Spotted this review of Rusalka over at bysinginglight this morning.
Yeah, what she said. I read this book, and part of the second, but I just could not engage with the characters. I don’t remember the books in detail, but I remember that sense of helpless passivity. It’s interesting to think about the feeling of detachment and why it works or doesn’t work in a particular book; I hadn’t thought of CJ Cherryh’s style in those terms before.
The other thing about Rusalka that bothered me was the style of magic — if you wish for something, it might happen, so it’s important not to experience even momentary wishes for bad things — it’s a kind of magic that makes the magic user into almost a victim. Cherryh does something like that in other books as well, (The Goblin Mirror) but for whatever reason, that one worked better for me than Rusalka.
Okay, raising a broader question: sometimes you read fifteen books by one author and love all but one, and when that happens to me, sometimes I can tell why and sometimes I can’t. I actually liked Sharon Shinn’s shapeshifter books, but the protagonist of each is so emotionally overwrought that it’s a near thing; that’s one I can put my finger on. In contrast, Martha Wells’ Emilie and the Hollow World just did not sing for me and I really have no idea why not. Even Patricia McKillip has written one or two books I don’t like — Solstice Wood, for example, where I hated the way she changed the world she had previously established in Winter Rose.
How about you all? Can you think of a time when a favorite author fell flat for you, and could you figure out why?