sunnuntai 30. syyskuuta 2012

Artist of the Month: Henri Rousseau.

Hi guise! 
September is over already? I have been so busy that I didn't even notice.
Something quite embarrassing happened to me on friday (28th). I'm a part-time waitress and on friday I had my very first French couple. What made the situation embarrassing for me was that I could remember how take their order in french, even though I have been studying french for 3 weeks!!! Q_Q of course the couple didn't know this, but I was just so frustrated and embarrassed that I didn't know how to ask what they'd like to drink/eat in french. And we had just done restaurant conversation in class on the day before! *sigh* Naturally when I went to bed that night I suddenly said to myself: Qu'est ce que vous voulez prenez? Even though it means 'what would you like to have?' I think it would have sufficed. But yeah, the situation was all over already.

The Equatorial Jungle 1909.

This month's artist is Henri Rousseau, a French fine artist who is the established father of Naïvism. Soft yet vivid colours, exaggerated flora, highlighted backgrounds are classic Rousseau. Naturally Rousseau didn't know this at the time, but he had began to establish the characteristics for naïve art Sadly Rousseau wasn't appreciated in his own time, people didn't regard his paintings as art. Just like with other really appreciated artists, Rousseau's genious wasn't discovered until years and years after his death. And now we are left to analyze what naïve art is about, what Rousseau was about.

Naïvism is a movement that is devoted to simple childlike images in subject matter and technique. In the past naïve art was hardly considered as art because it was practised by non-professional artists or children. However Henri Rousseau showed that people who practiced Naïvism had their own expressive vision. Rousseau was born in May 21st 1844 in Laval France. Unlike many other Fine Artists Rousseau was completely self-taught. Rousseau admitted that he had received some advice from Academic painters, but other than that he had no education in art. Rousseau attentend the Laval High School as a day student, but he switched to a boarding school after he and his family had to leave Laval upon the seizure of their house. As a student Rousseau was mediocre, but he did rather well in drawing and music and won many prizes. After high school, in the early 1860's, Rousseau began to study law and worked for a lawyer, but later he "attempted a small perjury" and moved to serve in the army for four years. After his father died Rousseau along his mother moved to Paris in 1868. To support his mother Rousseau became a customs officer. He was married twice, and with his first wife had six children (only one survived). In 1871, he was appointed as a tax collector on goods entering Paris. It took Rousseau almost fourty years to start painting seriously and it took nine years more until he could retire from his day job and become a full time artist. What I find encouraging is that Rousseau wasn't one of those artists who got famous really young. Rousseau had a family to support and unfortunately art wasn't going to bring in the dough. So he did what was logical and got a job.

