Book Review: Wicked Lovely

•August 10, 2008 • 2 Comments

• Wicked Lovely •
by Melissa Marr


Teen fantasy is in desperate need of new blood, but it doesn’t appear that it will be getting some any time soon.  Wicked Lovely, Melissa Marr’s first book and her official launch into the magical world of fey, is a tough-girl story set against a borrowed fantasy background.  It’s hard not to be drawn into the world of the Summer Court and the fey that populate it, but it isn’t Marr’s world.  It’s a fact that rings truer with each snippet of faery lore quoted beneath chapter headings, practically as a disclaimer.

Wicked Lovely is the story of Aislinn, a teen girl whose ability to see fey folk makes her life a constant lesson in turning the other cheek and a struggle to keep the secret of her family’s Sight under wraps.  However, the Summer King has decided that Aislinn is the one: the mortal who will become his queen.  Being the modern-day women’s-rights sort of girl that she is, Aislinn has no interest in falling for his scheme; and the battle of the Summer Queen’s succession pulls the Summer King, Aislinn and her love interest into a mess that centuries of faery lore can’t keep in check.

If Wicked Lovely sounds exciting, that’s because it very nearly is.  When not dealing with Aislinn and Seth’s are-we-or-aren’t-we dilemma, the plot is a seizure of allegiances and suspicions, conveniently skipping over faery lore that Marr has little or no interest in explaining.  In addition to keeping the book short, this relative distance from any complexity in faery life results from the fact that it isn’t Marr’s world to begin with, and she treats it as public knowledge.  Much like vampires, ghosts and witches before them, faeries have become yet another bargain bin folklore to build teen drama around.

In fact, the most interesting stories in Wicked Lovely are the subplots.  Since Aislinn’s aware that she’s humanity’s only hope for fending off eternal winter, there’s never any tension over whether she will or won’t; it merely becomes a matter of how.  The real page-turning lies in her affection for Seth (who, in spite of cringe-worthily frequent descriptions of his piercings, unorthodox lifestyle and general hotness, seems like an unnaturally decent guy).  There’s no fun to be had in Wicked Lovely’s scraps of faery lore, so we delegate the weight of the novel to its subplots.

With the book safely categorized as recycled fantasy, any sort of saving grace must be sought in Marr’s writing.  Unfortunately, the one place where it might have shone is where Wicked Lovely falls surprisingly short.  An overuse of asides — never fewer than one per page, sometimes as many as three — transforms the narrative into the jerky commentary of announcers shouting over a sporting event.

Perhaps the best thing that Wicked Lovely has going for it is the cover design, which continues on Marr’s second book, Ink Exchange.  Still, the characters are so driven that we can’t help but be driven along with them.  The writing demands skimming, and the story itself is unapologetic fanfiction of faery lore; but with a level-headed protagonist and a demanding supporting cast, Wicked Lovely is hardly the worst of the teen fiction crop.

Excerpt (pp. 9-10):

 
 

Then he walked in — wearing a glamour, hiding that glow, passing for human — visible to everyone.

That’s new.  And new wasn’t good, not where the fey were concerned.  Faeries walked past her — past everyone — daily, invisible and impossible to hear unless they willed it.  The really strong ones, those that could venture further into the city, could weave a glamour — faery manipulation — to hide in plain sight as humans.  They frightened her more than the others.

This faery was even worse: he had donned a glamour between one step and the next, becoming suddenly visible, as if revealing himself didn’t matter at all.

 
 

Rating: C

[Amazon]

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Book Review: Fly by Night

•July 19, 2008 • 1 Comment

Fly by Night
by Frances Hardinge


Frances Hardinge is one of precious few who are able to write without accountability.  That is, she gives us something to read without ever showing herself.  Fly by Night is an engaging display of wit (both by its protagonists and its writer), comedy, and devilry; but the overall plot falls far short of what’s promised and dooms the book to the realm of stories-that-should-have-been.

On the one hand, Hardinge has a surprisingly firm grip on lovable characters.  Mosca Mye, her con-man companion, and the ill-tempered goose Saracen wreak havoc on a world of controlled knowledge, with hilarious results.  Unlike so many writers, Hardinge has the good sense to give her characters free reign and allows them to move without strings or guidance.  It’s rare that characters compel themselves forward as well as hers do, and their energy is refreshing.

