Tuesday, September 21, 2010
This book was written before A Stir of Bones, but it takes place after the events recounted there. I read A Stir of Bones first, which worked out well, but any order would work. The story centers on a a young woman named Matt, short for Matilda, who has an unusual ability to hear and communicate with man-made objects. This ability has driven her to a marginalized place in society, in which she wanders around, homeless, but she finds a sort of peace in it, listening to objects, and sometimes helping them out. The book opens as Matt is sitting on a bench in a cemetery when something strange happens. A man steps out of the ivy-covered stone wall next to her.
Matt is understandably startled and a bit frightened, but she speaks with the man, shares some of her sandwich with him. It isn't his strangeness that starts her running away; it's the fact that he is kind, and that she finds herself liking him. She doesn't allow herself to come close to people anymore, but there's something about Edmund that gets under her skin. When she calms down enough to spend some time with him, it seems as though they've been brought together for some kind of purpose. They start off together on a journey full of revelation and, perhaps, the possibility of redemption.
The pace is leisurely; things reveal themselves slowly and take their own time, just as Matt's developing relationship with Edmund does. I enjoyed that. Breakneck roller-coaster plots are fun, but so is a delicious unveiling of a story, full of sensuous details and an offbeat, quirkiness that kept me smiling and turning the pages. I love Matt's "dream eyes," which she uses to view the world around her and commune with objects. As someone who secretly believes her car has a personality and thought processes of its own, I immensely enjoyed Matt's conversations with Edmund's car. It was also delightful to return to the House from A Stir of Bones - it is definitely one of my favorite houses in literature - or should I say one of my favorite ghosts?
What a wonderful book! I was so sorry when it was over. There is apparently a sequel, Past the Size of Dreaming, which I received as a gift along with this book. Sadly, my library does not own either - but I'm so glad I own them, because I already know I will be reading this again. The world in this book is one that I look forward to returning to. I love the poetic writing, the vivid imagery, and the way in which Hoffman manages to make the inexplicable plain and believable. Fans of Charles de Lint would definitely enjoy this one.
A Red Heart of Memories by Nina Kiriki Hoffman (Ace Books, 1999)
Source: My own personal bookshelf
Also reviewed at:
Book Log: "Big ole fangirl. Like it so much I can hardly talk about it."
The Good, the Bad, and the Unread: "I like this kind of urban fantasy. I don’t need kick-ass chicks who fight bad guys without ruining their nail polish. I just need a quiet sense of wonder and some small, personal magic in order to make the story one I’ll enjoy."
Kristi's Cup of Tea: "It was very real. But somehow it lost focus somewhere half way through."