Saturday, June 26, 2010

Rough Magic by Caryl Cude Mullin

Out in the midst of the ocean, rising out of the rough seas, lies a mysterious island.

It has seen visitors over the years, and has learned to fear them. Humans have done nothing but take, stealing the island’s magic and enslaving its spirits.

Caliban, born to a great sorceress who was marooned on the island’s shores, grew up half-wild with its creatures. Having escaped the island to live amongst kingdoms and courtiers for many years, he now finds himself returning with his young charge Chiara, a girl who has a power within her that no one suspected. Once back on the island they are joined by Calypso, a magical young woman with ties to them all.

Inspired by The Tempest, Shakespeare’s famous play of love, loyalty, and magic, it is the island and its power that draws them all back. But this time the dragon who lives at the bottom of the sea has been awakened and must be satisfied. It will be up to the humans to strike a balance between their power and the natural world.

I like to think of myself as a supporter of both Canadian authors and of women authors. So when Second Story Press approached me about reading a couple books from their catalog; I was ecstatic! The very first paragraph on their home page states:
Second Story Press was co-founded in 1988 by Margie Wolfe and three other women dedicated to publishing feminist-inspired books for adults and young readers. We are proud to have been publishing award-winning books that entertain, educate, and empower for over 20 years.

I have never heard of them before! Let me just tell you the best way to explain my feelings, though. I was allowed to pick from their catalog. They did not approach me with a specific title in mind. I had no idea what to pick! There are so many excellent sounding books that I could pretty much read anything and be quite happy. Thankfully one of the friendly staff members was happy enough to pick my books for me! Rough Magic is the first book I read. It makes me very happy when I am approached to review books, but it is even better when the person offering has actually read my blog and is offering me something I would be even slightly interested in. So, to summarize, I am quite taken with Second Story Press at the moment. (For those of you participating in the Women Unbound challenge, there are many books offered by this publishing company that would work quite well!) I feel terrible that I am only know discovering that they exist! My library has loads of their books, though, so at least they were paying attention!

Moving on to the actual book, Rough Magic is a Shakespearean-retelling. It is based around The Tempest, which I have to admit I haven't actual read. This means that I have no idea how this compares to original, so not entirely sure how fans of the play would respond to this book. I did read a Manga Shakespeare version of the story, but those were so bad I have entirely forgotten what happened. One review I saw of this book compares it to Mists of Avalon. I was a little worried because I consider that book to be one of my favourite books of all time, so if you are going to compare a book to it in any capacity it better be a really good book! I can see how it has the same idea behind it after finishing it. It is the story from a female point-of-view instead of the male perspective. There is a male that tells the story from time to time, though.

I feel like I am rambling and have entirely lost structure in this review, so to be a bit more focused, I really liked this book. It was dark and atmospheric. The characters were engaging and troubled. The settings came entirely to mind and the characters developed quite well. There were a few times where things didn't entirely work for me, but it was nothing major. I enjoyed that the characters were flawed and not perfect, but that might be how things were in original play to begin with. This is a book that is very easy to read in one sitting and enjoy yourself doing it. I am glad that I got a chance to give it a try and look forward to more from both this author and from Second Story Press in general.

I apologize for the disorganization of thoughts! I hope that you got something out of my rambles!

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