Francesca Forrest's Reviews > Jack o' the Hills

Jack o' the Hills by C.S.E. Cooney
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's review
Apr 13, 2011

it was amazing

(Review is from LJ, so if you've read it on LJ, my apologies!)

I adored this novella. How it twisted and turned--like an embryonic skinchanger in its egg. Speaking of, there's one in this story:
He saw inside the skinchanger's egg.

A shadow, a flame, a dark heart beating.

It shifted, it melted, it took a new shape.

A fish, a snake, a bird, a child.

A child. A human child. A girl child, sleeping in a pool of her own black hair, her skin of bright red gold ... One eye of ebony, one of fire. Black lips sucking on a flaming thumb, round limbs bundled to her belly, although a restless foot or fist sometimes jabbed out, distending the oval egg, making it jump and pulse.

Like holding a thunderstorm, thought Jack Yap. Like holding lightning before it is born.

This Jack Yap. He's been abused since he was little, and now he's the picture of a cheerful hoodlum. But he's much more likable (to my mind) than, say, movie!Alex from A Clockwork Orange (have to specify movie having never read the book). Jack Yap is devoted to and protective of his huge and dimwitted brother Pudding, and also of this skinchanger child, once she's born. Admittedly, there's mayhem and murder involved in being devoted to that pair, and, well, the skinchanger's nature, like the scorpion's, is one that might make your average person give her wide berth but--oh, I just loved this trio.

And the humor! The humor. How about the royal twins, wicked Princess Oubliette and her loathsome brother Prince Garotte? Princess Oubliette received fairy blessings at her birth:
"Princess Oubliette," Ginny Rum asserted, "You have been blessed today with Wit, Beauty, a Knack with Dumb Animals, the Voice of a Seraph, Healthy Bowels, Hair Thick as Honey, Self-Flossing Teeth, a Willowy Frame, the Grace of a Harem Dancer, a Laugh Like a Silver Bell, a Smile as Sweet as Crème Brûlée, Cunning Ways, Cosmic Sorceries, Upwards Ambition, and Dominance over the Males of Your Species. But all this will avail you naught. For here I stand to bless you with the hour of your death."

She's got a lot going for her, right?

Now, I haven't quoted you the bludgeoning or the cannibalism, and they are in the story too. But the really bad guys get theirs, and when it's your friends you tend to forgive minor bad habits like soul sucking and a taste for human flesh, no?

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