Book #27a – Doctor Illuminatus by Martin Booth
Received an ARC of this way-back-when at a convention. It’s "Middle Grade Fiction" and part one of two. The premise: When a family moves into an old English estate, they wake Sebastian, the son of an alchemist, who has been in suspended animation for the last 600 years. The archenemy of Sebastian’s father is still in the world as well and is bent on creating a homunculus. Despite some hand-wavy things (like the whole suspended animation bit), homunculi and historically based alchemy are pretty cool concepts. Unfortunately the book is somewhat tedious. There are pastoral descriptions of the English countryside. There is a great deal of exposition as Sebastian explains what’s going on to Tim and Pip, our young protagonists. (At one point, I wished that this book were not about the kids in the present day, but the backstory involving Henry VI, the Duke of Gloucester and Henry Beaufort. Now, there’s a story with some breadth!) What the book lacks is a system for alchemy and characters that I cared about. Despite assurances that a homunculus would be the End of the World as We Know It, I never felt like anyone was in peril because the mysterious Sebastian will solve every problems. It’s deus ex machina in a 10-year-old body with a 600-year-old mind. Plot-wise, I felt more suspense about whether this book was going to be somewhat self-contained (knowing that there is a sequel) or a cliff-hanger. (Self-contained, in fact. And there doesn’t seem to be much over-arching plot.)
Book #27b – Fairy School Dropout by Meredith Badger
I went on Christmas book scouting mission last week and saw this on the shelf at Barnes & Noble. I figured Hannah would probably enjoy it. It’s a fun book about a fairy that is not very good at being a fairy. She is fairly certain she wants to give up on the whole concept of fairy-dom until she helps her next door neighbor fulfill a wish. The asides about the "truth about fairies" are a bit sly and the situations are appropriately amusing for an eight-year-old.
In the land of Reverb:
December 5 – Let Go. What (or whom) did you let go of this year? Why? (Author: Alice Bradley)
I spent some time yesterday contemplating this. Honestly, I can’t come up with anything. If I’ve let things go, I’ve let them go to such an extent that they are gone from my mind. What’s more likely is that I never really let go of anything. On the plus side, my grip is never that tight.
December 6 – Make. What was the last thing you made? What materials did you use? Is there something you want to make, but you need to clear some time for it? (Author: Gretchen Rubin)
Made aside from writing? Made aside from coffee? Probably putting together the Halloween prizes for the VOTS costume contest. It was an artful arrangement of candy and silly toys in a dish, though I did make little tags warning people not to eat the glow sticks. I haven’t done much in the way of visual arts this year. I think working on smaller writing pieces has taken up that time. That’s not a bad thing.