It’s too difficult to summarize the plot of Fly by Night.  Instead, it might be more accurate to say that the story is a series of schemes that fall just short of success.  The tale begins as Mosca flees her hometown of Chough for a chance at a more exciting life, rescuing an imprisoned con artist and burning her uncle’s mill to the ground in the process.  From there, it’s a visible effort for all of the characters to stay on their toes through a murder, a four-way guild war, and too many betrayals to count.

Hardinge’s utter lack of pomposity and her willingness to spare her characters their dignity is enough to blur her gender.  I hadn’t realized she was a woman until the end of the second chapter, at which point I had to check the jacket flap to be sure.  The sort of easy confidence with humor is usually a hallmark of men’s comedic writing, and it’s nice to see a woman attack it so well.

Unfortunately, Fly by Night is far from perfect.  The chapters are named A-Z, much like Sue Grafton’s mystery series, and they suffer the same sort of ill-inspired titles.  The subplots never quite manage to disentangle themselves, even by the end of the book.  There are too many guilds and alliances to keep track of, and Hardinge has no interest in getting us up to speed.

The cover of the book is stamped with a warning that reads, “Imagine a world in which all books have been BANNED!”; but the issue is largely invisible throughout the story, and the cover itself seems like an afterthought.  Hardinge’s attempt to address the philosophy of free press — and, surprisingly, religious freedom — arrives in the form of an unexpected bit of speechifying by the protagonist at gunpoint.  It’s an ending that so many writers attempt to cram into their stories that it’s practically a given tragedy.

Flaws aside, Fly by Night is a massively enjoyable read, even if it is one carried by its writing rather than its story.  Not even the blatant and belated attempts to critique freedom of expression were enough to overcome the laugh-out-loud prose.  When read with an open mind and a poor memory, Fly by Night is a perfectly decent way to spend an afternoon.

Excerpt (pp. 26-27):

 
 

There was another, more pressing reason though. Mosca raised her head and stared up the hillside toward the ragged tree line. The sky was warmed by a gentle redness, suggesting a soft but radiant dawn. The true dawn was still some three hours away.

“Very soon,” Mosca said quietly, “my uncle will wake up. An’ when he does…he’s likely to notice that I’ve burned down his mill.”

 
 

Rating: B

[Amazon]

frances hardinge fly by night book review aydee

Book Review: The Canning Season

•July 19, 2008 • 2 Comments

I’ve worked for the same itty-bitty library in an itty-bitty town for six years now.  It’s nearly a one-stoplight affair (actually, there are seven or eight), but the town isn’t exactly backwater.  It’s easiest to think of everything within its boundaries as a hoighty-toighty neighborhood in which every other vehicle is a Mercedes or BMW; and if you hold a job in that town, no matter what it is, you’re inconsequential.

After six years of being inconsequential, I’m still amazed by how the residents manage to stare down their noses without tripping.

But, more often than not, their scorn is silent.  So my only real opportunity to mock them comes when they decide to remind us that whatever it is we’re doing, we’re not doing it well enough.

In this case, it means our book selections.

On Thursday, a copy of Polly Horvath’s The Canning Season was returned with a note paperclipped to the front cover.  The note was addressed, in careful longhand, to the children’s librarians, and the snippets I do remember went something like this:

“…National Book Award, which used to stand for quality…”
“…a suicide described in graphic detail…”
“…teacher who refers to her students as ‘little f—ks.”
  (censorship not mine)

Now, Horvath is one of my favorite authors.  She’s unflinchingly real and has no understanding of fluff.  If anything, I’d have to say she’s got the best shot at being The Next Roald Dahl.  (The title’s been haphazardly assigned to J. K. Rowling on occasion, but I’m still puzzling over that one.)  Horvath is effortlessly witty and is happy to provide readers with a much-needed breath of realistic air, even if it smells a bit like old socks.

The book in question is a teen book — so labeled and so shelved — and could hardly be mistaken for another installment of Henry and Mudge.  Actually, the only thing that separates teen books from adult books is the subject matter.  The protagonists are usually teens (sometimes teens with special powers), but that’s really all the difference there is.  Everything else is free game.

When the group of us finished scratching our heads at the circulation desk, the children’s librarian pointed out that central selection sends us the books, and that the system automatically purchases any National Book Award winners without so much as blinking.

