My favourite science fiction author has turned her hand to fantasy. So what do I feel? Excitement? Eager anticipation? No. The absolute devastation that accompanies horrified betrayal!!!
Why, you may ask?
I have followed Ms. Czerneda’s work since her tentative but competent first steps in A Thousand Words For Stranger to her latest, Rift in the Sky (part of her Trade Pact Universe Cycle), a ringing symphony of science fiction brilliance.
The woman can write – of that, there is no question. She does her research, she knows her biology. Her characters have depth and she takes us boldly to strange new worlds as if she had already visited them herself.
But write fantasy? That’s all warm and fuzzy and about magic and stuff. Can’t she just stick to what we KNOW she is good at? And to punish her faithful readers even more, instead of the usual year (or maybe two) between books, this switch from sf to fantasy cost us FOUR YEARS. That’s right, folks! Four years of nothing from Czerneda all for a piece of FANTASY!
And then I picked it up.
To start with, if you’re not reading the eBook you need a crane – this particular book weighs in at 832 glorious pages of shining literature. Oh, you thought I didn’t like fantasy, did you? That’s not the case – I just don’t like it mucked up by amateurs and clearly Czerneda is no amateur!
The world-building in Marrowdell is flawless. Would that I could rent a summer cottage there – I could practically smell the mill as it worked during the harvest! The characters are realistically flawed – these are no picture-perfect Barbies and Kens and their squabbles are typical small-town squabbles.
And the there’s Jenn Nalynn. Everyone’s darling and everyone’s project. She has no idea how naive she really is. She thinks she is oh, so mature and ready to go out and meet the world. She just has no idea that her world can only be her tiny valley – for her safety and for the safety of everyone else.
I ached for Jenn as she wanted to leave and explore. As a parent I felt for her father who wanted to protect her from the hurtful truth that she could never leave. As a sister I would have been terribly jealous watching her discover the magic within herself (but then, I’m not nearly as good a person as her sister, Peggs). The chimerical quality of this tiny valley that is both ordinary and extraordinary would be magic enough, but Jenn Nalynn needs to grow up and rather than be rescued (as a Disney princess would be) she goes on her own heroes journey.
Dragons and toads, astronomers and magic – this weighty tome has it all. It also has the alarming tendency to make the reader hungry at odd hours and should come with a warning to this effect (or at least should be sold with a large pie).
Get plenty of sleep and grab a snack before starting this book because Czerneda has achieved an amazing achievement with this book and you won’t want to put it down.