Halloween Special – DIY Antlers, Wall Decor and Snack Ideas

Halloween is only two days away and I’m working hard to get everything ready for the small party I’m throwing.
Here are two really cool but simple and cheap DIY’s plus some creepy-cute snack ideas, I hope you like them!

DIY’S

Deer Antlers

For my costume come Saturday I really needed a pair of large, wearable antlers. It can be quite expensive to buy that kind of costume accessories so I looked to the internetz for aid. I found some tutorials on how you could create your own antlers with non-fancy materials. With those in mind, I improvised.
I’m actually super happy with the result, and all in all it only took me about 2-3 hours so check it out. : D

What you need:

  • Tin foil
  • Paper tape
  • String
  • Acrylics (optional)
  • Headband
  • Glue gun or similar sticky-provider
Doesn't look like much.
Doesn’t look like much.

Step 1: Create the basic shape you want for your antlers out of the tin foil. Just tear off a large piece, maybe 30×30 cm, then scrunch and bend away. Add smaller pieces if you want more points on your antlers.

Step 2: Tape all around your foil base, from root to tip(s). This stabilizes and smooths your construction.

Tin foil-base all taped and purdy (...)
Tin foil-base all taped and purdy (…)

Step 3: Wrap thick-ish string around the foil base. This creates a nice, horn-like texture and eliminates any unwanted bumps and cavities you might still have. Cut and glue the edges so they stay put.

Wrapped and almost ready to go.
Wrapped and ready to be glued.

Step 4 (optional): Paint your horns! I choose to keep mine as they were, I was short on time and the string I had used was the colour I wanted anyway. But if you got the time or want black, glossy or just more advanced horns then this is where you make it happen. I’d recommend a darker base with lighter tips and some shading in the ridges to make them pop more.

Step 5: Attach the antlers to a head band. I used a cheap but effective glue gun and was surprised at how little problem this step created. The tin foil and tape base makes your horns really lightweight despite their size and I was thrilled that it actually worked, haha. Most of my ideas work better in my head, but this was not one of them. : D

halloween deer antlers- geek by joh - close-up antlers
Done, except for some last-minute touch ups I’ll probably do as I finish my costume.

Make sure to measure and mark where on the headband the antlers should be attached. Otherwise they might end up at a wrong angle or too low or high for you liking once you put them on.

I’m looking forward to wearing them, even though they are a bit scrappy and rough they look really good on. (I’ll obviously cover the headband and horn roots with my hair, hehe.)

Wall Decor – The Three-Faced God

Or The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. Whatever you prefer.
I came upon these simple, white paper masks in a hobby store, they were about 3 dollars each. I liked how impersonal and creepy they looked and decided to paint them a little and hang them on my wall.

What you need:

  • Paper masks
  • Acrylic paint
  • Ink pen
The masks! I actually think they are creepy just like they are, so if you don't want to paint you could simply hang them up straight away, haha.
The masks! I actually think they are creepy just like they are, so if you don’t want to paint you could simply hang them up straight away, haha.
First mask painted. No smudging so far *knock on wood*
First mask painted. No smudging so far *knock on wood*
Waiting for paint to dry.
All three done. Waiting for paint to dry so I can add a little bit of ink.
The finished result!
The finished result!
Three identical white masks, slightly altered by paint. One has red tears running down it's cheeks. One has blood dripping from it's mouth. One has two long, red scars across it's face.
Close-up time.

Not much to say about the process, as you can see it is very straight-forward. I simply painted and tried to not go overboard. I wanted them to be like the three faces of one dark deity– one sad, one bloodthirsty and one serious and scarred.

Snack ideas and strategies

Key element of my preparations for Halloween this year was cheap and simple. Busy-student-style. Yeaaah. With some modifications, these treats will be my saviours come Saturday.

