Dawn Song Mass Market Paperback – Sep 15 1999
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"The Succubus was newly born, nurtured by the loving care of a horned prince from the pummeled soul of a camp-following whore (who had, in fleshy life, serviced one of Napoleon's best officers). With skilled hand and eye, like a master jeweler, he fashioned his child from this twisted spirit, purifying and distilling her ... burning and sculpting this ghost of a once human thing into a crimson-skinned siren--her form holding the secret fire of cinnabar and the muted light of a November sunset."
According to Michael Marano, there are two great powers in the depths of Hell. Belial, the Unbowed One, is the horned prince who treasures beauty--the beauty of individual human souls, the beauty of a future when all is "despair and the terror of the omnipresent sublime." Leviathan, the Enfolded One, is an enormous armored worm, a blind idiot whose only purpose is the perpetuation of ugliness--the banality of evil, human souls entrapped in a gross, undifferentiated mass. The battle between these two comes to a head in Boston, at the end of 1990, the dawn of the Gulf War. The combatants are a newborn succubus and a handful of benighted human beings. The backdrop is the darkness of the River Charles, the lavender-gray of the winter sky, and the millions of lonely voices of the city.
Dawn Song is an ambitious first novel, enriched by the author's grad school background in medieval history, alchemy, and the kabbalah. Marano's measured, often lyrical prose uses a host of gritty details to evoke the desperation of a handful of Bostonians--their unique, yet sadly predictable, plights, and their multilayered inner worlds. The complex plot is skillfully woven together around the themes of evil-as-beauty vs. evil-as-ugliness. The book's only flaw is that the ending is rather muddled, but you'll have been treated to so many poignant moments and amazing horrors by the time you get there, you'll hardly mind. --Fiona Webster --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Opposing powers in Hell use human surrogates to duke out their differences in this ambitious but ponderously overwritten dark fantasy debut. The immortal adversaries in Marano's occult cosmos are Belial, the Unbowed One, whose earthly emissary is a sexually voracious succubus named Jeannette, and Leviathan, the Enfolded One, who embodies what "the world knows as patriotism, bold enterprise, religious fervor, and righteous indignation." The mortal puppets whose strings they pull include sensitive gay bookstore clerk Lawrence, Harvard Divinity School student Ed Sloane (Lawrence's unrequited love interest) and a motley assortment of hangers-on to the Boston academic community. Set in 1990, at the height of the Gulf War, the novel attempts to delineate kabbalistic forces that shape the turmoil of individual lives and global dramas. But Marano's dark divinities, whose thoughts manifest in eccentrically typeset passages, are inscrutable to mere mortal readers. His human characters are not much clearer: mired in angst over the flaws that make them vulnerable to infernal influences, they can barely cross a room without collapsing into heaps of self-reflection. Marano compounds these drags on his narrative's momentum with an assault of awkward analogies and metaphors ("The mental images that strung his ideas into a cogent thesis were consigned to a particular hall of his memory palace. The mnemonic devices were displayed as suits of armor would be in the hall of a museum"). Despite its vividly imagined tableau of the world as a cosmic combat zone and average Americans as celestial soldiers, this novel is disappointingly devoid of the awe and mystery it strains so mightily to evoke.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
The plot is thought-provoking as well. When two demons battle for world dominion, who is the "good guy"? Marano deftly avoids the plot pitfall of bringing in God to quash the demons and restore everything to normal, which was refreshing. Instead, the tensions keep mounting until the novel's end, which makes for compelling reading. I had to finish the book in one night because I couldn't go to sleep without knowing what was going to happen next.
On the positive side, I found it to be an extremely interesting concept, reminiscent of the Book of Job because here are two "spiritual" (?) beings watching humans deal with what is being thrown at them from outside their own realm. Two demons battle for dominion on earth. I found the characterization to be exceptional, containing the kind of detail that usually is the domain of Anne Rice. Of the main characters, there is Lawrence, a clerk in a bookstore who has come to terms with his own homosexuality, but not his father's death; Paul, a teacher founded in reality who, at one point, encourages a student teacher to fight the good fight, and then a few pages later, decides to quit teaching himself, and finally; Ed Sloane, our resident theological anti-hero. All of these people are drawn in great detail. Also, I liked how Marano does for the west end of Boston - Kennemore Square, Copley Place, Fenway Park - what Rice does for New Orleans. Namely, he paints it as a very dark location. Never in this book did I ever get the feeling that the sun was shining. However, though this tapestry is dark, it is, at times, quite beautiful.
Still, as the one armed economist might say, "on the other hand", there is no force of good in this book. I think the reader needs that in this kind of story. There are no good guys, no guys in white hats, no Lone Ranger to save the town and hence humanity. Rooting for one of the demons over the other doesn't offer much either.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
As a fan of the horror genre I am very often forced to sit through a book by a well known author that although has the major affect of scaring me out of my wits, rarely gets deep... Read morePublished on Oct. 4 2001 by Tiffani Nadeau
I enjoyed the storyline and charactor development. It should have been a 'good read' but was, for me, spoilt by cumbersome presentation and 'arty' expression. Read morePublished on Dec 30 2000 by J. Whittle
it was well written and i probably would have enjoyed the plot had i been able to follow it. i lost interest before the end and lost the book...no sweat off my back. Read morePublished on Aug. 20 2000
It took me a while to get really "into" this one. However, I was really hooked from page one because I just couldn't put it down. Read morePublished on March 28 2000 by mellion108
I enjoyed this book, but I have heard the whole thing is based on a real group of ceremonial magicians living in Oakland, some of whom the author actually knew. Read morePublished on March 17 2000
DAWN SONG is hard to "review" as most books are reviewed in that it is such a refreshing deviation from the norm; it is moody, clever, mind-bending, and completely... Read morePublished on Nov. 30 1999 by Elizabeth
This novel is a succubus in itself. Its intense brooding darkness contained a subtle style and atmosphere that produces in the reader a new strain of melancholy. Read morePublished on Sept. 29 1999