I mentioned in this post that I discovered a new love for science fiction and fantasy on the shelves of a musty bookshop in Sevilla, Spain right at a time when I was a bit raw with homesickness. Tad Williams’ The War of the Flowers was one of those books. It was THICK (think 768 pages!), which was a huge point in its favor. I wanted English language familiar comfort, and I wanted a lot of it. It was also about fairies, which I thought I could deal with. And best yet, it had a genuinely pretty cover.
I read the book over a couple of days and just lived in it. You know there are books that convincingly create a whole world? Maybe you connect with the main character, maybe you hate him/her a little bit, but you can’t doubt the reality and vividness of the setting? That’s this book. It was the same way for me with China Mieville’s The Scar. I wasn’t sure that I liked where I was going, but I was helpless to resist the pull of it.
Theo Vilmos' life is about to take a real turn for the worse.
He is drawn from his home in Northern California into the parallel world of Faerie, for, unknown to him, he is a pivotal figure in a war between certain of Faerie's powerful lords and the rest of the strange creatures who live in this exotic realm.
As Applecore, an irritated and decidedly punk-like sprite, says, "‘If you believe in fairies, clap your hands'? If you believe in fairies, kiss my rosy pink arse is more like it."
So: The War of the Flowers is undeniably dark in parts. It’s got a lot going on. It’s thick. Why should anyone read it? I think I’ve intimated the stuff I love about it: dark fantasy, flashes of humor, impressive world-building, a really involved story that feels familiar and yet surprises and wows you. But another plus? It’s good even for those who aren’t fans of the genre. I re-gifted this novel to my brother Lincoln, who is famous (in our family) for reading almost exclusively non-fiction. He came back to me after finishing it and wanted to DISCUSS. How often does that happen? It inspired both of us. Yeah, there are a lot of other-worldly elements. But at its center, this is a story about a parallel space, with some of the same problems that regular humans face. In other words, it’s universal. And that’s what makes it great.
What are some 'universal' stories that you find yourself reading over and over?