I was immediately swept away in the world created by MacCullough in the first book of what promises to be an amazing series. Tamsin feels shadowed by...moreI was immediately swept away in the world created by MacCullough in the first book of what promises to be an amazing series. Tamsin feels shadowed by her older, more beautiful, more powerful sister – an emotion that is relatable to by many amongst us. What immediately sets the story apart, for me, is the fact that it is a story of dynasties. A shared history among family members who are all different from the normal, more ordinary people. Tamsin, you see, hails from a family (from generations) of witches. She was supposed to be the most powerful of them all, the most brilliant. Only…she wasn’t. In fact, she didn’t seem to have gotten any powers. This leads her to feel distinctly cast-out in a family where everyone is special. Where even the toddlers can do amazing magic. So she escapes. To a private boarding school in New York.
Then enter the mysterious professor, who, in mistaking Tamsin for her sister (remember the gorgeous older, more powerful one?) sets into action events that completely change Tamsin and her perspective on who and what she is. Along the way, the reappearance of a childhood crush adds the spice of romance (he is swoon worthy, you guys) and a revelation on Tamsin’s true nature, takes the narrative from a waltz to a rapid disco. The reader will whirl from scene to scene – flung about in a miasma of emotion – reading as slow as she can to make the experience last longer and then at other times, reading as fast as she can so she find out what happens next. (Okay fine, I’m just talking about myself.)
The characters are created with an exquisite ease that sets them apart as individuals rather than replicates of stereotypes often used in genre-books. The matriarch of the family has different sides to her as does the nutty relative. Everything and everyone is delightfully interwoven to present to the world a story that leaves the reader waiting (I was going to say tortured) for the next installment.
I long deliberated about whether to review this or not. Sometimes you read something that resonates with you to such a degree, with such intensity tha...moreI long deliberated about whether to review this or not. Sometimes you read something that resonates with you to such a degree, with such intensity that it feels as though you could never do it justice by reviewing it. That it just may be impossible to articulate the reasons why you loved this book and why other people should definitely try it out. But since I like doing impossible things, I am going to try. Just be warned though: No matter how lavishly I praise this book, it deserves a lot more.
It is a novel's prose that attracts me. The plot and the characterization, while important in their own rights, become secondary when I decide how much I like a novel. To date, there have been only two other novels that I have loved simply for the gorgeousness of their prose. They are The History of Love by Nicole Krauss and The Ghosts of Ashbury High by Jaclyn Moriarty. Chime finds itself a niche on my shelf of awesome.
Chime creates an unearthly world, a land dominated by marshes and superstitious people. The effect is surreal as though the reader has submerged herself in a world that is determined to surprise her by its strangeness and enthrall her with its beauty. The protagonist, Briony, is by far one of the strangest, and all the more compelling for it, narrator I have had the fortune to come across. She is an unreliable narrator and her narration is less of a storytelling and more as though the readers were the blank pages of her journal on which she is scribbling her experiences, thoughts and emotions. She is intricately detailed and her individuality is delineated even despite the fact that she has a twin sister.
"I felt as though I were a music box in want of winding. Yes, as though I were a music box and the tune were my life, playing more and more slowly with every passing day. Finally, not even I could recognize it. The notes were stretched too far apart. They were no longer notes, they were plinks. I wound down to a plink."
All the characters in the novel, no matter what their importance to the greater plot, are etched out and given worth. From the little boy that Briony considers a friend to the unfortunate man murdered in the marsh, they are all superbly characterized.
The plot comes to life slowly. The story does not flow from point A to B, oh no, it blooms like flowers in a field. First you may notice a patch of daisies on one side and then later on dandelions in the center. And then at the end, suddenly, you have a field full of flowers and it is much like an epiphany you weren't certain you were going to have. It's a beautiful thing.
This book contains one of the most delicious kissing scenes ever. I adore the love interest. I can't say much more than that. Honestly. Read it for the kiss scene alone.
And finally, let me talk about the prose. Billingsley plays unabashedly with language here. She creates words, she repeats them and it is a testament to her boldness that her experimenting pays off.
"If you say a word, it leaps out and becomes the truth. I love you. I believe it. I believe I am loveable. How can something as fragile as a word build a whole world?"|
"Eldric turned away from the mirror, holding out his hand. In the cup of his hand lay his fidget of paper clips. But the fidget had blossomed into a crown. An allover-filigree crown, with a twisty spire marking the front.
I stared at it for some moments. "It's for you," said Eldric. "If you want it."
"I'm seventeen," I said. "I haven't played at princess for years."
"Does that matter ?" Eldric set it on my head. It was almost weightless, a true crown for the steam age.
In a proper story, antagonistic sparks would fly between Eldric and me, sparks that would sweeten the inevitable kiss on page 324. But life doesn't work that way. I didn't hate Eldric, which, for me, is about as good as things get." |
"Father’s silence is not merely the absence of sound. It’s a creature with a life of its own. It chokes you. It pinches you small as a grain of rice. It twists in your gut like a worm.
Silence clawed at my throat. It left a taste of burnt matches."
