Sunday, 14 June 2015

Nothing like the ghost stories on the Hammer House of Horror train

An extraordinarily compelling debut - ghost stories that grapple with the legacy of the Vietnam War.

A beautiful young woman appears fully dressed in an overflowing bathtub at the Frangipani Hotel in Hanoi.  A jaded teenager girl in Houston befriends an older Vietnamese gentleman she discovers naked behind a dumpster.  A trucker in Saigon is asked to drive a dying young man home to his village.  A plump Vietnamese-American teenager is sent to her elderly grandmother in Ho Chi Minh City to lose weight, only to be lured out of the house by the wafting aroma of freshly baked bread.  In these evocative and always surprising stories, the supernatural coexists with the mundane lives of characters who struggle against the burdens of the past.

Based on traditional; Vietnamese folk tales hold to Kupersmith by her grandmother, these fantastical, chilling, and thoroughly contemporary stories are boldly original exploration of Vietnamese culture, addressing both the immigrant experience and the lives of those who remained behind.  Lurking in the background of them all is a larger ghost - that of the Vietnam war, whose legacy continued to haunt us.

Violet Krupersmith's voice is an exciting addition to the landscape of American fiction.  With tremendous depth and range, her stories transcend their genre to make a wholly original statement about the postwar experience.

I was not quite sure what to expect when I started this book but this was not it.

The second story ‘The Reception’ I think is my favourite but they all felt incomplete.  One would have thought that a novel called The Frangipani Hotel would have related all their stories back to the hotel but no not in this case.  All the stories were definitely lacking something but quite what that something was I am not sure.  Indeed this reader was left wondering that the heck happened.  It was as though each story got to the interesting part and then just ended. 

One would expect ghost stories to be scary but these were not that and so in as far as they went they were rather pointless.  Don’t get me wrong I love ghost stories but these were not those.

There was really nothing in the stories that grabbed this reader’s attention or anything that would make this reader identify with any of the people involved in these stories.  The characters lacked depth and they did not even seem to interact with their environment.  In short these stories were short vignettes of nothingness – they were uninteresting and incomplete.

In short this lover of ghost stories was very disappointed with this book that did not live up to the title which needs to be changed as it is seriously misleading.

Full Disclosure: I received a free copy from Netgalley for an honest review.

I rated this 1 star on Netgalley and 'I did not like it' on Amazon (1 star) and Goodreads (1 star).

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