Wednesday, September 28, 2005
A little more about stars
We've finished choosing the stars for the November issue, and they will be posted on the www.hbook.com site in a couple of weeks. One book that occasioned a lot of discussion was Joseph Delaney's The Last Apprentice: Revenge of the Witch, published by Greenwillow in September. It had originally been passed over for review by the Magazine, but then Anita Burkam, who had been asked to review it for the Guide, suggested it was good enough for reconsideration. Amen. While the book looks like fairly standard fantasy/horror series fiction, the writing is spare and vivid and the story is uncompromising in its depiction of supernatural evil. I've been bothered by a tendency in genre writing to superficially ape the diction of bygone fiction (sorry), with, for example, flowery authorial passages that would be at home in E. Nesbit. Lemony Snicket does this sort of thing to be funny, but I'm thinking of books like Taylor's Shadowmancer or Paolini's Eragon, which both indulge in a self-conscious archaicness that achieves an effect more coy than majestic. The Last Apprentice is written with immediate and transparent prose. I would have eaten it up as a ten-year-old.