Jennifer Melzer's Reviews > The Fox

The Fox by Arlene Radasky
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Feb 19, 11

Read from February 11 to 18, 2011

I’ve read a lot of Celtic historical fiction from Jules Watson and Diana Gibaldon to Juliet Marillier and Bernard Cornwell. Coming from blended Celtic roots, I have also read dozens upon dozens of nonfiction books. The one thing I will say about The Fox is that Radasky pays very close attention to historical details. On the other hand, sometimes the routine and ritual of those details overshadowed the immediate characters, making it difficult to get close to and fall in love with them.

And I wanted to fall in love with Lovern (a healer and Druid) and Marc (a modern archeologist,) the way the main characters, Jahna and Aine were in love with the men of their worlds, but many of the characters felt slightly underdeveloped. I think part of the reason I found it so hard to wrap my mind around them was the shift between characters and the first person narrative of each speaker in this epic tale. First-person narrative is often a difficult sell as it is, and the wider range offered in third-person could have made these characters easier for me to identify with as a reader.

Overall, the premise of the novel is very creative. A modern day archelogist (Aine,) is connected to the past through a series of spirit dreams shared with Jahna, a powerful healer from pre-Roman invasion Scotland who uses her ability to spirit walk to help keep the memory of her clan and family alive.

The editor in me had a hard time overlooking some of the grammatical errors and tense-shifts that often invaded the narrative, which in turn made it hard for me to relax and sink into the story. I think had I listened to the podcast version prior to reading it, I might have understood the narrative tense shifts a little better, because it felt as if the author was trying to capture character personality. Listening to someone else read it may have made it easier to ignore those little details.

I really feel that if a professional editor had taken a second pass at The Fox, the story itself would have been more enjoyable for me as a reader. Her eye for detail and grasp on historical practices and rituals was really beautiful, and as a reader and lover of Celtic history that is one of this novel’s saving graces. Radasky’s passion shines through, which increases the novel’s enjoyability.
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