Wishing for something more than her adventureless life, 16-year-old Ash eagerly awaits the move she and her mother are taking from their dull, drab life in the prairie town of Treade. But as Ash counts the days, she finds her way into a mysterious, condemned building on the outskirts of town—one that has haunted her entire childhood with secrets and questions. What she finds inside is an untouched library, inhabited by an enchanting mute named Li. Brightened by Li’s charm and his indulgence in her dreams, Ash becomes locked in a world of dusty books and dying memories, with Li becoming the attachment to Treade she never wanted. This haunting and romantic debut novel explores the blurry boundary between the real and imagined with a narrative that illustrates the power and potency of literacy.
I had a lot of books on my TBR list, but at Keycon, I attended a reading where this author read from her second book, and what she read was so messed up wtf, that I went and bought her first book.
Disclaimer: I grew up in a small prairie town, loved books and art and spent most of my time lost in fantasy worlds of literature, and wanted nothing so much as to get out of the stupid dick town I was stuck in. In other words, the main character of this book is basically me at that age. It was a little eerie.
And thus, the first thing I noticed was the main character’s voice, and the narrative voice. The narrative actually reminded me of Peter S. Beagle, or Neil Gaiman, honestly, both of whom I love for their elegance of prose. I’m not one to obsess over well written prose, so when I notice it, it’s because it’s especially good.
The story straddles reality and magic in a surreal sort of way. The magic doesn’t jump out and slap you in the face, it sneaks up on you, kind of, in a slow, subtle sort of way, and builds it’s way to immersion.
A beautiful book, and I’m looking forward to that author’s next one.