Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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Here’s a really fabulous review —

Of RED MOON AND BLACK MOUNTAIN by Joy Chant

I’m almost sure that a long time ago I posted a link to somebody’s review of this beautiful book by Joy Chant. I’m too lazy to go look for that, and anyway it doesn’t matter to this review , by Erin Horáková at tor.com.

This review is different and extraordinarily thorough, and raises fascinating questions about plot structure and the value of writing that is beautiful but not necessarily innovative and the role of the author’s cultural context and all kinds of things.

The whole thing is well worth reading, but I was particularly taken by this comment: “RED MOON’S denouement stretches on at unexpected length, and has its own tensions to resolve. The denouement isn’t really a victory lap or a tying up of loose ends so much as the result of the novel’s commitment to psychological and metaphysical follow-through.”

That caught my eye because I very often love the denouement of a story and want to linger over it — but not if it’s merely a “victory lap.” I think this kind of denouement is precisely what I love, though I never thought of it that way before. The comment was particularly eye-catching for me particularly, because just the other day I happened to read a review of HOUSE OF SHADOWS where the reviewer didn’t like the long denouement — which is my favorite part, and which I had written in my head LONG before I sorted out unimportant details like the climax. So, very interesting!

If you’ve never read RED MOON, here’s the quote that Erin Horáková chose to illustrate the writing. It is beyond beautiful:

“Easter was early that year. It fell in blackthorn winter, when the blossom on the sloe could have been taken for frost, and the hawthorn had barely sprouted its buds of green and copper. Every morning the grass was patched with white, and there was iron in the air.”

There was iron in the air! Gorgeous! I swear, it makes me want to run downstairs and pull this book off the shelf, and I’m sure I re-read it only a year or so ago.

It makes me sad to think how many wonderful forgotten books there must be that I’ve never heard of. But hey, at least this one is in my library!

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2 Comments Here’s a really fabulous review —

  1. Elaine T

    I’m very fond of some of RM&BM, but I’ve always thought that the whole was less than the sum of its parts. Those parts are wonderful, though. And the long denoument, especially with Oliver and VirVachal is especially resonant. And the very end, when they’re back. And the 13th house.

    I’ve never understood people who say GGK plagiarized from it in his first work, Fionavar. I think it’s the horse nomads, but they aren’t that similar.

    I’ve never been happy with Inserrena’s choice. The Tor reviewer is correct that it is handled well….yet, it strikes me as too easy, or cheap, or something. It take power away from the story, instead of adding to it.

    Chant’s other books never really worked for me. They were ok, but we didn’t connect. Of course, that was 20 years or more ago, and I should probably give them another chance.

  2. Rachel

    I never liked her other ones especially, but as you say, that was a good long time ago. Maybe I too should try them again.

    Do people say that about GGK’s Fionavar trilogy? *Rolls eyes.* Yeah, because I’m sure two different authors couldn’t come up with horse nomads independently. I expect that it’s partly because they both have lyrical styles . . . but still . . . stealing a line from Merrie Haskell’s “The Girl-Prince”, I wish I had six more eyes so I could roll them all and better express my contempt.

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