Busy Bee Indeed

For someone with no job and no real social life to speak of, I’ve been pretty darn busy these last several days. On my To Do List are various Swapbot commitments, planning a surprise birthday party for a friend, and writing and reviewing a couple of mermaid stories for my writing circle. All  interspersed with helping my brother move his stuff and meeting with friends from out of town.

I’ve also finished two of the books I checked out of the library. Elfland by Freda Warrington.

Source: Macmillan

I really wish I had enjoyed this book more than I had. It had all the elements that I would normally glom onto, including a wonderfully skilled and detailed worldbuilding, a slew of potentially interesting characters, mythic elements woven together with faerie elements, and gorgeous imagery. My issue throughout the entire book seemed to be that I was about ten years too late. When I was 12 or 13 I would have eaten this stuff up with a spoon. Really special girl descended from a race of elves, falls for the bad boy, and saves the day. There’s drama, angst, sex, love, elves, magic, and some intrigue. Totally my thing.

But the really special girl(a.k.a. the Heroine) came off to me as incredibly entitled and unpleasant. The way she treated her best friends smacked of selfishness to me and you know, the rest of the characters weren’t much better. Everyone was caught up in his or her own problems to the point of destruction, either their own or others’. Which I could see as the point of the book, if everything hadn’t miraculously resolved in the end with the most self-absorbed characters being vindicated and becoming the heroes of the story.

I thought I’d really enjoy it, since Charles de Lint is one of my absolutely favorite authors ever, and I didn’t think he’d ever steer me wrong, but I just had too many issues with the characters. I suppose I want my protagonists to be people whose heroism comes from their inner goodness rather than annoying, selfish people who happen to be the center of the story. And this is really bothering me because usually I love flawed heroes (I mean, c’mon, BSG, anyone?) but this book just really didn’t do it for me. I think I’ll give it another read-through, see if I can parse out exactly why this book rubbed me the wrong way.

Next up was A Proper Education for Girls by Elaine diRollo.

Source: Library Thing

This one I enjoyed immensely, even if it did seem a bit disjointed and incomplete for some reason. That might just be because I wanted the book to continue. It’s the story of two sisters, raised by a stern and eccentric father, who free themselves and find love and life in each other. This one hit all of my weak spots for brave, independent, eccentric women breaking free of an oppressive patriarchal environment. There were love interests but no lasting interest in love other than their love for each other. This is the kind of strength and loyalty that I think makes the idea of Supernatural so popular. That you have someone who so completely loves you and is loyal to you and with whom you can ride through life knowing he/she has got your back. It’s definitely an odd duck of a book that explores Victorian notions of sensibility, ethnicity, feminism, and sexuality with solid prose and a hopping plot. I finished it in one day, whereas Elfland had taken me weeks since I kept getting bored with it or exasperated.

It’s really weird how that happened. Usually I have no patience for just fiction because it’s just not enough. I want magic and wonder and adventure but weirdly enough, the second book delivered more of that than the first. It was enough to step through history with the diRollo’s protagonists rather than step through a whole new world with Warrington’s characters.

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