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Having previously read Deep Secret and been rather underwhelmed by it, I bought this book on the simple grounds that I had a Waterstone's voucher, and it was the only book by DWJ in the shop that I didn't already have.

On the whole, I think my reaction to it was much the same as to Deep Secret. There are lots of individual elements in it that are good, like the fearsome-yet-avuncular Gwyn ap Nudd / Grandfather Gwyn; the depiction of the society in Loggia city; the personifications of Salisbury, Old Sarum and London; Romanov's island; the midnight salamander rescue; and the string of terrified children jumping between worlds in the wake of a goat. The narrative structure of swapping between the voices of Roddy and Nick worked very nicely, too, and I loved the way Collins (the publishers) had supported this by presenting growing patterns at the beginning of each new section of their stories - Celtic for Nick and floral for Roddy - which you eventually realise will merge into the dragon-figure shown on the front cover of the book.

But somehow, despite all this, I never quite managed to care about the central characters in the same way that I usually do when I read Chrestomanci books or Howl books. Perhaps it was the shared narration, dissipating any close identification with either Roddy or Nick? Or maybe it was the very use of the first person narrative? Paradoxically, I think it may actually be harder for DWJ to portray her trademark self-realisations and personal growth convincingly on behalf of her main characters when they're actually speaking for themselves. Somehow, pointing out the moments when the characters suddenly realise how they come across to others (e.g. Cat Chant) or how they really feel about another person (e.g. Sophie) actually works more convincingly in an authorial voice, I think.

Anyway, for all that, an enjoyable and diverting read, which certainly won't stop me reading more DWJ books in future.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 21st, 2008 04:10 pm (UTC)
I wasn't too impressed by Deep Secret either - seemed to be a bit focused on getting general geeky sci fi fans to read it! Have you read the drowned ammet series?
Apr. 21st, 2008 05:21 pm (UTC)
Yes, I know what you mean. I quite enjoyed the descriptions of the SF convention in and of itself, but as for The Merlin Conspiracy, I didn't think it worked particularly well as part of the overall story.

No, I haven't read the Drowned Ammet series - reckon I should?
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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