**spoiler alert** This was quite a good novel. If you're looking for modern fantasy, you may as well skip this - Yarrow is more like semi-mystery/semi**spoiler alert** This was quite a good novel. If you're looking for modern fantasy, you may as well skip this - Yarrow is more like semi-mystery/semi-thriller with elements of fantasy. There's very little the reader gets to learn about the Otherworld and, while that doesn't detract from the nice flow and engaging storyline, it's enough to disqualify the book from the urban fantasy genre.
I'm very picky these days, but Yarrow managed to pull me in and keep me absorbed almost the entire way through. There are a few problems that tripped me up here and there, and all of them but one were forgivable:
- de Lint's tendency to repeatedly add new characters without any explanation or reason for them to be in the novel gets annoying after a while. I was slightly perturbed when he hadn't gotten a foot into the plot by page 67 because of the continuous (unconnected) character additions, but then he did and it wasn't annoying anymore. But it's a habit with him, and his editor needs to crack down on that.
For example, he adds two police characters very near the end that appear all of twice; they're completely superfluous except maybe to satisfy de Lint's fantasies about Our Boys In Blue. They could have been cropped completely without any impact on the story.
He does the same with characters that are immediately killed off, which would be excellent as an occasional escalation device, but he uses it so often and draws out their existence so much it loses potency and meaning.
- He's... well, he's sort of melodramatic. I understand that's normal for fantasy, but I found myself looking at - for example - Peter's hyper-rationalization of why the Otherworld couldn't be real as if someone completely unfamiliar with the thought processes of people had written it. Cat and Ben were the same way. I can understand the "melodrama" as partially due to the fact that you don't try for serious subtlety - especially for a one-shot novel, because your readers may not get it (or you may be confusing "esoteric" with "subtle") - but if so, I think his attempt to bring the emotions of the characters into plainspeak stereotypified them and took away a lot of the enjoyment of reading about people.
There are certain other logical leaps - like Cat's immediate conclusion when she finds out she's Mynfel, which is to decide that it's all fake. Because of course, if you find out that you're one of the inhabitants of the Wood, it means that you must therefore have created the entire thing in your mind.
- And the unforgivable mistake is the plothole. Though plothole isn't really sufficient... you never learn anything about the world, not about Toby, not about Lysistratus, not about Tiddy Mun or Kothlen. There's an absence of information about the world that I found really deeply unsatisfying; the Yarrow world's outlines are drawn, but never colored in.
Again, an example. Lysistratus fled the human world for a while, presumably, because it was stated that he'd only returned after the strong dreamers had left... but we're never told where he went, or what he was doing, or how he survived. He had to feed every single day, which I found really weird - predators don't do that. A cougar does not need to kill every day as long as they get big kills; it's why they gorge themselves. Why did he need to feed every day when that seems completely unreasonable? I can think of two reasons: 1) he was becoming addicted to the strength of Cat's dreams or 2) he was just... getting old.
Unfortunately, there are no explanations offered. We don't know how Lysistratus survived, if he fled to the wild and fed off of animals' dreams and emotions - which is unlikely, as de Lint does not strike me as someone particularly egalitarian; he'd probably fall in line with the standard tripe that the emotions and dreams of humans are better and stronger because humans are special, because shut up that's why.
That last bit is more of a remark on most other fantasy/modern fantasy authors I've seen, though. I gotta say, outside of these things, Yarrow was a breath of fresh air; I have not encountered a novel with such a lack of racism, sexism or speciesism for quite some time.
So thank you, Charles de Lint.
... just... please learn how to handle a knife so there won't be any more wincing. Pretty please....more
The synopsis: a boy gets two purebred hunting dogs, goes around hunting animals. Usually succeeds in killing them, although occasionally it stops at mThe synopsis: a boy gets two purebred hunting dogs, goes around hunting animals. Usually succeeds in killing them, although occasionally it stops at mutilation. Ends up getting his dogs killed because he's too selfish to rethink his actions and ethics. Other stuff happens too, but mostly torturing animals. Often given to kids. Unless you like sociopaths, don't.
