Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Dog Days, Part 2

Got home from driving my partner to work this morning and found that the water line into the house had been sliced in two by the mowers. No water. Ding. Round two.

I picked up The Hounds of the Morrigan to keep me quiet while I waited for the plumber and sauntered a few pages further in. So far, despite the fact that this story seems to be aimed at younger readers, I'm enjoying the way the author plays with concern and relaxation. Perhaps because I was on edge myself, I was accutely aware of the way Pidge handles odd situations and fear in such a straightforward way. He doesn't second-guess, doesn't nitpick; he avoids what he's been warned against and continues on.

Pidge's firmness as a character is probably one of the things that will draw me further through the story. You feel as if you can trust him, as if he won't be lead astray because he will recognize the difference between a friend's warning and an enemy's blandishment.

Likewise, the cruelty of the villains are shown not in blood but in the casual way they lessen the quality of other's lives for their own enjoyment. The simplest example was the way a shop manager and a policeman were put at odds because of a spell that one witnessed and the other didn't. The narrator's regretful noting that they would never trust each other despite a mutual interest in rose cultivation that could have made them fast friends is telling. Without wasting words, the breach is made serious and sad and human.

I had thought that as a writer I needed to move into darker territory, because that is "what sells." Bloody extremity and sinew-popping exhaustion. However, one should not be betrayed into the idea that the only thing that catch the eye or the heart is a superhuman display. It is both hubris to dance heedlessly on the bleeding edge and folly to believe that fantasy by its nature doesn't grow from the brambles around a human-sized heart.

Something as simple as a cut PVC pipe no thicker than a thumb can bring you to your knees.

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