Official Review: Tales From Kartli

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inaramid
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Official Review: Tales From Kartli

Post by inaramid »

[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "Tales From Kartli" by Revaz-Giorgi Arveladze.]
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2 out of 4 stars
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Revaz-Giorgi Arveladze showcases his country’s history, geography, culture, and mythology in this collection of eight deliciously macabre stories. Tales From Kartli is set in Georgia, a Eurasian nation that encompasses the historical region of Kartli (also called Iberia). Each story opens with a verse from “the smiling bard” and ends with an interpretative illustration of an iconic moment from the tale.

Arveladze effectively plays on the reader’s fascination for the exotic and fear of the unknown, spinning tales of hapless humans, vicious monsters, and the horrors that ensue when they collide. Tales From Kartli strikes a familiar but rather unsettling chord, like reading a fairy tale with some rather perverse twists. In “12th of August,” for instance, a king sends a champion to battle an enemy. But the “champion” isn’t a knight but a bounty hunter, and the “enemy” isn’t a dragon but a three-headed man-eating beast that devoured an entire village. Arveladze spares no detail in describing the carnage that Parnavaz, the hunter, finds upon arriving at his destination. Blood and gore practically ooze from the pages, a consistent thread throughout all the stories, so squeamish readers should beware.

There’s another quest in “The Cycle,” where a father-and-son tandem square off against a creature shrouded in flames. As the title implies, however, there’s no “happily ever after” — or any conventional ending for that matter. This kind of ambiguity heightens the allure of the stories, especially in the tales told from a first-person perspective. A notable example — and my personal favorite — is “The Martyr of the Serpent,” where a priest confesses a horrible sin. The slow and utter corruption of a holy man, an allegory perhaps for a monster emerging from within, is more unsettling than the flesh-and-blood demons that populate the other stories.

But still, Arveladze’s monsters will send a chill to your bones, from an insect-like creature that ensnares travelers with an addictive brew, a woodland spirit that drowns its prey in a river of corpses, to a “notorious visitor” called the Batonebi who personifies sickness and heralds death. The tales transport readers across time and place, from a forest near the Caucasus Mountains where a girl runs for her life, to a modern-day Georgian town where two brothers desperately seek to end the ancient apparitions that haunt them. The human-versus-monster theme runs through the entire collection, but the characters and creatures are distinct enough to keep the tales from feeling too cyclical or redundant.

Had it been more polished, Tales From Kartli would have gotten a 4-star rating. Unfortunately, the writing is quite raw and awkward in many places, and the text isn’t professionally edited. Adverbs are used in excess (e.g., “The bartender, nodding indifferently, joltingly slid a paper menu across the horizontally wide table.”), and descriptions of gore often interfere with the storytelling. Numerous and repetitive editing errors (e.g., using “it’s” instead of “its”) further diminish the joy of reading.

Though it was a pleasure to get to know Georgia through this collection, I can’t rate it any higher than 2 out of 4 stars in its current state. Potential readers should expect graphic descriptions of death and mild instances of profanity. Enthusiasts of the horror genre will delight in the novelty of the setting and the introduction to a new breed of creatures that go bump in the night.

******
Tales From Kartli
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Zee_Zee
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Post by Zee_Zee »

I'm not exactly pleased by the human-versus-monster theme. Though I find a few interesting. I really appreciate your honest review. I'll pass on this one.

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Post by Ediomis_Enwongo01 »

The sight of blood is not a pleasant watch. That it flowed in the pages of the book is disgusting. Thanks for your honest review even though I might not want to read this one.

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Post by NetMassimo »

I appreciate horror stories, including the gory ones, so this anthology seems intriguing to me. Surely with another round of editing it would be more readable. Thank you for your honest review!
Ciao :)
Massimo

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Post by inaramid »

Zee_Zee wrote:
15 May 2020, 01:55
I'm not exactly pleased by the human-versus-monster theme. Though I find a few interesting. I really appreciate your honest review. I'll pass on this one.
Yes, it's not for everyone. Thanks for dropping by!

Ediomis_Enwongo01 wrote:
15 May 2020, 06:35
The sight of blood is not a pleasant watch. That it flowed in the pages of the book is disgusting. Thanks for your honest review even though I might not want to read this one.
It might be a bit much, true.

NetMassimo wrote:
15 May 2020, 06:43
I appreciate horror stories, including the gory ones, so this anthology seems intriguing to me. Surely with another round of editing it would be more readable. Thank you for your honest review!
There are eight stories to choose from, and they're relatively short, so it should be a quick read. I think anyone who's tired of vampires and werewolves would be interested in these creatures from Georgian mythology.