God, what an awful book. I read this when I was nine for a school assignment - I remember loving it. I revisited it several years later, after I'd learned what "animal cruelty" meant, and I was really appalled at how Rawls ends up saying exactly the opposite of what he thought he was saying. The kid was a selfish, narcissistic hunter who decided that his own life was worth more than his quote-unquote "beloved" dogs.
Dear Mr. Rawls,
If you love someone? You don't put them in situations where they'll be forced to sacrifice their life for you. Also, to continually do this isn't noble, either.
I couldn't get past the first eleven pages. They are rank with a putrid, hypocritical morality and self-absorbed ignorance of everyone else.
Within theI couldn't get past the first eleven pages. They are rank with a putrid, hypocritical morality and self-absorbed ignorance of everyone else.
Within the first few pages, Julie Metz manages to butcher the meaning of umami by talking about how it is (paraphrased) "the taste of protein, the caress of fat." No, it isn't. First, you are biologically incapable of tasting protein. Second, umami has been better translated as "nuttiness". The Japanese have never been an exceptionally animal-eating culture; it was only in the past century that beef and dairy were introduced by Westerners. I normally get frustrated at people when they refuse to take themselves away from the beliefs and culture that they were indoctrinated into, but the fact that she dovetailed that little piece of bull with carnism was just too much for me.
I gave up when she started talking about her husband's (quite herbivorous-seeming, I must imagine) "canines" and how he was cracking the cartilage and flesh off of the bones of chickens.
Sweetheart, there's a reason your husband died of heart problems. And given how willing you seem to be to continue on without once questioning your own actions - instead of an abstract and cerebral construct - I gotta say, you fully deserved not only his death, but far more.
I seriously don't know how an author can make me hate them so badly within the first few pages that I would believe such a thing, but there you are. Julie Metz, you're a bad person. Shame on you....more
This is the most misogynistic "feminist" book I have ever read.
If you're interested in medieval women, it's a good resource to fiI'll keep this short:
This is the most misogynistic "feminist" book I have ever read.
If you're interested in medieval women, it's a good resource to find names which you can research somewhere else. Unfortunately, Vicki Leon's incompetent misunderstanding of other cultures and times makes it beyond worthless in every other regard. It's downright harmful.
This is honestly the first time I have ever been so swamped with so many inaccuracies, errors, lies, omissions and bigoted insults that I have been unable to list them....more
I enjoyed reading this book; a lot of it was really informative, and Prioleau writes about these women with a particular energy and enthusiasm that caI enjoyed reading this book; a lot of it was really informative, and Prioleau writes about these women with a particular energy and enthusiasm that catches on to you. I disagreed with a couple of the choices she made in subjects - some because they weren't really much more than sociopaths who managed to abuse their way to the top and one or two because I rejected her (very optimistic) take on them - but, ultimately, it comes down to the fact that Prioleau was writing about women who got power. They didn't have to be good people; they didn't even have to be decent human beings. They gained or regained power by their talents and skills, and they influenced the time they lived. That is all.
Aside from a lot of the hurdy-gurdy about goddesses, there was only one point that seriously irked me. The goddess stuff is normal, if unfortunate; very few people nowadays are able to conceptualize of a culture entirely outside of their own dichotomized framework, and Prioleau managed not to dwell too much on her annoyingly monotheistic viewpoint on various goddesses throughout. That point occurred in a very short synopsis of a Grecian courtesan's life.
Prioleau basically does something absolutely unforgivable - printing the subject's thoughts on how it was better to be anything except a courtesan, she outright contradicts that and comes back with the biographer's equivalent of, "Nuh uh." Seriously. Elizabeth Prioleau, you are not and will never be forced into becoming a prostitute in order to survive; check the arrogant dismissal. Regardless of your beliefs on legalization or de-criminalization or whatever, you contradicted one of your subjects - someone who is too dead to refute you. Respect your subjects, and learn to resist the temptation to use their lives to support your ideology when they outright contradict it.
For a feminist author, it's more than a little inappropriate to silence and appropriate another woman's life simply so you won't have to deal with the cognitive dissonance....more