Self-portrait 1890
When Rousseau gradually began to paint he first painted portraits of people, cityscapes and everyday tasks and activities. Rousseau's paintings of Paris are especially interesting. From 1886 Rousseau began to show his work in the Salon des Indépendants regularly. He enjoyed some success and his paintings were noticed and commented on, but the public wasn't really into his portraits and landscapes. Being able to exhibit his work in the Salon, Rousseau started to familiarize himself with the works of innovative artists. He came to know the museums in Paris and visited exhibitions. He read many books about the artworks of all eras and familiarized himself with how-to-paint manuals. Through photographic reproduction he got to study various landscapes and locations. While another review said that Rousseau's city- and landscapes are rather restricted and lack scale, I find them very charming. They may not be as detailed as his jungle paintings, but they look decorative. I personally think that people shouldn't dismiss them because they look childish, but see the elaboration Rousseau expresses. The technique is the same and the colours are very similar between the jungle paintings and the city paintings, the only distinction is the colour white that Rousseau used a lot in his city- and landscape paintings. Rousseau's "Self-portrait" from 1890 looks fantastic. It has that authenticity and wonder every artist aspires for. It is a given that the painting looks very monotone, but if you study it closely you'll see that Rousseau's knowledge of dimension and proportions are in tact. If you remove the giant Rousseau from the scene the proportions seem to look alright. In his city-and landscape paintings Rousseau showed that his independent studying paned out. Although he neglected a few rules concerning shadows and debth, but other than that we can see that Rousseau knew how to paint 'right'. It just wasn't his style. I just have to respect him for not getting in involved with all the academics and did what he wanted to do. In this painting, the dimenssion would look alright if Rousseau hadn't distorted it by adding a character that changed the whole look. It's Rousseau himself that changes the look of the painting. In 'The Flamingoes' it's the giant flowers that change the scene. Even though the whole image should now be perversely wrong both of these paintings are 'saved' by Rousseau's genuine painting style. However, the change doesn't happen automatically because the characters literally amalgamate into the scene so it doesn't seem odd that there are giant people or giant flowers in the scene. In fact the giant Rousseau and the flowers seem to be quite at home in the scenes. 
Naïvism is uniquely different from any other artistic concept, yet it demonstrates similar arrangement as inspirational and coherent as any other art genre. This is one of the reasons I like naïvism so much, it's so versatile. You see, naïvism usually looks like it didn't take a genious to make such 'a simple' image, but in truth naïve art requires a lot arranging and insipration before it can be executed. Not to mention achieving the right look and mood can be tricky. Naïve art takes insipration from the real world, but fantasy and the artist's imagination are also important factors. Hence one could say that subject is the most influential factor in Naïvism. Rousseau had never been to a jungle or a desert in his life, yet he made such vivid and accurate paintings of them (within Naïvism terms of course) . Rousseau's jungles came from illustrated books, the Zoo and the botanical gardens in Paris. He would spend hours sketching the animals or the plants. He met soldiers who had survived the French expedition to Mexico and listened to their stories about the subtropical country they'd exprerienced. (who said you personally had to be there to understand its beauty ^_^ Although, I'd like to go there anyway). ''Use your imagination'' could as well belong to naïve artists, because that's what they (we, am I naïve too...) do.

The Flamingoes 1907.

The first condition for the practice of Naïvism is not to wilfully aim at being naïve. Naïve art cannot be imitated because the results would be as fake as, for example, a copy of abstract art. Trust me, if you are sincere with your style, it's really difficult to try to copy someone else (yes I know that there are artists who specifically copy old master's works, but that's a whole different genre). The beauty of a true naïve artist is their need to paint, arising from their soul, not from their skills. It is based on the necessity to express the self, a necessity which is much stronger than the artist's skills of creation. The old cynic in me would say that this is just an excuse bad artists use to mask their lack of painting skills, but I create naïve art myself so I understand what painting from the necessity means. I'd like to quote Mr. Carl Jung now “One might say that naïve painters have certain pictorial ideas circulating in their subconscious which quite spontaneously demand to be given release”. Jung is certainly right. To Rousseau it wasn't important for his paintings to look accurate, they were the expression of his needed for release and necessity to put his vision across. While some of the paintings were carefully mapped out the vision was still the most important factor of the painting process. In Rousseau's paintings we can see the similar accuracy of details on the background and the foreground. Some naïve artist cherish that 'children's finger paintings' look more than others, but I believe Rousseau was more into finding a style that lingered somewhere between child-like and modern (make note that at that time, there were many rising art genres, including Impressionism. Remember to check my review on Claude Monet). Many things were happening in the arts at that time, and yet Rousseau's work managed to shock people. His flat and childish style was ridiculed by many critics. I can imagine how it must have been like for him to be so sincere with his work and yet nobody understood it. Well that's not it, people at the time didn't like Rousseau's painting's because they weren't accustomed to his look. It's that irony again that great artists are only appreciated after their dead. Never the less, some of the observers thougt that even though Rousseau painted like a child, he showed sophistication and authenticity with his technique. While 'interviewing' my BFF he gave me a two syllable description on Rousseau: 'original genious'. This shocked me a little because I didn't expect him to give a positive review. As a former rookie artist himself, I didn't expect him to like naïve art because I was under the impression that he only valued, like art art, like accurate art, trees look like trees and people look like people etc. But after this he went back to being himself and said that Rousseau's work was a typical counter reaction for the late 1800's narrow-minded academics.

Tiger in a Tropical Storm (Surpris!) 1981.

