Sunday, June 25, 2006

Belated Reviews

FLY BY NIGHT by Hardinge

I'll borrow from the UK for a synopsis, but not because I'm lazy. I want to make sense. This is a LONG (500+ page), complicated book. Some of the time I wasn't sure I knew what was going on. Because I have a hard time following the ins and outs of politics and religion in our world, it was doubly hard to follow in Hardinge's imaginary world. But just like the end of WICKED, the end of this book made it all worth while. Here's the synopsis:

"A fantastic adventure story set in an alternative historical world that launches the career of a uniquely talented children's writer. In a fractured Realm, struggling to maintain an uneasy peace after years of civil war and religious tyranny, a 12- year- old orphan and a homicidal goose become the accidental heroes of a revolution. Mosca has spent her life in a miserable hamlet, where her father was banished for writing inflammatory books about tolerance and freedom. Now he is dead, and Mosca is on the run after unintentionally setting fire to a mill. With a delightful swindler named Eponymous Clent, she heads for the city of Mandelion. A born liar, Mosca lives by her wits in a world of highwaymen and smugglers, dangerously insane rulers in ludicrous wigs, secret agents and radical plotters. She is recruited as a spy by the fanatical Mabwick Toke, leader of the Guild of Stationers, who fears losing his control over the publication of every book in the state. Mosca's activities reveal a plot to force a rule of terror on the Realm, and merry mayhem soon leads to murder... FLY BY NIGHT is set in a re-imagined early-eighteenth century England, where kite-powered coffeehouses take to the river, and citizens lay offerings at the shrine of Goodman Blackwhistle of the Favourable Wind. Funny and surprising, stuffed with wonderful characters, at its heart it contains an inspiring truth - that the power of books can change the world."

As challenging and rewarding a read as FLY BY NIGHT was, THE SISTERS GRIMM: THE FAIRY TALE DETECTIVES by Buckley was just plain fun without too much work. I love books that allow young readers to discover the joy of understanding literary (albeit fairy tale) allusions.

And then we can fall clear off the literary map into cotton candy made of words with BABY MOUSE: BEACH BABE. Sugar is good occasionally, in small doses.

I thought GOSSAMER was a very sweet "explanation" of dreams and nightmares, woven into a story of a screwed up mom, her angry boy, and a lonely old woman and her long-suffering old dog.

CORYDON AND THE ISLAND OF MONSTERS is the first of what appears to be a trilogy of novels based on Greek mythological characters. But if you squint, you're reading Harry Potter. Boy hero has a goat leg instead of a lightning scar. He's away from society -- literally a scapegoat living with monsters instead of away at boarding school at Hogwarts. There are journeys, battles, a magic staff, honor, and lots of allusions to/inclusions of stories of myth, heroes and legend. The list of sources in the back includes movies, TV programs and PS2 games.

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