Lessons from My Reading

M. K. Theodoratus, Fantasy Writer, blogs about the books she reads--mostly fantasy and mystery authors whose books catch her eye and keep her interest. Nothing so formal as a book review, just chats about what she liked. Theodoratus also mutters about her own writing progress or ... lack of it.

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Friday, September 7, 2012

Mining Faery Lore for Plot Lines: "Bones of Faerie"

Writers and story-tellers mine Faery Lore for stories, probably since the idea of the magical little people was invented. The first written faery story that I know of is Apuleius's Metamorphoses or The Golden Ass, aka Beauty and the Beast by any other name. I've been known to steal ideas myself in a draft lost somewhere in  my computer.

Bones of Faerie by Janni Lee Simner is a dark, lyrical telling of the aftermath of a war between humans and Fey. As in all true apocalyptic novels, the atmosphere is foreboding with the MC struggling for survival in a hostile world. Fun note: after a truce of sorts, the St Louis arch marks the border between the two planes. Ya gotta love it when an author knows her stuff [or his] well enough to throw factoids like that ... and make them real.

The well-drawn characters did disappoint a bit. Though three-dimensional, they seldom drifted from their pre-ordained role in the plot line. One notable element, I thought: the use of MC's newborn sister's infanticide since the babe becomes an on-going character who is important to the denouement. -- Hey it's fantasy, and not all dead characters are zombies.

Simner makes the settings real with economy which allows her to tells us a complex tale within a 250-word YA book. After the Apocalypse humans struggle in a world were the vegetation is mobile, maybe not as fast as animals ... but faster than the regular wheat field. The trees are so menacing that it's almost impossible to raise enough food to survive the winters. 

Physical survival isn't the only problem the MC faces. Her village has prospered because her father has systematically killed anyone who shows signs of magic, even newborns.  

The opening of Chapter 3: "Words froze in my throat as I stared at my father. Had he seen the light in the sink, the paleness in my hair? Cast out the magic born among you. Yet I was no babe to set out in the night. Father had told me often enough how he'd have dealt with Cam had the boy lived: "With a single stroke across the throat, swift and deep."

This is the first book in a trilogy.
[Janni Lee Simner. Bones of Faerie. New York: Random House Children's Books, 2009]
This is a new author to me, who entered my home with a bunch of books my kids sent me, but she's a acclaimed writer if you want to visit her website. I'm still debating whether to keep it, but I'm afraid the hardback pile will topple if I add another book.

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Plot isn't all. You need people to live in your world ... aka characters. Have been thinking a lot about characters the past week. Got an editor request for a rewrite ... one of the points was the "main" character wasn't fleshed out enough ... in a flash piece. I'm working on it, but can't see where I have much wiggle room.

Margo Berendson has also been thinking about characters. You might take a look at her blog on making and breaking character "rules". You might learn something ... if only a new take on dragons. 

Margo much more disciplined than I am and worth reading regularly. Maybe because she writes at a higher altitude than I do.

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