Friday, November 5, 2010

Playing Catch Up, Part 1 - Fantasy

I've been trying to play catch-up with posting thoughts about all the books I've read. It's to the point where I don't think I'll be able to get to them all individually, so I decided to just talk about a group of them at a time in one post. Maybe to make it easier, I should break them down into genres. Today,  it's all about Fantasy books.

I read four of the books in Diana Wynne Jones' Chrestomanci series, after reading about how influential her stories were for other fantasy writers. Of the four I read, Charmed Life, The Lives of Christopher Chant, The Magicians of Caprona, and Witch Week, I found Charmed Life to be the best of the group. It's the first one of the series, and really the best-told story of the bunch. I found Cat easy to like and wanted his adjustment into life at Chrestomanci Castle to go smoothly. I won't give away the big secret about Cat, but I will say that I was somewhat surprised with it. I hadn't expected things to end as they did.  After Charmed Life's richly told adventures, I was disappointed with the others. They just didn't seem to reach the same level of excitement and anticipation, especially The Magicians of Caprona.  This could have something to do with reading them, while not back-to-back, still close together. My grades on these are Charmed Life = A, The Lives of Christopher Chant = B, Witch Week = B, and The Magicians of Caprona = C. 

Another book I read classified as a fantasy is Poison by Chris Wooding. My only other experience with Chris Wooding was reading his book about kids that get trapped in a comic book, Malice. This was quite a bit different. Poison has a fairy tale feel to it, but isn't exactly a fairy tale. Poison is a girl from the swamps who sets out to find her sister who has been kidnapped by the phaeries. She must travel into the world of the phaeries where everything isn't what it seems, and discovers a plot to kill the Heirophant and put another in his place. Surrounded by danger and not knowing who to trust, Poison must carefully find a way to prevent this and save her family at the same time. A little slow in the start might put some off, but those readers that keep at it will be pleasantly surprised. The story really picks up once Poison gets to the land of the phaeries, with one adventure after another. It plays out to a satisfying, if a bit predictable ending. I give it a 'B.'

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