While I was reading this book, my wife asked me what I thought of it so far. I told her I didn't know yet, which was true. This is the sort of book thWhile I was reading this book, my wife asked me what I thought of it so far. I told her I didn't know yet, which was true. This is the sort of book that is hard to evaluate one way or another until you finish it. Once I finished it, she asked me again. I was still unsure of how I felt about it.
There's a lot to like in this book, but it has its share of problems.
(view spoiler)[ The narrator is Mori, a 15 year old Welsh girl, who long before the book begins was involved in using magic to prevent her witch of a mother from using magic to take over the world. As a result of that battle, she ended up crippled and her twin sister died. However, all that went down before the book begins. This is about what came after, as she observes, comparing her journal to Frodo returning to the Shire.
Mori moves to live with her long estranged father, who sets her up at a boarding school. The majority of the tale is a coming of age story as she grapples with the culture of an upper-crust English boarding school, seeks refuge in books, and tries to establish contact with the local fairies as she had in Wales. She meets her estranged family, tries to come to terms with them, meets a group of fellow SF fans, and tries to fend off magical attacks from her mother.
Ultimately, the book is centered around her joy in reading and the refuge and salvation the books provide for her. The narrator devotes many lines in their diary to reactions to various books, primarily SF.
It's a courageous book, in that it takes so many risks by having what could be considered the epic plot elements (preventing her mother from taking over the world) occur only outside the narrative itself. Instead, that information is shared as an aside and in conversation. The fallout from this, such as her mother's attacks, is addressed, but secondary to the personal growth plot line.
That being said, there are times that all the talk of SF books, while enjoyable, gets to feel like a bit of a distraction from the other elements of the story. Also, since her magical system is deniable and only loosely explained, it ,ales the final showdown between her and her mother to feel a little odd, since we've never seen magic work like that before in the book. Which makes it feel like that scene isn't really earned, especially since so much of that conflict is left off of the page. It's all matter-of-fact to Mori. (hide spoiler)]
It's a well-written, and ambitious work, especially for what it leaves out of the story, and the coming of age stuff is really quite moving. However, as discussed above, if you don't have a good familiarity with SF canon, this could leave you cold as the narrator spends a lot of time discussing the worms she's reading, which can get tiresome even for insiders.
Plus, there are some glaringly unearned scenes (view spoiler)[such as the aforementioned final conflict. The worst offender by far is the scene where her father tries to crawl into her bed, which is never set up and never readdressed. It's needlessly shocking, and adds nothing to the story except an opportunity to name check Heinlein. (hide spoiler)]
All and all, this book is worth reading, and while I quite enjoyed it, what you take away from it will vary widely based on the reader. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
A very clever book influenced by Victorian and Regency novels, but where very character is a dragon. It's interesting watching the characters struggleA very clever book influenced by Victorian and Regency novels, but where very character is a dragon. It's interesting watching the characters struggle with the ethical implications of their society, considering how bound up it is in their own physiology. ...more
Gotta agree with some of the other reviewers here. This was a spectacular concept, but with terrible execution. Dull art and hackneyed writing are whaGotta agree with some of the other reviewers here. This was a spectacular concept, but with terrible execution. Dull art and hackneyed writing are what ruin this book for me. The concept alone is worth two stars though. ...more