Tag Archives: magical realism

Review of Curva Peligrosa, by Lily Iona MacKenzie

I won a copy of Lily Iona Mackenzie‘s Curva Peligrosa through LibraryThing.

Description from Goodreads:
When Curva Peligrosa arrives in Weed, Alberta, after a twenty-year trek on the Old North Trail from southern Mexico, she stops its residents in their tracks. With a parrot on each shoulder, a glittering gold tooth, and a wicked trigger finger, she is unlike anything they have ever seen before. Curva is ready to settle down, but are the inhabitants of Weed ready for her? Possessed of an insatiable appetite for life and love, Curva’s infectious energy galvanizes the townspeople, turning their staid world upside down with her exotic elixirs and unbridled ways. Toss in an unscrupulous americano developer and a one-eyed Blackfoot chief, stir them all together in the tumult of a tempestuous tornado, and the town of Weed will never be the same again. A lyrical account of one woman’s journey and the unexpected effects it has on the people around her, Curva Peligrosa pulses with the magic at the heart and soul of life.

Let me be clear, there is nothing wrong with this book. The writing is good. The editing fine. (I found a few hiccups, but I think I have an early copy.) It didn’t really win me over though. I’m generally a book-a-day reader and it took me four days short of a month to finish this book. That’s an eternity in my reading world.

It’s one of those books that’s supposed to be imbued with meaning. You’re supposed to read it in your book group and natter on about how important and inspiring it is in its abstractness. You’re supposed to see Curva, in all her uneducated, back-to-earth greatness as holding some secrets that we could all do with learning.

I however, thought it was too random and lacking focus. I dislike aggrandization, especially purposeful self-aggrandizing. It’s pretentious, and that’s how this book felt to me. I very much think this book will be a total winner for some people and total flop for others. I wouldn’t expect too many middle of the road readers.

Review of The Ocean at the End of the Lane, by Neil Gaiman

I borrowed a copy of Neil Gaiman‘s The Ocean at the End of the Lane from my local library. It was my book club book this month.

Description from Goodreads:
Sussex, England. A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. He hasn’t thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond (a pond that she’d claimed was an ocean) behind the ramshackle old farmhouse, the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy.

Forty years earlier, a man committed suicide in a stolen car at this farm at the end of the road. Like a fuse on a firework, his death lit a touchpaper and resonated in unimaginable ways. The darkness was unleashed, something scary and thoroughly incomprehensible to a little boy. And Lettie—magical, comforting, wise beyond her years—promised to protect him, no matter what.

I appreciate the way this wrapped around into something satisfyingly circular. I thought it was well written, with a good voice and thoughtful perspective. Seeing a seven-year-old’s perspective on things reconsidered with adult eyes was interesting. For the most part I really enjoyed it. It just felt a little too fantastical and weird at times. Like maybe Gaimen needed to reign himself in a little.


Review of Eleanor, by Jason Gurley

I received a copy of Eleanor, by Jason Gurley from Blogging For Books.

Description from Goodreads:
When a terrible accident claims the life of Eleanor’s twin, her family is left in tatters, and her reality begins to unravel, dropping her in and out of unfamiliar worlds. When she returns to her own time and place, hours and days have flown by without her. One fateful day, Eleanor leaps from a cliff…and vanishes. In a strange in-between place, she meets a mysterious stranger who understands the weight of her family history: Eleanor’s twin wasn’t the only tragic loss. And unless Eleanor can master her strange new abilities, she may not be the last.

Oh, my God, I finally finished it! It’s not that it’s in any way a bad book. The prose is beautiful and the subject matter is tragic but thoughtful. It’s just that it never grabbed me. I picked it up, put it down, picked it up, and put it down a dozen times, reading whole other books between chapters. It does eventually all come together, but I felt like it went on too long before it happened, so a lot of time is spent reading bits that feel disparate. Then it had a vague ending.

I think there are people who will love this book and I think it’ll make a great book club book. (My version even had a reader’s guide in it, I presume for book clubs.) But on my own, I liked but didn’t love it.