There are all kinds of ways to like a book. There are all manners of reasons to enjoy a book. I have this reaffirmed every time I speak to people who talk at length about a book they like that I hated. Few things are ever 100% perfect, and we shouldn’t have that expectation. The trick is to find those authors that strike a balance maximizing the things you like and minimizing the things you dislike. But if you are going to read widely, you need to develop tolerances.
I like stye. I think style is the principle factor that keeps me in a story. But I can’t just have style. Books that have done that have often scared me away. A certain balance is required.
K. Eason has style, and loads of it. That made the book enjoyable. The author also demonstrated a whole lot of creativity. I’ve only heard speak of those books that are ‘a fantasy setting that is actually a science-fiction setting’ (as in a fantasy setting where the magic and dragons have a science, or science-fiction, explanation), but I’ve not read any before. A fairy tale in the same clothes seems like a pretty cool idea, and I felt the execution here was really cool. The masking of things was well done, and always in such a way where I found myself thinking about the implications. For instance, the characters are often ‘hexing’ common objects such as doors. This is an obvious stand in for ‘hacking’. I was impressed at how Eason could meld the language of fairy tale with the realia of our world. Bravo.
And yet (of course there would be an ‘and yet’), I got to the end of the book and realized I could barely recall any of the elements of the actual story. There was a Princess, her mother, rival kingdoms, an arranged marriage…. fairy godmothers… If you asked me to put the pieces together now I don’t think I could, and I walked away from it with the feeling that I had somehow scraped the frosting off of the cake and left the remains there.
There is of course always the possibility that I was at that time far too stressed to read a book. Life can be hard like that. But I was reading other thing at the same time and I made it through those without problems.
I would like to be clear that I didn’t think this book was bad. I actually thought it was good on many levels. That I won’t be picking up the sequel any time soon has less to do with the author and more the realization that I am over-extended generally. I will put into a list for the far, far future.