Totally didn't expect to like this, but actually quite enjoyable!
Update: just read this again before I read the sequel, and while I don't find the stoTotally didn't expect to like this, but actually quite enjoyable!
Update: just read this again before I read the sequel, and while I don't find the story nearly as exciting as the first time through, I did mark an insane amount of lines and passages throughout.
Hartman writes beautifully, there's no doubt-- “And that is when I know that I will kiss him, and the very thought of it fills me with … well, it’s as if I have just solved Skivver’s predictive equations or, even better, as if I have intuited the One Equation, seen the numbers behind the moon and stars, behind mountains and history, art and death and yearning, as if my comprehension is large enough that it can encompass universes, from the beginning to the end of time. And I have to laugh a little at this conceit, because I do not even understand the present, and there is nothing in the world beyond this kiss.”
At the same time, her humor is so dry that I know I missed half of it last time. “He had apparently told Basind [a dragon] to flatten himself into the snow, because Basind did a good impression of a lizard run over by a cart—a giant lizard, and an unthinkably enormous cart.”
Hartman's treatment of music and emotion is profound at times, and she is full of witty, wise philosophies.
The interesting thing is that she is able to weave all these elements together, along with a dearth of smarty-pants words ('dearth' being one of them), into a story that has depth and meaning as well as (NOT in spite of) mass appeal. And then ends with a glossary that includes such gems as
“scrawny sackbut player—exactly as you imagine”
It's the best of both worlds.
Finally, I wanted to note something about the characters. Seraphina in no way acts like a 16 year old, though she does, I suppose, bear some resemblance to Jane Eyre. Anyway, it's striking how well she and her friends get along-- hard things happen between them, but it gets handled maturely. There's little pettiness and more forthright 'character' in the characters. There's a clear line between friends and foes and it's all so tidy. I kept waiting for the back-stabbing, treachery, underhanded maliciousness, etc. but these people are seriously invested in doing the right thing. It's quite the novelty....more
Like how I truly expected book 2 to be painful. The first bookWell, well.
It sounds funny, but I love it when I'm wrong!
(About some things, that is.)
Like how I truly expected book 2 to be painful. The first book showed that the series had potential, but the actual execution wasn't all that promising. Pessimistically, I anticipated this to be stilted and clunky and yet another disappointing, waste of a good storyline (not from this author, necessarily, just the genre in general).
But lo and behold, not only did the story and the writing improve, she even managed to clear up some of the mess from the first one!
The writing and telling, though-- that's what really surprised me. It had matured, and taken on this whole lyrical, yet philosophical quality not unlike Maggie Stiefvater. Not too shabby.
At the same time, the cast of characters has become eerily similar to the Throne of Glass series in a lot of ways-- the evil Kings are practically one and the same!
Anyway, here's to hoping the third book is even more of an improvement....more