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random library adventures

Intermittent reviews & commentary. Preferred genres: YA; contemporary lit; sci-fi/fantasy; comic books

Currently reading

One Hundred and Forty Five Stories in a Small Box: Hard to Admit and Harder to Escape, How the Water Feels to the Fishes, and Minor Robberies
Dave Eggers, Deb Olin Unferth
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
Ransom Riggs
The Best American Short Stories 2009
Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
Susanna Clarke
The Graveyard Book
Neil Gaiman
Cornelia Funke, Anthea Bell
Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls
David Sedaris
The Quick-Change Artist
Cary Holladay

What the Dickens

What the Dickens - Gregory Maguire Most of Maguire's books have a strong undercurrent of bitterness and gloom to them; a dire bleakness that darkly underscores even the good things that might come to his characters. The sense of doom in Wicked, for example, was pretty pervasive (though I did and still do love that book). This tone isn't exactly absent here--the frame story literally takes place on a dark and stormy night, after all--but there's a lot of hope and optimism, too. Where I feel this story really succeeds is in making both the frame story and the story within-a-story compelling and in populating both with interesting characters. The frame story ties together with the one being told by the protagonist in a predictable but satisfying way (I don't think predictability is necessarily a bad thing, to be honest). The story ends on an uncertain note, but not in a frustrating way, and the read itself is smooth and entertaining. Maguire comments on his usual trope--the role of the individual in society and the consequences for breaking that role, particularly when the society in question is more than a little constricting and fascist--but I do think the tooth fairy society had a little more sympathy and nuance to it than the one portrayed in Maguire's version of the Emerald City. The tooth fairies are depicted as needing a strictly ordered life just in order to survive, that they don't have much choice except TO live how they do.