While the others were busy scouring the note for further gold, I quietly spirited the book away so that I could read it myself. As expected, The Canning Season is classic Horvath: unapologetic, uproarious and unforgettable.  Thirteen-year-old Ratchet is sent to spend the summer with her two wonderfully insane aunts, who recall their quirky lives with such offhandedness that we have no choice but to envy them.  Or, in the case of my library’s lone critic, revile them.

To address the complaints: yes, a suicide is recounted in cartoonish detail (“I don’t think she quite expected [the head] to bounce like that…”); yes, the tutor referred to her spoilt charges as “little fucks” (rightfully so, in her mind); and yes, the National Book Award still does stand for quality.  And Horvath has earned it without question.

It was our collective decision that whoever penned the note should be steered clear of all books not pertaining to knitting or gardening, or perhaps anything giving off a faint aroma of imagination.

Or better yet, lock the offender in a room with any number of today’s 13-year-olds.  When her ears have been properly scorched from the sides of her head, Horvath will look quite tame.

the canning season aydee

Book Review: Reading Like a Writer

•May 20, 2008 • Leave a Comment

Reading Like a Writer
A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them

by Francine Prose


In spite of Prose’s mind for detail, the subtitle of Reading Like a Writer is only half right.  This certainly is a guide for those who love books — non-book-lovers wouldn’t reach the second chapter — but it isn’t merely a guide for those who “want to write [books].” All things considered, a more accurate subtitle might have been “A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them Well.”

There are no tips or tricks in Prose’s 250-page lesson in literature appreciation. At most, Prose instructs readers and writers to enjoy, to consider, and to listen. Those looking for an easy guide to improving writing skills are both in and out of luck, depending on their expectations. Rather than giving us exercises to follow, Prose has provided a number of excerpts from her favorite books, as if to demonstrate just how well words can come together when handled properly.  Prose’s underlying advice is at odds with our constant need for instant results, but it’s a better lesson: Love what you do, and you’ll do it well.

It’s difficult to agree with all of Prose’s points, or to be as inspired by her choices as she seems to be, but we have to be impressed with the detail of her obsession.  She examines books at the level of nuts and bolts — the words they contain — in order to prove just how important the smallest choices can be.

The second chapter of Reading Like a Writer (titled, rather simply, “Words”) deals with the importance of choosing the perfect word, and shows us how great writers use selectivity to their advantage.  It’s a highly attentive approach to reading — and one that forces us to slow down and treat each word with special care.  This ground-up approach to literature is a far cry from the more general study of themes and imagery, but it’s an essential foundation.

The remaining chapters follow a similar pattern: Sentences, Paragraphs, Narration, Dialogue, etc.  Right through the end of the book, Reading Like a Writer acts as a sounding board for Prose’s raving; all the lessons are taught by example.

There are a startling number of self-help books tailored for writers (or, as the case usually becomes, those who enjoy the idea of being a writer), but Reading Like a Writer does anything but follow tradition.  There is no confusing Prose’s lessons with the Dummies series, as there are no bullet points, exercises or tiny mile markers to make us feel we’re already improving.  Instead, Prose has compiled a small encyclopedia of examples that are rightly humbling to any budding author. 

Despite Prose’s professionalism, Reading Like a Writer occasionally wanders into the obsessed monologue that one might expect of a bookworm.  Her anecdotes are quaint, though nothing alien to any habitual reader.  And, as with most bookworms’, Prose’s fanaticism comes off mildly aggressive; any disagreements we might dare to consider would only be a shortcoming of taste on our part.  With all the examples Prose has gone to the trouble to provide, it’s difficult to prove her wrong.

Reading Like a Writer is both inspirational and damning.  For the casual reader and writer, it’s easy to be daunted by the passages Prose has quoted — so much so that literature seems something best left in the hands of the proper authorities (most often English majors).  But, to the serious reader, this book can be a source of near-infinite motivation.  Prose has provided an impressive list of ways in which writers can improve at the craft, without ever giving us exercises to carry out.  Instead, she reminds us that others have been here before (and have done better than most of us ever will), and the best way to learn from them is to listen.

Rating: B+

[Amazon]

francine prose reading like a writer review aydee

Book Review: Maximum Ride

•May 2, 2008 • 7 Comments

Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment
by James Patterson


Against all odds, James Patterson seems to have stumbled onto the secret to writing a bestseller.  The trick isn’t far off from what the winged heroes of his Maximum Ride series would recommend: Keep drag — be it aerodynamic or narrative — to a bare minimum.  There are three parts to this feat: ignoring logic, defying time, and doling out deus ex machinas whenever you hit a rough spot.  All storytelling should be so easy.

