Saturday, May 13, 2017
Spellcaster by George Bachman
I seem to be on a turn-of-the-century steampunk England trend right now. I can't help if it's such an awesome style and am attracted to books of this nature. As the latest in this type of book, I can only wonder how this one fares in regards to the rest of the so far pretty good ones that I've been checking out recently.
Christine de Pisan Daniel is plagued by terrible visions of people she's never met and thinks may cause her harm. She seeks answers to whatever it is that's bothering her, but magic is deeply looked down upon in her world of propriety and standards. The only one she can find to help her is a woman who agrees to help Christine but only on the condition that she convinces her sister into a loveless marriage. Christine's fate depends on figuring out and unravelling the mysteries surrounding her previous life, that of Sir Tomas of Medieval Provence, and finishing the task he'd been given long ago.
Now, this book was a bit of a challenge for me. First off, the writing is very good. It's very clear that a lot of time and effort went into it and it is intricate and well-thought out and deeply detailed. But this strength lead to a serious weakness. There's too much detail. Way too much. There are descriptions in this thing that just go on and on and on and it doesn't do much to help keep the reader invested. Now, I've seen this kind of thing before, especially with writers like Tolkien. The kinds of things that you can capture with one sweeping camera shot of New Zealand can take up to two and a half pages of description in a Tolkien book. Well written descriptions, yes, but there's only so long a reader can put up with reading about grass when there's magic and mystery out there. It's the same problem with this book. Everything is explained in step by step detail, how spells work, how a debut into society goes down, everything that goes down in a knighthood ceremony, word for word what goes on in a marriage ceremony, how to do a sudoku puzzle, etc. The book needed some serious fat-trimming in that regard.
Once you get past all the descriptions, there's the story itself. Basically, this book has two stories, Christine's and Sir Tomas's. Now, this can also work. At their heart, both stories are very interesting. Christine's story is dark and creepy yet full of that Victorian England posh that people love to see, including parties and marriages and scandal. Sir Tomas's story is a bit more traditional medieval knights quest with good characters and thrilling chases and escapes. Both stories are good but, once again, we have a bit of a problem. Instead of the stories blending together nicely, one just stops and the other one takes over completely. This is especially vexing because the story that gets left behind has more loose threads than a craft store! I finished the book and felt "wait, that's it! What about all that other stuff! Are we just...never going to fix any of that?" It was really kind of upsetting. There's a character in particular who the book just kind of throws under a bus and we're just supposed to accept it and move on. It distracts from the rest of the story because I'm so caught up with wondering if they're ever going to go back and finish what was started in the first two thirds of the book and leaves you a bit put out when you realize that they're not. I don't know, maybe there will be a sequel in which this is all wrapped up, because leaving it as it is will more likely leave readers aggravated than amused.
This book has a lot of potential, but could probably use a bit more editing. All in all, there was just too much telling and not enough showing. The world building got out of control and left little room for the story. Still, what story there was did manage to get me invested and it had good action but abandoned plot threads can leave readers frustrated. And so, if you want to check it out, it's worth the read but check it out at your local library.
Have you read the book? What did you think? Comment below and share your thoughts. Have a book you want me to read or want to make a recommendation? Contact me on goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/65448711-michelle-beer
Next time: Thou shalt kill