Being a part of Bibliophile’s Workshop’s many different blog tours,“ will give you the opportunity to read various novels, spanning many genres and writing styles, along with helping share new, promising titles with readers all across the internet.
Information About the Book:
Keep your eyes peeled for two cover images of the sequels in Greg Wilkey’s Mortimer Drake series below that both carry links to a special Rafflecopter Widget, from where you must complete different tasks in order to earn entries, to increase the chances of possibly winning an audiobook. All winners are chosen randomly, so your cumulative number of entries does not automatically qualify you as a selected winner. It only increases the probability that you may be one of the chosen winners.
Fortunately, the contest is open to everyone, worldwide, since we are giving away digital editions of the audiobook, not physical CD or cassette copies as those do not exist. The contest ends at Midnight, May 2nd 2015, and the three winners will be promptly informed via email, bearing the very exciting news that they are one of the lucky winners of this dramatic audio-recording from Auspicious Apparatus Press of the first book in Greg Wilkey’s four book Mortimer Drake series.
Day #2 Post: Archive of Past Reviews of Mortimer Drake Books.
Posted below, for your convenience, are the three reviews I’ve written of the first three novels of the Mortimer Drake series. A review of the fourth novel of the series Star Blood will be published for the first time this Saturday, May 2nd, the last day of this weeklong blog tour, dedicated entirely to helping to promote the new audiobook edition of Greg Wilkey’s Growing Up Dead.
Since these are older review, you’ll notice that there will be some inconsistencies, in terms of mentioning things that have already transpired, such as the release of Star Blood, being mentioned towards the end of the review of Hope Against Hope. There were no alterations made to any of the below published reviews, they are accurate replicas of content that has been previously published here.
Review of Growing Up Dead:
For the longest time, I put off reading this book, mostly because I was very skeptical about the vampire genre as a whole. Greg has posted about it numerous times on Anne Rice’s Facebook page. Astonishingly, Anne Rice has posted several times, calling this book to attention. Unfortunately, when you’ve read far too many YA vampire books, you start to grow very tired of the same paranormal-romance plot conventions that are employed in YA vampire fiction. Then again, most of the paranormal books in the YA market have romance attached.Ever since Stephanie Meyer’s own vampire books allowed these seemingly dissimilar genre labels to be wedded for their overall lucrative quality.
Fortunately, Greg Wilkey’s self-published vampire series, the Mortimer Drake series, is aimed more for Middle-Grade readers, which lessens the focus on romantic elements. This is much more of an action-packed story with very well-constructed characters and an appropriately suspenseful plot. The prose is very clean and not too superfluous; Greg expertly writes scenes with a succinctness that some of his professionally-published peers have not been able to quite master.
Towards the end, the story did seem to transform into a X-men inspired plot. This is fine by me, of course, because the old, nineties X-Men cartoon was awesome, and it was neat to see this story pay homage to that series in a respectful way(not in a plagiarizing way). In the end, the main reason that I really loved this book was that it adeptly translates the unrelenting pace of a good comic book, while filling in the gaps between action sequences with excellent character development.
Remember, that this book is geared for middle-grade readers, so don’t expect something as intricate as say Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles. It is a novel that is attuned to what keeps readers tearing through the pages. Above all, it is extremely entertaining, and is definitely one of the best escapist reads that you can buy for less than a cup of Starbucks coffee. For the comic book nerd in all of us, this is definitely the series to read! “
Review of Out of the Underworld:
As someone that has spent multiple semesters wading through books with the single-minded goal of thoroughly analyzing them for meaning, I am dependent on books like Greg Wilkey‘s very fun, action-packed vampire series-The Life and UnDeath of Mortimer Drake- to spare my mind the madness that starts to set in, once I forget the fact that there books can be purely entertaining, and not just intellectually stimulating. I don’t want to say this series is pure camp, only because of the negative connotations related with that word. Even though the plot does indeed pay homage to the adventure-filled plot lines of older adventure shows, cartoons, and movies of everyone’s nerdy childhood, there is still quite a lot of subtle depth in both the characterization and plot within this series. Again, it’s not heavy duty drama or Downton-Abbey style soap opera filled with an astonishing number of interlaced plot contrivances (good plot contrivances, of course).
