Category Archives: fantasy

Tyger Tyger by Kersten Hamilton

Word Lily review

Tyger Tyger: A Goblin Wars Book by Kersten Hamilton (Clarion Books, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, November 15, 2010 — but available now), 320 pages

Summary
Teagan Wylltson’s usually steady, by-the-plan life gets turned upside down when her adoptive teenage cousin, Finn Mac Cumhaill, comes to live with her family. But it’s probably not, primarily, in the way you’d guess. He’s rugged and handsome, yes, but he’s also the Mac Cumhaill…. Oh, and did I mention? Tea’s best friend, Abby, had a dream that goblins and the like were going to attack Teagan.

Thoughts
I really enjoyed this book! Grounded in the real world but filled with the wonder of fantasy. I think this makes the book much more accessible to people who are skeptical of (or just plain unfamiliar with) high fantasy. It also makes the book very enjoyable, too.

I loved the Celtic mythology at the root of much of the story. Tea is incredibly real — earnest and likable. Abby is a great counterpoint. I appreciated all the characters, actually.

I also love that the Wylltson family is so literary. Tea’s mom writes and illustrates children’s books. Her father’s a librarian.

One more thing: I really enjoyed the bits of humor Hamilton wove into the story.

I really have no complaints about this book; I quite liked Tyger Tyger and I’m looking forward to more. Actually, I want to read the next book now! (But I’m afraid I’ll have to wait awhile; I couldn’t find any information about book 2. Which isn’t too surprising since this one just came out. But still.)

About the author
Kersten Hamilton is the author of several picture books and many middle grade book; this is her first novel for a young adult audience. She lives in New Mexico.

Other reviews
Dreadlock Girl
The Lost Entwife
Kay’s Bookshelf
Window to My World
I Just Wanna Sit Here and Read
Alexia’s Books and Such
Book Chic

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I received this book from the publisher. I am an Amazon Associate and receive a small commission on sales through my affiliate links.

Faith ‘n’ Fiction Roundtable: Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury

For Faith ‘n’ Fiction Saturday this week, I participated in a round table discussion with several other bloggers about:

Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury (1962), 304 pages

Brief book summary and overview

I’ve heard this book called dark fantasy, even horror. Oh, and Gothic. It tells the story of Jim Nightshade and Will Halloway, opening the day an evil carnival comes to town in the middle of an October night.

I still haven’t fully settled how I feel about it; I expect my thoughts on this book will continue to evolve over time. I didn’t love it, though.

Aside from the round table, the other reason I read Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes is that it’s on the Image Journal list I’m still slowly making my way through, my own perpetual challenge.

“The shadow seemed deliberate in its slowness so as to shingle his flesh and cheesegrate his steadily willed calm.”

~page 154, Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury

And now, a small part of the discussion, which is spread out over the blogs of all the participants, divided chronologically.

The conversation starts here

Amy: I’ve heard a lot about Something Wicked This Way Comes and was excited to read it. Unfortunately, I really struggled with the language in this book, to the point where I sometimes didn’t know what was going on. There were times I thought it was breathtaking and lovely, though. Admittedly I had to push my way through the book a little bit, though overall I enjoyed what it had to say about facing mortality and death.

How did you feel about the book? Did you find it to be the perfect spooky Halloween read?

Jacob: Something Wicked meant a lot to me as a kid, so I was excited to re-read it. Amy, I know what you mean about the language; the first “challenging” (at the time) book I prided myself in reading was Fahrenheit 451, I think in 5th grade, and I had to read a lot of scenes twice to figure out what was going on. I do think very few (especially American) authors write like Bradbury and almost no one else could get away with his elaborate metaphors and asides. I still find him highly readable.

Similarly, I think Something Wicked’s treatment of faith is very American; good vs. evil, the devil wandering the countryside challenging boys to fiddle contests. It’s a limitation but also a strength: where else do you find this view? Belief in the devil figures centrally in my personal faith, and it’s refreshing, you know, to watch somebody really sock it to him. Nevertheless, I think of the devil very much in terms of “powers and principalities,” residing at the seat of civic, economic, military power. There’s a passage in Lewis’ “Screwtape Proposes a Toast” where the titular devil prophecies that soon, Hell will no longer need to target individual souls, but rake them in collectively like fish in nets; and I think we’ve reached that stage. Still there is something exhilarating in the personal struggle.

My favorite passage in the book is where he describes “5 a.m.” as the eternal dark night of the soul: as someone who’s struggled with insomnia, I know just what that means. My favorite scene was and remains the confrontation with the Dust Witch, the only part I recall really scaring me as a kid. In the film (which I only saw fragments of on TV once) she’s played by Pam “Foxy Brown” Grier, which is something to see.