Ghost Cupcakes

ghost cupcakes
Original recipe: Halloween Ghost Cupcakes

These are just so adorable. I will keep the design but go for a basic muffin batter, with a blood-red center filled with raspberries and white chocolate to make it a bit more interesting.
I’ll make a double batch of both batter and frosting so I’ll also have enough for…

Pumpkin Cupcakes

halloween-pumpkin-cupcake
via baked cupcakery uk

I think this design will look great next to the ghost ones! I’ll flavour what’s left of the basic batter with carrot and cinnamon (pumpkin and spice would be delicious and maybe more theme-appropriate, but I want to make do with what I already have at home).
I’ll then colour the white frosting orange with food-dye and try to use that to imitate the pumpkin decor, and create the green stems and black features from coloured marzipan.

Spider Cookies

spider cookies
Original recipe: Chocolate Peanut Butter Spider Cookies

The cutest of them all! Although, I will merely be inspired by the look here as I have friends who are very allergic to peanuts. I’ll do it the quick and dirty way instead:

  • Buy Sugar Cookies
  • Stick a chocolate truffel on top
  • Drizzle melted chocolate to create the “legs”
  • Add edible googly eyes.

Done!

Creepy, Moldy (mmm) Popcorn

Slimy green.
Slimy green.

Just discovered this so I can’t vouch for it, but looks to be exactly what I was after. A bit more complicated than simply slathering food dye on the popcorn, but probably a lot less soggy. Recipe and guide from Wikihow ❤

That was it for the DIY’s I’ve already made and my snack plans!

Come Saturday I will also make a Dead Leaf Curtain to pimp our apartment with, and of course finish my costume.
I might make another post on that and  my party decor, but I wanted to get these up ASAP in case anyone was looking for inspiration but would be out of time by Saturday. 🙂

Thanks for stopping by and stay tuned, mwahaha.

/Joh

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Top 3 Non-Cringey YA Fantasy Books

I am a big fan of Young Adult books when they merge with the fantasy genre. But, it can be an absolute pain to navigate these waters if you, like me, are sensitive to overly flowery language and awkwardly described sexual tension. Maybe I used to be too young for it and then fast-forwarded to being too old. Anyway:

Below are three books whose existence there’s at least a possibility that you might have missed. They all have the ingredients of what I think makes a great YA book: easy and enjoyable to read, cool hero/heroine, danger and romance- but  handles the genre with a little more style than the average Twilight-wannabe.

3. “Tithe – A Modern Faerie Tale” by Holly Black

tithe a modern fairytale

Nobody does edgy, YA urban fantasy like Holly Black. Think bleak suburbia, grunge outfits, hopeless infatuation, grim death and fairies. Yes, fairies. But these are about as far from Tinkerbell as you can get. These are cruel, powerful and poised, especially the nobles.

A mortal had woven it, a man who, having caught sight of the Seelie queen, had spent the remainder of his short life weaving depictions of her. He had died of starvation, raw, red fingers staining the final tapestry.

The story really begins when Kaye finds an injured fairy knight in the woods on her way home from a party gone sour.
He has been shot and she pulls the iron-tipped branch out of his chest in exchange for three questions. His name is Roiben and he is beautiful, mysterious and emotionally tormented. Ka-ching. (Hey, I never mentioned unpredictable as criteria for the list.)
After this, Kaye is drawn into the bloody politics of the Seelie and Unseelie Court, and also discovers a  truth about herself that changes everything.

Kaye is just the kind of self-sufficient heroine I go for- street smart and not that easily impressed. And to this day she has me thinking that a smudged eyeliner applied without a mirror probably would look totally cool on me as well. Hint: It never does.

A detail I absolutely adore is that the chapters start off with a short quote or poem from another book- sometimes beautiful, sometimes insightful and sometimes foreboding. Major style points. (Y)

2. “Graceling” by Kristin Cashore

graceling-kristin cashore

If you enjoyed the Hunger Games you will probably love this one as well.
In Cashore’s world, some people are born with so-called Graces. These manifest themselves through a certain skill and the mark of the Graced: different-coloured eyes.
Katsa has been born with the Grace of killing and is forced to work as a thug and executioner for her uncle, Lord Randa.