In 1891 Rousseau's “Tiger in a tropical storm (Surpris!)” was exhibited in the Salon des Indépendants and he received his first serious review. The young artist Félix Vallotton wrote: "His tiger surprising its prey ought not to be missed; it's the alpha and omega of painting." What's so charming about this particular painting is the scene itself. This is one of my favourite's from Rousseau. The critics didn't like it for it lacked in debth, but I don't see it like that. “Surpris!” may seem monotone, but it expresses Rousseau's sense of colours really well. Rousseau didn't mean to paint realistically, what matter was how he envisioned and executed his paintings. The rain in the painting is exeptionally well made. This painting (and many other Rousseau paintings) was built up meticulously in layers. He used a large number of green shades to capture the lush exuberance of the jungle. It's difficult to tell just by looking at that image, but I think in reality we could be able to see all those layers (Oil paint can get very thick the more layers you add) The rain in the painting is extraordinary. It took me a while to figure out how Rousseau acchieved that effect. I knew he couldn't have swipped a large paint brush across the wet paint, because that would have damaged the finished layers. I later read that Rousseau devised his own method for depicting that lashing rain. He trailed strands of silver paint diagonally across the canvas, a satin-like technique William-Adolphe Bouguereau used in his paintings. That is ingenious! Who said you can only use paint brushes.

While naïve art is mostly about simple everyday experiences, it remains uninfluenced by common art traditions. In both the artist comes to grips with their personal experiences which encourages them to paint pictures that mirror their memories, desires and vision. However naïve artist is specifically ignoring such attributes as perspective and proportions because the impact of the picture as a whole excists solely in the mind of the artist. Naïve artist's demonstrates instinctive and sometimes surprising colour choices. I, for one, do not like bold colour combinations, like the ones Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso used. Some artists detest bright colours because they find them at odds with the scene they are creating. Some artists have no problem with colours because they know how to control them and how to achieve the desired look. And then there are those who simply enjoy all colours, and see the possibilities they offer. This is precisely the area in which the naïve artist most often displays his/her inborn talent. Rousseau's palette, for example, is a mixture of earthly colours. I discovered that many art critics seemed to think that the gentle colours were symbolic to dreams. In “Surpris!” we see how the murky-earth tones create such light yet expressive painting. Whilst in “The Flamingoes” we see a much more sensitive yet playful side of Rousseau's sense of colours. ”The Flamingoes” for example has a totally different impact on me than “Surpris!”. “The Flamingoes” is a sensitive and happy painting and I especially like the warm pink Rousseau used on the flowers. The murky pink (almost purple) flamingoes add a nice contrast to the scene. For some reason the giant flowers don't look out of place at all. The palm trees and the people on the background make this a realistic scene and not at all fantasy like. If this painting was ment to be a dream, to me it doesn't seem so at all. To me it looks like this place could excists in reality.

The Sleeping Gypsy 1897.

It is said that  in the world the naïve artist lives in bears the stamp of narrative authenticity. Hence we could assume that Rousseau's paintings are fantasies of his. His jungle paintings especially express great sense of storyline. The story isn't complicated nor scandalous, but rather descriptions of what goes on in the jungle. “Surpris!” expresses both movement and story because in the tiger's eyes we can see the surprise and rage. The original story is that the tiger is about to pounce on its prey. But to me it looks like the flashing lightning scared the tiger, by revealing its hiding place. "The Equatorial Jungle" to me looks like it was made by Tove Jansson. Those animals looks so much like some of the characters in the Moomins, and I swear that that painting would make a perfect Moomin story! It looks so mysterious yet darling. Not at all threatening even though it's a jungle, and jungles are supposed to be scary because all kinds of ferocious animals live there. But those two don't look ferocious to me, just mysterious. Perhaps this jungle was ment to be a dream too. The soft colours surely suggest it. I indeed think that the whole Tove-Jansson-look gives this painting a dream-like atmosphere, and which I, by the way, don't get from Rousseau's other paintings. Even if Rousseau ment to tell a specific story with this painting or with "Surpris!", he was kind enough to leave room for interpretations. “The Sleeping Gypsy” is a different story too. It gives me a totally different feeling than the other paintings. To me it seems like a gypsy has fallen asleep and he/she dreams about a lion coming to investigate him/her. OR my other interpretation is that the gypsy is a sleep and a lion has come to see what the gypsy is doing. It sounds much cuter ^_^ The dark colours were a surprising choice, since so far Rousseau had only used soft earthly colours. Yet these soft yet really dark colours seem to fit into Rousseau's style. I'm not sure if this was just an experiment, but this happens to be one of Rousseau's most famous paintings. It seems to combine that dream like state and what Naïvism is. In Naïvism the images are narratives of sort, which then carry the viewer away. If I remember right, one of the books I read listed which Rousseau paintings were dreams or imaginary. But I think it's much more fun to leave it up to the viewer to decide whether any of Rousseau's paintings are dreams.

