Monday, 26 November 2012


I continue my travels through the unfamiliar territory of literary fantasy. So far, it continues to be rather a tiresome trek. I think half the problem is the number of pages it takes to really hook me.  If the characters, or the writing, have not grabbed me by the end of the first chapter I’m inclined to think it will be a waste of my time to read further. But there is a bit of bulldog in me so I slog on.  Having begun, and sort of finished, a fantasy novel for young teens, I am now reading two adult titles, swapping from one to the other when I get too bored, determined I will complete them and maybe, even, arrive at a point where I’m so engrossed that I want to give each one my sole attention to the end. But as wise Solomon wrote, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick”, so it had better happen soon!

The books I am alternating between are The Eyre Affair, by Jasper Fforde, and William Horwood’s Awakening. I thought it best to read different styles of fantasy, so this is a comparison between magic realism and traditional fantasy. This is the third time I have attempted Eyre. I’m a third of the way through - the same point at which I stopped reading the first two times – and while I recognise the cleverness of it all, I don’t care about the characters or what happens to them, and I haven’t laughed once. The bulldog is in command, but only just.  With Horwood’s book, I’m four chapters in and there are some teensy-weensy signs of warming in the care-factor. It’s a big book so I hope the temperature rises rapidly from now on.

The exception in my fantasy journey thus far has been Charles De Lint’s urban fantasy, The Mystery of Grace.  The main character, a tattoo enthusiast known as Grace to her fellow mechanics at the garage where they restore classic cars, had me hooked almost immediately. But even without that, DeLint’s command of language would have kept me reading; that, and the redemptive nature of the story. I don’t need a happy ending for me to enjoy a book, but I appreciate  layers of story-telling that make it possible for the characters to be redeemed, if not in the confines of the plot, then in the landscape of my imagination.  DeLint made me think, made me laugh, made me re-read lines just for the sheer pleasure of it, and, yes, gave me a fresh appreciation of the grace of God.


  1. Not a fan of Horwood, too wordy for me and haven't come across De Lint at all. But then I'm not a big Fantasy reader either. As I have recommended Fforde's books to you I will confess to being biased as to whether it is worth while continuing with The Eyre Affair. If it helps a very 'wise' person not unrelated to me, always encouraged me to read a minimum of 5 chapters before I gave up on it.

  2. That wise person should have kept her mouth closed! However I am heeding her advice and have read 8 chapters - have gone too far to go back!!

  3. I read Horwood's Skallagrig many moons ago and was very taken with it. I don't know how it would stand up to a second reading in adulthood though! But I hear you on your criticism of the fantasy genre. For a long time I stayed away, because there was too much plot where the character should be. But I've since realised this was not a failing on the part of the genre, but rather in my selections. It's a very broad and diverse genre - if it even is a single genre - with some very interesting stuff, once you get away from the bricks and trilogies!

  4. Having given up on the Horwood - it was due for library return and I wasn't enamoured enough to renew - and laid aside the FForde temporarily,I read one recommended to me; Peter Decker's The Waterboys,which, given it is set in an alternate reality and time-frame, could be deemed fantasy. One of the best two books I have read this year, the other being The Mystery of Grace.
    So give me your recommendations!