She hates her situation but believes that she does not deserve anything better. In an attempt to somehow make amends, she has formed a secret council who tries to counteract the cruel regimes of the warlords.

On a mission for the council (to free an old, peaceful lord who has been kidnapped) she encounters a fighter who actually matches her skill in combat. Almost, anyway. Intrigued, she takes him out but spares his life.

When the strange young man shows up at Randa’s court and starts asking questions they find a common mystery to solve– who could possibly have gained anything by kidnapping the old nobleman? Unaware of that they are on their way to unraveling the most chilling secret in seven kingdoms they set out to find some answers.

“Lady Katsa, is it?”
“Yes, Lord Prince.”
“I’ve heard you have one eye green as the Middluns grasses, and the other eye blue as the sky.”
“Yes, Lord Prince.”
“I’ve heard you can kill a man with the nail of your smallest finger.”
She smiled. “Yes, Lord Prince.”
“Does it make it easier?”
“I don’t understand you.”
“To have beautiful eyes. Does it lighten the burden of your Grace, to know you have beautiful eyes?”

Katsa is very similar to Katniss personality-wise (not on purpose, the books were released the same year) with her hard practicality and matter-of-fact attitude. She is simply put badass but still real and vulnerable.

The book is funny, thrilling and very fast-paced. I adore this kind of supernatural skills that still has limitations to work around, no matter how powerful. And the antagonist is one of the most disgusting and cold villains I’ve yet to encounter.

1. “A Great and Terrible Beauty” by Libba Bray

a great and terrible beauty- libba bray

Maybe best described as a modern, snarky “Pride and Prejudice” set at a boarding school for young ladies. With the addition of magic, lots more girl power and things that go bump in the night.

Felicity ignores us. She walks out to them, an apparition in white and blue velvet, her head held high as they stare in awe at her, the goddess. I don’t know yet what power feels like. But this is surely what it looks like, and I think I’m beginning to understand why those ancient women had to hide in caves. Why our parents and suitors want us to behave properly and predictably. It’s not that they want to protect us; it’s that they fear us.

It is the first book in a trilogy I’ve read numerous times and highly recommend, especially if you enjoy historical fiction as well as fantasy. The language is pleasantly balanced between 19th century-light and just telling a good story the straightest way, and the characters are wonderfully complex and relatable.

I run after her, not really giving chase. I’m running because I can, because I must.
Because I want to see how far I can go before I have to stop.

Gemma Doyle has been raised in India, and is angry at her mother Virginia for keeping her away from London and an actual life. When they are at the market place, once again bickering, two men approaches Virginia and tells her that “Circe is near”.
Her mother blanches at this and tries to send Gemma home immediately.
So Gemma stomps of, infuriated, but doesn’t get far before a pressure comes over her and she falls into a vision where she sees her mother plunge a dagger into herself to prevent being taken by a horrifying, dark spirit. When Gemma comes to and runs back, she finds her mother dead with the dagger from the vision deep in her chest.

Gemma is finally sent to London, but for all the wrong reasons. There she is to attend the imposing Spence Academy for Young Ladies and must cope with both her grief, the Victorian strictness and Mean Girls a la 19th century.
And then there are the visions that she keeps having of three girls in white– warning her that Circe is coming for her.

The two things I love most about the Gemma Doyle Trilogy is firstly how insightful they are, about friendship and secrets and loneliness and not feeling good enough. And secondly that Bray is constantly entertaining, her sarcastic humor in perfect counterpart to the 19th century setting.

What do you feel? I’ve never been asked this question once. None of us has. We aren’t supposed to feel. We’re British.

Haha, I’ll shut up now. Giving book tips always makes me a bit too enthusiastic, please pretend to not notice how the reviews got longer and longer towards the end, hehe.
I think I want to do more posts like this, maybe one on the quirkiest fantasy I’ve read? Oh, or my favourite zombie books! Yes, yessss! (<–really poor Palpatine-impression.)

