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Ariel Mass Market Paperback – Dec 1 1996

3.3 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 281 pages
  • Publisher: CARROLL & GRAF PUBLISHERS; New edition edition (Dec 1 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786703857
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786703852
  • Product Dimensions: 17.6 x 10.8 x 2.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 141 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #3,445,513 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Customer Reviews

3.3 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
ARIEL is great, and repersents Block as a novelist in rare form, and yet trying to strike out a new path as well. This, in the end, is what makes ARIEL both enjoying and frustrating. There are too many tales being told...the adolescent coming of age (which is done amazingly well between Erksine and ARIEL) the madness/occult/supernatural tease (it never is really clear what happened) and the 'grown ups story' of Roberta and David and Jeff/ Jeff's own family. All of these stories could've been made into a novel, but because they are all here it's sort of a literary mess. In this book we are told what some of the characters are thinking but not all of the time. In this sense, the narrative is at fualt because its at times omnipresent, and at others centered solely on ARIEL and her diary. It's an uneven book and yet I am so drawn to it, I have to say its a great book at the same time. Except for the electra complex scenes toward the end...I felt I was being hit over the head with that point. I think too that the book should've been fleshed out, but Block, being the amazing mystery writer that he is, is still writing with the urgency of a mystery. Still, read ARIEL and decide for yourself..it's still a great and provoking read, definitely worth it...you really can't go wrong with Block.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I am always excieted to find a Lawrence Block title I haven't read. So, you can imagine how difficult it was for me to not start reading Ariel until I had boarded my flight, fastened my seatbelt, settled back and the plane took off. Lawrence Block, the master of detailed descriptions, character development and plot twists as gone astray. While this book was technically good, it wasn't close to anything else he has written. Block's attempt at exploring the supernatural fails badly. One is left with the feeling that Block's characters, having committed some moral sin, must receive a devine punishment. Can this be the same author who brought us Matthew Scudder, a character who's alcohol addiction and recovery must mirror the author's and who is not exactly known for staying within the law? The same author who gave us a burgler and a hero, newly weds who commit a murder on their honeymoon with no consequences, a man who Mona (read it, I can't begin to talk about that book here without spoiling it). Block is capable of much better than Ariel. I hope that then next time I sit down to devote myself to one of his books that I don't have to have backup reading at hand. My inflight magazine wasn't nearly enough to get me to my destination
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
From time to time, it is important for an author to stretch, to try writing something very different from what he or she is best known for. ARIEL is mystery writer Lawrence Block's experiment with the sort of feverish, madness-tinged horror for which Shirley Jackson became famous, and if he doesn't quite pull it off, one at least has to appreciate the bravery of the attempt. Block is one of the best prose craftsmen working today, but he is at his worst here, switching perspectives wildly, invoking too-familiar ghost story devices without the deftness required to make them seem fresh, peopling the story with unpleasant characters, and ending the book on a sour and very unsatisfying note. To be fair, Block has picked a tough genre -- most of the time, Shirley Jackson wasn't able to pull it off either. Chalk it up as one of Block's (extremely) rare failures, and move on. (For a Block horror success, try the truly terrifying Matt Scudder thriller A TICKET TO THE BONEYARD.)
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Originally marketed as "occult horror", Ariel is neither. It's a story of the madness that lies just under the surface, and what it takes to bring it out; the need to give evil a face and a name. Who better to scapegoat for unexplainable tragedies than the one who is Different? Ariel is adopted, and looks slightly unusual. Her unstable mother never fails to assume the worst, almost deliberately misreading the girl's ordinary teenage perceptiveness and need for privacy. By the book's end, almost everyone believes that Ariel is a monster -- including Ariel herself.
Great characterizations, wonderful descriptions -- I want to live in Ariel's house. I could wish for a sequel, or just for more books like it.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x96a85ba0) out of 5 stars 19 reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x96a7d96c) out of 5 stars An understated, underrated psychological thriller. Sept. 17 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Originally marketed as "occult horror", Ariel is neither. It's a story of the madness that lies just under the surface, and what it takes to bring it out; the need to give evil a face and a name. Who better to scapegoat for unexplainable tragedies than the one who is Different? Ariel is adopted, and looks slightly unusual. Her unstable mother never fails to assume the worst, almost deliberately misreading the girl's ordinary teenage perceptiveness and need for privacy. By the book's end, almost everyone believes that Ariel is a monster -- including Ariel herself.
Great characterizations, wonderful descriptions -- I want to live in Ariel's house. I could wish for a sequel, or just for more books like it.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x96a7d888) out of 5 stars bemused and befuddled over this book July 13 2001
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
ARIEL is great, and repersents Block as a novelist in rare form, and yet trying to strike out a new path as well. This, in the end, is what makes ARIEL both enjoying and frustrating. There are too many tales being told...the adolescent coming of age (which is done amazingly well between Erksine and ARIEL) the madness/occult/supernatural tease (it never is really clear what happened) and the 'grown ups story' of Roberta and David and Jeff/ Jeff's own family. All of these stories could've been made into a novel, but because they are all here it's sort of a literary mess. In this book we are told what some of the characters are thinking but not all of the time. In this sense, the narrative is at fualt because its at times omnipresent, and at others centered solely on ARIEL and her diary. It's an uneven book and yet I am so drawn to it, I have to say its a great book at the same time. Except for the electra complex scenes toward the end...I felt I was being hit over the head with that point. I think too that the book should've been fleshed out, but Block, being the amazing mystery writer that he is, is still writing with the urgency of a mystery. Still, read ARIEL and decide for yourself..it's still a great and provoking read, definitely worth it...you really can't go wrong with Block.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x96a7a66c) out of 5 stars Lawrence Block's attempt to channel Shirley Jackson Nov. 15 1997
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
From time to time, it is important for an author to stretch, to try writing something very different from what he or she is best known for. ARIEL is mystery writer Lawrence Block's experiment with the sort of feverish, madness-tinged horror for which Shirley Jackson became famous, and if he doesn't quite pull it off, one at least has to appreciate the bravery of the attempt. Block is one of the best prose craftsmen working today, but he is at his worst here, switching perspectives wildly, invoking too-familiar ghost story devices without the deftness required to make them seem fresh, peopling the story with unpleasant characters, and ending the book on a sour and very unsatisfying note. To be fair, Block has picked a tough genre -- most of the time, Shirley Jackson wasn't able to pull it off either. Chalk it up as one of Block's (extremely) rare failures, and move on. (For a Block horror success, try the truly terrifying Matt Scudder thriller A TICKET TO THE BONEYARD.)
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x96a7d510) out of 5 stars Family Mired in Darkness July 11 2015
By Ralph Vaughan - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
If you’ve read any number of Lawrence Block’s detective stories or noir crime novels, you will be unprepared for “Ariel.” It is quite unlike any of the other books he has written. In it, we have a husband and wife (David & Roberta), their teenage adopted daughter (Ariel of the title), and their son (Caleb), born not long before the start of the story. They live in an old house that may have a ghost in it, a shadowy old woman seen by Roberta (and only her) just before she finds Caleb dead in his crib.

