March 22nd, 2012


Of camilias and cashmere, and other bits of garden white

The garden has some interesting white spots this morning. Sancho is blowing out his coat, or, more precisely, scratching out his coat, so there are wisps of cashmere hanging at random intervals around the front pasture fence. The white camilia on the south side of the house survived the crushing snow from two years ago, but got very confused with this winter. It is only now starting to bloom (a month late). In contrast, the big feral cherry tree is right on time, and its little brother by the mud room is juuuuuust starting to blossom.

The dense fog creeping through the trees highlighted something I don't often see: all of the little ground webs all over the forest. As I drove down the hill today, the normal brown mast of the underbrush was full of shining, fragile fairy bowls.

Books: Sphinx's Princess

Sphinx's Princess, by Esther Friesner. Young adult fantasy. Paperback, 365 pages plus afterward. First in the duology.

I gave this book to my niece on the strength of Friesner's short stories and the knowledge that ancient Egypt would be at least a fun change from the usual Euro-centric and fairie fantasies that are the norm.  My niece just devoured it, and the sequel, and was kind enough to loan them back to me.

The strengths of this book are pure Friesner - the main character is pretty and graceful, but would much rather just be smart.  She relies on knowledge and friendship when everything around her is falling prey to paranoia and hatred.  The weaknesses of the book lie in part with the reliance on religion for both motive and plot energy, and in part with the overly dramatic emotional states of almost all of the main characters.  There is nearly nothing ordinary in this book. Everything is dark, bright, cloying, shifty... In short, this is a Disney movie waiting to happen.

I bought it for my niece, I think from an Unshelved review. but I have no clue how I got to putting it on my "to buy" list for her.
I recommend it to anyone who enjoys younger writing and likes to see the princess rescue her own darn self... With the help of real friends.

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In case you want back references, here is the Books for 2011 round-up post