June 14, 2017

FOF Book Club: Alphabet of Thorn

It's time to talk about our second pick for this year's quarterly Flights of Fantasy Book Club! For the second quarter, we decided to tackle Alphabet of Thorn. I'm not sure where we first heard of this novel, but we both found the synopsis intriguing and neither of us had read anything by McKillip before. Check out my thoughts below (and don't forget to visit Rachel's blog either)! (And if you're interested in joining the Flights of Fantasy Reading Challenge 2017, you still can!)

In the depths of a library on the edge of the world, orphan Nepenthe labors over translations of languages unknown to majority of the population. Her life changes when, a young mage gives her a book written in a language of thorns that reveals the words only to her... and slowly becomes an obsession. The further Nepenthe delves into her translation, the more secrets she discovers, the more she realizes that her future is entwined with that of the newly coronated young Queen of Raine.

Plot? It's a fairly simple story, made complex by the way the author chooses to have the events and revelations unfold. The basic plot centers around a young girl discovering a truth that no one else in the world can, a truth that threatens to destroy the very existence of the world she herself loves and inhabits, a truth that ties her fate to that of the most powerful woman in Raine. It starts off slow and slightly confusing, but as things progress and start to click together to make a larger tapestry of a story, it becomes quite compelling.

Characters? I'm a bit torn on whether or not I particularly loved these characters. I harbored affection for each of the main players as I read this story - Nepenthe for her love of translation and words, Bourne for his sincerity and cleverness with magic, the Queen of Raine for her free spirit and the willingness to walk her own way. But after I closed the novel, these characters were instantly relegated to the background of my mind. The far, far background. So, while I liked them, I don't consider any of them to be particularly memorable.

Writing? I really liked the use of multiple perspectives, as it both succeeds in showing the reader a larger view of the world as well as giving the reader pieces with which to figure out this puzzle of a tale. There was just enough detail to bring to life the people and the places, though to me, it felt like there was a lot more telling than showing.

Overall? I have mixed feelings about this book. It started off confusing, became quite interesting and then ended on a slightly anticlimactic note. Still, something has to be said for how it was able to drawn me in, to convince me to care about the outcome of the story for these characters - especially with such a limited number of pages.

As always, Rachel & I will both be answering the same set of questions with every book club pick that we read and review for the Flights of Fantasy Book Club. Don't forget to share your answers with us as well, whether you link up to your post in our monthly link-ups or simply comment below!

1. Who is your favorite character? It was actually quite difficult for me to decide who my favorite character was, but I decided to go with Bourne in the end. It was quite cool to see how he went from someone who didn't take things too seriously to someone who truly cared about what would happen next. I also just thought it was fun to see him do magic every now and then!

2. Would you read more books by this author? I would definitely try to read more of this author's work! It's not going to be a priority, since I didn't necessarily fall head over heels in love with her style. But her storytelling for this novel was interesting enough that I would be open to trying her other work in the future.

Alphabet of Thorn by Patricia A. McKillip
Publisher: Ace Hardcover | Publication Date: February 3, 2004
Source: Paperback purchased from Amazon
Buy the Book: Book Depository | Amazon


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