As I said before, naïve art cannot be copied for it comes from within. Rousseau demonstrated this in choice of colours and subject. To me Rousseau's landscapes seem like they are the dreams and the jungles are real. And perhaps this is because his inspiration came from stories he heard from the soldiers. Naïve artists live in their dream lands and conjure images by their own fancy. The paintings created after those images, illustrate the lives and experiences of the person who painted them, as all naïve art does. 

I hope you enjoyed my review on Henri Rousseau. 
Thank you for reading and see you later!


maanantai 10. syyskuuta 2012

Autumn book club: The Taker.

Hi guise!

It's time for Autumn book club! September edition xP


And that's just the beginning of this book...I'm gonna do my best to ruin yet another book for you >=) Ganbatteimasu!
I must stress out that IF you LIKED/LOVED this book, avert thy eyes because I'm going to diss this book so bad. You have been warned.

Okay so the story is set in Maine US and first we meet Luke, a doctor who works in a hospital in St. Andrew (not a real place I hear). Luke is divorce, his daughters live with their mother and he is pretty much tired of his boring life. Until a mysterious blonde is brought to his reception late at night. The local sheriff found her wandering in the snow (it's mid winter), blood stains in her clothes. She told him that she killed a man fer hours ago. The sheriff brought her to Luke to check up on her over all well being.  Lanore (I can't decide whether this is a really really stupid name for a female protagonist or not. Almost as 'I-wanna-puke' bad as Anastasia, or Isabella or Elizabeth! None of these names are good for a protagonist, too cliché. Ahem I almost became Isabella myself O_o) is in deep trouble, yes she killed a man, but the man asked her the kill him. He was her only true love. Her one true love, her everything, the apple in her apple pie, the mascara in her makeup kit, the stuffing in her plush toy, the...believe me, the rest of the book pretty much goes like this: Lanore describing her undying love for her one true love Jonathan. It gets really anesthetic belive me --_-- 
So Lanore asks Luke to spring her free and once he sees that the man she claims to be Jonathan, is the same man at the morgue, he helps her escape. The rest of the book Lanore explains her undying love for Jonathan and how she came to be immortal. Oh I'm sorry, did I leave that part out. Yeah Lanore cuts herself to show Luke that she is indeed unkillable. She has been alive for over 200 years. And thus she starts to explain how she came to be (they are driving to Canada whilst she tells her story).

Perhaps at this point I should explain why I ever decided to read this book. You see I had read reviews, and one review said 'Adair is the 21st century Lestat'. Come on, of course I have read Anne Rice's vampire books and of course I once had a huge crush on Lestat. So naturally I became interested, I wanted to know who this Adair, who dares to challenge Lestat, was. Plus the other reviews raved about Adair's eternal passion for this girl and the way he was obsessed with her. This sounded very romantic to me, I'm a lil soft for dark romance. However, these reviews were for the second book 'The Reckoning' hence I decided to read 'The Taker' first so I'll know what's going on in 'The Reckoning'. I thought this would be like a horror romance story. Oh how wrong was I.