Instead of merely accessing the book for its quality in this review (that’s too dull and pedantic for a book series like this), I will reveal three spoilers, all offered up with enigmatic details and suitable allusions to other tv shows and films that reminded me eerily of scenes from the story. Being a complete, die-hard nerd, I cannot help but throw in the pop-culture references in a series of books that really are comic books in novel form.
Semi-Spoiler #1-There is a heart at the center of the plot.
Uncannily, Out of the Underworld bears a lot of resemblance to Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, except Alexander’s sister Lena and Alexander’s mother have a formidable charm to them that is incomparable with Indiana Jones’ blonde hair sidekick that screams incessantly for help all throughout this rather lackluster sequel. Why do I bring up Temple of Doom? Well,there’s an important, treasured item within the story (not divulging the full title because I don’t want to disperse the novel’s rich air of mystery) that involves a heart-the literal organ in our body. I will offer this comforting spoiler- this heart is strikingly different from the way hearts are barbarically torn from highly memorable, traumatic scene from the weakest of the Indiana Jones films. Thankfully, Out of the Underworld is not the weakest of the Mortimer Drake novels.
Semi-Spoiler #2-The chamber that holds this precious heart is a cave .
Relating back to the atmosphere of the story, there is a mysterious cave sequence that conjured certain recognizable images of cave tropes from both recent television series and movies. There are a panoply of these types of cave images, but the role that the cave plays within the series recalled images from Aladdin, which prominently featured the good old-fashion image from classic mythology of a treasured genie lamp or some other esoteric treasure being buried within a cave, and the intrepid hero can discern these various hazards and recognize then how to see through their deceptive qualities. In the end, it will be this hero that will have the capacity to find the mysterious item in the cave, thereby unlocking a treasure that will have serious ramifications on the rest of the plot. Without spoiling anything for new readers of the Mortimer Drake series, Out of the Underworld does feature its own Cave of Wonder sequence, along with an intrepid hero and his respective sidekicks that will indeed find the famed “heart.” Since both Indiana Jones Temple of Doom and Aladdin are being compared in this review; I decided to throw in the cave of wonder scene with audio from Indiana Jones that was cleverly woven into the video.
Semi-Spoiler #3- Adding intrigue to the mystery of the cave and the heart, there is mythology that works as the fabric of mystery that fully ties together this entire plot-thread.
In the previous installment of the Mortimer Drake Chronicles, Growing up Dead, there was a rich mythological origin story that refashioned the myth of Persephone and Hades as the purported tale of the origin story of vampires. Let’s face it! Nearly all adventure stories that contain high stakes and great suspenseful moments need their layer of mythos, which adds to the novel’s preternatural atmosphere. This is the well-formulated element that effectively suspends our disbelief, and fully believe temporarily that the world of the novel might very well be a truly tangible realm all of its own.
When reading of the way that Greg Wilkey builds on the same myth and puts it into question by adding parallel explanations of it, I became more and more intrigued by the very notion of there existing multiple forms of the same story. If these myths were passed down generation to generation in the oratorical fashion (spoken aloud in a dramatic tone, normally before an audience of engrossed people), the accounts that proceed from the supposed, unidentifiable original myth cannot be found.
In the nineties, there was an excellent television series, and while the series, appropriately entitled Storyteller, does not explicitly feature the Persephone myth. It does feature a Persephone cameo, during the sequence where Orpheus entreats Hades to revive his deceased lover, Eurydice. Has anyone noticed that Hades has this malevolent ability to just snatch away those we love? Interestingly, the exploration into what or whom represents Hades in the Mortimer Drake series is one that kept interesting me all throughout my reading of the second novel. Anyways, watch this scene play out, and you’ll also recognize that I have managed to feature a cave in all three of these clips. Basically, caves are an important symbolic architecture, when you’re trying to build up a plot from the cement base of the first novel. Fittingly, Out of the Underworld serves as the book that explores some of the ensuing results of the aftermath of the huge plot twists at the end of the last novel. More importantly, it symbolizes Mortimer’s deeper exploration into his complex identity as a vampire, a human, and the complex legacy that he puzzles over throughout this novel. With so many well-timed plot twists within this novel, I cannot wait to see where the plot of third book leads.
