Monday, May 19, 2014

Progress report: The Rose Guardian

After many long months of cogitation, I have finally touched fingers to keyboard again and finished one of the narratives for my current work-in-progress, The Rose Guardian. 

This section was especially difficult for me, as the narrative is constructed entirely of journal entries, and so carrying plot and tension through a very focused voice took a great deal of restraint. I think, however, I have the bones of it done, am pleased with the overall tone, enough I can now move on to the dream-time narrative of the story, the dark fantasy.

I must be honest and admit I have never struggled so hard with a work as I have with this. Sometimes I've thought I'm perhaps being too caught up in technique and device. At others I've known my instinct to write this story through three distinct narratives is the right choice, albeit challenging.

But we'll see, won't we?

Still and all, I'm pleased.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Review: Dreaming the Eagle, by Manda Scott

Dreaming the Eagle (Boudica, #1)Dreaming the Eagle by Manda Scott
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The historical heroine Boudica is one who has always fascinated me: warrior woman, leader of the legendary Eceni, fierce defender of her homeland, nemesis of the might of Rome. So it was with relish I picked up the first of a series of novels about Boudica by British author, Manda Scott. I was not disappointed.

Scott's realization of Boudica and her development as the leader of her people is a well-researched, richly detailed historical novel without the usual descent into romantic saccharine usually accompanying the work of many female historical fiction writers. This is a gritty portrayal, not unlike the work of Bernard Cornwell. There are, of course, artistic liberties which have been taken, but most of them done with sensitivity to the integrity of historical accuracy.

If you love realistic historical fiction I highly recommend plunging into Dreaming the Eagle, by Manda Scott. Very much look forward to reading the next in the series.

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Saturday, May 10, 2014

Review: Spirits Rising, by Krista D. Ball

Spirits Rising (Spirit Caller, #1)Spirits Rising by Krista D. Ball
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Spirits Rising, by Krista D. Ball, has all the elements to make it an entertaining Canadian paranormal novel. Alas, for this reader, it fell far short of the mark.

Ostensibly a story about a resurrection spell gone awry in the hands of a novice, the novel chronicles a mainlander's attempt to return the arisen hoards back to their rest.

While the setting is engaging for any lover of Canadian literature, (St. Anthony, Newfoundland, the home of the UNESCO Heritage Site L'Anse aux Meadows), there is little by way of environmental description to illustrate this haunting landscape. In fact, there is little by way of any description to engage the reader, whether environmental, character or emotional landscape. The entire novel seemed hurried, perhaps as a device to create tension, but alas failed.

There are some moments of delightfully sharp Newfoundland dialogue. The majority, however, tends to cliché, as do many of the characters. The arisen spirits of Vikings and Beothuk, which play an integral element in the story, are left almost entirely undeveloped and almost cut directly from the erroneous and stereotypical. The villains are villainous, the heroes heroic. And the story ends. Abruptly.

I believe Spirits Rising is an excellent first draft which requires the touch of a developmental editor and a considered revision. Certainly there is much potential here. But for this reader the potential of the novel isn't realized.

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Saturday, May 3, 2014

Review: Cloud Atlas, by David Mitchell

Cloud AtlasCloud Atlas by David Mitchell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a complex, ambitious novel which is written with a master's hand. David Mitchell succeeds in creating a series of seemingly unrelated stories and weaving them together into a cohesive whole, each replete with rich character development, environment and plot, tied together with an overarching theme examining slavery of the body, spirit and mind.

The individual narratives take the reader through both historical and fantastical futuristic worlds, each richly drawn and credible. Mitchell succeeds brilliantly in suspending disbelief. And each narrative employs a completely different voice, so that one might be as journal entries, another as a series of letters, one in a futuristic patois which is stunningly complex yet easy to read. Altogether Cloud Atlas is an engrossing, satisfying and illuminating read, one I feel confident will become a classic decades from now.

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