Sunday, September 27, 2015

uneven treatment

The Symbolism and Sources of Outlander: The Scottish Fairies, Folklore, Ballads, Magic and Meanings That Inspired the Series by Valerie Estelle Frankel
Rating: 3 stars (out of 5)
Genre: non-fiction
Review: Fans of the Outlander series who, like me, will read anything to get just a taste of the books (in between our periodic re-readings of the entire series), will pick up this book just for that taste, and maybe also in hopes of gaining some deeper understanding of the world that Diana Gabaldon has created.  In some areas, readers will be rewarded, such as in Frankel's exploration of Caribbean voodoo practices.  In other areas, readers will be disappointed by Frankel's lack of exploration.  It's ironic that I should say this because I was always the one in English class complaining about having to find symbolism everywhere, but I think that if you are going to mine a book for its symbolism, you should do some delving into what those symbols mean.  For example, Frankel lists many of the Biblical references in the series, but without any hint of what meaning understanding those references might bring.  The treatment of the "symbolism and sources" is quite uneven, and more than a little dry, but it all adds up to an exploration of the series that fans will appreciate.

FTC Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher in exchange for this review.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

'ware the derivative novel

After Alice by Gregory Maguire
Rating: 2.5 stars (out of 5)
Genre: historical fiction, fantasy
Review: I'm very grateful to Gregory Maguire that he chose not to set the entirety of the book with Ada after she falls down the rabbit hole after Alice.  The parts that were set down there were tiresome enough.  Lewis Carroll did Wonderland and Gregory Maguire has nothing new to add there, aside from more convoluted language that can be painful to read.  I love Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, and I smiled to see some favorite characters again, but even those smiles were few and far between, and bookended by frustration at having to wade through tortured language (yes, I get that he was going for a style similar to Carroll's, but it didn't work for me).  Unfortunately, although the "real world" scenes provide relief from Maguire's interpretation of Wonderland, there's very little else to recommend them.

FTC Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher in exchange for this review.