Sunday, December 9, 2012

Review of Thirds, part of Bonded, by Michelle Davidson Argyle

Having read Michelle's self-published version of Cinders when it first came out, and having heard her read part of Scales at a reading at The King's English, I opted to read Thirds as the first one of this new trilogy.
I must say that I had never even heard of the Grimm Brothers' original tale, "One Eye, Two Eyes, Three Eyes," before, so I liked that Michelle had selected something so relatively unknown.
Her writing is beautiful; it flows like music.  She creates a world of forests and freezing rains, of gardens and magic, of elves and humans so well that it all seems logical here.  Really, if one enjoys fairy tales, Thirds should be read solely for the beauty of it.
Traditionally, fairy tales, however, reward the good characters and punish the bad, which is both predictable and satisfying.  Michelle departs abruptly from this, which I find both refreshing and disturbing at the same time.
At the end of Thirds, Issina's (the protagonist) horrifically abusive mother and sisters are forgiven of their torture of her.  She finds she needs their power to access her own, and she is assured that they love her in spite of all they have done to her.
As a plot twist, this is unexpected and fun.  But as a philosophy, it's harmful.  (Her family beats her, starves her, and heaps emotional harm upon her for 16 years; this is NOT love.)  Thus, I was both intrigued and repelled by the end of the tale.  (Note: Issina has a lot of victim mentality after a lifetime of abuse, so it might not have been in keeping with her character for her to extract revenge on her tormentors, but she might have just left them to start a fresh new life and heal herself.  In the Grimms' version of this tale, for example, Two-Eyes, the abused protagonist, does not harm her family, but she is able to leave them behind and go off with a handsome, rich knight who marries her.  Years later, her nasty sisters have been punished by fate and are reduced to being beggars.  Since they've learned their lesson, Two-Eyes treats them kindly, but she now has power over them and they cannot hurt her anymore.)  At any rate, it is interesting and unusual, although I certainly wouldn't recommend the tale to anyone who would internalize the sentiment without thinking deeply about it.
However, to anyone who can analyze this idea as part of writing instead of taking it to heart as words to live by, I would suggest this book, for, as I mentioned above, it is beautifully written.  Thus, simply put: This book is a big YES for critical thinkers who love beautiful writing and fairy tales.  It's a big NO for anyone who seriously believed that Edward Cullen would have made a good boyfriend.

As soon as I can finish my TBR pile from the library and read a couple of other books needed for school, I'll read more of this trilogy of novellas.

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