Review of Hope Against Hope:
Once again, the high-octane action sequences and intricate plot that were so intrinsic to the success of the last two installments of Greg Wilkey‘s Mortimer Drake series reach a dramatic crescendo in this third volume. Hope Against Hope successfully outwits the threequel curse that has afflicted other books and movies that are part of a long-running series, and continues to be one of the freshest vampire stories out there. Much of this success stems from the fact that Mortimer Drake clearly avoid the romantic melodrama that mars the quality of many other vampire series within the YA vampire genre.
As with the last installment, the journey of Mortimer Drake progressively takes a very dark, gruesome turn in this installment. Rather than have these more morose sequences become overwrought or purely frivolous, Greg Wilkey utilizes the grim quality of these scenes, in order to effectively portray the twisted malevolence of the regime that has taken over Mortimer’s world, after human society finds definitive proof of the existence of vampires. Without spoiling any more specific details, the series even has an interesting scene that viscerally affected me towards the beginning of the novel. Fascinatingly, this scene and several other gut-wrenching sequences seem to pay homage to the Hunger Games, which most readers of my blog are well-aware happens to be one of the most popular YA series in recent years.
While the above discussion may seem wholly irrelevant to a vampire series targeted to middle-grade readers (though realistically for any type of reader), Hope Against Hope has become much more sophisticated in its construction. As Greg Wilkey continues to grow as a writer, he is beginning to unconsciously (or consciously) develop a story that has much more underlying meaning. As with the other books, this book is extremely entertaining, and that is something that Greg has always deftly accomplished. Starting with the end of the last book though, the series has become something deserving of closer inspection. The development of his first three stories of the Mortimer Drake series unwinds as seamlessly as Anne Rice’s own Vampire Chronicles. Again, this might seem presumptuous, but I really feel that the dark overtones of this series and the more challenging ethical questions raised in this third installment are some of the very same ethical questions that were beginning to become more fleshed out in Queen of the Damned, which was also another “threequel” that avoids the “threequel” curse.
Written with flourish and the keen eye of a very talented writer, Hope Against Hope is the novel that cements my feelings that Mortimer Drake is a comic book drama of the highest caliber. Like X-men, Watchmen, Batman,the plot plumbs interesting ethical depths that other series in the middle-grade genre stray away from discussing. Hope Against Hope is a very dark book, but the darkness of the this novel is the substantive type that is also balanced with moments of levity and genuine hope. The darkness of the series never becomes onerous or excessive to wade through. Different from the more superficial incarnations of stories loaded with action, all the books in the Mortimer Drake series invariably questions violence and debates ethics in a way that fantastically coheres with the heart-stopping action and well-orchestrated suspense that has made this entire series a true pleasure to read.
I really look forward to the final installment of the Mortimer Drake series, entitled Star Blood, that should be arriving right on the coattails of this review! Again, this entire series comes with my highest recommendation. While some readers may want more sophisticated prose, this is a series aimed for middle-grade readers, and I think the succinctness of Greg’s prose is truly a very hard thing for any writer to achieve. Of course, there were some minor editorial errors in some of his other books, but he has recently re-released newly edited versions of all his books with the help of Todd Bareselow (serving as his excellent editor). This has never taken away from my enjoyment of the series because I always saw an extremely engaging story, even in what some would term it’s “roughest form”. With that said, I’m really excited for Star Blood,which will be covered on this blog once it’s released later this summer.
Stay tuned tomorrow for my review of the Growing Up Dead Audiobook!