Saturday, April 14, 2012

I initially found this book at the library. I know this sounds counter-intuitive, but I've been finding a lot of my books through online resources lately, instead of browsing the shelves for likely candidates. This lovely creature I had the good luck to handle as it was going onto our hold shelves for a patron's request. It's a beauty, with lovely accordian folded pages. In other words, the pages aren't glued into a binding, but fold up like an accordian. One side of the fold is one story, the reverse is another story.

I admit, I was tempted to read this book just on the cool factor. However, I did actually stop to take a look at the back cover blurb (the book comes in a box that acts like a cover), and found it to be about a pair of star-crossed lovers. That sounded fun, so I put it on hold and happily picked it up once the other patron was done with it.

It wasn't until I was actually reading this book that I discovered it was literary fantasy, and not just a literary romance. Granted, there's an emphasis on the literary instead of the fantasy, but I needn't tell you I was pleased as punch by this. The story is about Evelyn and Brendan, who meet in Cornwall during a college break and bond over an obscure medieval Arthurian myth. However, Evelyn's break is just one week long, and at the end of that magical week things go south. After ten years have passed, they mysteriously meet again. I began with Evelyn's side of the story, as that's where the publisher put all relevant publishing information like the copyright and Library of Congress information. So I called Evelyn the beginning. When I was done with her story, I then flipped the book around and read Brendan's story.

Because of the order I read them in, I liked Evelyn's point of view more than Brendan's. Her side is also the more fantastical of the two. When I flipped the book around and started in on Brendan, I got a lock, stock and barrel retelling of Evelyn's story only from Brendan's point of view. There was exactly one point of departure, and that's in the summary of the ten years between their meetings. The dialogue is pretty much the same, with little additions and minor subtractions. I got to know Brendan better, and I can see how he sees Evelyn, but I didn't gain any clearer understanding into the plot as a whole. In the end, even though I enjoyed this book, I only really needed to read half of it to get a well defined story arc. I may have felt differently if I had read Brendan, and then Evelyn.

However, don't let that completely turn you off. The Thorn and the Blossom is only 82 pages long, cover to cover to cover. Essentially, it's two novelettes pasted back to back. I read the entire thing in about an hour, maybe less. Where I would have had serious issues with this book if it were full novel length on both sides, I can forgive the simplicity in the shorter work. Overall, if you're a fan of writers like Jane Yolen, like mythic fantasy with a light, literary touch, you'll enjoy this.


Post a Comment