Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Take The Ending How You Will

Look at that cover.
Just look at it.
An eye. A passage from an ancient book about Royal Sacrifices. A sprig of hemlock. Two vases which jointly from the words "Nowhere".
A cello.

Oh goodness gracious! Not a cello!

Doesn't it scream, I mean scah-reeeam the very essence of freakishness for which this glorious blog,and and all it's freaky-as-hell contributors stand for?
And we are freaky,let me tell you that. I do not claim to know any of my fellow bloggers personally,but one of them thinks she's a cat....

Anyway. Fire & Hemlock by Diana Wynne Jones.
I adore Diana Wynne Jones so watch out for more!

Most of this story is in flashback mode. 19-year old Polly,who is packing to leave for Uni, is suddenly struck by memories she never knew existed. For some reason she is reminded of a fellow named Tom.
Tom,who was her best childhood friend,memories of the games they played and the stories they made up,and memories that these games and tales had a most uncanny,sometimes terrifying habit,of coming true at some point. But nobody seems to remember Tom. It's almost as if he's been erased from existence entirely,and Polly has a nasty feeling that she might have had something to do with it...
It's a modern retelling of the ballad of Tam Lin,or Thomas the Rhymer,made chilling and freaky and utterly original.
I won't give away too much of the plot. Most of the joy and frustration of reading a Diana W. Jones book is the way the plot builds,thickens, layers itself,twists,turns,U-turns,goes inside out,loop-de-loops,ties itself in ribbons,meshes itself and finally presents itself in a glorious and sometimes not entirely satisfactory mess.
The thing about Jones is that she rarely,if ever, ties up all the loose ends and presents all the answers in a nice package with a bow-on-top. It's up to the poor reader to figure out everything on their own really. Ms.Jones certainly expects her readers to be most intelligent folk.
The ending of this one is particularly confusing and very open to interpretation. After 6 re-reads I am still unable to fathom what the shallow graves and shimmering music is supposed to mean.
I hope it doesn't mean I'm stupid.


International Mastermind said...

That sounds awesome, and the cover is great....
I think I'll read this book first!

CosimaCat said...

I very much doubt you could be stupid. Freaky, yes, but not stupid.

..."one of them thinks she's a cat"...
Were you talking about me?
Well, good review. You now have me convinced to put this on my wish list as well.

theatre said...

sweet, so need to read that one--good review

Wendi said...

Great work.