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Humbug: A Neo-Victorian Fantasy in Verse

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"In poems that 'tease reality' in their conflation of scholarship and fabulae, Brenda Mann Hammack draws on and subverts the conventions of late 19th century British literary tradition in her rendering of Victorine, 'a child who won’t die, won’t grow old,' and her companions, including gargoyles and 'a bird crossed with a cat,' whose creation is 'not contingent on God.' Pl "In poems that 'tease reality' in their conflation of scholarship and fabulae, Brenda Mann Hammack draws on and subverts the conventions of late 19th century British literary tradition in her rendering of Victorine, 'a child who won’t die, won’t grow old,' and her companions, including gargoyles and 'a bird crossed with a cat,' whose creation is 'not contingent on God.' Playful, surreal, brilliant in its darkly luminous habitations in which spirits are given meaning, Humbug is craftily wrought and eerily pleasurable." –Michael Waters "The Humbug—what is it? A delightful creature? A misshapen mash-up leading to odd adventure? A Dickensian mis-imagining? Brenda Hammack has created in Humbug a macabre, oddly charming and disturbingly odd story. Something between a novella in verse and a poem with prose interludes. The humbug and his human companion Victorine escape from a house of small horrors created by a mage of sorts and his female counterpart, a medium with migraine and multiple bottled still-born babes. The medium is also Victorine’s mother, at least in name. As a hob and gargoyles come to life and inhabit a neo-Victorian world that appears to be part Dickens, part Lewis Carroll, with generous dashes of Beardsley and Belloc, the verse weaves and dodges from brilliant rhymes toward couplets, free verse, and then prose, creating a metrical tour de force that will engage the skeptical even in the face of Ouija boards, mesmerism, and mediums. A must-read for neo-Victorians, steampunk lovers, and connoisseurs of the occult who have a sense of humor." –Mary Ellis Gibson "The thing I have loved most, from first reading and through subsequent visits, about these poems is the way one is drawn into who Victorine is and how she feels. Her moods become rooms. Her companions are places as much as people. Time stops and sits a spell, whether for delight, horror, or fascination. If you remember losing a day in a square yard’s worth of grass and twigs and earth and pebbles, with ants and dragonflies for company; or, more recently, you’ve warded yourself against the flat cold of a winter’s day with only a hot cuppa and your favorite woolens; then I feel the enchantment in these poems will be well worth whiling away the day down into evening." –Dan Campbell


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"In poems that 'tease reality' in their conflation of scholarship and fabulae, Brenda Mann Hammack draws on and subverts the conventions of late 19th century British literary tradition in her rendering of Victorine, 'a child who won’t die, won’t grow old,' and her companions, including gargoyles and 'a bird crossed with a cat,' whose creation is 'not contingent on God.' Pl "In poems that 'tease reality' in their conflation of scholarship and fabulae, Brenda Mann Hammack draws on and subverts the conventions of late 19th century British literary tradition in her rendering of Victorine, 'a child who won’t die, won’t grow old,' and her companions, including gargoyles and 'a bird crossed with a cat,' whose creation is 'not contingent on God.' Playful, surreal, brilliant in its darkly luminous habitations in which spirits are given meaning, Humbug is craftily wrought and eerily pleasurable." –Michael Waters "The Humbug—what is it? A delightful creature? A misshapen mash-up leading to odd adventure? A Dickensian mis-imagining? Brenda Hammack has created in Humbug a macabre, oddly charming and disturbingly odd story. Something between a novella in verse and a poem with prose interludes. The humbug and his human companion Victorine escape from a house of small horrors created by a mage of sorts and his female counterpart, a medium with migraine and multiple bottled still-born babes. The medium is also Victorine’s mother, at least in name. As a hob and gargoyles come to life and inhabit a neo-Victorian world that appears to be part Dickens, part Lewis Carroll, with generous dashes of Beardsley and Belloc, the verse weaves and dodges from brilliant rhymes toward couplets, free verse, and then prose, creating a metrical tour de force that will engage the skeptical even in the face of Ouija boards, mesmerism, and mediums. A must-read for neo-Victorians, steampunk lovers, and connoisseurs of the occult who have a sense of humor." –Mary Ellis Gibson "The thing I have loved most, from first reading and through subsequent visits, about these poems is the way one is drawn into who Victorine is and how she feels. Her moods become rooms. Her companions are places as much as people. Time stops and sits a spell, whether for delight, horror, or fascination. If you remember losing a day in a square yard’s worth of grass and twigs and earth and pebbles, with ants and dragonflies for company; or, more recently, you’ve warded yourself against the flat cold of a winter’s day with only a hot cuppa and your favorite woolens; then I feel the enchantment in these poems will be well worth whiling away the day down into evening." –Dan Campbell

