This book is like a cold crisp apple on a summer day. It made me appreciate how formulaic much of my recent reading has become and brought some magicThis book is like a cold crisp apple on a summer day. It made me appreciate how formulaic much of my recent reading has become and brought some magic back to fantasy. It is elegantly written and incredibly rich in emotion and humanity without ever being pretentious or mawkish. To me it tasted a little bit like The Shadow of the Wind, though still completely perfect and original within itself and perhaps kinder to its readers. The ending is flawless -- I was left longing for more, while appreciating that all good things must end.
I will be smiling for at least the next few days. About the only problem with this book is that it's tough act to follow, but I will definitely go hunting for other books by this author.
I used this book to cleanse the palate of a whole lot of urban fantasy, and it did an excellent job. The writing style was clear, the world building vI used this book to cleanse the palate of a whole lot of urban fantasy, and it did an excellent job. The writing style was clear, the world building very well executed if not startlingly original. But the characters! Grump and Boil were marvelous, far from the typical high fantasy heroes, and really make this book stand out. In fact, Boil grated on my nerves for much of the book, only to be redeemed, at which point I proceeded to feel saddened by my own judgement of him. I love books that make me care.
No book is perfect, and for me this one is really somewhere between 4 and 5 stars by the Goodreads definition: the female characters were pretty forgettable, and the pacing was slightly off on a few of the goblin sections. However, I really enjoyed this very compelling and original fantasy and I tend to rate higher for anything different, especially outside the major publishers. I'm looking forward to the series to come -- hopefully it keeps up this book's quirky charm!...more
This is actually more of a 4.5 stars -- and only because I will not be re-reading it quite as compulsively as Beautiful Bad Man or Eyes of Silver, EyeThis is actually more of a 4.5 stars -- and only because I will not be re-reading it quite as compulsively as Beautiful Bad Man or Eyes of Silver, Eyes of Gold, which have become my go-to books when I am miserable with a cold in bed and need a comfort read.
I'm a sucker for character-driven stories, and O'Connell is wonderful at writing compelling characters and dialogue. This particular story has almost no sex (what there is is very elegantly done and well-integrated) but there is plenty of believable tension; the few action sequences are written sparely, with more emphasis on daily lives and relationships; and settings are lovingly researched. I am no specialist in the history of the West, but O'Connell's books transport me there every time, whether she's writing about the plight of the Apache, ranching in Colorado, farming in Kansas or the newspaper business and the arrival of horseless carriages in Kansas (the focus of Into the Light). Into the Light brings Hubbell to life through carefully chosen, gem-like detail.
This is the kind of romance that is powerful in its realism -- just two very likeable people falling in love with each other in a very sympathetic way. I tend to read a fair amount of paranormal, mystery and action novels, and I'm always thrilled when a new O'Connell book comes out because it helps me revisit a fresher, kinder approach to writing about real people (or at least, people who should be real). Also, let's face it, I'm more or less in love with all her male leads.
My only caution is for anyone in the mood for something fast-paced and action-packed: this is probably not the book for you and it isn't really trying to be. This is more like the endearing love-child of a cozy mystery and a Western romance.
I enjoyed Into the Light even more for the chance to visit with old friends from Beautiful Bad Man -- for a second there, I forgot Deborah's precise relationship to Caleb and Norah, and felt deeply betrayed at the thought that something violent and awful might have happened to them. Goes to show how attached I get to these characters I suppose ... on that note, I'll head off to re-read Beautiful Bad Man. ...more
Awful characterization ... just awful! None of these people's decisions make any rational sense or are consistent with what we are told (not shown, ohAwful characterization ... just awful! None of these people's decisions make any rational sense or are consistent with what we are told (not shown, oh no!) about them at dreary length. And there is the bonus gift of a heroine with the decision-making skills and emotional maturity of a 12-year-old.
But don't worry, there's a monkey! Nobody ever came back from India back then without a monkey and the requisite colorful ethnic man-servant!!...more
Now THESE young characters I'm happy to read even as a fairly jaded adult. There's too much goodness here to cover, but I'll skim the highlights:
1. ANow THESE young characters I'm happy to read even as a fairly jaded adult. There's too much goodness here to cover, but I'll skim the highlights:
1. A strong, non-bitchy female lead who reflects on her actions, questions herself and grows as a person. And we get a male counterpart who is compelling without being the slightest bit abusive, obnoxious or pointlessly mysterious. Dear readers, the young man communicates! He actually opens his mouth and says important things that correct mistaken impressions, drive the plot forward, and give us a reason to like him!
2. A spare writing style that does a great job conveying creepy without edging into melodramatic. Pretty decent plot -- it may not be madly original, but the execution and pacing were fantastic.
3. No ridiculously forced love triangles. There may be the occasional sideline guy mooning over our Eve, but she respects herself and her emotions too much to play mind games with any of them or with herself.
Seriously, there are probably a lot of readers like me out there by now. I avoid love triangles in which your average brainless twit just doesn't know how to choose between the good boy who is her best friend and the mysterious boy who quickens the fire in her loins, or some such bullshit. Those are usually enough to shift a book from the "must-read" to the "consigned-to-the-dustbin-of-shitty-lazy-plot- devices" pile. Rant over.
Thank you Ryann Kerekes (and whatever powers inspired you) for tying up a story in one single well-written book! No pointless cliff hangers, no invented relationship barriers erected by sheer stupidity. This is just a breath of fresh air of a book that left me hugging a very confused cat in giggly glee....more