I really enjoyed this book. The big reveal is extremely well-done; I didn't see it coming. The only quibble I have is that the story gets a little mudI really enjoyed this book. The big reveal is extremely well-done; I didn't see it coming. The only quibble I have is that the story gets a little muddy after the big reveal. I understand why new characters were introduced when they were, but I found them to be a little jarring--they were such strong characters that they actually overshadowed the protagonist, who was reduced, in places, to little more than a narrator of others' actions.
That said, the book works really well overall. If you're interested in a work that grabs you, hard, right from the beginning, then hits you with a reveal that leaves you going, ah...I should have seen that coming, but didn't, then then is for you.
As an aside, I also appreciate the way the fact the protagonist is gay is handled. He just is. It's not a big deal, he is what he is...and yet, despite the matter-of-factness of his sexuality, it's still pivotal to the progression of the story. His gayness is important without being a big deal. That's particularly well-done....more
I picked up the Tattooed Witch because it's a product of my own publisher, Five Rivers Press, and I wanted to give a read over one of my fellow writerI picked up the Tattooed Witch because it's a product of my own publisher, Five Rivers Press, and I wanted to give a read over one of my fellow writer's works. Honestly, going into this book, I was a little wary; it came across as a "woman's book" and, well, I'm a guy. Two or three pages in, I realized I was wrong, wrong, wrongity-wrong. This is a fantastic book for anyone to read (okay, perhaps not for some younger readers, as in some places, the book--if not actually explicit--is pretty clearly treading into mature places involving violence and/or sex). The author has drawn some extremely compelling characters, and placed them in a well-constructed, consistent and richly-textured world that resembles our own Medieval Spain). Miriam, the main character, is both strong and vulnerable; she is far more than the dreary old female tropes that plague most speculative fiction i.e. "the guy with boobs" or "the shrinking flower/damsel in distress". If I have any criticism, it's that the villain, the Grand Inquisitor, is a little on the moustache-twirling side and could a redeeming feature or two...but that's pretty minor in the overall scheme of things in the book, and he IS pretty detestable, making him a guy we love to hate.
I have no hesitation recommending this book, and can't wait for the sequels/next books in the series!...more
I've long been a fan of Charles de Lint, ever since I first read Moon Heart in a bush camp back in the early 80s. He's a master of urban fantasy, muchI've long been a fan of Charles de Lint, ever since I first read Moon Heart in a bush camp back in the early 80s. He's a master of urban fantasy, much of it based around his imaginary city of Newford. Forests of the Heart takes us back there, this time in a story that crosses Celtic, Canadian Aboriginal and New World Spanish/SW American Native folklore.
As usual, Charles gives us a great read. Forests is well-paced, with well-drawn, interesting characters (but...and there is a but, as I'll get to in a moment) and a compelling setting. Newford is hit by a massive ice storm (life imitating art as I write this, just a couple of weeks after Toronto and area was just whacked by the very same thing). The ferocious weather complicates matters for our heroes, who must contend with the inadvertent release of a ferocious monster based around the Green Man, an ancient nature spirit of life, death and rebirth.
I have two problems with the story. First, I think Charles is trying to do too much, with too much material. He delves most deeply into the New World Spanish/SW American Native folklore, which is fascinating stuff--he brings that mythology to sparkling life. Unfortunately, his other two sources of spiritual magic, Celtic and Canadian Aboriginal, get shorted in comparison. I really like his take on the Gentry, aka the Hard Men, Celtic spirits who were dragged in chains of belief to North American by Irish immigrants and then essentially abandoned (echoes of Gaiman's American Gods). He portrays them as sullen, dangerous, cigarette-smoking men, which is a very cool take on ancient folklore. Trouble is, he doesn't do much with them, other than making them menacing and dangerous; he leaves them kinda flat. The Aboriginal Canadian folklore (a favorite of mine) gets even less attention, which is too bad; he doesn't quite evoke its nuances and textures and, again, leaves it rather superficial. I understand why--the book is long and complex enough. Still, I'd rather he'd perhaps omitted one of the mythologies and concentrated on the other two more, rather than focusing on a "three-sided" conflict.
The other issue is related to too much folklore, and that's too many characters. These belief systems all have to be served through characters (and there's a actually a fourth belief system, which is anything that isn't the other three, including skepticism about myth and magic's existence at all). I found it had to keep track of characters and, frankly, wondered why some of them had been introduced in the first place, as they didn't really add much to the story.
That said, I think Forests of the Heart is a fantastic read, and highly recommend it to anyone who loves contemporary and/or urban fantasy....more
I enjoyed The Twelve Fingered Boy--a lot. I like quirky YA books, and this is definitely that. I didn't offer a 5 Star review only because there's somI enjoyed The Twelve Fingered Boy--a lot. I like quirky YA books, and this is definitely that. I didn't offer a 5 Star review only because there's something that doesn't QUITE click for me in the book. It's hard to put my finger on what it is; something doesn't didn't quite gel for me in this story.
That said, I definitely recommend giving it a read!...more