42 review for Humbug: A Neo-Victorian Fantasy in Verse

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jana Washington

    I won this as a giveaway from Goodreads. This review may seem a bit scattered and organized, but I'm just discussing my initial impressions of the book. First of all, I love poetry. Second of all, I love the Victorian era. How could I lose with this book. Second of all, it is definitely going to take a second read. I know I missed a lot on the first read through. I can certainly tell that it is gothic macabre. It also has numerous allusions to Alice in Wonderland and Greek mythology. I'm not a b I won this as a giveaway from Goodreads. This review may seem a bit scattered and organized, but I'm just discussing my initial impressions of the book. First of all, I love poetry. Second of all, I love the Victorian era. How could I lose with this book. Second of all, it is definitely going to take a second read. I know I missed a lot on the first read through. I can certainly tell that it is gothic macabre. It also has numerous allusions to Alice in Wonderland and Greek mythology. I'm not a big Dickens reader, so even though the back cover says it alludes to Dickens as well, I didn't pick up on that. In the style of Alice in Wonderland, there is a certain oral fixation throughout the work. I admire the difficulty it must have taken to create a world and describe it with poetry. I feel like it is so much easier to do in a novel, and this could have been a novel. I love how the final poem refers back to the first poem in the matter of the humbug purring. I only noticed because I looked back to read my notes. Again, a second read through is necessary. I think the characters are very fully developed. Victorine seems resigned to her fate, very accepting of it. Herself seems damaged by tragedy, epitomized in the jars of fetuses she keeps. Himself seems to be mild mannered and dependent on Herself. It kind of reminds me of the relationship between the King and Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland. I think this was a wonderful book of poetry. Many of the poems could stand alone, but they are so much richer when read as a whole.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Tina

    Before I write my review: I was gifted my copy via a giveaway here on Goodreads. This book was a delight, yet it was not a frothy nor easy read. The atmosphere was intense and distilled via excellent and well-chosen sentences. I could fill this review with lines that were a delight to read. This is not a volume to hurry through; it's to be savored and mulled over. The gothic/Victorian theme is true and pervasive throughout each chapter, line and word; murky and bewitching and well worth reading. Before I write my review: I was gifted my copy via a giveaway here on Goodreads. This book was a delight, yet it was not a frothy nor easy read. The atmosphere was intense and distilled via excellent and well-chosen sentences. I could fill this review with lines that were a delight to read. This is not a volume to hurry through; it's to be savored and mulled over. The gothic/Victorian theme is true and pervasive throughout each chapter, line and word; murky and bewitching and well worth reading. Placed next to my Dickens and Wilkie Collins books, it seems at home.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    Brenda Mann Hammack is a careful master at crafting both poems and prose, though one might not notice her seamless transitions. Her debut book, Humbug, is the most original and imaginative book of poems I've read. One is easily drawn into Victorine's story and of course, easily falls in love with the Humbug! Brenda Mann Hammack is a careful master at crafting both poems and prose, though one might not notice her seamless transitions. Her debut book, Humbug, is the most original and imaginative book of poems I've read. One is easily drawn into Victorine's story and of course, easily falls in love with the Humbug!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Ian Herring

