Thursday, January 17, 2019

Murmured Under the Moon, by Tim Pratt

★★★★☆ Fun, Clever, and Satisfying

(Portal Fantasy) The mortal head of the Fairy Library finds forces unknown sacking the library and is thrown back to her home in Oakland when she tries to stop them. Librarians don’t give up that easily though. (7,780 words; Time: 25m)

"Murmured Under the Moon," by (edited by Dominik Parisien and Navah Wolfe), appeared in (RSR review), published on by .

Mini-Review (click to view--possible spoilers)

Review: 2018.138 (A Word for Authors)

Pro: The central plot is for Emily to figure out what happened and then to restore the library. Much of the pleasure of the story is the various little details that add up as you go along: the living books, her charm to summon books from the library, and other bits of fairy magic. Emily’s own deep love for books—especially her books—and her refusal to give up help make this a fun read. By the end, she earns her reward, and we feel she’s chosen wisely.

My suspicion that Llyfyr was going to turn out to be the book of poetry and that Emily would have to destroy her to free Mellifera turned out to be wrong, and I was glad for that, but it definitely added a good bit of tension to the story for me, so that was a net plus.

The logic of the conclusion is brilliant. We know Emily can’t summon the missing volume, so when she summons all the books at once to take Rudolph out of action, the missing book has the be sitting alone on a shelf. Of course it’s very much in character for Emily to refuse to destroy it until she’s photographed the pages.

Finally, this is, for the most part, a happy, cheerful story, with great lines like when Emily learns how the Queen sleeps most of the time and her daughters have absolute power in their realms and she says, “Your system of government has some flaws.”

Con: Emily herself doesn’t change. She ends where she started, albeit with more authority than before; she hasn’t learned or developed or anything like that. Also, her victory comes at zero cost, which makes it seem less meaningful.

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