Sci Fi Sunday
Clive Barker’s Abarat. After reading Necklace of Kisses last week, I felt drawn to more magical realism type stories so I went looking online for book lists. One of the lists I found suggested Abarat. I’ve never been big on Barker’s work, since I’ve always lumped him in with Stephen King and horror isn’t really my thing. However, Abarat is the best kind of fantasy — the kind that takes the mundane and elevates it to the magical while dancing on the edge of horror. The main character, Candy Quackenbush (and how’s that for an utterly pedestrian name?) finds herself traveling to a magical land after a series of strange compulsions leads her to walk out of her school and away from her life. Compulsion notwithstanding, the book makes clear that this is Candy’s choice and her adventures stem from being willing to believe in and trust an increasingly alien set of circumstances. The first friend she makes, John Mischief, also brings her her first enemy, and her instinctive good nature leads her into ever more dangerous territory. Abarat is classified as young adult literature, but I think it is best for the over-fifteen set. The book does not gloss over issues of abuse or violence, and it’s difficult to picture a preteen who would identify with its protagonist. I feel comfortable recommending this story to fantasy-loving adults as well, but be aware that the themes can be rather dark.
Quick side note: In a review of past Sci Fi Sundays, I realized that I’ve been using italics for some book titles. Books really should be underlined; movies and TV shows should be italicized. I think. It’s been a long time since I perused my Strunk and White. Anyhow, I will attempt to be more consistent about this in the future.