    I won this in a giveaway, and unfortunately is taken me a month to finally get around to it due to my extensive homework and NaNoWriMo. I did finally finish it however, and I was pleasantly surprised with how easily I fell into the story. I particularly loved the time period, because anything Victorian is a big hit with me. I loved the allusions made, or at least the ones I caught. The book does include notes at the end that explain some of the references which was a big help at times when I wasn I won this in a giveaway, and unfortunately is taken me a month to finally get around to it due to my extensive homework and NaNoWriMo. I did finally finish it however, and I was pleasantly surprised with how easily I fell into the story. I particularly loved the time period, because anything Victorian is a big hit with me. I loved the allusions made, or at least the ones I caught. The book does include notes at the end that explain some of the references which was a big help at times when I wasn't quite certain what she alluded to. The story itself may seem a bit scattered or slow at times, from my take of it, but that by no means diminishes what the story has to tell. The text is very interactive if you allow it to be. I've never really been a big poetry person, but I've been testing the waters and trying to enjoy it more lately, as I try to expand my reading tastes. Unfortunately this means my review isn't as strong as I'd like to give. I know that this is definitely something I would have picked up in a store and most likely purchased all on my own, and that it was not one of those things where I was okay with reading it but didn't feel like it made no lasting impact on me, because it definitely had an impact. I'll probably think about this book a lot for the next few months and hopefully I can come back and fix this review and give it a proper one it deserves.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Shelby Rollenhagen

    Brenda Hammack's book of poetry, Humbug: A Neo-Victorian Fantasy in Verse, is intriguing and well-written. Any aspiring poet could learn from her use of enjambment, word choice, verse control, and demonstration of other techniques. The book also makes for an enjoyable read. This book was part of a GoodReads First Reads Giveaway. Brenda Hammack's book of poetry, Humbug: A Neo-Victorian Fantasy in Verse, is intriguing and well-written. Any aspiring poet could learn from her use of enjambment, word choice, verse control, and demonstration of other techniques. The book also makes for an enjoyable read. This book was part of a GoodReads First Reads Giveaway.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Sally

    I won this book in the Good Reads Giveaway. I have never read anything like this before, it was very strange to me, and i lost the plot a few times. I am sure if you like poems, this book can be a good read. I like the fantasy style and wish i could have enjoyed it more. Sorry this book is not for me.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Carlo Matos

    Got a review of this book coming out in Prick of the Spindle.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Poetry Train

  9. 4 out of 5

    Betty

  10. 4 out of 5

    Yvonne Shilling

  11. 4 out of 5

    Melissa Studdard

  12. 4 out of 5

    Sonya Brown

  13. 4 out of 5

    Mike Allen

  14. 5 out of 5

    Nandini Dhar

  15. 4 out of 5

    Juliet

  16. 4 out of 5

    Delois Baker-mann

  17. 5 out of 5

    Sara

  18. 4 out of 5

    Elena

  19. 5 out of 5

    SARIT

  20. 4 out of 5

    Sylvie

  21. 4 out of 5

    Ryan

  22. 4 out of 5

    Cindy Gates

  23. 4 out of 5

    Amelia Mangan

  24. 5 out of 5

    Laura Dobb

  25. 5 out of 5

    Richard Tyler

  26. 5 out of 5

    Margaret scotland

  27. 5 out of 5

    Michelle & Tony

  28. 5 out of 5

    Kim Coomey

  29. 5 out of 5

    Eloshko

  30. 4 out of 5

    Molly

  31. 4 out of 5

    Xeno

  32. 4 out of 5

    Sue

  33. 5 out of 5

    Janelea

  34. 4 out of 5

    Alexis Hartley

  35. 5 out of 5

    Lillie

  36. 5 out of 5

    Jessie

  37. 4 out of 5

    Jennie

  38. 4 out of 5

    Jenna

  39. 5 out of 5

    Teresa Lavender

  40. 4 out of 5

    kim peter kovac

  41. 4 out of 5

    Claire

  42. 5 out of 5

    Amanda Moore

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