Lately I feel like I’m always on a hunt for more light-hearted books. I’m not sure when that became a hard thing to find? I’ve had some interesting reads in the last few weeks, but it’s been…mixed in terms of the tone!
As Old as Time by Liz Braswell sounded brilliant, a Disney-sponsored novel with a twist on their Beauty and the Beast movie (they have a whole series, in fact). The first twist was that Belle’s mother was the enchantress who cursed the Beast, and the second twist was that Belle accidentally destroys the enchanted rose, making the curse much worse. There were good parts to this, but…! Too much of it was almost word for word retelling the Disney movie, and then when it diverged we somehow plunged off into an insane asylum where some seriously creepy torture is going on, which sat…very weirdly in a Disney movie-inspired book! You don’t expect lobotomies in a Disney story! I also thought the romance got very little attention, so that when Belle’s father eventually remarks that Belle and the Beast are “obviously” in love…it was really, really not obvious.
After that unexpectedly dark book, I figured TJ Klune was the way to go – he’s my newest favorite author and everything I’ve read by him has been funny and insightful and lovely. I really should have read the plot description more closely, however, when I picked up Under the Whispering Door…considering the main character dies at the beginning of the book, and it’s all about him coming to terms with his life – and afterlife. It has a happy ending and some light moments throughout, but…the heaviest I’ve read from Klune for sure!
But I knew I could rely on Terry Pratchett, so I went on to Thief of Time…which features Death’s granddaughter as a major character. But I really can rely on Pratchett, so even though this was one of his more philosophical books, it was pretty light-hearted too, and Death’s granddaughter, Susan, is a wonderful character.
My reading of Huston Smith’s The World’s Religions got me intrigued by Hindu mythology, so I read Palace of Illusions by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, focused on Panchaali and her marriage to the five Pandava brothers. It was very interesting, but also massive in its scope. It was a good book, but it would have been a really excellent five book series, with more space to devote to its many, many events.
And that brings me up to my latest read, Paladin’s Grace by T. Kingfisher. After so many unexpectedly dark books, I was legitimately thrilled to stumble onto an unexpectedly light one. The main character is Stephen, a paladin whose god has died. He doesn’t see much use in going on except from a sense of duty, until he meets Grace, a perfumer. Sounds grim – but the tone is delightful! There’s a wry sense of humor here, a nice poking of fun at too much solemnity, and the character depiction is lovely. After Grace meets Stephen, she doesn’t remember very clearly what he looks like, but she vividly remembers how he smells–because she’s a perfumer. I cannot tell you how much I love that character detail. They go on to investigate a murder (two, in fact) so there really are some grim notes, but the overall tone was wonderful.
That covers my recent books – what have you been reading lately?