Sometimes books are so much more than just books. When, for example, I pick up my copy of Lisa Tuttle’s The Silver Bough, I think of the trip to Brighton when it was given to me as part of my welcome package at the World Fantasy Convention in 2013. That was a great fucking trip, and some of its magic has rubbed off on the book. I already like it before I open it because it is A Book I Got at My First Con.
The cover is pretty too. It never hurts.
But the magic didn’t stay past the first couple of pages. The story was engaging and quickly carried me off to must-turn-the-page-and-find-out-more-land (myth! mystery! dark handsome strangers with mysterious pasts! magic apples!), but the writing was unspectacular. Not bad, just not thrilling. Ho-hum.
a brief tangent on context and type size
Was it because I had just read Cloud Atlas? A book with prose so impressive that the prose of very few books could stand tall in its wake? I am beginning to suspect that the context in which I read a book (Where did I get it? What did I read before it? What was happening in my life at the time?) has a far greater effect on my opinions than I previously thought possible.
And the type. I will admit that when a book has type set too far apart, I take it less seriously from page one. I see widely spaced type and I think: Filler. I think: This book wasn’t long enough to look as long as the publisher wanted it to look and so they put in more spaces to fill it out. Of course, it could also have to do with printing prices and the like, but it all boils down to an uneasy feeling that this book is not meant to be taken seriously. For better or for worse.
and now back to your regularly scheduled review
The Silver Bough was a quick read. The story pulled me in and kept me turning pages, and it gets points for that. It also gets points for talking about some interesting Irish and Scottish myths that I knew nothing about. But it also turned out to be far more of a romance than a fantasy, and romance isn’t what I usually like to feed my brain. I should have known. The words “ancient lovers’ rituals” are used in the synopsis on the back cover. The magic came on suddenly, almost too suddenly, but the way that Tuttle builds up the magical presence in the town where the story takes place is admirable. She tells a good story. It just isn’t necessarily the story I wanted to read. You might like it though.
Five out of ten magic apples.
Where I got it: World Fantasy 2013, free from the publisher for all members