Maximum Ride — the 14-year-old protagonist, narrator, leader, and supposed savior — chose her own name when she escaped from the facility where she and her “flock” were raised.  The others suffer similarly lamentable outcomes in the department of names: Fang, Nudge, Angel, Iggy and the Gasman.  Thanks to the facility’s tampering, all six of them boast wings, lighter-than-air skeletal structures, and an innate ability to beat the crap out of anything that comes their way.  It’s not a bad set of skills for a handful of preteens.

Of course, they are pursued by the facility, known as the School, and hunted by half-man half-dog mutants called Erasers.  Amidst betrayals, newfound superpowers, ambushes and Dumpster-diving, Max does her best to protect her flock and to give them a chance at normalcy.

Avoiding the obvious comparisons to any number of similar stories (Dark Angel, X-Men, …all right, Dark Angel, mostly), it’s still easy to see why Patterson’s self-proclaimed best series sits on the NYT bestseller list.  It’s fast, it’s exciting, and it makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.

For a man who earned his fame for murder mysteries, Patterson certainly seems to have trouble getting his story into the rough vicinity of opaque.  Every “accident,” every whim and every event are so blatantly contrived that the story can’t even coast on its own momentum — something is always happening, happening, happening, because Patterson has somewhere to get us, and he’ll be damned if he takes the time to make it look natural along the way.

When Max and two of her friends head off to remedy a kidnapping, they stop for a rest and accidentally sleep for a full ten hours.  It isn’t so Max can thoroughly berate herself for the mistake (although she does do a bit of angry verbal stomping), and it isn’t so the others can doubt her leadership.  It’s so Iggy and the Gasman back home have sufficient time to design and assemble a bomb.  Patterson’s worked so hard to keep the timelines in check that he’ll do absolutely anything to make sure they all match up at the end, regardless of how much sloppy stitching it requires.

In terms of voices, Patterson alternates between Max’s first-person narration (which, though quasi-earnest, doesn’t quite have the brilliantly genuine quality of Rennison’s Georgia Nicholson), and the Gasman’s, Nudge’s and Angel’s third-person views.  For the most part, it works; but Max has a tendency to describe everyone on their behalf, and when the narration falls out of her hands, the rest of the characters fall flat.

Patterson really does his best to speak through the mind and mouth of an unusual teenage girl, but something about Max’s voice seems misplaced.  She’s quick to lapse into casual, youth-inspired terminology, but there are still a lot of references she makes that would pass over the heads of most 14-year-olds, even those with access to the outside world.  Max is yet another adult-inspired teen: a mature, well-educated creature that is mysteriously absent from real life.  Expecting Max’s level of narrative ability from a 14-year-old is farfetched; to expect it from a teen whose first half of life was spent in a laboratory is pure wishful thinking.

Patterson’s so dedicated to his Mach-3 plot speed that he’s ruthless in doing away with unnecessary elements like research.  A personal favorite of mine is the scene in which an MIT dropout accuses Max of messing with his laptop with her mental interference (as mutant schizophrenia appears to affect electronics).  The boy first accuses her of “messing with his Mac,” then he launches into complaints that she’s “screwing up his motherboard.”  I’d love to know how he’s managed to trace the interference to her, and how he’s doing it in an abandoned subway tunnel.  Short of wandering around in the dark, waving his laptop over groups of people like a geek version of Hot/Cold, he’s out of luck.  As far as I know, Macs aren’t standard-equipped with EMF readers.  But then, I’m a PC user.  One never knows.

I’m also curious to understand just how Max manages to fit her 13-foot-wingspan beneath a windbreaker.  There’s no mention of the wings shrinking when they’re folded; at best, they’d be folded in half.  That’s still 3.25 feet from top to bottom, which I don’t see a windbreaker doing much to conceal.  (If the book’s fans could explain this in simple, non-physical-universe-twisting terms, I’ll happily recant.)

Having forsaken research in any arena, Patterson seals the deal with such outrageous plot twists and coincidences that the story never has a chance to pause for a breather.  When the flock realizes that they need disguises, they are almost immediately set upon by a team of makeover artists as a part of their free makeover promotion.  In one deft stroke, Patterson just saved himself a dozen pages of needless writing.  You have to admire the man’s efficiency.  If nothing else, he’s saving trees.