Thank you so much for reading, I hope you found at least one of them a bit interesting. See you next week!

/Joh

Scary good art – Karl-Johan Thole

NOTE: When I say scary good, I mean it in all its various implications. His creations are not for the faint of heart. You have now been warned.

Karl-Johan “Utte” Thole and I studied game design together at university, but he is just on completely another level when it comes to painting. He is never pleased with his work though, which I think is crazy because look at the stuff, but that seems to be the curse of almost all truly creative people in this world.

Anyway, enough blabbering. Just in time for this the spookiest of months and with Halloween soon upcoming- feast your eyes and fuel your nightmares with these babies! ;_;

“Tolk”

Hang this suave horror above your bed, I dare you.

“Jasmine”

Inspired by Maxim Verehin & Gottfried Helnwein.
(Though rumour claims it actually depicts me on monday mornings.)

A study from the movie
A still study from the movie Triangle.

Wow. I wish I could paint like that! The skin and lighting are just amazing don’t you think?

“Subject X”

Such a charming creature. Love the almost chalky feel of this and can I just say, you have one twisted imagination Utte. My mom claims I have, but yours is just way waaay worse.

“Monster”

Aptly named, here is a 3D model of another of his beloved mutated, blood-dripping aliens. Such nice work on the topology, I could never get that quite right hehe.
I faced this creature in a prototype game they made for the Oculus Rift and all I remember after that is screaming and trying to get the Rift of my head. So I guess that’s a job well done.

He also does more err, non-revolting paintings, mostly studies like for example these two:

A woman, in profile, wearing a feather earring.
“Study – Emelie”. Original photo by David Bellemere.
Black and white painting of a young alternative woman with lots of jewellry and dreadlocks.
“Value study”

I especially like the contrast of sharp versus smudged in the last one. (And can I please have her hair and jewelry.)

If you liked, or got disgusted but also intrigued and impressed with what you saw, Karl-Johan has a DeviantArt account , go check it out and show him some love! And thank you for stopping by, I really appreciate it. : )

/Joh

Until Dawn – First impressions

Hayden-Panettiere-Poster-Until-Dawn
Gloom and doom. Let’s do this.

In the outro of my LoTR fan’s Fall To-Do List I mentioned a great weekend involving scary games. And one of these games has stuck in my mind so adamantly that I really want to share my impressions of it with you guys.
I’m talking about new survival horror game Until Dawn.

Haven’t you always thought that you would be so much smarter than the characters of *insert name of any major, stereotypical horror movie*?
I used to think so too but now I’m not so sure anymore. Turns out making the right choice can be seriously complicated.
(Except if your choice is to instantly disagree to crap ideas like spending a weekend on a haunted mountain with a convicted criminal on the loose in combination with no cell phone reception. That would have been a good and simple choice.)

Heading up to the cabin. I'm feeling good about this decision.
Heading up to the cabin. Feeling real good about this.

I will admit straight away that I did not touch the controller. That is still out of my league because the terror is real. But I was part of the decision-making and  watched intently for about five hours so thus I feel qualified to tell you what I think of the game so far. xD

Until Dawn allows you to step into the classical horror movie tale of teenagers isolated in a cabin in the mountains. The wealthy Washington family has built their luxury cabin on a mountain that is sacred to a native american tribe, and now an unidentified lunatic is set on bloody, excruciating revenge.
You alternate between playing as the different teenagers, who are a rather dramatic and bitchy crew let me tell you, and chose how they react in different situations and what they say.

The  game’s biggest unique selling point, in my opinion, is how one tiny action or dialogue choice heavily impacts how the game plays out- the butterfly effect. This is what really drew me in and kept me in the room even after shit hit the fan and I started screaming on a regular basis.
I had to know what happened because of the choices we made, and see if we could avoid the next death through smart play.

Which alternative will get someone killed in the next chapter? So much pressuuuuuure
Which alternative will get someone killed in the next chapter? So much pressuuuuuure!

