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The Fox Woman (Love/War/Death, #1)
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Book Discussions > The Fox Woman by Kij Johnson

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This is our discussion of the contemporary fantasy novel...

The Fox Woman (Love/War/Death, #1) by Kij Johnson The Fox Woman by Kij Johnson

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Andrea | 2663 comments So remember how in our discussion of Alphabet of Thorn last month we mentioned how, well, lackluster the love scenes were? Well, this book kind of made up for it. It must have covered all possible combinations of male/female, human/fox, and a little incest thrown in as well. Seems I have a talent of unintentionally picking extremes :)

Ok, that out of the way, I must say I love the way it was written. The Japanese culture, the formal yet fairy-tale like style, I was drawn in right from the first page. Overall I thought it was quite beautiful and magical.

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Watts Martin | 6 comments It's been a long time since I read this book, I confess, but I absolutely loved it when I did. (The short story it was based on, "Fox Magic," is on Kij's web site, and it's terrific, too.)

All of her writing is lyrical--even when she's going extremely dark, the language is very precise. If you like The Fox Woman it's definitely worth checking out her short story collection At the Mouth of the River of Bees, which has both "Fox Magic" and "The Cat Who Walked a Thousand Miles," the short that became Fudoki, the sequel to The Fox Woman.

(The third and final book in the series is, as far as I know, going to be about a monkey.)

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Hillary Major | 436 comments What did you think about reading the book having read "Fox Magic"?

Reading the short story has made me reluctant to read the book. I can't think of a novel expanded from a short story or novella where I haven't preferred the shorter original ("Flowers for Algernon" a case in point). It just seems like what makes a great short story is a novel's worth of ideas in a compact language bundle & the best you can hope for is a dilution, a feeling of pleasantly-like-reading-the-short-story-only-longer.

message 5: by Watts (new)

Watts Martin | 6 comments Hmm. I liked both, but I think the short story's somewhat stronger. IIRC, Kij talked about the way she expanded the story into the novel by more or less expanding each sentence into a paragraph, because she didn't have a good handle on how to structure novels as distinct from short stories. ("Novels are longer" turns out to not be the whole answer...)

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Andrea | 2663 comments Looks like I'll have to dig up the short story to compare. Sometimes a short story benefits from being a novel, particularly if the author isn't that good at short stories and really needed the extra verbiage. For example the Harry Potter play (the Cursed Child), while of course a different form yet again, I found did suffer from lack of "filling" which I enjoyed reading the books. You get no feel at all for what it is like to be at Hogwarts because you need to cram in the plot in a limited amount of space, no time for describing what's going on in just mundane day-to-day things.

That said...I did find myself about halfway through the book (oddly around the moment stuff starts happening with the fox magic where you'd think things would actually be picking up) and wondering what more could happen in the next half. So maybe I was noticing some of that "expanded short story" effect without having even been aware of the short story before.

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