I am doing a ten day writing challenge the beginning of November, actually paying money for instructor feedback on assigned short exercises. The closest I have come so far to actually doing NaNo which seemed more attainable when my child did not have homework and a strict school schedule. It is nice to spend time looking over and crafting responses and then combing through the replies to find instructor feedback.
I am also doing 12 short stories in 12 months, that is a free group, but the instructor mostly posts a prompt and a word count and there is no guarantee that she will look yours over. I am on ten and I have not seen a comment from her yet. Probably because my writing is untouchable perfection, right? But I like having a deadline and having to get the wheels turning. It is still worth my time.
I knew about Day of the Dead though before I knew about November being for writers. And I am expanding my seasonal reads for books where siblings on both sides of the veil continue to share a relationship. Day of the Dead is about resurrection of family and those spirits feeling loved and welcomed, and these books deal with conflicted relationships with semi-lost siblings.
The Bone Witch, Rin Chupeco
I ended up reading two Rin Chupeco books for this season’s descent into fall reads, unintentionally, but I enjoyed them both. The Bone Witch starts with the protagonist having enough grief to discover her powers by accidentally raising her recently dead brother from his coffin at his funeral service.
Dark magic fits in a regular class system society and a young girl is finding her powers and her place in the world of powers and a complicated and fierce system, with her loyal unintentionally undead brother at her side. The book, because I think it is going to be a series, spends a lot of time world building but with chapters of her older and a witch comfortable in her powers looking back and telling the story of her youth while also assembling some sort of undead fighting force, which I don’t think is really a spoiler, so forgive me if it is. So you know there is more plot coming, some kind of grievance. The line between dead and alive is a lot thinner with the Bone Witch around, and she risks losing herself when she is using her powers.
White is for Witching, Helen Oyeyemi
Ms. Oyeyemi is a writer whose works I have bought a few of without actually having read her : Boy Snow Bird, Mr.Fox, What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours. She’s hoarded and decorated but unexplored.
White is for Witching was good but I don’t know if it should have been my first foray into this writer. It gave me the same feeling that I had when I read Never Let me Go by Kashuo Ishiguro, as in there is something lurking behind the story that is unclear and I can’t decide if it is nefarious or not. Of course, in Ishiguro’s it really is something dark, whereas the spirits and the passed down pica feel more neutral, less negative in Oyeyemi. I will be honest that I looked over other reviews before I was willing to post that I felt I was missing something in the story, that there may have been something unclear or something I was not understanding, but I don’t seem to be alone that it needs more than one pass, there are multiple levels at play here, similarly to Ishiguro.
It is included in this post because there are a pair of twins, Miranda and Eliot, and while they have that intimacy of twins that is passed off as unromantic but also kinda is (I loved her description, asking how possibly you couldn’t love someone of the opposite sex who is separate but so intimately a part of you) Eliot cannot save her from the generations of women that come before. Not from their genetic anomalies nor their still lingering spirits’ design to consume her into the house. I felt there were times in the novel where Miranda was possessed and times where she was herself, times when I thought she would be saved from herself and move on into long term relationships, and then not. Not being British I don’t completely understand their social patterns and the weird detachment they seem to have from both family and friends. Eliot cannot hang on to his first love, this familiar but strange woman who slips away. Creepy, but not Halloween-y, necessarily.
When I Cast Your Shadow, Sarah Porter
I bought this one brand new full price. Almost never happens. I have books I spied as fresh releases and they are resigned to the wish list so I can spy on prices. Or they go in my library wish list so I can spy availability there. I don’t tend to look at lists of new releases, even if they come to my Facebook feed or into my email inbox.
Had to have this one. And you know, I loved it. This is the type of novel I would love to be able to pull off successfully myself someday. It has it’s criticisms, like the plot can get a little tangly, and it can, but it’s a complicated plot. It’s about a dad and his teenage twins left behind by a drug overdose death of the oldest son and abandoned by their mother. The dead oldest son Dashiell seduces the girl twin Ruby into allowing him to inhabit her body to carry out some business he has to take care of, even though he is dead. She allows him to because she loves him and is unbearably devoted to him. Their skeptical and not so blindly adoring brother, Everett, gets co opted into this to save his sister, on top of dark spirits who would love to have two bodies to be back into, and who have it out for Dashiell besides.
The supernatural element in this book, and we all know I love some magic, spirits and demons, was well crafted. It was creepy and dark without being overdone, without being gory. It was deeply unsettling, lots of intersecting goals and complications of the living and the semi living. It was a creepy, beautifully spun dream, with well crafted and beautifully crafted descriptions.
The complex dynamics between the characters was psychologically astute. The drug addicted, completely appealing and dangerous older brother’s pain beneath the flash, the twins who will never be as flashy as he is, one who meets him with skepticism and another with blind devotion, the deep grief of a parent who had to set strong limits against a force more powerful than his son. This book described relationships I see in my work as a psychologist on a daily basis. Loved it loved it loved it. Because they were so vivid and believable I cared about what happened to them and what was next.
Pushing myself back into regular writing has been an awful rollercoaster for me and this book was a little dangling incentive…”maybe if you work hard enough and push through your issues enough, you could write something like this…”
I’ll forgive Ms. Porter for coming out with a book similar to something I have wanted to write. She made it up to me with this one.
As this is already one of my longest posts to date (and it’s not getting done weeks ahead of time, like I usually aim for) I will keep the next piece brief. I am at a standstill with what to do with my reading/writing/blogging next. I have two and a quarter books to get through before I finish BookRiot’s Read Harder, and I am dreading those last two, but then….I don’t know. I don’t have holiday reads planned, I would have to get through like ten books in eight weeks to win PopSugar at this point, and I have frequently thought that if I am really going to make a go of writing I need to break up with fiction novels.
Which sometimes feels as devastating as leaving my nutty but comfortable job of the past nine years or changing the locks on my loving husband who is building me a she-shed.
I would blog about whatever I am reading, fiction novels or no. This is not a threat to the existence of the blog. But no promises on where this is headed.