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Post by unamilagra »

This book sounds much too graphic for me. It's a shame about the unpolished writing too, I hope the author works on it. Thanks for your honest review.

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Post by inaramid »

unamilagra wrote:
16 May 2020, 23:04
This book sounds much too graphic for me. It's a shame about the unpolished writing too, I hope the author works on it. Thanks for your honest review.
The gore does tend to go overboard in the stories, but the book, overall, has promise. Thanks for dropping by!

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Post by kdstrack »

I loved your description of this book! The fear of the unknown, the vicious monsters, descriptions of gore, and chills sent to your bones make these stories come alive for readers!! Squeamish readers, beware! Excellent writing.

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Post by booksandmagicshop »

That's unfortunate that the writing and editing were not up to par. I also don't do well with graphic death scenes, so I'll have to pass on this. Thank you though!
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Now, take off your mask and open your eyes.”

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Post by inaramid »

kdstrack wrote:
18 May 2020, 10:20
I loved your description of this book! The fear of the unknown, the vicious monsters, descriptions of gore, and chills sent to your bones make these stories come alive for readers!! Squeamish readers, beware! Excellent writing.
Thank you so much! :D

booksandmagicshop wrote:
18 May 2020, 20:58
That's unfortunate that the writing and editing were not up to par. I also don't do well with graphic death scenes, so I'll have to pass on this. Thank you though!
Wise choice. The images can be disturbing. Thanks for commenting!

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Post by sirbobthewise »

Oooh, Georgian horror stories! I don’t think I’ve ever come across a book of Georgian horror stories. What an interesting premise. The gore and unpolished writing don’t exactly sound like my cup of tea, but I can truly applaud horror story writers who ramp up the creativity. I’m curious to know what the author’s relation to Georgia is. Anyway, really great review!

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Post by Samwisekoop »

This review greatly intrigues me! Not only did you write it very well, but the actual content is captivating! All the creatures sound gruesomely fascinating to me! This looks like a book that I would thoroughly enjoy! Thank you for the review! However, I do wonder if the creature in "The Cycle" that is shrouded in flames is a take-off of J.R.R. Tolkiens creature called a Balrog in The Fellowship of the Ring
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Post by Sheila_Jay »

This sounds like a scary book and I'd not love to read it. However I hope that those who enjoy such books get to enjoy this one too. Thanks for the great review.
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Post by NjorogeSymoh »

An awfully curiously studied - certainly not at all like anything I've seen before. I've been to Tbilisi once in my life and I've never considered that the nation had such an curiously mythology. Certainly worth checking out!

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Post by inaramid »

sirbobthewise wrote:
19 May 2020, 06:54
Oooh, Georgian horror stories! I don’t think I’ve ever come across a book of Georgian horror stories. What an interesting premise. The gore and unpolished writing don’t exactly sound like my cup of tea, but I can truly applaud horror story writers who ramp up the creativity. I’m curious to know what the author’s relation to Georgia is. Anyway, really great review!
It's the mythology aspect that really captured my attention (Georgian mythology was as obscure as they come for me). While the writing does lack polish, it is very promising. English isn't the author's first language (I think), which might account for the awkwardness. I appreciate your thoughts!

Samwisekoop wrote:
19 May 2020, 13:02
This review greatly intrigues me! Not only did you write it very well, but the actual content is captivating! All the creatures sound gruesomely fascinating to me! This looks like a book that I would thoroughly enjoy! Thank you for the review! However, I do wonder if the creature in "The Cycle" that is shrouded in flames is a take-off of J.R.R. Tolkiens creature called a Balrog in The Fellowship of the Ring
Thanks for dropping by! Not even close to a Balrog, I'd say, because the creature in the book is more human in appearance and size. I should note that I did some extra reading on the creatures described in the book (e.g., Rokapi, Ocho-kochi, Kudiani), and I noticed some differences. Perhaps the author took some liberties or reimagined them in some way.

Sheila_Jay wrote:
19 May 2020, 14:57
This sounds like a scary book and I'd not love to read it. However I hope that those who enjoy such books get to enjoy this one too. Thanks for the great review.
I hope so too! Thanks for commenting!

NjorogeSymoh wrote:
20 May 2020, 01:39
An awfully curiously studied - certainly not at all like anything I've seen before. I've been to Tbilisi once in my life and I've never considered that the nation had such an curiously mythology. Certainly worth checking out!
Yes, the mythology is fascinating (Move over vampires and werewolves). The author mentions/describes other places apart from Tbilisi - like Uplistsikhe, which was featured in the very first story. Maybe you'd enjoy this. :)

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