Saturday, August 13, 2016

A Green and Ancient Light

I'm tempted to call Frederic Durbin the master of setting. I loved his description of an October evening in Dragonfly. I wanted more stories that explored the world of the Rake in The Star Shard. Now, in A Green and Ancient Light, he dropped me into a small seaside village and a secluded grove filled with bizarre statues that I delighted to explore with the hero. It's a tale of a nine-year-old boy who is spending the summer with his grandmother while his mother cares for his infant sister and his father is away with the war. Which war is never specified. Neither are the names of the country, village or even the characters.* An enemy pilot is shot down nearby and is discovered by Girandole, a friend of the grandmother. Girandole has a name because he's somewhat unusual. Since Grandmother doesn't consider the wounded pilot an enemy, she treats his wounds and the trio hide him out in the grove. The grove itself is a puzzle, perhaps connected to a world of legend. The story then is a blend of the task of hiding the pilot and unraveling the mystery of the statuary.

I didn't find the story as compelling as Mr. Durbin's previous novels. However, I can't help but love how Mr. Durbin made it all so real, mixing in small little mundane details while still keeping a sense of mystery and magic. It's definitely a book worth checking out.
* I don't know why he redacted all the names, but it does make for a second mystery to unravel. The clues are all there, though I have to confess that I didn't really puzzle out where the story took place before I read the answer in the acknowledgements.

LibraryThing link

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