Back to action! Lanore was born in Saint Andrew in the early 1800s and she is obsessed with the town's playboy Jonathan. Her and her family are simple farmers whilst Jonathan is the village's "leader's" son. Of course every girl and woman in town lusts after Jonathan, and Katsu pretty much spends the rest of the 400 or 500 pages explaining how desirable and utterly beautiful and sensitive and splendid and heartbreaking and breathtaking etc etc Jonathan is. Seriously, could this woman squees more figurative expressions in to her book?! Even after 150 nothing's happened in the story. "His eyes were like the colour of honey, honey that decorated that sweet cake we had last night which reminded me of those sweet moments in the church when I could gaze upon his honey coloured eyes and his eyes reminded me of warm sunny weather when the sun made my hair shine in pure gold and that gold reminded me of that honey cake we shared which was like the colour of his eyes.." Seriously, once Lanore begans her story, this is how the dialogue goes. Oh yuck what dialogue! And to be clear, that quote is not from the book, but you get my point. Katsu's dialogue is very awkward and very very figurative. I bet every poet (and every ahem smart reader) would shutter at her inept dialogue. Of course Lanore is deeply in love with Jonathan, but he couldn't care shit about her. He likes her, but he will never love her or even acknowledge her love (in short he is an insensitive dick and Lanore is plain stupid). She can never give up on her love for him, even after he chooses another girl to 'date'. Sophia is married, and when she tells Jonathan that he has gotten her pregnant he asks for Lanore's advice. She goes to talk to Sophia and apparently convinces her to kill herself. It's under debate whether what Lanore said to Sophia made her kill herself. Lanore merely said that Sophia is a fool if she thinks that Jonathan will acknowledge their child + his family will never accept Sophia because she is from a poor family. Lanore tells Sophia to tell her husband that the child is his, but Sophia chooses otherwise because she too is immensely in love with Jonathan. 

Lanore is left to think what she did, but at Sophia's burial, Jonathan and Lanore meet and he taps her. Lanore never tells Jonathan that she went to speak to Sophia before she was found dead. Even though Jonathan is devastated by the loss of his love, he starts sleeping with Lanore on regular basis. By now 250-300 pages have gone by, I think. Katsu spends a lot of time creating an image of Lanore as dutiful young girl, but underneath she has a dark side too that only feeds her lust for Jonathan. It has been a while since I've seen such a selfish yet stupid female character. She is just utterly obsessed with her sweet eyed Jonathan who played with her when they were children on their backyard that now reminded her of his wild side that seemed to grow like the wild flowers they planted together that now were only a memory of their sweet childhood together, and that childhood reminded her of his sweet eyes that sparkled on that particular spring day like the sunflowers they went...but she also longs for adventure and knowledge. She isn't particularly adventurous, since her only wish is to settle down with Jonathan. However her wilder side is brought to life when the story finally progresses. Surprise, she learns that she is pregnant for Jonathan's baby. However he is now engaged to another girl, and he is ready to get married to the girl (what a standup garçon!).
Lanore then suggests that she gets rid of the fetus, but her father won't allow it. So he decides to send her to a convent near Boston. Thank God Katsu doesn't spend too much time telling about Lanore's journey to Boston. Lanore is very sad and devastated to leave her family and Jonathan and off she goes. We arrive in Bostan rather quickly taken how Katsu wrote around 200 pages of Lanore's obsession with pretty Jonathan. Once in Boston Lanore decides to escape. She accidentally meets three people who are going to a party. She is taken to a grand mansion, and given some wine. There is a big party going on (a party of the 1800's), but soon she blackouts. She wakes up briefly only to notice that she's being raped in front of a grand audience. She spots a well dressed, evil looking guy watching her and then she blackouts again. 
Needless to say that that evil looking dude was Adair, the guy who I thought was the male protagonist of this story --_-- *sigh* Katsu isn't that good at coming up interesting male characters.

To make long story short, Lanore gets terribly ill, Adair (seriously, I just wanna call him Aidar. I'm not even sure if 'Adair', was a real boy name in Hungary...hhmm.. in the 1400s? If not then this is another problem with contemporary writers, they have the hots for complicated names --_--) refuses to call for a doctor, and just before she is like about to die, he gives her magic potion which turns her immortal. When she wakes up again, Lanore is devastated to hear about the loss her baby. At this point, even I felt a bit bad for Lanore (oh BTW they call her Lanny), I mean her true love couldn't give a shit about her, she was pregnant with his child, her only 'memento' of him, she had to escaped in order to keep her child, but then she ran in to some really bad people and now, she is forever binded to this...well...bad man. A lot of things happened to Lanore in a short amount of time. 
Anyways, Lanore is coming in to terms with the fact that she can never leave Adair. Adair then proceeds to teach her everything about life. She is rather eager and reseptive and I can't decide if I like it that Lanore, the dutiful girl, is suddenly really into all kinds of nasty/naughty sex stuff. I mean, if I was Lanore, I would:
1. Bust a cap in Adair's ass for having me raped in his party.
2. Bust a screwdriver in Adair's ass (so the cap will go even deeper) for literally tying me to him for all eternity (they actually can leave him, it's just that he won't let them).
and 3. burn that place down and probably go insane. 
Seriously I would be very upset if I got involved with Adair and his posse and rape parties.
But Lanore doesn't see it that way. She has a hot guy who is filthy rich, so he is capable of taking care of her and he is showing her a world she never even dreamed of. I understand that this is very glamorous and opens a lot of doors, I just don't understand why she would want to have anything to do with a man who just arranged her rape and is the reason she lost her baby. What the fuck are you doing girl?!

