Saturday, March 10, 2012
Darkhenge by Catherine Fisher
Rob's world is slowly coming apart as his sister has laid in a coma for months showing no sign of improvement. When a wooden henge is uncovered near Avebury where Rob lives and a mysterious poet named Vetch enters his life, he comes to find that Chloe has been taken into the Unworld, a place where she has power. After going after her he realizes that her resentment of him has turned into something ugly and hateful and that she may not want to come back to the real world. As she hovers between life and death, Rob tries to convince his sister that she is as valued as he is.
I've actually read a lot of Catherine Fisher (who I confuse with Nancy Farmer quite frequently). I've read her Oracle trilogy and really liked it and Snow Walker. That said, Darkhenge isn't quite as engaging as those mainly because it just wasn't as deep and the characters not as engaging. The fantasy tries to blend druidism with ancient Celtic poetry and gets a bit too high minded because of that. There's also the issue that Chloe isn't sympathetic a lot of the time. They make explanation that the version of her they find in the Unworld is made of her bitterness and isn't really her, but that version is a brat and we aren't given much else to know about her.
I do give credit to Fisher for trying to take YA fantasy angle of druidism and poetry. It's ambitious, I'll give it that. And it's almost successful, but just a little too overreaching. The book is well written though and for as confusing as the subject matter easily could have been, fairly easy to follow. Their is quite a bit of investment in Rob and his quest, which is why Chloe's jealousy might make her seem more petty. Maybe the biggest fault the book has is that I've liked Fisher's other writing so much. For the average writer this probably would have been an extremely successful novel. For Fisher it's one of her less engaging ones.