Saturday, February 19, 2011

Elfland by Freda Warrington

ElflandElfland by Freda Warrington
My rating: 3½ of 5 stars
Read: 11-2-11 to 18-2-11

I liked this book, but it just didn't work for me as a whole.

I found the pace to be near glacial, which slowed my reading terribly. It wasn't that nothing was happening, but that the things that were happening didn't appear to heading in any particular direction. In the end, it got there, but boy did it take a long time.

Calico Reaction suggested that it read like a family saga, and I think there's a lot to that. You can have a great book about family without it turning into a 'family saga' but this one did the latter. But at the same time it was trying to be a grand fantasy and sadly it kind of missed the mark on blending the two together. It did pieces of each beautifully, but putting them together didn't quite gel.

But I can see all the things I should have loved but only appreciated. So I wonder if the problem lies with me rather than the book, and other people may simply love it. I certainly hope so as there's some very nice stuff in there.

I liked the use of the piece of story at the beginning that turns out to belong further into the book. However, that first part was just a bit too obscure about where it fitted so that when we got to that point later, I was having to flip back to the front to be sure I'd got it right. I feel it should have been clearer than that. If we had been let in on the fact it was Rosie's wedding day it would have all made much more sense and let me feel I'm now slipped into the story proper.

And that's part of the overall problem. The narrative wandered so much that we never could really be sure if we in the main plot of the book or not. Or when the action that back cover blurb had promised us would finally show up. Personally, that drives me crazy. I like my book to be going somewhere. I don't mind if it twists and turns and turns my senses upside down along the way (all the better really) but I like it to have some kind of narrative drive, and it just felt like this book didn't.

As for the characters, I really did like them. I liked Rose and I liked Sam and Lucas. Matt and Jon Made me struggle a bit harder, but even they grew on me. And I would have loved to see more interaction directly between Auberon and Jessica. But they too failed to blend quite properly into the family saga/fantasy novel. It was like they weren't quite sure which set of lines they were supposed to be following.

And yet, the most annoying thing is that the pieces were all there for me. Pieces I like. This book should have worked for me and I'm terribly disappointed that it didn't.

Since I got sick, I judge things on a cost/benefit ratio. While I got some good stuff out of this book, I had to work way too hard and way to long for it to be fully worth it for me. If I get the benefit, that kind of cost is worth paying, but I just didn't get enough back this time.

But I still feel like I should have done. It should have worked. I can imagine myself remembering bits of pieces of this book in the future and thinking it was the book I wanted it to be rather than the book it actually was; I can see myself wanting to reread it to recapture those glorious pieces and being disappointed all over again that what I find is how they didn't produce the right fantastic reality for me.

Don't let all this put you off though. This is me. This is the pieces not mixing for me (and I'm sorry I've gone on this long and still been so vague about my problems with the book). I know lots of people loved it. I hope you'll be one of them.

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Susan said...

You've made my mind up to get it from the library. I keep picking it up because it looks interesting, but I've heard nothing about it until now. I do know our library has a copy, so I'll check it out sometime in the near future. I'll be interested to see if I pick up some of the same gaps that you do too, Kerry.

It has such a beautiful cover, too!

orannia said...

Great review Kerry.

Hmmm. I'm really struggling with the WOLAS ATM. I just want movement, not introspection and confusion. So, I don't think Elfland is for me.