Suprisingly Katsu decided to avert Lanore's sex adventures by quickly dismissing them with phrases like 'seeing him in the morning reminded me of the wild night we spend together' or ' I ran into her in the hallway, and it immediately brought back memories of what she and I did together last night, in front of him'. guys did what? I know you guys had wild sex, but c'mon, this is just a cheap trick to avoid the book being labaled as 'pornography'. I mean, if you are going to write about a girl who is sexually awaken and brought to this world of orgies and girl-on-girl sex then at least write about it accordingly --__-- Personally I think it's so cheep when a writer makes sex an important part of the story yet he or she is clearly incompetent or lazy to actually write about it. It's as if Katsu is saying 'Use your imagination'. That's a cheap shot madame, really cheap. You are the writer, make the effort! 

I probably would have enjoyed this book when I was 16....but now all I can say is, dämn you university! My simple mind was ruined by your assignments that required a lot of thinking and analyzing! I'm clearly not the target audience for this book because what came next, well, I could say it made me wanna hurl just for the fun of it, but then I'd be cheap for saying such simple phrase. Okay so this is a story of Lanore telling Luke her story, so it's a story within a story. However of course we have to hear Adair's story as well. So now it's a story within a story within a story. *sigh* So we spend the next 100 pages reading about Adair's origin. His story would have been interesting IF Katsu's writing style wasn't simple and dragging. In the end we learn that Adair was a gypsy who became emplyed by an evil sorcerer and he spend, what good 5 years living in his shack, serving him and doing his biding. Until one day he had had enough so he made a deal with a local priest who arranged an uprising in the village and the villagers killed the old sorcerer. Adair inherited the sorcerer's money and land and eventually became a count (if I remember correctly).  And that's Adair's story, except Katsu tells it within 100 pages or more just to show us that Adair is a victim himself and the reason he is such a douche is because was abused severely in the past.

There is one positive thing I can say about this book though. Lanore never falls for Adair. I was so sure that sooner or later she'd be hopelessly in love with him. But nope. She kinda likes him and appreciated everything he has given her and taught her, but her heart cannot be changed. It belongs to Jonathan. Even though it's so boring to read about Jonathan and Lanore's constant gushing about her 'bottomless grief' and 'eternal love and obsession' for Jonathan, I couldn't be happier that she didn't go with Adair in the end. Personally I think she could never really put her finger on Adair and whether she liked him or respected him or cared for him. I think their relationship is in the grey area where neither one can tell what their relationship is really about. Adair keeps telling her how he is obsessed with her and that she is the only one who understands him (because she is as evil as he, apparently) and he will never let her leave his side. Even if Adair constantly says this stuff, Katsu doesn't convey it realistically enough for the reader to really buy it. In my ears everything Adair says is just empty words or whitenoise. But thanks Katsu for not making Lanore fall for Adair.

