Hello lovely readers, I hope your October treated you well. This blog post may be a week late, but better late than never, right?
I am still waiting to hear back from my beta readers. Hopefully there won’t be too many edits to complete this month, and so the release should be on track.
While I haven’t read as much as I’ve been hoping to (I did buy a new book this weekend and have three on hold at the library), I do have two short reviews that I feel would be good to visit now.
Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier
This is marketed as a YA book – or at least, that’s how it’s labeled at my local library – but it didn’t feel super young to me. The main characters are all young women, but they don’t read particularly angsty or juvenile, which is a bonus for me.
A retelling of the story “The Twelve Dancing Princesses,” this book follows five sisters who live in Transylvania in the 16th Century. The second eldest, Jena, is the main protagonist and point-of-view character. The story begins when the girls’ father leaves for the winter due to his health, leaving the manor in the girls’ care. However, things go wrong after a family member’s death, and their cousin Cezar begins to take over the manor.
One of the girls’ main escapes throughout their lives has been a monthly trip into the fae Other Kingdom on the night of the full moon, where they dance the night away. They always take care not to eat or make deals with the fae, and are successful until the eldest sister, Tati, starts to spend much of her time with a dangerous member of the Night People.
With winter and Cezar to contend with in the real world, and Tati’s mysterious amore in the Other Kingdom, Jena has much to figure out before she loses everything she loves.
This book captures the “fairytale” feeling that I enjoy, including some dark elements reminiscent of earlier folktales. The setting is cold and immersive, with the winter ever held at bay, and I would put it alongside The Winternight Trilogy and Spinning Silver as an excellent read for those chilly nights. The characters, while young, are intelligent and resourceful, and the plot moves at just the right pace. The prose is florid and beautiful without being distracting. If you enjoy romances with a happy ending and just the right dose of adventure, you’ll love this story.
Piranesi by Susanna Clarke
Piranesi is a darling of the year, taking awards and garnering a lot of praise. I picked it up expecting to read something like Madeline Miller’s Circe, and while the prose and general hazy atmosphere are certainly similar, the plot and characters are vastly different.
Set in the House, a strange world apart from ours filled with rooms upon rooms stretching for an unknown number, and a floor touching the sky and a floor touching the tides with a middle floor in between, readers are instantly met with Piranesi, a scholar whose goal is to map the vast House. He does not keep a calendar recognizable to us, nor does he behave as a normal man might, but we gain a sense of kinship with him through his curiosity and love for the House.
Other than Piranesi, there are very few people in the house. The Other is the only person Piranesi interacts with, besides the various skeletons strewn around the place. As the story progresses, Piranesi begins to doubt his work with the Other, and learn there are perhaps more people in the world than the two of them and the bones.
Piranesi is perhaps one of the strangest, yet most beautiful books I’ve ever read. It does not have a “plot” so much as it has an “atmosphere,” with the characters and setting being more important than the story being told. Yet, the writing is so lovely that I couldn’t put it down, and I came away immensely satisfied with the experience. For something a little new, yet somehow nostalgic, this is the read for you.