I get a lot of books from publishers and authors which are sent to me free for review. Sometimes the load of obligations becomes a bit heavy, as I slog through mediocre and pretty good and really-not-bad stories, and I find myself wondering why exactly I put myself through this … I mean, for decades of my life I read what I liked when I liked, and enjoyed myself just fine.
But now and then a book comes along which I might never have discovered without this hobby of reviewing, without the nets I have spread to catch advance copies. One of these was an audiobook version of Gwendolyn Druyor’s Geoffrey’s Queen, which I loved dearly – and which led to my receiving more from the author. Last year I listened to Dee: A City Sidhe Story, my introduction to this world of … well, sidhe in the city. It was a tremendous story – and it was really marvelous when the connection between that story and this became suddenly clear. I think I even said “Oh!” out loud when the penny dropped. (It’s been a little while since I listened to “Dee”, so it probably took longer than it should have for that to happen.) It’s so beautifully done. Junior has his own story – but then when it overlaps with Dee’s, there is no sense of “aw, I saw this episode already” – it’s still suspenseful, still tense and engaging to see the events from a different angle.
Junior – son of the boogeyman, living in a constant cloud of fear (his own and everyone else’s) – is a beautiful, damaged character, absorbing rare kindnesses like a plant soaking up water, but never quite trusting that there isn’t a kick behind the caress. He wished he had never been born, you see, and he’s been dealing with the repercussions of that ever since. Periodic invisibility isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. I hope he comes back in other stories.
I love Gwendolyn Druyor’s writing. There is a framework in this story a little like that in “Dee”, and it’s brilliant. It’s the language that really sets her apart – that clarity of storytelling that appears completely effortless (and I say that with full understanding that it’s probably the complete opposite of effortless). I mean, I read “a statue of a woman in blue robes fronted by a fire hazard”, and laughed, and then said to myself, “Actually, yeah”, and then laughed again. I love it. (I might have mentioned that.)
Also? I have a terrible susceptibility to getting songs stuck in my head. And so when the song that gets stuck is something as wonderful as “Cheek to Cheek” – bonus.
I received a copy of this story from the lovely author for review.