An interesting feature interacting with the butterfly effect was the totems. Tying in with the native american theme, you can find and pick up totems lying in the snow or in dark corners of the cabin. These can for example warn about Death or Loss or give Guidance. The visions of possible events add another level to the butterfly effect, will you create that very destiny in your efforts to avoid it? The atmosphere is one of constant doom looming and frankly, I was exhausted after a couple of hours trying to cheat death and get everyone through the night and off that damn mountain.

Phew, yellow totems offers guidance.
Yellow totems offer guidance.

In between acts, we get to visit the shrink. I don’t yet know if he will turn out to be a real person or just a figment of your imagination. But he is very creepy.
This moody and gloomy character is modeled after and brilliantly voiced by Peter Stormare (swede high-five!).
For the record I think it’s awesome how it is possible to merge the film and game medium like this, letting professional actors lend their voices and even their mimicry through motion capture – another big name doing a wonderful job is Hayden Panettiere as Sam.
Anyway, Stormare’s shrink starts out semi-friendly and helpful, but soon things take a sinister turn and I have a feeling that these sessions will get very dark, very soon. I am also pretty sure that this is a clever way for the game to mold itself after your personal fears and preferences, while also giving tantalizing clues as to what will happen next.

Dr Hill is in.
Dr Hill is in.

You can’t write about Until Dawn without mentioning the graphics, because they are ah-mazing, as you can see from the screenshots I’ve included above. It’s a new, fresh game and it looks the part. Apart from a few dodgy freeze frames on too-toothy smiles when a new character is introduced, the game is eerily life-like. The snowy woods, the log cabins, the people, the gore– everything looks almost too real for me to able to cope with. And my guesses are that I’ve by no means seen the worst of it yet.

If you have nerves of steel, or back up from several friends including one that can handle the steering, I highly recommend trying out Until Dawn. I NEED to know how it ends! And then I would like to figure out how to get things to end better. Arrrgh.

/Joh

(A LoTR-fan’s) Fall To-Do List

hobbit-trailer-landscape-mountain

He found himself wondering at times, especially in the Autumn, about the wild lands, and strange visions of mountains that he had never seen came into his dreams. – J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

I can’t help it, I’m obsessed with autumn. And it goes (too) well with my everlasting Tolkien-fandom.
So just for fun, here’s a silly little to-do list for a Lord of the Rings-y fall:

    • Spend an entire Sunday reading, drinking tea and burning pumpkin-scented candles. Occasionally mutter “I want to see mountains again, Gandalf, mountains!” and pretend to be anxious for adventure. Don’t leave the sofa though. [    ]
      bilbo-no
    • Every time you light a candle, shout “The beacons are lit! GONDOR CALLS FOR AID!” [    ]
    • Proceed to prance about for a while, building tension, before finally proclaiming “and Rohan will answer!” [    ]

      So majestic. ;_;
      So majestic. ;_;
    •  Take a walk through the woods and try to find a shortcut to the mushrooms. [    ]Pippin- Mushrooms-lord-of-the-rings
    • Accidentally get spider web in your hair and bird poo on your clothes but roll with it and claim you’re cosplaying Radagast. [    ]

      radagast-rabbits
      Leave the rabbits alone though.
    • See a flock of birds migrate south. Hide and whisper “Crebain from Dunland!” [    ]
    • Encourage and study with your classmates before the big exam. When they leave, mumble “I give hope to men. I leave none for myself”. Bonus points for a far-off gaze and dejected posture. [    ]
Sad aragorn is sad.
Aww.
    • Discover the sun no longer burnsss and agree to spend time outside again with the explanation “I come back to you now… at the turn of the tide.” [    ]
    • YellMellon! Meellllloooon!” at your work computer (and anything else you’ve forgotten the password to during the summer). [    ]
      How you feel the the technology fights back.
      How you feel when the technology fights back.

