Odin's Reviews > The Fox

The Fox by Arlene Radasky
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Sep 22, 2011

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bookshelves: historical-fantasy

Synopsis: Have you ever wondered who your ancestors were? How did they live? How did they die? Most of us do.

Genealogy is a huge business. Curiosity about our bloodlines, our past, makes us want to go back as far as possible.

But, genealogy can only go back as far as there are written records. What if you had a chance to find a connection to ancient roots? To someone who lived two thousand years ago? Proof you could touch and hold in your hand?

Aine Macrea has that chance. She is the archaeologist who is on the search for a vision.

Jahna has come to her and lead her to discoveries.

In The Fox, you will follow the lives of Jahna and Lovern, two people who lived in what is now Scotland, during the time of the invading Romans. The Romans threatened Jahna and Lovern, their clan and most importantly, the life of their child. They struggled to find a way to stop the coming invasion and in doing so, left traces of their lives.

Aine is working to rebuild her career and is led by instinct, or a vision (or is it a ghost?) to a hilltop in Scotland. (The preceding synopsis was stolen from the author's website.)

Setting: Ms. Radasky sets The Fox in Scotland. Part of what initially attracted me to this story was my life long interest in this northern portion of the United Kingdom. Blame it on Doohan. However, in Ms. Radasky's book, there are two Scotland's. The present day Scotland that a few among us might know, and an ancient Scotland inhabited by druids and warriors. While I greatly enjoyed the latter, the former didn't really gel as much for me. Without spoiling the story, much of the area is the same in both situations, separated by a time shift. That time shift somehow greatly affected the word portrait Ms. Radasky painted. At least to me. Strangely, the archaic Scotland seemed much more lifelike to me than the modern one.

Grade: B+

Plot: The synopsis above gives a glimmer of what the story is about. The two time streams do swap back and forth in being the driving current plot, until they eventually converge. Each time stream develops its own subplots and carries the readers along paths that I, at least, for one, never found very comfortable. But then again, who said life was comfortable? As I read this book I was reminded how uncomfortable listening to it had made me. Let me state here. Reading it made the uncomfortableness go away. In it's place I found acute pain.

I enjoyed the plot line set in ancient Scotland much more than the one in current times. More about this in the recommendation.

Grade: B-

Characters: Again, there is a discrepancy between the characters in the ancient story line and the current. Jahna and Lovern had me tied into their story from the first page (ancient story line). I found Aine (current story line) to be unlikeable and quickly read through those chapters.

While this might seem harsh, let me say again, it isn't the author's job to make me love their characters. It is the author's job to make me have a visceral reaction to their characters. At least that is my thought. Ms. Radasky does that. I loved Jahna and Lovern until I hated them. Aine's character, while not affecting me as deeply, still made me angry, which is still a characteristic of decent writing.

Grade: A-

Odin's Recommendation: Ms. Radasky did not write my favorite book when she wrote The Fox. Part of that is because she does some truly horrific things to her characters. Things that quite probably were very true to the way of life ancients in this part of the world during the time period described. I wish the entire book would have focused on the ancient civilization, and although having finished the story, I understand why there are two, I still cannot say the current timeline and the tie in interested me nearly as much. I could have/would have enjoyed it more having completely been set in the ancient world. That being said, The Fox made me angry because it made me care. If you're interested in life and legends set in ancient Scotland, Ms. Radasky has written a book for you. Warning: (and possible spoiler) Ms. Radasky in no way rewrites history. You've been warned.
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