These are just of the delectable gems in this novel. So, if I haven't convinced you let, let those words do the job. Give it a chance. Even if you don't go in for eccentric protagonists, read this book. I guarantee you won't regret it.(less)
I watched the movie first. In fact, it was entirely accidentally that my cousin and I, in the midst of this loud, busy family reunion, came across the...moreI watched the movie first. In fact, it was entirely accidentally that my cousin and I, in the midst of this loud, busy family reunion, came across the movie version and were completely sucked into the tale of Sophie, Howl and Calcifier. So when the movie was done and I sat back with a sigh and some sadness that another good thing had come to an end, I thought of reading the book to prolong the loveliness. Because everyone knows that books are always better, right?
In this case, the book was just as good as the movie in a couple of very different ways. The movie takes some liberties with the narratives, clipping away some characters and giving more importance to others than the book graces them with; all the changes made, however, work to present, or should I say, transfer the story from one medium to another with a seamlessness that, were you not to read the book after all, you would not find anything lacking in the movie narrative. The movie and the book both preserve the most important parts of the novel: the characterizations. Though the movie changes the kid a fair bit, the personality remains intact.
Anyway, Howl's Moving Castle is so amazing, you guys. I don't know why you haven't read/watched it if you haven't yet. Obviously I lived under a rock for most of my life (also known as Fiji) so I hadn't even heard of it but what's your excuse? The story, the pacing, the lovely narrative voice, these are all so wonderfully done - they celebrate the loveliness of the story, the beauty of the imagination, creativity without being buried under its own importance. I think this is one of those works that parents should hand their children when they reach a certain age and let them enrich their own imaginations with the stories of the castle, the fire demon and Sophie. (less)
The second novel in The Tamir Triad trilogy loses none of the charm of the first. In fact, it makes an already intriguing world downright amazing. I l...moreThe second novel in The Tamir Triad trilogy loses none of the charm of the first. In fact, it makes an already intriguing world downright amazing. I loved how the characters are developed and the faint stirrings of romance between the two main characters promises that the conclusion to the trilogy will pack a punch in more than one way.
So the pace continued in its languid manner and I'm not gonna lie, I did for a minute or two wish they could just hurry up and get the reveal over with. However, at the end of the novel I was glad that Flewelling took the time she did because it has more momentum when it happens the way it did. I was surprised by how Korin's character was developed and I thought that Flewelling's careful attention to the grey in a person's character was well done. The novel is populated by such wonderful characters that I wouldn't mind reading all their individual stories. There's Lutha and Nikides, Una, Ahra - it is actually an awesome compliment from me (ahem ahem) that I remember the names of the characters in the book because usually I don't even remember the name of the main character.
And this book won my love by having cats being mini characters. I am a cat person (future cat lady? ha) and Flewelling's portrayal of the felines was entertaining. Of course, on the other side of it, Niryn became slimier than ever. What is he doing with that Nalia? Okay, I'll stop pretending this is a review because honestly, I just want to talk about the book. I thought that Tobin going naked in front of all those people took balls he didn't have. I understood why it had to be done and I don't even have to any trouble with it. I just thought it interesting.
Oh also, I hope Flewelling keeps Tobin/Tamir as ordinary as possible and not, you know, on a pedestal. That would interfere with the original dynamic too much and I don't know...I kinda like it the way it is right now. I am not looking forward to see what that wizard has up his sleeve but I am looking forward to seeing how Ki copes with a female best friend. (less)
Oh my goodness, this had to be one of the most satisfying conclusions to a trilogy that I have ever read. It involved me fist pumping, beaming, readin...moreOh my goodness, this had to be one of the most satisfying conclusions to a trilogy that I have ever read. It involved me fist pumping, beaming, reading breathlessly, awwing and you know, the whole spectrum of emotions. It was so so good to see Tamir come into her own as a woman, as a soldier and as a queen. It was very easy for me to forget that she was a mere fifteen at the time because the way she was written, seemed to be at least in her twenties. But experiences age a person far more and the incongruousness between Tamir’s voice and her age didn’t upset me at all. I had been afraid that Tamir’s character may develop Mary Sue-ish qualities in the last novel but I was wrong and she continues to display the same enchanting mixture of vulnerability and world-weariness that suits her position. She doesn’t stop growing in this last installment and her inability to move in the predicted lines of past rulers keeps the narrative fresh and intriguing.
I also really really appreciated how Flewelling dealt with Niryn. At first I thought it was somewhat anticlimactic and then I realized that Niryn was an instrument of the conflict but not the conflict itself. And the irony of Niryn’s fate was not lost on me. It is the subtlety that plays in the narrative, enjoining one event to another, one coincidence to another fact that makes the overall story so very readable. All the characters retain their greyness and I liked how Tamir manages to stay good and not become sanctimonious. The novel has a huge cast of characters – even more than the usual novel since it is the third installment in a trilogy but Flewelling manages to keep them all real in that they could really exist. Her characterizations are wonderful.
One of my favourite parts of the novel was how the romance between Ki and Tamir is approached. I loved how it wasn’t an instant attraction and culmination of that attraction. Flewelling spends time in developing and portraying the necessary confusion that arises when your best friend becomes a girl and you find yourself seeing him in ways that you don’t necessarily want to.
I would recommend this trilogy to anyone who likes high fantasy. I think you could easily term this one of the better young adult high fantasy trilogies (though it is not exactly marketed in that way, it can be seen as part of the YA genre since its protagonists are young adults, I think). The trilogy is more complex and more mature than what is normal to the genre but I think this is a good thing rather than bad. Read this especially if you like strong heroines with a dash of vulnerability and wonderful world building. Strongly recommended.(less)