Sunday, October 13, 2013

Book Review: Fire and Hemlock

As a fan of fantasy novels, I was always a little bit embarrassed that I had never read any of Dianne Wynn Jones' books.  However, after having read Fire and Hemlock, I think I was a bit hard on myself about it.

The book opens with the protagonist, Polly, looking at a photograph, and realizing that she only has a vague sense of how she got it and the events that followed.  As she looks back and tries to remember, she uncovers many new memories; about the photograph, about Thomas Lynn, and about stories that start to come true...

The book's concept was quite interesting, and supernatural aspects of the novel were very well integrated. I thought the world-building was excellent.  Unlike most fantasy novels, most of the "rules" of the world aren't revealed until very late in the plot. However, there was still a sense that the world had always operated according to those rules, and they didn't have a deus ex machina feel to them.

I thought that the characters were reasonably well written.  There were some complex, dynamic ones that I really enjoyed, but there were also a few characters that were just a bit too flat given their relative importance in the book.

I would have to say that the prose itself was the weakest element of this novel.  It just seemed really clunky.  The dialogue sounded like it was from 1940, even though the book is probably meant to be set in the 70's or the 80's.

I was kind of disappointed with this book, so I think I'll end this review on a question to all the Dianne Wynn Jones fans out there.  Have I got it wrong?  Is Fire and Hemlock just not her best novel?  Which book would you recommend?

Chance of finding it in my imaginary bookstore? 65%