Tag Archives: dead

Sorrow’s Knot by Erin Bow

12 Mar

SorrowsKnotCoverTitle: Sorrow’s Knot
Author: Erin Bow
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine
Genre: Fantasy
Page Count: 368

The girl who remade the world was born in winter.

Otter is one of the Shadowed People. The free women of the forest live without men, for men are powerless against the ever restless dead. Every bit of shadow could conceal one of the three kinds of dead: slip, ghasts, and White Hands. Slip and ghasts are the little dead – unidentifiable spirits of some living form or another, they cannot kill you on their own, just give you a permanent chill, or unmake the flesh that they touch. White Hands, however, were human once, and to be touched by a White Hand means that over the course of nine days the afflicted will gradually go mad, until another Hand eats its way out, leaving the human body nothing but an empty husk. Otter’s mother is a binder, one of the powerful women whose job it is to contain the dead, and it has always been assumed that she would follow in her mother’s footprints to become a binder herself. However, when the death of the eldest binder in the Pinch unleashes a horrific chain of events, Otter’s entire world is turned upside down and everything she thought she knew about the world begins to unravel.

So, first thing first: this book is FREAKING AMAZING. As in, the best book I’ve read so far this year. It’s dark and lyrical and heavy and just so good I can’t stop thinking about it. Erin Bow is nothing short of intimidating – her writing is so achingly beautiful and fresh that there were times when I actually got goosebumps. Just for flavor, here is the first passage in which we meet one of the little dead:

Something was resting in the nest of shadows under a cornstalk, something stirring as Cricket’s hand came near. Something gawk-stretched and ugly as a new-hatched bird with no feathers and skin over its eyes. Something that moved subtly, like the earth moving above something buried. Something struggling and starving.

Gawk-stretched. GAWK-STRETCHED. That pairing of words is so perfect it makes my heart clench a little, and this entire book is full of the same evocative, lyrical language. Erin Bow is the kind of brilliant wordsmith that makes me feel like I should just give up, because I will never, ever be this good. There is a rhythm to her writing that is reminiscent of telling a story around a fire that keeps the shadows back; the repetition of certain phrases (Ware the dead!) and specific stories adds to the feeling that you aren’t reading a book, but sitting at Bow’s feet and being told a story that’s been handed down time untold.

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The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

18 Nov

Earlier thisΒ  year I totally fell in love with Maggie Stiefvater‘s The Scorpio Races,Β  so when I heard that she had a new release coming out this year I got pretty stoked. Alas, while The Raven Boys is definitely a solid read, it ain’t no Scorpio Races 😦 😦 😦 😦 😦 😦 😦 😦 😦 etc.

Blue Sargent had forgotten how many times she’d been told that she would kill her true love.

Blue comes from a family of bona fide psychics, and every single one of those kooky ladies has told her that if and when she kisses her true love he will die. If that isn’t a total teenage love life buzz kill, I don’t know what is, man. Every year Blue accompanies her mother to an ancient burial ground on the Corpse Road, a ley line of mystical energy where, once a year, the spirits of those who are going to die in the next year manifest. Being the only non-psychic in a family full of clairvoyants, Blue has never seen a single dang spirit, but this year she sees one: a boy named Gansey from Aglionby, the local prep school. MEANWHILE. Gansey, who is really rich and kind of oblivious as to how much richer he is than the rest of the world, is really obsessed with finding Glendower, some old magical Welsh king he believes to be buried on the ley line in Henrietta. (In other words, Gansey is kind of a crazy old crack pot mystical conspiracy theorist in a teenage body). He’s supported by a hodge podge of outcasts from Aglionby: Rowen, a surly dude who discovered his father’s dead body; Adam, hyper-intelligent and ambitious trailer trash scholarship student; and Noah, some weird smudgy kid who never eats and seems to have social anxiety. FATE means Blue is destined to get sucked into the Raven Boys quest for MAGIC. Cue: danger, romance, etc. etc. etc.

I will start by saying that when I first read the blurb of this book, I was a little backed off by the true love/destiny feel of it. It seemed like Stiefvater was maybe going to head back into purple melodrama territory, and I don’t like her writing as much when it’s in that camp. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the overall tone, which is one of preordained mystery, class tension, and of repression: repressed emotions, repressed energies, repressed sexuality, respressed secrets, and repressed MAGIC, all just waiting to boil over and explode. The romantic melodrama contained in the first sentence was all but absent, which was sweet, sweet relief.

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