      The last but very important step:

  • Ignore your girl/boyfriend’s exasperated sighs. I found this to be key. [    ]

Good job! You are done and have successfully eliminated all chances of seeming like a normal and well-functioning human being. : D (Y)

Btw, I hope you all had a lovely weekend! I went to see some friends and had so much fun. We played Keep Talking And Nobody Explodes and Until Dawn and I did scream, but not as much as I expected. I think I’m getting braver. Or just more determined to not make people around me go deaf.
Anyhow, I’ll see you in a week, cheers!

/Joh

The Ultimate Harry Potter Quiz Collection

My letter probably just got Errol-ed. It's on its way. It is!
My letter probably just got Errol-ed. It’s on its way. It is!

If you are a fan of the Harry Potter universe, you’ve probably spent a lot of time imagining yourself in it, thinking about what it would be like if you were a part of it.

I know I have.

So in an attempt to do something nice for all you HP-geeks out there (and because I flipping loved doing the research) I’ve gathered the best Harry Potter quizzes I could find in one blog post. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did!

The Pottermore Sorting Hat Test

This is the big one for many of us. And it is Rowling’s own sorting quiz. Meaning it does not get more authentic than this so just go do it! Pretend it is finally happening.

After all these years of guessing and suspecting, turns out I'm a Ravenclaw. : D
After all these years of guessing and suspecting, turns out I’m a Ravenclaw. : D

(This quiz originally belongs on Pottermore, but the site is undergoing changes. The questions and results are identical so don’t worry.)

Want a more thorough description once you know your house? Clicky!

Slytherin

Gryffindor

Hufflepuff

Ravenclaw

What’s Your Patronus?

You know you want to know. This is an enjoyable and quick quiz and surprised me by being rather accurate.

Fun fact:
Fun fact: “Expecto Patronum” roughly translates to “I await a protector”.

What’s your Animagus?

Wouldn’t it be amazing to be able to shapeshift? I can’t believe more wizards and witches want to attempt it, despite the risks.
Out of the lot of animagus-quizzes that’s out there, this is a rather good one. Not written-by-Rowling-herself-perfect, but creative questions and in-depth results.

If you want an even more accurate suggestion:

This Spirit Animal quiz maybe isn’t Harry Potter-themed per say but perfect for finding your true animagus form.

Minerva McGonagall. Badass since 1935.
Minerva McGonagall. Badass since 1935.

What Job Would You Have In The Harry Potter Wizarding World?

I’m really impressed with this one- fun to take and the result melted my heart:

You got: Dragon Keeper.Some people may find dragons terrifying, but you’re intrigued by the winged beasts. You get to raise them from egg to adulthood, and you’ve come to enjoy their company more than you enjoy being with other wizards.”

How to train your Ukrainian Ironbelly?
How to train your Ukrainian Ironbelly?

What Would Be Your Best Subject At Hogwarts?

Credible results and fun to know! At least for the Hermiones among us.

Which Hogwarts Professor Would Be Your Mentor?

I believe I’m not alone in wishing to have teachers like those on Hogwarts. This is a well-made and accurate personality test and I hope you will be as pleased with your result as I was with mine.

Move over Harry.
Move over Harry.

Which Order of the Phoenix Member Are You?

Why would you be in the Order and who of the original members are most similar to you? Accurate and quick.

Just for fun, or if you’ve had a really bad day and feel like exploring your evil self:

Which Death Eater Are You?

Can’t really say if this was accurate or not, but a bit fun to see who your evil twin would be. I got the Dark Lord himself and I do not really know how I feel about that. He was kinda hot when he was young though. Before all the dying and the no-nose-situation.

Always had a thing for the bad boys in fiction.
Always had a thing for the bad boys in fiction. >.>

Speaking of fictional crushes:

Which Harry Potter Character Should You Actually Marry?

Or date or you know, admire from afar. Whatever level of commitment you’re ready for. Both girls and boys in the result and decently on point.

Which “Harry Potter” Witch Should Be Your BFF?

