BOOK & BLOG
April 9, 2012
Books of the Week:
In Stacia Kane’s world, since the rising of the ghosts to kill humanity, the Church rules. The Church is remarkably like the church of the Pilgrims in dress and address, though the lack of shock at alternate sexual orientations and the prominence of women in its hierarchy argue a different mindset. Chess Putnam, a powerful witch trained by the Church – which rescued her from dreadful abuse – is both devoted to the Church and afraid of it, because she is a secret drug addict. Chess is also in love with a thug named Terrible, and his boss is her dealer. This doesn’t sound entertaining, does it? But it is, because Chess’s world is so multi-layered and her abilities are so strong. In this fourth entry in the Downside series, Chess’s dealer asks her to solve a really grisly murder, but inevitably the Church becomes involved, then a rival dealer and his children . . . and Chess’s life becomes unbearably full of pressure and choices. These books are refreshingly different from the general run of urban fantasy books.
I had started William Landay’s Defending Jacob the last time I wrote a Book & Blog, and I finished it a couple of days after. The ending was as shocking as I’d anticipated, and the protagonist (Jacob’s father, prosecutor Andy Barber) flounders his way toward it, trying desperately not to know the things he knows about himself and about his son Jacob. Jacob, 14, is charged with the murder of a classmate, and while Andy and his wife fight tooth and nail to find the truth that will free Jacob, Jacob himself remains an enigma to his parents. Defending Jacob raises a lot of uncomfortable questions about how well we really know our children, how quickly we forgot the secret world of teenagers, how much we don’t know about what our kids do when they’re out of our sight. An interesting book and a very good mystery.
There are times to say nothing. I didn’t believe this for many years. To me, words were so powerful that there was no situation that could not be improved by saying something or writing something.
You’ve probably all known a family that seems to have a target drawn on their front door. Troubles wing to their house like homing pigeons. The book of Job seems like part of their family album.
If you believe in prayer, that is the time for it. Fortunately for me, I do believe, so at least I can feel I’m accomplishing some good. That can leave you feeling you’ve tried but you haven’t accomplished anything concrete, if you’re a “Martha” by nature, as I am.
When we think of such awful circumstances, we can wonder how we would react if we had to walk that path. We hope we would be brave; we hope we would not crumble. We hope that we would see the catastrophe (whatever it may be) through to the end without bowing.
I think we’re the stronger for this imaginary exercise, the stronger for questioning ourselves. People who deny that the awful things can ever happen to them are far more likely to crumble. So maybe the power of words can help, at least in a way.
© 2012 Charlaine Harris