If you’re a Twitter friend, you may remember when I started Lifelode, because I got all excited over the fact that it’s basically China Court by Rumer Godden in a magical world. And since China Court is one of my heart books and Jo Walton perfectly caught the weird loveliness of her present tense everything happening at once style, I expected to adore this one.
And I liked it a lot. Like I said, Walton really caught the style perfectly, and the sense of both the home-liness and the turn of wider events that China Court has. I love domestic books, and I loved Taveth almost instantly. And I liked the sense of family dynamic and the complicated way it unfolds in the world of the book.
Where I got hung up is actually something surprising for me: pacing. For the first three quarters of the book, we have this lovely slow paced story, with lots of attention to details of everyday life and if that’s your thing, ignore what I’m about to say and go read it, because while I was reading I was living in Applekirk. But then at the end larger events come into the picture and lots of Things, Spoilerish Things, happen all at once, and then the story ends.
We’ve gotten hints of what’s happened since then throughout the book, thanks to the structure, and there is a bit at the end that helps to wind everything up. But I’m not quite talking about that, more about the fact that there didn’t seem to be any space in the moment for me to react what was happening, to feel anything. (Versus the big finale of Among Others where I will get choked up if I see one paragraph out of context.)
Again, that’s a personal thing, and yet I think there is something there that’s a little less finished than the rest of the book. As I said, though, if lovely descriptions of everyday life in a world not our own makes you go, “Ooooo,” read this one.