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The Kraken Sea Paperback – June 18, 2016
"Warlight" by Michael Ondaatje
A dramatic coming-of-age story set in the decade after World War II, "Warlight" is the mesmerizing new novel from the best-selling author of "The English Patient." Learn more
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About the Author
E. Catherine Tobler has never run away to join the circus — but she thinks about doing so every day. Among others, her short fiction has appeared in Clarkesworld, Lightspeed, and on the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award ballot. Her first novel, Rings of Anubis, launched the Folley & Mallory Adventures. Senior editor of Shimmer Magazine, you can find her online at www.ecatherine.com and @ecthetwit.
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Early on in the book, there’s a moment when we find out what Jackson actually is, and it’s an amazing scene: satisfying and exciting, because he finally allows himself to be what he is, and also terrifying because of what he is capable of in his true form.
From that point on, the story burrows deeper and deeper into Tobler’s dark and mysterious fictional world: a world that feels so vast and ancient and deep that it gives me a sense of vertigo. There’s a satisfying and titillating richness to the mythology and the backstories of the characters, but it never overpowers the tale of Jackson himself. Rather, the world reveals itself stealthily through the telling of Jackson’s story. Magic permeates every facet of life in this world, and it’s the kind of magic that is not usually learned from scrolls or books, but rather part of who you are, bound to flesh and bone.
One of the things I really love about ‘The Kraken Sea’ is that characters and places are not always who or what they seem to be at first glance: they shift and change, just like Jackson himself does. Even time and space itself is not always what it appears to be on the surface. This makes the book a haunting and gripping ride through a strange and changeable world: a world where gargoyles might eat children, where lion statues might come to life, and where very strange things lurk behind the door in a bakery’s basement.
I've known about Tobler since "She Will Be Raised a Queen" and it stuck with me for days and aching for more. She is an author I will look for in future book hunts.
However something happens during a brief stopover in Chicago when the nuns take the children to visit the World's fair. Jackson witnesses the mistreatment of a girl with snake limbs like himself and meets a mysterious black eyed girl. Shaken by the events Jackson is calmed by Sister Jerome Grace who shows him he is not alone and tells him he needs to continue to San Francisco so he can learn to become all that he is.
Upon reaching California, he meets the woman who has requested him from the orphanage and is thrust into a world unlike that of his previous life. This world is full of magical people, a city divided into territories, and the black eyed girl glimpsed in Chicago reappears and is a key player in the events which unfurl in the months after Jackson arrives in the city. Not everything is as it seems, and Jackson seems to be the catalyst to a climactic battle between two enemies.
I was drawn into this novella. It was written with a fantastic mix of realism, fantasy and blending in mythology. This author is new to me and I really enjoyed her writing quite a bit. I ended the story wanting to know more and wishing it had been a full length novel. There were so many fantastic supporting characters and surroundings that I would have loved to explore more of. However as this was Jackson's story I understand why less focus was made on them. I also loved the mythology aspects to the story it really made this alternate nineteenth century United States an intriguing world where magic still exists alongside new technology and nothing is quite what it seems. Jackson's struggle to learn who he is and what he believes in as he is thrown into events which challenge his beliefs.
I received this as part of librarything's June early reviewer program for my honest opinion about the book.