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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Monday, April 29, 2013

Mixing Fantasy Elements to Create a Gripping Story

Came a little late to Cassandra Clare's Immortal Instruments series. The family lending library had to send City of Bones to me in a bunch of books to trade. City of Bones was a keeper though.

By way of explanation, I remember seeing the books prominently displayed in bookstores, but never bit even though the storyline seemed interesting. Why? Well, the books are trade paperbacks. If you could see my two bookshelves, crammed with mass paperbacks, you'd know why. Even after we traded five boxes of books, there's no room. -- Besides, have I ever mentioned I'm cheap?

Cassandra Clare is an award-winning YA author who takes an interesting view of the Nephilem, angel-human hybrids. City of Bones is just one of many books exploring this  world by way of the shifting alliances among Shadowhunters, Demons, Fae,  Werewolves, Warlocks and Vampires. Along the way she twists on preternatural stereotypes quite nicely.

In City of Bones, Clare takes the common situation of the main character [Clary] learning s/he's living a lie and must learn to use her/his burgeoning powers to save ... well, something.  This time it's the MC's mother who had been living in hiding after she escaped from her husband who rebelled against the Shadowhunter authorities and has been found and tortured to reveal the location of a sacred artifact needed to renew the rebellion.

The storyline bounces from danger to danger as the three major characters -- Clary, Jace, and Simon -- learn about themselves and the parallel magical world that exists along side the mundane one. Sound familiar? The ideas may seem common, but the way Clare uses them isn't.

Some of the elements she weaves into the story line that I really liked:
       -- the travelogue of New York City, especially Brooklyn, which mentions places I know ...
       -- includes a normal, who contributes to the action, even though those with magical powers put him down ...
      -- the furtive, loyal personal relationships that persist in spite of ethnic discord and open warfare ...
I could name more ... but I'm not a cataloger. 

Rating: Four Stars -- Nice interesting book ... but it didn't keep me reading beyond my bedtime. Nor did it give me the itch to buy another trade paperback. On the other hand, I know the family lending library is buying more volumes ... and I get them for free.

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Have you even cringed when you go back and read your early writings?

At the moment, I'm working on the beginning ... like at the beginning ... Far Isle Half-Elven novella -- or novel depending on how many points of view I use in telling the tale. 
Why cringe? Well ... it's almost all telling except for pieces of dialog every page or two. I having got any great hooks at the end of the chapters. Also the action seems predictable. 

Good thing I get to discuss new chapters with my critique group and hope they throw me a life preserver.


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