Thomas Harris,
Hannibal Rising
(Delacorte, 2006)

Taking you back to World War II, we meet Hannibal Lecter as an 8-year-old boy and walk with him through the paths of memory to a childhood destroyed by war, as so many were in that time. Losing partial memory due to the trauma of one specific event, Hannibal is eventually found by his uncle and taken in. But though the war is over, tragedy still strikes his life, and the horrid pall of those moments not remembered still haunts him, wanting resolution.

Although this book is about Hannibal Lecter, the terror and horrors portrayed within are different from those covered in the others books -- so if you are looking for more of the same found in previous Lecter novels, you might be disappointed. But keeping that in mind, it is well worth reading! Most of the atrocities are not perpetrated by Hannibal, which only makes them even more gruesome because things like this truly happened during the war. The book is imbued throughout with the wonderful flavors of Europe, and for an even greater treat, we get an oriental touch brought in through Lady Murasaki.

That Hannibal was not a normal child is evident from the first. That he walked a fine line toward his predetermined conclusion is never in question. But it is fun watching him do it. We see his first love, his first enemies both on the side of the law and outside it, even a rival for the woman who has his affections. Whether you agree with Thomas Harris's view on how his creation came to be, this book offers a colorful look into a chaotic, volatile time in history and the things being faced by those who lived in it. Just for that, it is definitely worth the read. All the rest was a wonderful bonus.

review by
Gloria Oliver

11 August 2007

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