Monday, December 30, 2013

City of Night: How long can you make me cry over the upcoming death of a character?

City of Night by Michelle West (The House War Book 2 of 5?): He's not dead yet, so you know that each page you read brings you closer to the monster at the end of this book, er, the death of an increasingly complex and beloved character or two, but you can't stop reading because you have to know what happened, to honor their deaths, rendered more full and significant and important here in this series.  Oh, the agony. 

I think one of my favorite things here is the way the events in Hunter's Death are expanded on so beautifully.  Not only are events from that book seen from other points of view, but the spaces between them are filled in by new characters and detailed scenes that you only realize were missing when you read them.  This kind of technique takes some serious skill. 

When I was reading Hunter's Death, there were no missing pieces; everything was crafted and fit together to advance the narrative.  Sure, I wanted more details about all the awesome characters, but that was because they were awesome and multi-dimensional, not because there were holes in the plot or the story.  When I read this book, the addition of characters who never made an appearance in Hunter's Death didn't feel tacked on (and doesn't make Hunter's Death seem cagey and manipulatively selective); they just felt whole for the current story being told, which, while it does have some parallel time covered with Hunter's Death, is not the same story.  I hope I am conveying just how difficult this sort of seamless interweaving is.  If not, sorry.  Because it's incredibly tricky and managed here seemingly effortlessly.

Oh, Rath.  You are one of my favorite kinds of protagonists: the ones who think they are scummier than they really are, the kind so damaged they can't really allow themselves to acknowledge that they might be doing great things for good reasons, the sort who don't share these deeds with the people they care for because they would hate for those people to think well of them.  It hurt so bad to get to know you, and it was a privilege.

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