There are a host of other problems that condemn Maximum Ride to the realm of mere pop fiction, but it does have one saving grace: it keeps pages turning.  No matter how much eye-rolling, sighing or book-throwing the story inspires, it begs to be finished, just so we can see if Patterson’s managed to really surprise us with a clever move.  The chapters are never longer than two and a half pages (a problem I like to call Goosebumps Syndrome), and the reader can’t help but feel like they’ve accomplished something every few minutes.  Non-habitual-readers love the thrill of telling their friends they’re on Chapter 36 — never mind the fact that it comes on page 109.

Maximum Ride spans four books, each of which seems to hint at bigger and more exciting things for Max and Co.  I plan on reading all of them, just to see if the series improves.  By the end of The Angel Experiment, at least, there’s no indication that Max or Patterson knows what they’re doing.  But, to be fair, Max knows that perfectly well.

 

Excerpt (p. 193-194):

 
 

He unlatched my dog door and held it open.  In a nanosecond, I had a plan of action: not to act.  Just to listen and watch.  To absorb everything and give out nothing.

Okay, as a plan, it wasn’t the blueprint of Westminster Abbey, but it was a start.

Slowly, I climbed out of my crate.  My muscles groaned when I stood up.  I didn’t look at any of the flock when I passed, but I put my right hand behind my back, two fingers together.

It was our sign that said “Wait.”

Jeb had taught us that.

 
 

 

Rating: C- –
[Amazon]

 

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Book Review: Powers

•April 17, 2008 • Leave a Comment

Powers
by Ursula K. Le Guin


As an author, Le Guin is something of an oddity: Not for the fact that she is a prominent and respected female member of the fantasy literature community, but because her weaknesses are just as striking as her strengths. Le Guin is a competent author — more so than 95% of the fantasy genre — but not a perfect one. She takes her prose very seriously, and much of it reflects her interest in the balance and sound of poetry. Her stories’ settings are more realistic and better constructed than anything else in teen fiction. Unfortunately, Le Guin uses these strengths to carry the story, leaving the characters to wander.

In spite of its title, Powers does not actively focus on supernatural abilities except when the plot begins to flounder. Gavir, a slave of the house of Arca, has the ability to see visions of the future. Surprisingly, these visions have no impact on the story until the three-quarters mark, at which time they are a passing nuisance. Instead, Gavir’s real talent is language: his ability to memorize anything after hearing it once. Le Guin, being an author, falls into the startlingly common trap of making her characters obsessed with stories and poetry, with the assumption that her readers can understand this love almost innately. Instead, it reeks of a self-congratulatory superiority that overshadows the poor protagonist and makes him and his abilities unlikable.

Gavir is an unknown, even after the story ends. He has no particular emotions beyond a sort of halfhearted despair. His slavery is an accepted fact, and when he suddenly rejects it, it is for his sister’s sake rather than his own. Gavir plays the part of the dutiful anthropologist, who must narrate without giving away his presence, and he vanishes even as he talks. It’s hard to care about a character that scarcely exists, and Gavir’s minor brushes with death throughout the book barely register.

Gavir’s sister, the little-seen but often-adored Sallo, is most likely to blame for his oversensitivity to women. Le Guin does her best to write from a male viewpoint, but it still sounds like a woman feeding a young man all his lines, and it’s difficult to see Gavir without imagining Le Guin hovering over his shoulder. To make matters worse, the intended theme of freedom (both physical and intellectual) is ousted by Le Guin’s disgust with gender inequality. The women seem to have a constant, unreachable society that leaves Gavir alienated and admiring. I have to wonder if Le Guin hates men as much as the book makes it seem, or if she’s merely channeling a desperation to keep her place as a female author in a traditionally male-dominated genre.

Le Guin’s real skill is her ability to create realistic worlds for her characters to live in, but only by sacrificing their personalities and the plot. She drags Gavir from place to place, introduces new characters and new societies, and scarcely lets him get a word in edgewise. By the time we reach the end of the book, Gavir has grown into a young man, but we still don’t know anything about him. We might, if Le Guin would be quiet long enough to let him talk. We can’t hate him, because there’s nothing to hate, but we can’t identify with him, either.

