Friday, February 01, 2008

Cleaning Up (An Ex Libris Post)

Well, the year 2007 has passed but I still have one small review to do before I officially declare it open to review 2008 books.

Normally, this wouldn't bother me except for the fact that that book, The Gift by Patrick O'Leary (which I read last December-- the only book I finished that month actually), has a gem of a story and seems to be underrated by genre readers. So I think I'd do it an injustice if I skipped a review this book.

At its core, it's the story about a young king Simon who goes on a quest to destroy an evil sorceror called the Usher of Night. Also at its core is the story of a young boy Tim who discovers a magic to restore balance of the world. But like everything in life, it's not that simple. It's also the history and science of their world tied together as mythology and fables, as well a murder-mystery story.

A comparison I'm reading is Catherynne Valente's The Orphan's Garden with its story-within-a-story narrative. However, unlike Valente, O'Leary keeps it simple: if The Orphan's Garden is an onion with the corresponding onion layers, this story is a tree with its branching roots and branches.

In the end, O'Leary's book (which came years before Valente's) is a metafictional study of the Story, how one story ties to another, and all of the pieces making up what we call Life (well, the book's Life anyway). Together with the nicely-written prose and sympathetic characters, it's a pretty good read all in all.

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