Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Broken Citadel, by Joyce Ballou Gregorian

I found this book because it had been spoken well of on various sites. It was cheap on Amazon, hence...

For some reason, it took me a few tries to get this book finished. I tried it first on a car trip, then again one night when I had the flu and couldn't sleep, unsuccessfully brought it to a retreat and didn't so much as crack the cover open, and finally read it all the way through it on this latest long drive.

This begins as one's basic crossover fantasy: a girl walking home from school enters an abandoned house, explores, and finds a window that opens onto a strange beach instead of the city. Being healthily curious, she steps through... into somewhere else entirely.
She joins a group of three who are traveling to rescue the daughter of the Deathless Queen from her imprisonment, but when Princess Dastra is freed, that only begins their problems. For it's been prophesied that the child of the Deathless Queen would be the one to cause her death...

The Broken Citadel is a beauty of a book, full of color and strangeness and wonder, legends and songs. Ms. Gregorian can write very passable poetry; there's one song that I actually have sung to myself, albeit on the night when I had the flu.
Unfortunately, the plot is not precisely fast-paced, which is likely why I took so long to read this book. There's certainly no lack of things happening, but they do not happen very fast or often.
Sibby is a sweet girl and a good one, though she isn't the most intriguing character. She's eleven and acts accordingly in the beginning, but matures believably as the book goes on.
This is a good book for the twelve-and-up crowd; there are some hazy mentions of things that might not be appropriate for younger ones. {a woman leaves her husband with another man, another one "marries" a man for a single day and a night, also some more allusions to topics of that nature - nothing nasty or indecent, and might be ignored entirely}

Points worth thinking about:

Sibby's realization near the end (ellipses, bold-print mine):

"You see, the trouble is, all I've ever really done is read... That's how I knew how to rescue you. People are always getting out of prison in adventure stories. It's my favorite kind of story. But none of it was real. My whole life was really stories. When I wasn't reading them or watching them, I was making them up in my head. And then I came here...I haven't read or watched anything, everything's really happened. And I haven't missed books at all...It's the first time I think I've ever really known people or done real things. And that's why it was my fault about _____....I kind of forgot it was real. In stories you never have to worry... I forgot it was real life, and now he's dead. Just because I forgot."

Uh, 'nuff said.

And the ending of the book - is this a "happy ending" or not?

This is an old book - 1975 - and there are two more in the series. I may get them if I see a good time to.

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