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A Reading Vocation

"I Must Read, Read, and Read. It is my Vocation." - Thomas Merton

This is where I chronicle my reading life.  I also blog about writing at Lacey's Late-night Editing.


77/100: Rusalka by C.J. Cherryh

Rusalka - C.J. Cherryh

I read this book because it was one of the July/August group reads for the Into the Forest Goodreads group, and a copy was readily available on Bookmooch (where I have an abundance of credits). The intricate writing and atmospheric prose had me thinking it might be one of those books that I was pleasantly surprised to have read, even if I wouldn't have picked it up on my own. But I unfortunately became disenchanted with it before hitting the halfway point.

I did like the gloomy, unusual setting -- a Russian forest where various spiritual creatures and ghosts abounded. I also thought the characters were rendered well, and the story had some interesting things to say about the power of wishes and the complications of the love between a parent and a child, fraught as it is with expectation. But everything in this book seemed to take about three times longer than it needed to -- first the drawn-out journey into the forest, then dozens of pages before the ghost even appears, then an intermittent tease about what exactly her appearance meant, as she dodges in and out of the story along with various other creatures both nefarious and friendly. I think if this book had been half as long, it would have been twice as good.

Although Cherryh's writing is lush and evocative, its meandering style sometimes made it hard to follow. I found myself having to reread sections often to orient myself to what was happening; although she does not "head hop," she often does not make it clear early in a scene whose point of view we are in, which doesn't help with the whole needing to reread for clarity issue. I don't regret giving her a try, but I don't think I'll be reading more of her work.