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.

5 comments:

Franklin said...

I would like to put in a good word for "The Menyms" also published by Greenwillow. I thought that book would be the next Borrowers.

Shimbleshanks said...

I'm glad somebody else is saying that Shadowmancer wasn't very good. I have two friends who read it besides me and none of us liked it. Why did it get a rave in Newsweek?

I have also been told that Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell is worth it if you stick with it till the ending.

Roger Sutton said...

Also a Mennyms fan, and, even more, a devotee of Cassedy's books about the E.T.s, starting with Space Race.

I wonder if we could make a list of books that prove their worth only at the end--I immediately thought of M.E. Kerr's What I Really Think of You and Doris Lessing's The Good Terrorist, two books that have knockout last lines redeeming pages of monotony.

Elizabeth said...

Bleak House? No, I love that book, the ending is just...amazing.

I thought the Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie, supposedly the greatest mystery of all time, was really dull until I found out who did it.

I find the musical Les Mis very tedious, but it ends each act with a rousing choral number, which I always suspected was a big part of its appeal.

I'll keep thinking...

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