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The Cripple's Game Paperback – August 5, 2016
"Children of Blood and Bone"
Tomi Adeyemi conjures a stunning world of dark magic and danger in her West African-inspired fantasy debut. Learn more
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There’s a lot to like about The Cripple’s Game: it’s an old story retold, but from a fascinating perspective, and with an interesting twist at the end. There are sections where Birdsall catches the flavor and theme really well, and some passages are incredibly evocative.
But at the same time, the author suffers from “Edgar-Allen-Poe-itus” – the desire to write as though everything were simply an observation from a distance, and employing unnecessarily ornate language in what feels like a self-conscious effort to be, in actual fact, a gentleman of the nineteenth century.
This serves only to create a lack of emotion: we never can connect with the main character, not really, which is odd, because the book is written mainly in first person singular, from that character’s point of view. Places where the author could have drawn the scenes that illustrate the protagonist’s estrangement from his family are instead overwritte, yet curiously uninformative. The parts of his life that might have explained why he is the way he is are glossed over in favour of the character’s opinions about his lot in life, and despite the title, the disability referred to only rarely comes into play.
Because of the way this was structured, it might have made a much better short story than a novel.
Still, Birdsall can write, and I suspect that once he’s found his own authorial voice, he will deliver on all fronts.