June 29

The Piper’s Son by Melina Marchetta

9780670074235Have you ever had your hands on a book that you are desperate to read, but then put it aside because you just knew that you didn’t have the time to give the book the attention it was bound to deserve. That is what happened to me with The Piper’s Son. I have always loved everything by Marchetta, but each book makes demands on the reader. You have to have time and energy for thinking.┬áSo a week ago when I got back from holiday I knew it was the right time to pick it up.

Many of you may remember Marchetta’s award winning book Saving Francesca. Well, the group are all back, but now it is 5 years later and the focus is on Tom who has had a very rough time. As the book opens Tom is lost in a fog of drugs and alcohol and very comfortable there because then he doesn’t have to see the disasters that have hit his friends and family. With one beloved uncle killed in 7/7 attacks in London and his parents living in different states and his girl off doing volunteer work overseas, Tom feels very alone. But when his flatmates disappear, leaving him to face up to the consequences of their communal irresponsibility, Tom sobers up and discovers the young man he will someday become. This book is all about the path he takes as he becomes this honourable young man.

Frankly I will admit that I didn’t remember Tom from Saving Francesca. In fact most of the characters in this book had disappeared from my memory with the hundreds of books I have read since 2004. And Marchetta didn’t waste a lot of time reminding me of all the bits I had forgotten. They were irrelevant, because this is Tom’s story and Tom was obviously a character that had more to say.

I also liked the whole setting for Tom’s life. His extended family were all real living characters, all trying to deal with the two family tragedies, one dating from the Vietnam War and the other as a result of terrorism. And naturally, each family group had their smaller tragedies as well, e.g. the relationship between Georgie and Sam and Dominic’s alcoholism. Marchetta very gently pulls together the threads attached to everything and very nicely anchors the story in the end.

Over the years I have read hundreds of coming-of-age novels. But almost all of them have been set in a high school and the basic plot revolves around who is friends with who and what does friendship really mean. A few have set the bar higher and looked at bigger issues. This book looks at the whole, what is life after Uni? Coming-of-age has a whole new focus when the decisions can determine the direction for a whole lifetime.

This is a book for young adults, but it has a lot to say to any reader. Thank you once again Melina.

June 29

Angels’ Blood by Nalini Singh

9780575095724A couple months ago someone made a comment in a discussion about books that ‘angels are going to be the new vampires’. So it was no surprise when I opened a mystery parcel from Gollancz to find the first two books in the Guild Hunter series. And as I started a holiday, they were ideal reading material.

Elena Devereaux is a vampire hunter, but in this world the vampires aren’t necessarily evil. Generally vampires are devoted servants of angels, and the angels have all the power. But when a vamp goes astray, or other demons get involved in human affairs, the Guild Hunters are there to help. And. of course, Elena is the best. Archangel Raphael has a problem. One of his colleagues, also a powerful archangel, has gone mad and needs to be found. Elena’s instructions are to find him and do report back. But one thing leads to another and Elena isn’t a meek and mild obedient servant herself. Inevitably she gets in over her head and needs help to get out. Raphael, smitten with her beauty and warrior spirit falls in love with Elena. Eventually the good and bad angels meet in a final battle, and naturally Elena the Warrior gets involved.

Singh had a very interesting view of the various supernatural beings from myth and legend. The idea that Archangels eventually grew tired and even went mad from their centuries of association with humanity was unusual. Raphael was a powerful, benevolent dictator of New York. He is served by angels and vampires whose loyalty is beyond question. This gave the traditional good vs evil fantasy plot the option of a few good twists.

As expected this was a quick read – entertainment only. But sometimes it is important to just sit back and let yourself be entertained. There is nothing of any literary value here, but yet I went right on to the second book in the series as soon as I finished. Go Figure.