Catherine Fisher - wow!

Discussion in 'Young Adult Fiction' started by HareBrain, Mar 27, 2009.

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    HareBrain

    HareBrain Lagomorphing Staff Member

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    Has anyone else read her "Darkhenge"? It didn't come up when I did a forum search. I've just finished it and thought it was fantastic, the kind of story I've been looking for for years without realising it. It reminded me of the best of Alan Garner, Susan Cooper and Robert Holdstock - a way of conjuring the landscape (in this case around Avebury, Wiltshire) and weaving it into the lives of her characters that leaves me in awe. And a real poetic use of myth and how it relates to the psyche - the whole thing is wonderfully subtle, without ever being less than readable. It makes most other YA (even most adult) fantasy I've read recently seem crassly simplistic in its approach to the fantastic aspects of their worlds. And really well structured.

    It's classed as a YA book, but there's no dumbing-down in the language at all. Apart from the main character's acceptance of things that in an adult book might have had him running for a psychiatrist, there's nothing to indicate it really is for younger readers - its length maybe, but because the writing is good enough to savour and discourage skimming (you can tell she's a poet), it feels like a longer book than it is. There's no politics, no battles, not much blood, but it's about the most exciting book I've read for ages - partly because you're never quite sure what the characters will do, whether their anger or bitterness or jealousy will surface just at the moment to do some real damage. None of them are black or white, they're all really interesting and colourful shades of grey, and all very believable.

    I've just ordered "Corbenic" which according to the reviews on Amazon is even better, so I think I'm in for a real treat.
     
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    HareBrain

    HareBrain Lagomorphing Staff Member

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    Well, I thought Darkhenge was good, but Corbenic beats it by a country mile. As a YA novel it's up there with my previous all-time best three: Alan Garner's Red Shift and The Owl Service, and Susan Cooper's The Grey King - it might even be better than any of them. One of the best novels, YA or otherwise, I've ever read. I hope this encourages someone else to read it. Despite winning several prizes, I don't know that she's that well-known - there aren't huge numbers of reviews of her books on Amazon, and the local Waterstone's had none of her work in stock. A real shame.
     
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    Teresa Edgerton

    Teresa Edgerton Goblin Princess Staff Member

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    I really loved her Oracle trilogy, and thought I started a thread about it but that seems to have disappeared -- maybe during the great crash when we lost a few months worth of posts. I also liked the Snow-Walker trilogy and Incarceron, but not as much as the Oracle books.

    Haven't read Darkhenge or Corbenic.
     
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    HareBrain

    HareBrain Lagomorphing Staff Member

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    That thread still exists, Teresa, but it seems no one else has read that trilogy either.

    I have the first two of those, bought a few years ago. I started Oracle when I bought them but wasn't really taken with it, and they've lain unread since. I've just had another go, and got a few pages further, but it hasn't come alive for me like the two I mentioned above.

    Partly I think this is because she writes so well about our world - the whole first half of Darkhenge and most of Corbenic are set in modern England or Wales. I guess everyone writes more convincingly about their home than a made-up place. What makes her special is the brilliant way she uses Welsh myth as an aspect of a modern, damaged character's world.

    I'll keep going with Oracle, though, and hope it picks up for me.
     
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    Teresa Edgerton

    Teresa Edgerton Goblin Princess Staff Member

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    Since we posted in this thread I've read Incarceron and Sapphique. I wasn't thrilled with the part of the story that took place outside of the prison, but the concept of the prison as an artificial world that keeps changing I found fascinating. Those scenes I loved, although they were definitely grim.

    Now I'm reading her Relic Master series, and it's too soon to tell how well I'm going to like them. So far, I'm still reading, which is a good sign, since I never have any compulsion to keep reading when I don't like something.

    She has a wide range, which is good, but it also means that if you like one of her books or series there is no telling whether you will like others. Of course it goes the other way, too: if you didn't like one book, you may like her others.
     
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    HareBrain

    HareBrain Lagomorphing Staff Member

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    I read the first one of those a while back. Quite enjoyed it, but haven't felt compelled to read the next. Nowhere near as good as Darkhenge and Corbenic I mentioned above, but that might just be me. I'd be interested to hear other opinions on those.
     
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    Mouse

    Mouse roar

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    I'm reading Corbenic at the mo. Only two chapters in at the mo, but it is really good. One thing that really pleases me is the fact that she uses such short sentences!! :D Shorter than mine even.
     
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    Mouse

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    I've finished this. I like her writing style very much (though I swear it's full of run-ons and comma splices!) but I didn't really like Cal, the main character and I didn't get the ending at all. Maybe I'm just a bit dim.
     
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    HareBrain

    HareBrain Lagomorphing Staff Member

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    It's been a while since I read it, but I think the ending is ambiguous (though I quite liked that). I agree Cal isn't the most sympathetic character**, but I think he's believable and complex. For both those reasons I think it comes across as more adult than a lot of her other books.

    Have you tried Darkhenge? I've also read Crown of Acorns since starting this thread. It ties together three stories about the city of Bath, and is very good.

    ** Though I might have been better disposed to him than most, as he has the same name and general grumpy disposition as the main character of my first novel.
     
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    Mouse

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    He's definitely believable, and I understand why he is the way he is what with his mother and everything, I just didn't like him much! And there's this line where someone says about Cal not being his real name, but then it's never ever mentioned again. Ever. So... I don't get that.

    It just ends with him having drank from the grail. I just felt like it was leading up to something big, but instead we got that. I do know the story of the grail, so I'm probably missing something.

    I've added Crown of Acorns to my wishlist on Amazon. Thanks, HB! :D
     

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