Saturday, July 01, 2006


By Shari S. Tepper.

I almost didn't read this one; my sister got it out when I asked for Robin McKinley's Beauty about a month ago, but I finally decided to give it a chance.

I wasn't going to read it because the back (paperback edition) makes it pretty obvious that it has a heavy environmental agenda, but it started out deceptively good. When Beauty manages to sidestep the curse, though, things start to go wrong, and eventually the Agenda bludgeons you over the head with a monstrous vision of the future and a hell powered by mankind's imagination (extremely similar in execution to the one in Streiker's Morning Sun, where novelists get to live out their novels. I wonder if one of them got the idea from the other and said, Ooh! Poetic justice! It's too good to pass up!). She also runs roughshod through several other Disney fairy tales (as opposed to traditional fairy tales; Beauty visits the future, not to give too much away, and ends up seeing the Disney versions before living through the real thing).

This is written in the first person as a series of journal entries, but Carabosse (the evil fairy) manages to insert her own comments throughout about the first half, apparently before Beauty writes more and without Beauty realizing it.

The author does a good job keeping you in suspense about Carabosse and the rest for a while: their own comments seem to indicate that they have good intentions in mind, but the side of the story Beauty sees is different. I was a little disappointed when that element of suspense was resolved a little before halfway through.

Probably not worth reading, but just good enough for me to keep going in hopes that the ending would redeem it. Unfortunately, it may be a little like Child of the Prophecy in that way: the ending sets up a sort of myth that goes into perpetua, without a real strong resolution. (I have my doubts about "perpetua" as grammar, anybody know?)

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