My “date” was Cast in Shadow by Michelle Sagara. Up front, the book looks like urban fantasy, but it’s more like a high fantasy in an urban setting. The characters fight with daggers and swords, there’s a lot of unexplained (and inexplicable magic), and dragons who manage to look like people. The story follows Kaylin, a young woman who fled a terrible past as an orphan living on the streets to become a “Hawk,” a sort of spy for her world’s Lords of Law. We discover that the murders of the children surrounding her were actually a ritual to give her some power we never fully understand…
And that’s all I’ll give away.
Honestly, I was befuddled by the whole book. It seemed to aspire to portray a world like that of Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn series, but never felt as fully realized as Sanderson’s work. So much of the book was spent with characters denying Kaylin (and thus the reader) information that I really had no clue why I should care about any of it.
Anyway, it got me wondering: How do we select the books we read? I require several recommendations or a recommendation from someone whose taste I trust before I’ll pick up something that doesn’t appeal to me on its own immediate merits. I’ve gotten a lot more discerning over the years, mostly because I have so many books I want to read that I can’t finish a book that just isn’t working for me.
Maybe someone who doesn’t know me at all can’t recommend a book I’ll like. Back on Valentine’s Day, I nominated Possession by A. S. Byatt for some poor soul’s blind date. I adore the book, and it’s not even fantasy. I suspect it’s beloved by only a certain subset of the population, and I further suspect that subset has all studied literary theory. Was it cruel of me to recommend a pretty heavy read to a random blog reader?
What do you think, readers? Can a completely random book set-up work for you? Ever gotten a blind recommendation you loved? How do you choose the books you read?