by: Marcus Sedgwick
So this book is a lot different than anything I have ever read, but it was a very nice break from what I typically read. It was really creepy and intriguing and the prose was beautiful in places. And I've never read a book based solely on a painting before, so that was interesting.
Things I liked:
1. The Continuity
One of the coolest things about this book was that, though it was separated into seven separate and distinct stories, all of the stories intertwined in this really fascinating way. The tiniest details or phrases were used as devices to show you the connections (like "so it is" or "speak of the devil and his horns appear"). There were a ton of repeating symbols and such (like the little blessed dragon flowers, the hares, and the tea), but they were repeated in ways that were unique and useful to each new story. I also loved how in the one story things might not make sense until you read a later story and say to yourself, "ohhh, so that's what that meant." In the same way, Sometimes because you had already read details about a certain thing, you understood it when it was used in a later story.
Also, It was really great to be reading each story and trying to find Eric and Merle and how their lives intersecting because in each story it was different.
2. Different Relationships Highlighted
I thought it was interesting how in one story Eric and Merle were a couple while in others that love may have manifested itself in a mother-son relationship or even two strangers who never once met and yet changed the other's life or a girl who gave a retired painter a reason to paint again. This could have come off creepy (in a bad way) in some places, but it was always done well. The point was to say that they loved each other in every life, even when they weren't a couple.
3. Great Writing
Marcus' writing style was very easy to read in this book. At times when things could have gotten confusing or boring, his writing kept the reader involved and gave them just the right amount of understanding.
4. Creepiness (in a good way)
I normally don't read things this creepy (well, I did read and love Unwind and Unwholly and those are both incredibly creepy, but that's about it). But I really enjoyed this. It was a kind of like a palate-cleanser* from the norm for me and I liked that. I mean, human sacrifices and real-life Viking vampires? Now that's something new and different.
5. The Timeline
I am a fan of the fact that this book started in the sort-of distant future and worked its way back to the very different past. Yet it made complete sense for it to do so.
Things I Didn't Like:
1. Difficult Start
It might be me and have nothing to do with this book, but I had a little trouble getting into the first story. This might have been because the reader doesn't know quite what is going on yet. But it ended up not being that big of a deal and I was able to get past that to the rest of this weird, interesting, great book.
*side note: That phrase always reminds me of The Princess Diaries movie when Mia is at that dinner and she eats that palate-cleansing ice cream stuff too fast and gets a brain-freeze. Is that just me? okay, then...)
"He wonders if a few moments of utter and total joy can be worth a lifetime of struggle."
"They are indefatigable, tireless, stoic, and given the tragedy of their daughter, David decides, they are still people with life inside them."
"About how paintbrushes can tame the beasts, and put them on the canvas, to make beauty, or power."
"Just because we have entered the modern world, have we done with suffering? Have we done with love, and loss? Have we done with wars? Then, there will be sacrifice!"
"Strange how walking the journey once more brings back both shade and detail."
"Before the ice breaks, before the tree falls, before the sword lands. It might only be a fraction of a moment, but that time can dilate, can swell and grow, can fill the world around it with its power, till it lasts for a lifetime."