Sunday, May 25, 2008

Rating : 4.5/5
Number of Pages : 320
Reason for Reading : Once Upon a Time II Challenge and I love her anthologies with Ellen Datlow

Maggis Black is a poet at heart but has spent most of her writing career in journalism working to support her then husband Nigel. He is now remarried but they keep in close contact and pride themselves on their "friendly divorce". Six months earlier her friend and mentor, fellow poet Davis Cooper was found dead in mysterious circumstances and Maggie finds out he left his house, his partner Anna Naverra's paintings and his papers to her despite never having met her in person. She leaves to stay in his house in Tuscon in the desert in Arizona where life is very different. She is used to travelling light and not putting down roots, to not forming lasting attachments with men and not falling in love with anyone or anything.

In Tuscon she learns about the land and it's animals whilst on a trial of Cooper's papers with the intention of writing a biography on him. She also finds a group of people she instantly gets along with and forms lasting friendships with Johnny Foxxe (Fox) and Dora in particular. The more she reads of Cooper's papers and latest poems that he hid fro mthe world, the more she looks closer at the land around her. She discovers the spirits of the desert which he wrote about in his Wood Wife collection and that Anna had painted before her also sudden death. These include shapeshifters and mages, a strange man named Crow and a rabbit girl Maggie names Thumper. The more she discovers, the less inclinded she is to publish a biography of her late friend and the more she feels truely at home living there.

This book is so many things. A wonderful look at poetry, a love story with the land and with another, a rich yet desolate fantasy, a study of animal behaviour, a look at art and women struggling for independence in a still male orientated world. Taken from a series of novels based on paintings by Brian Froud it embraces the world of faerie (or angels depending on your religious background).

Simply put, I adored it. I have enjoyed the anthologies that I have read that Windling has put together with Ellen Datlow, but this is the first time I have read any of her own work. A sequel would be wonderful but it is unlikely and I hope to read more by her in the future. Fantasy at it's best.

Other reviews:
Carl V Stainless Steel Droppings
A Fondness for Reading
Dark Orpheus
Deslily Here, There & Everywhere
Chris Stuff as Dreams are Made On


Robin said...

I loved this book and was totally carried away when I read it. She really did a great job on it -- I agree with you that it is "fantasy at it's best!"

Ana S. said...

I so need to order myself a copy of this. It sounds like something that I'll love.

joanna said...

this sounds really great, right up my street. So many people rave about this book, I can't wait to read it.

Ladytink_534 said...

I love Froud! This sounds like such a good story.