Lots of dead bodies, some bad dreams, a hound, and a family of vicarage children--my week in review

I've read more books this week than I have time to review, and rather than have this week's reading vanish into the Mists of Time, here are my reactions. They were all good reads, by which I mean books that made me turn the pages at a brisk clip and which followed me around the house, as opposed to the books that sit forgotten in forlorn loneliness on the windowsill, kitchen counter, or bedside table. But they weren't quite good enough to make me want to leave off working outside yesterday to come in and write about in detail.

The Forest of Hands and Teeth, by Carrie Ryan (Delacorte, 2009. 320pp, YA). Mary lives in a fenced village, with uncountable zombies trying to get in. The horrible claustrophobia of it all is rather effective, as is the horrible uncertainty of not knowing what is outside--are there other villages? Is there really an ocean? Is there a point to continuing life in what might be a dead end? There are so many zombies, however, that they began to overwhelm me (as well as sundry villages). And I thought there were too many questions left hanging, although all the loose ends make me anxious for the sequel...As a member of Team Unicorn, I tried to imagine what the book would be like with Bad Unicorns--The Forest of Hoofs and Horns. Although I did not switch my allegiance, I concluded that zombies were a better choice.

Fade, by Lisa McMann (2009, Simon Pulse, 256pp, YA). I found this just as page turning as its prequel, Wake, although not quite as satisfying. Janie and Cabal are now doing their best to make a go of life as a couple, while trying to help the police snare a suspected sexual predator at their school. And all the dreaming she's been doing is taking a toll on Janie. Her eyesight is failing, her hands growing old before their time. I have one major criticism of this one--Janie's dreams seem to have been absolutely no help in cracking the case. Any undercover high school operative could have done what she did, so what was the point?

The Bone Magician, by F.E. Higgins (2008, Feiwel & Friends, 288pp, YA)
is one of those stories that I vaguely feel are ubiquitous about a boy living in a seedy city making a living under unwholesome and un-nurturing conditions. There's a creepy killer on the loose, and creepy magic being practiced. A Bone Magician and his assistant are making the dead talk...For much of this book, I kept wondering when things would Start Happening, and Pin, the young boy, would leave the city and set out to find the truth about his father, and discover magic of his own, or something, but it stayed firmly put in the stench-filled streets where the story begins. After a while, I decided this didn't matter--the atmosphere, personalities, and magic carry the book along quite nicely. This is a "paraquel" to The Black Book of Sequels, and it appears that the two casts of characters will meet in the next book....

The Princess and the Hound, by Mette Ivie Harrison (HarperTeen 2007 416pp, YA) was an impulse library pick-up. I'd heard good things about it, but hadn't read it. A prince with animal speaking magic (which he must keep secret, or be burned alive) must marry a princess from neighboring kingdom. The princess comes with a hound, her only close companion...


Here is a bit of complaint. I think that when an author expects me to invest in getting to know a character (Princess Beatrice) it is not fair to turn her back into the hound she really was and send her off into an unnatural relationship with a bear.

The Vicarage Children, by Lorna Hill (originally published in 1961, reissued by Girls Gone By Publishers in 2008, Middle Grade). Kind of like The Four Story Mistake, set in a Northumbrian vicarage in the middle of the 20th century (although Enright is a much better writer than Hill). The vicarage has no modern conveniences and a leaky roof (although it does have a Centurian's grave in the garden). The family (mother, father, four children) is very poor, and much of the story concerns the issues of the oldest sister, who does not like being a pretty teenager with no money, and suffers from the perennial "I need a party frock" desperation that plagues so many fictional impoverished girls in post-war England (although I guess 1961 isn't really all that post-war, qua post-war). The middle sister, the narrator, is a pleasantly interesting child, and the sense of place is lovely.

So these were my pleasure reading this past week. And yesterday I started reading The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicle, Day 1)...that one is definitely going to get its own review.

1 comment:

  1. Charlotte--LOL. Love your PRINCESS AND THE HOUND spoiler. And completely agree. That one was a bit of a let down. Glad you liked FADE, though. Janie and Cabel are sweet.


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