Chicks before di… er, friends are nice to have! Who would you hang out with? Jokes aside, this was maybe the best friend quiz I found. Desperate for the possibility of a male BFF? (Not my first choice since it seems aimed at quite a young audience. Still one of the better ones, trust me. The things I’ve seen.)

We’re almost at the end now but there is one more thing we just HAVE to know. So…

Which Quidditch Position Would You Play?

Quidditch- a sport so amazing that even muggles play it without even being able to fly. (I would be a Beater! Fear me.)

Serious nerd dedication.
Serious nerd dedication.

So, that was that! I hope you had a bit of fun and got to imagine your life Potterified. I’d love to know your results if you don’t mind sharing them. : D

/Joh

Geek read (Autumn Special) – Neil Gaiman Top 3

Forestwander.com
Autumn means an overpowering need to snuggle up with good books and hot tea.

I was going to write something about how autumn is the optimal season to read in but then my mind went “oh, oh, remember how cozy it is in winter when it’s snowing!” and “but in summer you’re on vacation and can indulge for daaays”. So let’s settle for that autumn is lovely to read in, just like the other seasons (but maybe just a liiittle better?). I’m rambling.

Anyhow, seasonally appropriate or not I wanted to share some lovely reads from the rock star of the fantasy genre- Neil Gaiman.

The man himself.
The man himself.

I have been reading and adoring his books since I was half my current size (which might impress you if you saw me). Here are my top 3 through the years, and let me tell you it was not easy to choose. 🙂

3. Stardust

stardust-neil-gaiman-geekbyjoh
My favourite cover of Stardust. Unfortunately the copy I own has the movie poster on it. No further comments.

Delightfully turning all what we expect from a fairy tale on its head, Stardust’s plot looks the part of a classic “hero journeys to a fabled land to retrieve a fallen star and win a fair maiden’s hand“. But there the similarities end. Stardust is a wondrous and quirky ride of a story, at times humorous and at times melancholic.
The hero is young, awkward Tristan Thorn, who thinks himself hopelessly in love with the village belle Victoria Forester. Attempting to woo her despite her obvious disinterest he vows to bring her the star they see falling one night, landing beyond the Wall bordering their village. The Wall keeps things in, and it keeps things out.

So there are two problems with his quest. One is that no one goes beyond the Wall. Second, the star is not a lump of space rock but a woman called Yvaine.

First the light in the sky was no bigger than the moon, then it seemed larger, infinitely larger, and the whole grove trembled and quivered and every creature held its breath and the fireflies glowed brighter than they had ever glowed in their lives, each one convinced that this at last was love, but to no avail And then — There was a cracking sound, sharp as a shot, and the light that had filled the grove was gone.

Or almost gone. There was a dim glow pulsing from the middle of the hazel thicket, as if a tiny cloud of stars were glimmering there.

And there was a voice, a high clear, female voice which said, “Ow,” and then, very quietly, it said “Fuck,” and then it said “Ow,” once more.

As you can tell, the language is vivid, poetic and dryly humourous at the same time. Few authors, in my opinion, can create a language that is so easy to read and yet not at all childish, and I find it a joy to read.

The object that caused Yvaine to fall from her night sky was a strange amulet, and soon she and the amulet is searched for by our lovesick Tristan, mighty princes and evil witches alike. Tristan finds her first and the rest is for you to find out. : D

Do NOT confuse the book for a written version of the movie. While I don’t hate the movie (and especially not you Michelle Pfeiffer), it is way less edgy and whimsical and a lot more soppy and stereotypical.

2. American Gods

american-gods-neil gaiman-geekbyjoh
If you like deep, bleak, awesome stuff- go grab a copy of “American Gods”.

If Stardust is at least partly a sweet fairy tale and can be enjoyed by kids and adults alike, American Gods is definitely intended for grown ups. This is intellectual fantasy at it’s finest. I find the idea behind this book so intriguing: where do forgotten gods go? When the ones who believed in them die or move someplace new and forget their roots, do their old gods die too? And what if the gods don’t want to be forgotten?

