Gods Behaving Badly, by Marie Phillips – This book involves the Greek gods living in a single house in London with diminished powers. Sound familiar? Okay, I don’t know that I’ve read anything with that specific scenario, but I’ve come across those basic elements quite often. It was still fun, though, and showcases the personalities of the deities pretty well, basically making them a dysfunctional family. When Apollo pisses off Aphrodite, who is now working as a phone sex operator, she has Eros make him fall in love with Alice, a random woman in the audience for his television pilot as a psychic. Unfortunately, it turns out that she has a crush on her friend Neil who also has feelings for her, and Apollo’s awkward attempts to woo her just increase the tension. So does the fact that Artemis hires her as the gods’ cleaning lady. Artemis is working as a dog walker, Dionysus owns a nightclub, Eros has become fascinated by Christianity, and Zeus is confined to the attic. When things go badly with Alice, Apollo tricks Zeus into killing her, and Neil has to accompany Artemis to the Underworld to get her back. Charon drives a Tube train instead of a ferry, a similar arrangement to that in Tom Holt’s Ye Gods. There’s a film version of this that has some famous actors, but was screened only once to bad reviews.
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, Hollow City, and Library of Souls, by Ransom Riggs – I checked the first book out from the library on a recommendation from a friend, and I liked it enough to read the two sequels. The idea behind the books is quite interesting, with the author basing characters and situations on old photographs that he found. Most of them use trick photography or are otherwise bizarre, so what results is a fantasy story about people with supernatural powers who live in hiding. There are some clear similarities to the X-Men, although the feel is more dark and Gothic. In addition to their powers, the peculiar children live in time loops that keep them from aging or being affected by events in the outside world, created by mentors who can turn into birds. Alma Peregrine, a strict but loving matron, maintains such a loop in Wales, which ends and resets right when a World War II bomb hits the place. After the death of his grandfather, a boy from Florida named Jacob Portman goes there to find his grandfather’s old friends. He is drawn into an adventure involving ghostly beings known as hollowgasts and wights, former peculiar people who turned into these monsters due to a failed attempt to become immortal, and who now hunt peculiar souls. I found it interesting that Jeffrey Dahmer is said to have been a wight. He even becomes involved with his grandfather’s old girlfriend, but at least he admits it’s weird. The second book has Jacob and the peculiar children leaving their loop and searching both the past and present to try to restore Miss Peregrine to human form, encountering gypsies, a talking dog, and their mentor’s evil brother. Finally, in Library of Souls, Miss Peregrine’s brother finds a way to access a collection of souls in an ancient city. Her other brother is also introduced here, as is a boatman named Sharon who’s clearly based on the mythological Charon. To add to the general creepiness, there’s a village inhabited by people who are addicted to a drink made of peculiar souls. I haven’t seen the movie, and I’m not sure if I should. Any opinions on the matter?