Lanore actually tries to escape one time, but she gets caught. Adair takes her and his posse to the mansion's cellar, straps her in this weird harnest and abuses her. "I'm not gonna tell you how Adair abused me. Let me have my privacy" says Lanore to the reader. *sigh* You see what I mean, Katsu is so cheesy. I get that not meany people would be interested to read how Adair punished Lanore because: 1. some people are just sensitive and  2. that'd express too much character development. Afterwards Adair's posse comforts Lanore, they all have been through the same punishment and now can never leave Adair. Speaking of his posse, there is Alejandro, who recriminated his little sister for practicing witchcraft (a total lie) so that the inquisition in Spain would set him free instead. Then there is Italian hmm Dona was his name? who modeled for a famous Italian painter and had him arrested for pedophilia. There is Tilde a Scandinavian woman who killed her husband and children because she liked this other dude much better. And lastly Uzra, a concubine and the first member in Adair's posse. Plus there are a few minor minions in the mix. Adair likes to think all the members of his posse are as evil as he is, including Lanore. He is certain that the two of them belong together because they are the same. He doesn't trust anyone in his posse, but keeps them at arm's lenght (or closer) to control them, and to enjoy their lovely company.

By now the story has gone surprisingly long without Lanore talking about Jonathan. Until Adair gets too curious and sends her to get him. I forgot a few details, but before Lanore leaves to fetch Jonathan for Adair, she takes the immortality potion with her. It's a tiny vial, but she finds it amoung the torture stuff Adair keeps in the basement. So she takes the vile and goes back to St. Andrew, bearing gifts to her family and Jonathan. Of course everyone is amazed by how well Lanore is doing, except Jonathan. Jonathan, now head of the family, is unhappy in his marriage and has taken a mistress on the side. He isn't really warming up to Lanore's suggestions to go to Boston with her to meet the enchanting count who paid for Lanore's trip. He has one obligation too many and he somewhat cares for his wife and daughter. I was immensely glad that we didn't get to read too much about Jonathan's internal turmoil  before he got shot. It was leathal so Lanore managed to turn him into an immortal (when he was out cold) and kidnap him. I was sure that Katsu would write another 100 page of Lanore's dilemma with this mature Jonathan (she has been gone for 2-3 years). On their way back to Boston Jonathan wakes up and is mortified by what Lanore has done to him. Basically Jonathan is now tied to Lanore. Nothing can ever cause him physical pain, only if Lanore chooses to hurt him (like Adair hurt Lanore).

In Boston Adair makes Jonathan his new favourite. They go to party every night and Adair introduces Jonathan to the other socialites as his cousin. Mean while Lanore is very skeptical about Adair's plans for Jonathan. She doesn't understand why he is so taken with him, no matter how pretty he is. At first she was afraid that Adair would take Jonathan away from her by binding Jonathan to him. But Lanore averted that by binding Jonathan to her first. Naturally Adair was furious, but Jonathan's passive charm charmed Adair so he pretty much forgot all about Lanore. During these events Jonathan is exceptionally passive. He does what Adair tells him to do and the best part, he doesn't talk much. Ahem..Lanore begans to search for the reason Adair is infatuated with Jonathan. In the end it's Uzra, Adair's concubine, who shows Lanore what Adair is about. She has been hiding in a secret spot in the attic and she once discovered Adair's secret spell-magic-library there. Uzra shows it to Lanore and dun-dun-duh she learns that Adair has been studying body shifting, how to transport one's spirit in to a new body. 

