the new Protectors of Albion: magical defenders of the soul of England. Now, as an ancient evil breeds in the slums, spreading like a plague until it threatens Buckingham Palace, Tamara and William must rely upon each other - and some ghostly allies - to fight back the darkness.
Ghosts of Albion: Accursed is a hellish travelogue through nineteenth-century London's East End, a "twisted knot of alleys where the streets were coated with filth and the structures seemed only moments away from crumbling in upon themselves." Amber Benson and Christopher Golden work in the kind of period details necessary to transport their readers to another time and place: the vagaries of Victorian fashion, for instance, or the type of fruit sold at market in Covent Garden. The authors also include details of a more supernatural sort: a ghost materializes with a crackling noise like "damp wood blazing in the hearth"; a spell manifests as "long, snaking...crimson ribbons...tipped with dagger points."
Novelists exploring the Victorian era would be remiss if they ignored the contradictions between "what society does when the lights are out...and what face it puts on...in the daylight"; Benson and Golden don't disappoint us. It's all about keeping up appearances: Tamara writes macabre "penny dreadfuls" but must hide behind a pseudonym lest "public knowledge of her career...do irreparable harm to [her] good name." William's beloved, Sophia, is the picture of propriety in public, but becomes a wanton temptress behind closed doors; Tamara, however, is far less successful in this arena: When she tries to seduce a man, she is rebuffed - a humiliating experience for a young woman already struggling with constricting gender roles.
If Accursed offered nothing more than ample titillation within an historical setting, it would be something akin to a "bodice ripper"; instead, Benson and Golden add a layer of grisly violence that transforms their book into a genital ripper - literally: In one graphic scene, the spirit of a warrior queen rips a "monster's genitals from between its legs with a wet, tearing noise and a splash of brackish, stinking blood." Yet the elements of sex and death are never truly intertwined as they would be in the hands of a master like Clive Barker; here, the erotic and the gruesome jostle uncomfortably for position.
As a result, the novel will have a hard time pleasing purists: horror fans who relish an atmosphere of dread will have no patience for the steamy courtship between William and Sophia; romance readers won't be able to stomach scenes of a woman's belly splitting open as toad-like creatures pour out in a "hideous parody of birth." But Ghosts of Albion: Accursed should satisfy fans of genre hybridization - especially lovers of guilty pleasures. And there's more to come from this budding franchise: A new book in the series, "Witchery," has already been released.
Click here to buy Ghosts of Albion: Accursed, by Amber Benson, Christopher Golden on Amazon