My quest for quality literature continues. And I think I may have found another winner. However he is a decidedly adult author, so I would heartily discourage the under 18 crowd from picking up any of his books.
(I know many of my readers are under 18...unfortunately I am an adult and I will be reviewing adult literature...my hope is that my service to you can be to point out which literature is appropriete for your age group, and which is probably not, a resource I know I have always appreciated but rarely was able to find)
The author is Orson Scott Card and the works I've read are "Women of Genesis: Rachel and Leah" and "Enchantment." Both I read in nearly record time - "Enchantment"'s 415 pages were completed in just about 6 hours.
Now usually when I read a book that fast, it is either very, very good, or very very light reading. Card's work so far lines up in the very very good lane. In fact, several times while reading "Enchantment" I paused, looked up, and said "this is brilliant."
What I appreciate about Card is that he is not afraid to dive into psychological and moral reasonings. His books have depth to them, and while they have good characters and plot, they carry questions to ponder as well as a story to entertain.
"Rachel and Leah," which was my introduction to Card, tells the story of Rachel, Leah, Zilpah and Bilhah in the camp of Laban. It examines what the relationship between these women might have been like, and how each of them may have fallen in love with Jacob. Because Card is a Mormon, he remains respectful of the source material.
In fact, so far I've appreciated the fact that Card is a Mormon. There are certain values that he has that I can rely on, that I would probably not find in a secular author. Don't get me wrong, Card's work is mainstream, meant (for the most part) for a secular audience. But he is not afraid to bring God and Judeism and Christianity into his work, which is something refreshing to find. So far one must look very hard to find traces of Mormon philosophy.
While I enjoyed "Rachel and Leah," "Enchantment" was the novel that really drew me in. It is a retelling of the old fairy tale "Sleeping Beauty" set amongst the people and folktales of the Ukraine...with a good dose of time travel to boot. It is the story of Ivan, a Russian whose family converted to Judeism in order to escape Communist Russia for America; and Katerina, a 9th century Christain princess fighting a deadly curse. Together Ivan and Katerina must fight the threat of the witch Baba Yaga and save both of their families from her threat.
It's a strange but intriguing blend of 20th and 9th centuries, of magic meeting science, of Judeism meeting Christianity, of violence meeting peace, of male meeting female.
It's a fascinating book, but an adult one. There's enough violence, dark magic and discussion of sex to make it definetely R-rated. And yet if you don't mind pushing past those elements, there are plenty of worthwhile things to find in this story.
At any rate, I'm determined to take a look at more of Card's novels and see if there is anything else as good as "Enchantment." I already know that he's written some horror stuff that I won't read because, well, I don't read horror. And some of the further out Sci-Fic won't interest me either. But he's a good author, and seems to have written a wide range of fiction, so I plan to do some searching. He certainly knows how to bring the right ingrediants together to make a fascinating story.