Hannah: I found the language quite peculiar, and not terribly inviting. The book was also a bit too spooky for me, but maybe that’s just because I was reading it at bedtime.

Jacob, It’s interesting to me that you found Bradbury’s treatment of good and evil as American; I took it as wholly Modern (as opposed to postmodern), a product of its time.

The whole laughter cure is probably the most intriguing aspect of the book for me. It prompted a conversation about happiness vs. joy in our house.

Nicole: The structure and phrasing on this book was really frustrating and a bit off putting for me. If I had not been reading this with the group I would not have gotten through it. In some ways I could see what Bradbury was going for and at times when I could find the rhythm, it did add to the feeling and the dance that has sprung up between these two boys and their friendship, and the light and dark that has shadowed them heir who lives. At times it did add to the sense of urgency in their situation, but most of the time it was just hard to follow, and distracted me from a story that I was really interested in exploring.

I was really interested as well on laughter as the antidote to evil, and the implications that all things, even evil have to be taken less seriously to reduce the power and the hold that it can attain. I was expecting love to conquer all, so that was a nice twist as well as interesting concept to ponder.

I wish they had gone more into the nature of the evil of the carnival and how it evolved. I got some tempting glimpses, but wanted a little more.


The second part of the discussion.

Round Table Participants

Thomas :: http://thomasbingaman.wordpress.com
Nicole :: http://linussblanket.com
Jason :: http://mooredatsea.blogspot.com
Jacob :: http://www.jritari.com/

And don’t forget Amy, who started this whole thing; her post today has a bit about each participant’s background and current thoughts on faith.

I am an Amazon Associate and receive a small commission on sales through my affiliate links.

At the Back of the North Wind by George MacDonald

At the Back of the North Wind by George MacDonald (public domain in the USA, 1871) 220 pages

Available free on Project Gutenberg.

Summary
At the Back of the North Wind centers around a young boy, Diamond, and his interactions (and adventures) with the North Wind, who, when she’s with Diamond, generally takes the form of a beautiful woman (with extremely long hair).

Thoughts
Set in Victorian London, this is an enchanting children’s story (great bedtime reading!).

Ideas MacDonald addresses in this book: social justice, death, love and forgiveness.

This was not a fast read. Part of that, surely, is the fault of the crummy edition I bought (see note below), but it’s content-rich. A charming tale.

Another book I read in preparation for Hutchmoot. (Which is starts tomorrow, yay!)

Note: The edition of this book matters. I purchased a very inexpensive edition (I knew what I was likely getting myself into, but chose that anyway.) and the words are crammed into the book. Plus: It was poorly proofread. The version I linked to above is the one I *wanted* to buy. Some editions are illustrated, which could be cool.

About the author
George MacDonald (1824-1905) was a Scottish author, poet and pastor. He’s said to have influenced many great authors, including J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis and Madeleine L’Engle.

Other reviews
Across the Page

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I purchased this book. I am an Amazon Associate and receive a small commission on sales through my affiliate links.

The Prince of Mist by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

The Prince of Mist by Carlos Ruiz Zafón (1993; translated by Lucia Graves; Little, Brown; May 4, 2010), 224 pages

Summary
Max’s family leaves the city for the quieter, safer life of a small coastal town in 1943. But Max notices strange things about the town, and the Carvers’ new house, right off.

Thoughts
I’m so glad to see more of Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s work being translated into English! After loving The Shadow of the Wind and even not loving The Angel’s Game I’ve been longing for more from this author to read.

I would classify The Prince of Mist as more horror than the others I’ve read by him. Still, it felt more like I was reading a book that was scary than that I was being scared by the book. Does that make sense? I’m guessing it’s because it’s a YA title.

The writing in this book doesn’t seem as vibrant to me as in the other two books I’ve read of his. I’m not sure if that’s because this was his first book, or if, perhaps, it’s because it’s for a younger audience.

I thought the way the author gets the adults out of the way for most of the action was great. The main characters are able to have a well-adjusted family but the danger-fraught story line isn’t hindered by their presence.

As much as I was happy to read this book, it’s not my favorite from him; that position is still firmly held by The Shadow of the Wind. That’s due in part to the story (this one isn’t book-centric, and it’s also a bit on the scary side for my taste, which is funny to say because it really feels like a YA book in this respect) and in part to the writing (which wasn’t bad in this case, but really shines in the other titles of his I’ve read). I’ll still jump at the next Ruiz Zafón book I can get in English, though.

The book’s trailer:
[Youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n2dX56mc8Rg]

About the author
Carlos Ruiz Zafón doesn’t write fast enough for my taste; he’s the author of 6 books.

Other reviews
Alison’s Book Marks
The Introverted Reader
Fantasy Book Critic
A Dribble of Ink

Have you reviewed this book? Leave me a link and I’ll add it here.

I received this book from the publisher.