Sunday, November 20, 2005

Left Horse Black by S.J. Reisner

Left Horse Black had both pluses and minuses in my opinion, but that's reading as a writer and editor. My son Jacob read this book and he loved it. His first comment was, "where's the next one?" which is just what a writer wants to hear.

The book did not have a clear main character in the way I'm used to seeing, but rather had several characters share that role, each starting from a different place and slowly working themselves toward each other until they ended up in the same place. If you'd described the technique to me, rather than me reading it myself, I'd consider it unlikely to work. However, I found this method highly effective. Not only was I involved with the various characters, but also I didn't feel that any random secondary characters had stolen the lead. Rather, it was almost the way a group shares the point of view such as in the Narnia books, only these characters started a world away. I was impressed by how that all came together.

That said, two things bugged me. First, there were many places where I felt the editing could have been done better. As an editor myself, I'm more picky about such things than most, but I did see that as a failing. The second is that I've grown used to the standalone book. This is an expectation that came completely from me. The book is clearly labeled Book 1 and in no way promises a wrap up ending, so any disappointment that it left me at a cliffhanger is my own. However, if such an ending bugs you, this one has it. I saw ways that an interim ending could have been possible with what was presented. It just wasn't written in a way that treated the ending as conclusive; it felt like I had to wait for the next book to achieve the satisfaction of a plot gone full circle.

My overall impression though, despite my issues, was that Left Horse Black is a strong story. I enjoyed the piece of the tale contained within these pages and the characters that carried it along. While I felt the book showed signs of being a first novel (and I believe it is one), I also thought the writing was well done, sophisticated in some techniques and clearly strong enough to draw me in and keep me turning pages.

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