Although each character seems quite lucid and honest when placed at the forefront of the novel, that lucidity and honesty is called into question when other characters are given their voices. As Block works his way around the main characters, then starts to bring in minor characters who observe traits unknown to the others, the story, which seemed at first either a straight ghost story or a case of murder by a family member, becomes more complicated and ambiguous. In that twilight of ambiguity, which only grows murkier as the characters descend into madness, we find unrelenting psychological suspense and a mounting feeling of menace and horror. By sublimely manipulating characters and plot elements, Block has created a very disturbing story of a family’s journey into darkness, fear and suspicion.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x96a7d570) out of 5 stars A Quirky, Excellent Coming of Age Story Dec 11 2012
By Richard B. Schwartz - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Ariel Jardell lives with her adoptive parents, David and Roberta, in Charleston. Their biological child Caleb has died, presumably of SIDS. Roberta has renewed her adulterous affair with Jeff Channing, a local lawyer. Roberta's house freaks her out. Did a woman who killed her children once live there? Is she somehow responsible for Caleb's death? Or did Ariel somehow kill him? Or, for that matter, did Roberta kill him?

Roberta is having night visions of a ghost. Sometimes she holds a mirror. Sometimes she holds a rose with blood dripping from the thorns. Is she real? Is she the result of Valium-induced fantasies?

What on earth is going on here? The book reads like a straightforward mainstream novel, but with gothic and supernatural elements. Is it an actual ghost story or is it a story of guilt and mental illness, the latter perhaps induced by the former?

Some readers have loved the book and some have been baffled by it. Some have found it engaging; others have thought that Lawrence Block is out of his element here, way out of his element.

What does your humble reviewer think? I think Lawrence Block is an ambidextrous writer who can do nearly anything he wishes to do. I think Ariel is about the fact that, as Plato put it, we're like charioteers driven by a white horse and a black horse. We try to keep the black horse under control and hopefully, most of the time, we succeed. Sometimes we don't. Sometimes the potential madness and evil in all of us succeeds.

Except for a single scene in which Ariel does something that, for her, is unusual and disturbing, an act of self-defense and survival, she is the sanest character in the book. Like any tween-ager on the edge of puberty, lacking any friend except the geeky but engaging Erskine, she sometimes has strange and fantastic thoughts, but with her they are all, ultimately, under control. She is becoming aware of the black horse but she's holding tight on the reins.

Finally, Ariel is a strange and interesting coming of age story. Now that she knows that the valley of the shadow of death is just outside the church door and now that she has realized, like the characters in David Lynch's Blue Velvet, that we inhabit two worlds, a conventional comforting one and a disturbing, dangerous one, she will be just fine. Although this is a 1980 book, I'd love to see a sequel--check out what Ariel and Erskine are up to these days.


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