Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Bride of the Rat God by Barbara Hambly

I've read Barbara Hambly before, and enjoyed her writing, although it has been years since I picked up one of her books.  I found Bride of the Rat God on Net Galley and decided it sounded quirky enough that I had to read it.

Here's what I enjoyed about this book:

*It takes place in Hollywood, 1923.  What a fantastic time to be in Hollywood!  Silent movies were all the rage, and Hollywood was still a magical place.

*The pekingese dogs.  Loved them.  The three dogs: Buttercreme, Black Jasmine, and Chang Ming are a major part of this novel, and have a few surprises of their own.  Protecting Norah and Christine are their jobs. These are not your typical dogs.

*The Chinese mythology.  Oh, I loved this!  Shang Ko is a mysterious old Chinese man. His magical talents have been severely damaged by fighting evil forces in his youth, and he tries to warn Christine and Norah about the danger they are in, but will he be too late?  Learned a lot about Chinese mythology.  Want to know more.

This novel is not new.  It's been reissued as an e-book, and I thoroughly enjoyed it--a pure novel of escape.  Norah, a English widow, is in Hollywood as an assistant to her sister-in-law, Christine.  Christine, known to fans as Chrysanda, is a silent movie actress who enjoys all the trappings of her job:  an affair with her studio boss, lots of money, drugs, and drink.  She's actually a pretty interesting character, and as the novel progresses, you see what's behind the facade of silent movie star.  Norah's job is to keep Christine on time for her commitments, get enough sleep, and make the right choices.  This can be an exhausting job.

Enter the necklace.  Christine wears an opal necklace in one of her films.  It's beautiful, but deadly.  It's cursed.  Anyone who wears it is marked at the next Bride of the Rat God.  And they don't die pretty.  Norah knows something just isn't quite right, but takes quite a bit of the novel to figure it out.  When she does, it will take the combined efforts of Norah, Christine, Shang Ko, and Alec, Norah's potential new beau to keep Christine from becoming the next victim.  

Lots of fun for anyone who likes old Hollywood, silent films, Chinese mythology, and an interesting read.

Rating?  4/5 for originality and combining old Hollywood with Chinese mythology.

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