‘Till the Last Petal Falls

be4056_5c2cdfb6bcf6c44c18738eb5aadf267d.jpg_srz_221_316_75_22_0.50_1.20_0.00_jpg_srzThe first thing about this novel by Ms Elizabeth Rose is — it’s very pretty.  The cover is quite eye catching, the picture gives you some hit at that, but if you’re holding the book in your hand … well, it’s visually gorgeous.

But I’m not here to review the cover.

This story is a twist on the very old tale, Beauty and the Beast, which is in turn a retelling of an even older tale.

Before I get started, a warning:  the editing could have been better.  Some mistakes that not only wouldn’t have happened with just one more good proofread by someone, but also some sentences that could have stood better attention from the editor.  There’re also some layout and punctuation issues (like I’m one to criticise orthography, given how I type — but these are off the cuff blog posts, not a book that’s gone through editorial review).  Mostly, though, it’s not very detracting and is quite ignorable, but for the pedants out there, beware.  Inconsistent use of either a double dash or an em-dash, a missing paragraph break here or there, and so forth.

Now, on to the main course here.

This story was not my personal cup of tea.  I’m a fan of fairytales.  I love a fractured fairytale as much as the next guy, in the old Sherman & Mr Peabody cartoons from Rocky & Bullwinkle or in the form of things such as The Unhandsome Prince.  This wasn’t a broken fairytale — it didn’t say there was no happily ever after, or anything of the sort, more like a twisted, dark fairytale and the ending leaves you to decide if it was happy or not.  But, and this is important, I read it; I finished it, and I genuinely looked forward to turning the page — the author did a fine job.

Honestly, if you’re a fan of the new trend to twist fairytales, buy this book.  If not, you might want to pass this one up.

As an author it’s often difficult to read anything and not go:  “oh, she should have done thus”; or to say, “I would have had …”.  It is, really.  Still, all told, the narrative worked, the voice and tone of it carried through.  The character that act out of character are called on it within the context of the story.  My only real beef was I felt the ending wasn’t a very firm one — it left open a lot of why and what if and what next and so on.  Now, it’s not a weak ending, nor a “oh, I should stop the story now” ending like some authors (especially those writing to contract are guilty of due to word count limits), no.  It’s a fine ending, just — once again, not my cuppa.  I’m more a “wrap it all up; if you don’t, make sure you plan to come back to the world and characters sometime” sort of person.

I’m giving this one an awesome.  The writing is good.  I looked into Mockingbird Lane Press and they provide an editor, so layout and editing glitches aren’t the author’s fault, and besides that — only two or three made a sentence incomprehensible, the rest the right or missing word was obvious.  The story was both recognisable — even some cute hints at Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, which I thought was cute — and unique; all too often these attempts are retelling the story are a copy and paste of the original work with a few things edited, or the setting updated.  This, on the other hand, pure original story with the old tale as a template, very nice.

Speaking with the author, the ebook version isn’t out yet but is coming.  She’s aware of the layout and typos issues (was before I commented on them, many kudos points for that — no book makes it to the shelf perfect, but as small press or self-pub authors we can do far more about it!) and is trying to straighten them out before releasing the ebook.

For those fond of dead trees, you can get a link to various places to buy from this page here. (or, as always, by clicking the book cover)

The Hobbit

TheHobbit_FirstEditionI know what you’re thinking.  Oh, God, why?! That book is like 60 years old or something.  It’s been reviewed, it’s been analysed, it’s been dissected, bisected, vivisected, and several other kinds of sected!

Yes, but it’s also a classic, and one very well deserving of that label.

First off, it’s a grand adventure.  Little Bilbo Baggins, never left the Shire, is on his way to deal with a dragon!  Exciting, no?

Next, there’s the narrative.  Oh, the narrator is a character in and of itself!  This is a good thing, not a necessary thing in all stories but one that rarely hurts and can often help.  This narrative draws you in, holds your hand, and paints the picture for you in your mind.  Truly, the prose itself is enough that anyone ought to read this book.

It’s a kid’s story.  For no fathomable reason, it’s often placed near the adult fantasy books, but it’s not.  This story is the kind of thing a parent could read as a bedtime story to a little one, and a must have on any older child’s shelves to read themselves.  A fantastic, good ol’ fashioned Quest tale, as well as one of the first paving stones on the road that would become modern fantasy.

The characters, well now.  That’s an interesting look.  By many modern standards of literature, the characters could use work — but I also have a low opinion of many modern literary scholars, so let me tell you what I think.  I think that, as the story is about Bilbo Baggins, there is a cute little bit of frame story that it is by Sir Bilbo Baggins, et al that the important character to develop is — drum roll please — Mr Bilbo Baggins of Bag End.

The dwarves are, largely, decoration.  Their purposes need not even be two dimensional, let alone three.  There is a bit of hint that our fine Professor Tolkien knew more about them than he showed us or told us, which is as it should be, the author who knows more about the characters than the reader is an author who has a rich, lively setting that isn’t an endless string of plot devices.

As for our Mr Baggins, he’s very well developed, very well established, and you immediately are sucked into his world and his adventure.  You’re riding upon his shoulder and seeing through his eyes as the narrator guides you through.  Anyone, 5 to 500 male, female, hermaphrodite, animal, vegetable, or mineral ought to be able to readily identify with him.

Truly, this is the quintessential fantasy novel — the one that every generation of fantasy writers except a very new crop of them in recent decades, read and adored.  This book deserves to be rated among the great literatures of Britain.  In my opinion it is also the greatest thing the good Professor ever put on paper (not a fan of LotR, but that’s for another day).

Where did we go?!

Sorry for the disappearance and the less than perfect reviews of just book series instead of books.  Been a pretty hectic few months.

I’m reading ‘Til the Last Petal Falls right now.  About halfway through, so that post shouldn’t be much longer, few days if I can get more than a few minutes at a time to read and then type.

To tide things over until then I’m going to rank a lovely story I’m rather fond of.