There are so many books in the world that it’s inevitable that a number of them share titles. Point of fact, I have three different copies of The Snow Queen by three different authors. One beautifully illustrated copy of Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale. One imaginatively retold fluff by Mercedes Lackey. One science fiction retelling by Joan D. Vinge. And yes, I promise that all three of these contain the same story (in part). Even so, books with the same title don’t have to have much, if anything, to do with each other. Regardless, the title is still the easiest way to recognize a book. And the book I finished today simply has one of the most wonderful, terrible, and recognizable titles of all.
Bride of the Rat God.
It sounds like a B movie, doesn’t it?
That’s why I almost didn’t buy it. But I had just discovered Barbara Hambly and I had an opportunity to pick up a lot of her books and Bride of the Rat God was the only one that looked…uncertain. In the end, I was getting these things for 50¢ apiece, so I just added it to the pile. I could always change my mind later.
When I finally worked up the courage to read it, I found a surprise inside. The book is signed. Signed to the former (deceased) owner, but still! The fact that this was the only book of the lot with a signature said quite a lot. So, I steeled myself and read it.
I promise you, this book is far better than that title makes it sound. In fact, it’s about B movies. Old, silent ones, because this story is set in 1920s Hollywood. Flappers and prohibition and movies, oh my! Which does make it a fairly logical follow-up to As You Wish, being about the film industry, even if the movies were silent and black & white.
Bride of the Rat God is a study of contrasts, the overblown and over-the-top world of Hollywood contrasted with the ordinary people living their lives. The main character refers to Hollywood as Oz numerous times, because so much of it seems like a fantasy land, especially in comparison to her previous life. And yet, all the characters are very real people with real strengths and weaknesses. Likable people too.
This book is a wonderful standalone novel, using its outrageous title to lure you into a simple story about healing and learning to live and love again after tragedy and pain.