Le Guin is experienced and talented enough to overcome most of today’s popular bad advice for writers, but her stories tend to amble without a purpose beyond giving her a chance to show off her creativity. The protagonist meets dozens of people and has to learn the cultures that go with them, but nothing ties together, and Gavir himself doesn’t seem to understand what he’s doing. Le Guin is more interested in being a poetic anthropologist than a storyteller, and it costs the story dearly.

Powers struggles to be a young adult action/adventure/fantasy read, but it’s best enjoyed for its prose rather than its plot. As the most recent book in the Annals of the Western Shore series, Powers certainly feels like the end of a series that’s rapidly losing steam.

Rating: C

[Amazon]

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Book Review: My Swordhand Is Singing

•March 8, 2008 • 11 Comments

My Swordhand Is Singing
by Marcus Sedgwick


It’s almost more difficult to review a run-of-the-mill book than to review a bad one. There is nothing to rave about, nothing to rant about. Mostly, it’s difficult to think of something to say when you forget the book as soon as you’ve finished it. My Swordhand Is Singing is inoffensive, but for all its exciting subject matter it fails to elicit more than a yawn or two. It’s a struggle to imagine how Sedgwick made 17th-century vampires dull, but he has.

Perhaps Sedgwick’s biggest mistake was holding his characters at arm’s length and forbidding us from mustering anything more than a vague interest in their fates. To his credit, Sedgwick went out of his way to make sure that the backdrop was accurate. He’s quick in telling us that he researched 17th-century vampire lore and did his best to portray it accurately, which he’s probably done. But in doing so, he’s focused too much on the history and sacrifices the characters’ personalities in the shuffle. The only characters who manage to lift themselves from being mere ink on paper are the protagonist’s father (a drunk with a sword) and Sofia, the Gypsy girl who sings and slaps people. Even the hero’s horse was more interesting than most of the cast, which is a cruel fate for anyone.

The premise of the story is interesting enough. Tomas and his son Peter (whose names have taken me two paragraphs to recall), are woodcutters who are widely disliked by their clientele in the nearby town of Chust. When a distant friend of Tomas’ is found hanged in the forest, it’s the beginning of a series of deaths in the village that the inhabitants are quick to blame on the supernatural. Peter, being the age of impressionable rebellion, doesn’t know what to think, and proceeds to dally through most of the book. I half-hoped that the vampires would get him in the end, but Sedgwick isn’t quite that dark.

Sedgwick can’t seem to quell the urge to cross-examine his characters’ actions, just in case we couldn’t do that much for ourselves. More than once, we’re forced to read the feet-draggingly dull analysis of a young man with a drunk for a father. And, when that gets too depressing, the narration switches to other characters for a paragraph or two: Tomas, who spirals through a life of regret; Agnes, who can’t decide whether she loves Peter or not (this issue is later resolved by the vampires, who seem to dislike indecision as much as I do); and the occasional vampire victim. Instead of providing different angles to the story, the tactic was jarring and caused faint bouts of vertigo.

The final nail in the coffin (couldn’t resist) is Sedgwick’s mimicry of poetic prose. Many authors have managed elegant prose; many more have failed. Sedgwick attempts to force himself into the first group, but he relies so heavily on clichés that the result seems tacky. When the entire book reads like the back of a DVD, it’s hard to take anything seriously.

All in all, My Swordhand Is Singing isn’t a bad book, but it certainly isn’t a good book. It was well researched, but a mind for accuracy is Sedgwick’s only redeeming quality. Most of the characters are unlikeable, the prose is occasionally interesting but more frequently cookie-cutter, and the entire thing seems cramped. The story never moves beyond the village of Chust; but rather than providing the claustrophobia that small-town horrors usually create, it only makes the tale seem limited.

According to the book jacket flap, Sedgwick works in publishing. There are two very different skills involved in publishing a book: good writing and good polishing. Those who excel at the first can improve at the second with enough time and practice; but those who excel at the second will never master the first, because they’re more interested in expectation than inspiration. My Swordhand Is Singing covers the bare requirements of getting a book published, but it isn’t a writer’s work.

Excerpt (p. 12):

 
 

But why? Most murderers tried to conceal their victims’ bodies. Why display Radu’s body instead?

To Peter, it seemed like a warning, a warning that death was walking in the woods.

And Peter was right.

 
 

 

Rating: C-
[Amazon]

 

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