I am not a religious person, but I love mythology. This books weaves together myth and religion, present and past, fiction and cold hard reality in an intelligent and riveting way.

“You got to understand the god thing. It’s not magic. It’s about being you, but the you that people believe in. It’s about being the concentrated, magnified, essence of you. It’s about becoming thunder, or the power of a running horse, or wisdom. You take all the belief and become bigger, cooler, more than human. You crystallize.” He paused. “And then one day they forget about you, and they don’t believe in you, and they don’t sacrifice, and they don’t care, and the next thing you know you’re running a three-card monte game on the corner of Broadway and Forty-third.”

For us readers, it all begins when Shadow is being released from prison. Shadow is a big man, silent, and maybe not very talented at making good choices. But that is all behind him now and all he thinks about is going home to his wife Laura and turning over a new leaf. The day before his release he receives the news: Laura is dead. As his world crumbles he is approached by an odd, charismatic old man who calls himself Wednesday. He conveniently enough has a job for Shadow.

American Gods is raw. There is violence, regret, betrayal, sex and death– but if you can handle Game of Thrones (I need a lot of closed-eye-time for that. I’m sensitive okay) then it is nothing to worry about.

I think that while not as dreamy and charming as many of Gaiman’s other works, and frankly a more tedious read, what brings me to award it second place is how unique, grim and thought-through it is. If you, like me, are a mythology-enthusiast you will find yourself hoarding clues and going wide-eyed at “coincidents” with character names and actions. Maybe the name Wednesday already gave you a clue as to who Shadow is dealing with?

Time flies when you are reading ridiculously long book reviews no? No? >.> Here’s goes number one!

1. Neverwhere

neverwhere-neil gaiman-geekbyjoh
Disclaimer: I do not endorse storming the sewers looking for a way into London Below. But I fully sympathise with the impulse.

Style-wise Neverwhere lands somewhere in between the easy-going Stardust and the mature American Gods. This is brilliant urban fantasy– haunting, creative and bustling with life. It is also highly entertaining.

Neverwhere takes place in London and tells the story of Rickard Mayhew, a young businessman with a lovely but quite demanding girlfriend. On their way to meet up with her influential boss they stumble unto a gravely injured, tattered girl. Her name is Door and to his girlfriend’s dismay, Richard helps her and brings her home.

The next morning Door has mysteriously disappeared , and so has the life Richard knew and kind-of-sort-of-liked. He seems to have ceased to exist. No one can see him, hear him and his bank cards are being declined. He has been claimed by London Below– the city beneath the city, inhabited by creatures of shadow and magic and those who have fallen through the cracks.

He hopes to set everything back to normal by finding the person he suspects was responsible for the change: Door. Who is conveniently being hunted down by the legendary assassins Mr Vandemar and Mr Croup.

Mr. Croup turned out the lights. “Oh, Mister Vandemar,” he said, enjoying the sound of the words, as he enjoyed the sound of all words, “if you cut us, do we not bleed?”

Mr. Vandemar pondered this for a moment, in the dark. Then he said, with perfect accuracy, “No.”

Other than having that wonderfully creepy villain-duo and a lot of other equally colourful characters, the setting of Neverwhere is engrossing. I love the real London, and London Below is that with extra icing. For example, in Earl’s Court subway resides an actual Earl and his posse and Knightsbridge (Night’s bridge) is a crossway of living darkness and terrible power.
The way London Below exists underneath and in parallel with normal London and the fact that Richard is just a normal guy gives me that “Harry Potter-discovers-the-wizard-world / Narnia”-vibe. It feels realistic enough to imagine it could have been me. (Only it wasn’t. Insert sound of a heart breaking.)

Neverwhere’s balance between chilling and playful, humoristic and dark, everyday life and the utterly bizarre is what earns it the number one spot and why I think it is a perfect autumn read. 😀 (That and the matter of me being the worst anglophile in Sweden. Hehe.)

/Joh