A friend recently suggested that I read Mythago Wood, by Robert Holdstock. We had a copy and I curled up with for three days, reading through the main character's journey from a life lived unstructured into a life lived within a mythic archetype. Along the way, he encounters a father figure grown monstrous with time. Until the deus ex machina encountered late in the novel, the story was compelling: a hungry forest that gives back our fears and dreams, from the first human propiation of the forest to the more recent legends (well...recent as the first world war). The pacing followed the main character's reluctance to begin his journey and then his gradual absorption into the story--normal until his arrival at his birthplace, then slow until he comes to an active role in his own story.
The story is set in that comfortably mythic England--my favorite fantasy land--with old and crumbling houses, wildwoods, and isolated characters who don't care too much about the world tumbling forward around them. It reminded me that part of what I enjoy about fantasy is having someone pull the reins and slow time down, to have the ability to appreciate the creep of the day from dawn to afternoon to evening because you've wedged yourself into a comfortable reading space and have dropped down into your own pocket of space.
Fortunately, there are several interesting books on the schedule for this month, particularly as I slot some older stories in as research for some of the things that I'm working on. I'm thinking about starting to look for three books to take me through these next three seasons -- Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Maybe I'll move Ivanhoe to the Thanksgiving slot. I am determined to finish this novel this time. So far, I'm not even past the introductory letter to Dr. Dryasdust. You'd think this would be a favorite, but I never make it all the way through.