So I’ve probably mentioned on here that I have eclectic reading tastes. You can tell from my review guidelines, I like a little bit of everything. And I have just finished two very different books, but two books that absolutely go together in my opinion. The first book I’ll talk about is literary, elegant, and moving. The second book is YA, a page turner, and all kinds of fun. What they have in common, besides that I read both and liked them both, is that they both are magical, mysterious, and compelling. Do you like that in a book? Because I sure do.
Eleanor by Jason Gurley
I was provided a review copy of this book by Netgalley, in exchange for a fair and honest review. And I can honestly say this book is lyrical, painful, dramatic, and beautiful. It deals with generations of repressed feelings, a horrific family tragedy, and a magical, dreamlike quest by Eleanor, the main character. Eleanor is born into a family that has suffered many tragedies in recent generations, and before long, tragedy visits Eleanor herself in the loss of her twin sister. In order to truly understand her family’s past, and to find any sort of healing, Eleanor must undertake this quest through a mysterious, magical land.
I found this book to be surprising and refreshing in it’s depictions of the depth and breadth of human emotion, as well as compelling. To be honest, the beginning of the book was a bit tough for me, because it deals with some of the older generations in the family feeling trapped and confined by their marriages and, indeed, their families. I was afraid this was going to be another one of those literary “masterpieces” that drag the reader through endless pages of angst about middle age, white people, and marriage discontent. However, before too long Eleanor is transported on her quest, in a dreamland where all the typical rules of nature no longer apply, and we move with grace towards a finish that is empathic, rewarding, and satisfying. This is a lovely book that I hope gets some attention. For me, the combination of the artful, literary prose and the fantastical plot are win-win.
The Killing Jar by Jennifer Bosworth
The Killing Jar is a young adult novel about a young girl, coming of age, and coming to understand the magical powers she possesses. Indeed, Kenna, our main character, is one part normal teenager, other part magical creature who holds life and death in the power of her touch. While on the one hand, the novel is very much YA – the heroine gives lectures about music, is a musician herself, and battles over her growing feelings for the neighbor boy. But on the other hand, the novel is very much about desire, and the danger of giving in wholeheartedly to desire.
The book opens with the main character reminiscing about a haunting experience in which she discovers she has incredible power, the power to take a life with a touch. After her family is attacked, she discovers that power is just the tip of the iceberg. She is soon exiled to a community where she suddenly feels like she belongs. That she is not an outcast, rather, but someone to be appreciated, admired even. This feeling does not last, though, for Kenna suddenly begins to wonder if she is in danger. Is she about to be made a pawn because of her power?
The book is fast moving, well plotted, and leaves you hungry for more. I hope this book has a follow up, and that Jennifer follows it up soon!