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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The Bone Doll's Twin

*** The Bone Doll's Twin by Lynn Flewelling. Fantasy.

I'm not sure what happened with this book. It came highly recommended, but my reaction was just "meh." In fact, the Amazon reviews are almost uniformly positive, and there are a lot of them (97 at the moment).

I don't mind being out of step with the majority, but it does make me look more closely, and I feel compelled to try to figure out why. I wonder if it's that most of the reviewers have read the entire trilogy, which, I assume, would make a big difference.

The Bone Doll's Twin begins with the birth of twins--one girl and one boy--to a princess. Because of a prophecy/curse that says the land will only prosper if a female descendent rules, the current king has been killing off all the royal baby girls. To fulfill this prophecy, a witch and a pair of wizards kill the baby boy and magically disguise the baby girl as her brother and call her Tobin.

Which drives the mother insane, and the dead child returns as a "demon."

The story follows Tobin as s/he grows, with the younger wizard and the witch keeping an eye on him, through the death of his mother, and his father, his introduction to his cousin's court--the current heir to the throne, until Tobin learns the truth, and then... it abruptly stops.

It is an interesting character study, I suppose, mostly of Tobin and her brother, but there wasn't much surprising, and there was very little in the way of actual plot. It's a very slow-moving story, as well, and not in a lush, dense way--more like a heavily padded YA story, except for the slightly gratuitous and almost creepily un-sensual sex.

A lot of the reviews cited the unusual magic, but I'm having trouble seeing that. Maybe I'm jaded, but it didn't seem all that unusual or all that well described. A lot of other reviews praised it for not being George R. R. Martin or LKH, which is undoubtedly true, but I can't like it just for that.

Mostly, it seems like a one-trick pony. A girl in a boy's body. Everything else in the book is there to support that concept. It's interesting, but not nearly enough to carry a 500+ page book for me. I won't be looking for the sequel.


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