Friday, January 6, 2012

Review: Discord's Apple

Discord's Apple
Discord's Apple by Carrie Vaughn

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I've been hearing good things about Carrie Vaughn for years, but this is the first book of hers I've picked up. Her concepts intrigue me, but I've always wondered if the writing lives up to my expectations. A lot of high-concept authors fizzle on the delivery.

The book is about a comic book writer named Evie Walker, who returns home because her father is sick, perhaps dying. As if that isn't enough to deal with, she is the heir to a family legacy of storing and protecting artifacts of legend and stories, and failure to do a job she doesn't understand may bring about the end of the world.

I felt Evie's strain, and I was right there with her. Evie, despite her emotional distancing, is a very sympathetic main character. We feel her confusion and sense of being in over her head.

Unfortunately, in order to achieve that effect, people are more cryptic than they need to be in the beginning of the book. Also, I had a harder time empathizing with other characters. We're given few looks into the main love interest's thoughts, and most of them are from 3000 years before (and involve a bit too much rape and coerced sex for my liking). The glimpses we get into Hera, the villainess of the piece, contradict later behavior. And there was far too little of Bruce's perspective (he's her illustrator and close friend, apparently), so that his sections near the end lacked the sense of danger I think they were supposed to have. Most of the alternative perspectives seemed there to slow the plot down to let the reader get some air.

I don't say this often, but I think the book could've benefited from being padded out more. I would've liked to have heard more about this world where gods exist as powerful, immortal magicians, and the people who populate it.

Overall, I was satisfied the story, and impressed with the world-building. Vaughn has the pacing down for a compelling read that pulls the reader along. She also has a good grasp of mythology, and did an excellent job of weaving in characters from old stories while remaining true to the myths.

I don't know what took me so long to get around to reading something by Carrie Vaughn, but I will be picking up another of her books in the near future.

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