I can hear you sigh. Evidently madame Katsu has been reading Lovecraft...
Lanore tears a few pages from the book and goes to plan how to safe Jonathan. Later Adair discovers that his secret library has been disturbed and so he kills Uzra. He is also about to go on a journey with Jonathan and tells everyone in his posse that when Jonathan comes back, he'll be out of the States, travelling by himself. Now that Lanore has discovered that he wants to posses Jonathan's body, she starts to make arrangements to save sweet sweet Jonathan. She orders a pile of brick for the basement and seduces Adair's..uumm accountant?consultant? so that every single penny Adair has goes to Jonathan. Adair has already been transfering assests to Jonathan, so I don't really remember why Lanore seduced Adair's whatever-that-person was. She also goes to visit a university professor whom she met in one of Adair's orgies to ask him about the pages she tore out. She learns about a potion that will put a person in forever sleep. In the morning of their trip, Lanore has prepared the potion and goes to see Adair. He is smoking the hookah (he smokes hookah like all the time) so he is not much of a threat at the moment. He tells Lanore not to worry if Jonathan seems a bit odd at first when he comes back. Lanore pours them some wine, secretly mixing the 'sleeping potion' in to the wine. She only pretends to drink whilst watching him drink the whole cup and listening him to admit his eternal love for her. When he starts to doze of, she tells him that she knows that he is the evil sorcerer who abused the gypsy boy almost 500 years ago. He switched bodies with the boy right before the villagers came in so they actually killed the gypsy boy (how very Lovecrafty and couple other stories that have the same plot twist. What next, Adair has an evil ring that needs to be destroyed by tossing it in to a volcano?). I have to admit, I did not see that one coming. Taken how crappy this story is, that was nice and unexpected. It would have been even better plot twist, if 10 other writers hadn't used the same plot twist before Katsu. Adair admits that he is the evil sorcerer and complements Lanore one more time and confesses his eternal love for her before he falls asleep. Lanore rushes to Jonathan's room and tells him Adair's story and what he intended to do with Jonathan. Together they carry Adair to the basement and seal him behind a brick wall. I must tell you that before tying Adair, Lanore considers using that torture harnest on Adair, but decides agains it. It would be too cruel. Um, question, how could it be too cruel?! This man killed an innocent young man to attain his body (well he didn't literally kill him but he partly caused his death), he has most likely killed other people too, plus he arranged your rape, got rid of your baby and literally tortured you. Maybe I'm too cruel because I totally would have used that harnest on Adair. 

Now Adair is resting in the basement of his mansion, behind a brick wall whilst Jonathan and Lanore leave Boston forever. Lanore's story is almost done and she and Luke have had time to 'get baked' and have sex plus they have made it to Canada. Before they leave to France Lanore tells Luke how she came to kill Jonathan. She and Jonathan spend a few years together, but he was never happy with her. He was miserable, and then she became miserable, but she could never let him go or tell him to go. She loved him too much to let him out of her sight. She said, he'd have to leave her himself because she can't ask him to leave her. And so one day, after 2 or 3 years he finally left her. The next two centuries Lanore travels and apparently steals precious artifacts from various countries until she settles in Paris. Now in the 21st century she has become an appreciated china porcelain/tea set expert. On one day Jonathan contacts her and asks her to meet him in Paris. Jonathan has been travelling too, and he has been treating people in Africa. Jonathan tracked Lanore down by an illustration (or was it a photo?) he saw in a book (Lanore was the model). He wants to go back to St. Andrew and asks Lanore to come with him. They return to St. Anrew and reminisce about the old days. They go into the woods and that's when Jonathan asks Lanore the kill him. He was in love with a woman who worked with him in Africa, but she died and now he can't live without her (in case it's still unclear, Jonathan really didn't give a shit about Lanore). I'm not blaming Jonathan for not loving Lanore. I can understand the situation he was in. You can't force yourself to love or care for someone. So he never loved Lanore, fair enough. And Lanore being the typical female protagonist (in these type of stories) is fucking stupid for thinking that he'd ever love her back.  
Jonathan has low self-esteem, Lanore is stupid and Adair is a punk and a dick, there you have it, Katsu's wonderful cast.
Blaah blaah blaah Lanore is sad and she won't do kill him and he is miserable because he lost the love of his life. In the end Lanore takes Jonathan's life by stabbing him with a broken bottle. Remember that he can only die by his maker's hand. And so Lanore finishes her story, she and Luke move to Paris, Luke finds the empty eternal life vial and destroyes it. The End.

If you managed to stick with me until the end, it's needless to say that I think that this book really sucked. Hands down, this is one of the worst books I have ever read.

At first I thought I'd read The 2dn book, 'The Reckoning' because I wanted to know what happens after Adair wakes up and goes to look for Lanore and Jonathan. Buuuuttt...then I read Patricia Mathew's review and decided against it. Link to her review on books 1 and 2
I think Katsu's idea for book 2 is interesting, but once again it's ruined by her incompetent writing style. 

This was my first and last book I read from Alma Katsu. Seriously madame Katsu, Taker's idea is interesting, but it's back to college (or writing course) for you. You seeeeriously need to learn how to construct your story, how to create interesting characters and most importantly, how to build great dialogue. Now off you go!

I hope found my review on 'The Taker' interesting. Stay tuned for this month's artist. I'm torn between an Old Master and a Finnish Fine Artist...