Can I just say I love Karen Russell? I fell instantly in love with Swamplandia! Her images, her words, the story arcs, the characters - they were beautiful, and haunting, and human, and other worldly.
Vampires started out strong and I was instantly hooked. But by the last two stories, I felt like I was reading student work. The stories were drawn out and inconclusive. The magic was no longer. I'm going to pick up her first collection of short stories next, and I'm hoping I'll be able to sustain my author crush on Russell.
All I can say is Amor Towles saves himself through his illustrious writing - by ridding of his most interesting character halfway through the story (he just came out with a novella describing what happened to her - another piece that shouldn't have worked), by creating too many love affairs, by leaving connections at a standstill - there were so many holes in this story. But it was charming, glamorous, witty, and fun. Somehow, it worked. Same goes for the followup novella. I liked them, but left with a feeling of disappointment.