Child of a Rainless Year, by Jane Lindskold
This novel started out well - nine-year-old Mira's spent her life under the care of her selfish, eccentric mother, her silent servants, and her intriguing house full of mirrors. When her mother mysteriously vanishes, her mother's "trustees" place her in the care of loving foster parents, under the condition that these same parents change their names, move away from New Mexico, and vow never to return. Years pass, and Mira develops into an artist who stifles her talent by teaching, because she still harbours the fear the the people who made her mother disappear might do the same to her if she calls too much attention to herself. When her now-elderly stepparents are killed in a car wreck, Mira discovers that she legally owns that mysterious house she used to live in in New Mexico, and goes down there to find out the truth about her mother, her mother's disappearance, and her stepmother who tried looking for her as well.
While the novel earns points for having a middle-aged (51-year-old) heroine, after the first few chapters, the novel becomes as dull as dirt. The author lavishes attention on the house, how Mira helps to paint/renovate it, and the minor investigative escapades Mira goes on to find out more about her mother. The central concept of the house and its powers is de Lint-esque, but still irritatingly vague to me and I never could understand what magic Mira was supposed to possess, exactly, or how two houses built on significant locations could engage in magical-architectural catfights over who rules the town. Many supporting characters and details seemed superfluous, just there to provide Mira with snippets of info about her Mom, eat some southwestern food, and depart. The ending twist was a surprise, but the climax where Mira learns the truth seemed out of place with the staid, unhurried, introspective tone of the novel. Meaning, the ending was exciting, but the rest of the novel had done very little in the way of leading up to it, stylistically, tonally, and narratively.
Crush du Jour Rating:
Adrian's easily distracted (translation: "Snooore!" C)
Scandal in Spring, by Lisa Kleypas
Now this novel was a refreshing read after the dusty Child. It's cheesy, it's romance, it's got a peek-a-boo cover with a "literary" scenic picture on the front and the steamy man-on-woman seduction pose underneath. But boy, was it fun to read!
Maybe it was the fact that the book was incredibly funny - scenes like Daisy and Matthew entering into a devious, seven-hour-long, Machievelli-inspired game of lawn-bowling; or Lillian's child being delivered by a veterinarian; or Daisy pretending to have a relationship with another dude to make Matthew jealous only to discover that her pretend paramour suddenly wants a real relationship. I was giggling along with the hilarious dialogue. I also liked how the three married Wallflowers were incorporated into the story with their own little epilogues, but without stealing the real show away from Daisy. Perfect? No. Great Lit-rah-chur? No. Entertaining - hell yeah.
Crush du Jour Rating: