Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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Yet another post by Jo Walton

She’s done this kind of post before, and so have I, quite recently, but here we are again: Searching for Books in Which No Bad Things Happen

Children’s books, suggests one friend.

Ha ha, no. Apart from the fact that some of the scariest things I’ve ever read have been children’s books … Gary Schmidt, a children’s writer I discovered recently, is absolutely wonderful, but terrible, terrible things happen in his books, and it’s not even reliably all right at the end. He’s the person who made me think you have to earn your unhappy endings just as much as your happy ones.

Jo Walton then goes on:

[O]ne of my comfort reads is Arthur Ransome. He wrote a long series of books about kids messing about in sailboats on lakes in England in the 1930s, and nothing actually bad happens—except there’s a fog on the hills once, and there’s the time when the boat sinks in Swallowdale and John is so humiliated, 

That’s a good reminder that I have the first book of this series on my Kindle. Walton goes on to mention romances, especially Georgette Heyer, especially Cotillion — one of my very, very favorites of Heyer’s books. Walton ends the post this way:

Phyllis Ann Karr’s At Amberleaf Fair is about a far future where people have evolved to be nicer, and there’s a fair, and a woodcarver who can make toys come to life, and there is sex and love and nothing bad happens and everything is all right. It’s gentle and delightful and I genuinely really like this odd sweet little book, and unless I’m forgetting something I don’t think anything bad happens at all.

And because of one of Walton’s earlier posts on this topic, I have that one on my Kindle TBR pile as well, so really, I think I’m set for the rest of this month.

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5 Comments Yet another post by Jo Walton

  1. Mary Anderson

    I’m in the middle of a book “The Hands of the Emperor” by Victoria Goddard. One of the reviews said that it’s a wonderful book where nothing hugely dramatic or terrible happens, and so far I’m finding this to be true. However, the author has a gift for maintaining tension and interest in small moments, and slow progression from one event to another. The characters are very engaging and likeable. I don’t know how she’ll maintain this – the book is 900+ pages. But this far I’m impressed.

  2. Rachel

    900 pages, wow.

    Sounds well worth looking up. A long, slow story with some tension but nothing terrible sounds for next year.

  3. Maureen E

    Hah, yeah, I have some strong opinions about adults coming to children’s books looking for nothing but sweetness. Children are people too! Children’s literature is at least partly meant to help them understand what are often very overwhelming emotions and experiences in their lives! Of course it contains difficult things!

    Anyway, I will take myself and my YS librarian opinions off to reread Death of the Necromancer.

  4. Pete Mack

    BTW: i do like the Wind in the Willows allusion in the Arthur Ransome review.
    “There is nothing, absolutely nothing, half so worth doing as simply messing about in boats.”

    My aunt and uncle have had it in needlepoint on their wall for as long as I can remember.

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