The first and the best word I can think of to describe this book: epic.
When authors attempt to self-identify as writers of “epic fantasy” I generally scoff – but this book succeeded. I enjoyed it quite a bit.
This read like a mixture of Alice in Wonderland and the Chronicles of Narnia, with some heavy archetypes, some wonderfully bizarre and original characters, and a moving plot that, you know, mattered.
It was refreshing to read a book where the “love” was understated and tentative, but still obviously sincere. Also, where love did not equal triangle. It was nice to see that the epic level of the plot was not made to bow to some cheesy, too-quickly fashioned obsession. It was cute without being THE THING THE BOOK WILL BE REMEMBERED FOR. Because we’ve had enough of that lately. I mean, we lose sight of plot implications debating Gale vs. Peeta. This was a refreshing change.
The first 2/3 of the book went quite quickly. I could see from the numbers on my kindle that the book was “long” but it didn’t “feel” long. The story was engaging, the characters interesting, the writing beautiful – and I am always into a good traditional pagan story with witchcraft that hasn’t become all stupidly twisted by modern paranormal obsession.
Shammy. Loved Shammy. Just. Loved. Shammy.
And Merlin. Wasn’t sure, but then it grew on me. It’s always tough to bring in so many archetypal ideas – the representations of Goddesses, Magic, Dreams. These are hard things to mess with and still be successful. But Hart manages, with gusto.
The dreams. The dream realms were interesting, but the dream segments that occur later (view spoiler) were just beautiful. I was really impressed with the way they remained relevant, thought-provoking, and engaging. I loved that there wasn’t a single answer curled into each scenario, but rather a multitude of threads that helped spell out Truth.
I was a big fan of this portion of the book. I felt very moved, and I was impressed with the way the trials were laid out and the ability of the author to juggle a multitude of plot threads and characters and bring them all together in an (almost) seamless ending. The fact that I knew, at any point in the book, where every character was and what he/she was up to was *damned impressive*. There was clearly a lot of care taken with crafting the story.
The slow reveal! I am always impressed when authors write stories that unfold. I get very tired of reading like I’m eating a feast – a table of plot and detail laid out before me on shiny silver plates – VOILA! no mystery here! So far from that was this book. Hart managed to write a story that would have resisted such methods anyway, mostly due to complexity, but in addition (YAY!) she took pains to shape and tease the story. And it shows. The craftsmanship is impressive.
And then: ACK, WHAT KIND OF ENDING IS THAT?
OK, so I felt it was coming, but still. Boo! (but in a cheering kind of way). Hopefully, more of the series is coming soon?
All in all, I was very impressed. That being said-
I think the end loses it a little bit. I may not have noticed except I had come to expect so much in terms of craft and reasoning, and then, there were a few disappointments.
Little things like that. They don’t really detract from the plot though, and they certainly don’t lessen the power of the book. They just … make me wonder. Maybe I missed something. I’m willing to believe it because this is a well-put-together piece of writing.
Oh, but I do take issue with the rather limiting definition of “id”. I thought it hurt one of the most interesting facets of the book to encompass such a complex idea into a single box. I know that “id” is still a pretty big box, but … I felt dissatisfied.
These things I mention only because THIS BOOK WAS AWESOME.
Fun, original, and with all the staples of a true EPIC