Oh, The Horror, Part 2

And now, back to the scary scary stuff! Woohoo!

Actually, probably not so scary by most people’s standards, but I’m returning to the list  of movies that have scared *me,* one way or another, through the years.

And for the sake of complete honesty, I’ll start with a couple that aren’t actually so awfully horrifying. In fact, they’re more funny than scary, but I enjoyed them just the same. “Tremors” and “Army of Darkness.” Both of these are gory, but they’re just so damn gleeful that it’s impossible to take them seriously. Another one along the same lines is “Shaun of the Dead,” which gave me the giggles but gave my daughter the serious creeps and she refuses to watch it again. So your mileage may vary on these. Oh, and “The Frighteners,” a very early Peter Jackson movie that’s light on the horror and heavier on the silly.

* The Stand, 1994. The is the TV miniseries version, but I think they got it pretty well. “The Stand,” the book, scared the beejeezus out of me the first time I read it and still does. The opening scenario of the experimental flu virus that “gets loose” is enough to keep me awake at nights, moreso now than ever.

* Prophecy, 1995. I first watched this because it’s a Viggo movie. Hey, I’m not too proud to admit it. But it’s kinda grown on me. It has some of my favorite angels ever, both good and bad. And the best Lucifer on film, and I don’t say that  just because it’s Viggo. LOL He’s creepy in an entirely different way than I’d ever imagined, and I like to be surprised.

* The Craft, 1996. This one’s a guilty pleasure. I only watched it to see if they got anything at all about the Craft correct, and the answer is, not so much. But it’s kinda fun watching girls wreak havoc. Hey,  I never said I wasn’t shallow. 😀

* From Dusk Til Dawn, 1996. You will believe George Clooney and Harvey Keitel, of all people, can fight vampires. And you will believe that Santanico Pandemonium could turn the straightest of  straights into something more… open-minded.

* American History X, 1998, while not technically a horror movie, is one of the most horrifying things I’ve ever watched.  It made me queasy and I felt like somebody had been punching me in the gut when it was over. I honestly can’t recommend it, but I think everybody in the United States should be forced to watch it. How’s that for a mixed signal?

* The Ring, 2002. I honestly can’t believe I watched this. This is the one with the drippy chick in the well, right? It was more or less a BOO movie. I guess I just expected more from Naomi Watts, an actress I generally enjoy. I guess if you had to remake this, you’d have to do it with haunted DVDs, right?

* Dark Water, 2005. This one gets no love, basically. But I thought it was quite creepy, my favorite kind of scary movie. And well acted, by Jennifer Connelly, John C. Reilly and Tim Roth.

* The Exorcism of Emily Rose, 2005. I really enjoyed this one because it’s set up unlike anything you’d expect. It focuses on the lawyer hired to represent a priest accused  of negligent homicide because of the death of a young woman during an exorcism. During the course of the trial, the story of the girl’s problems and the attempted exorcism is revealed. The priest is played by Tom Wilkinson, a fine British actor, and his lawyer is played by Laura Linney. Good movie.

* Bug, 2006. Yeah, now this one is creepy and unnerving. Ashley Judd and some dude I don’t remember are a sort of odd couple stuck together in a cheap motel room. He’s a war vet and she’s just sad and lonely. And then there’s a bug infestation. Or maybe there isn’t. Maybe it’s real, or maybe it’s a shared hallucination, but either way it’s entirely claustrophobic and unnerving to watch.

* The Host, 2006. A Korean horror movie with subtitles  that’s kinda entertaining but I didn’t see what the big deal was.

* Silence of the Lambs. Watch it. I can say no more.

* I Am Legend, 2006. The second half of this movie devolves into a fairly standard monster  movie, but the first half is possibly the best, most moving, most affecting depiction of the mental and emotional devastation of loneliness I’ve ever seen. Highly recommended.

* The Orphanage, 2007. A Spanish movie about ghosts that is truly disturbing. At least I thought so. But then, I also loved  the Nicole Kidman movie “The Others,” so take it however you want.

* Sweeney Todd, 2007. Okay, technically it’s a musical rather than a horror movie, but come on… murderer upstairs and chick making meat pies out of his victims downstairs. That’s pretty awful, I’d say. And hey, Johnny Depp can sing. Who knew?

* Let the Right One In, 2008, the Swedish original. Very haunting. Very disturbing. The U.S. remake in 2010, “Let Me In,” is also good, but I recommend the original.

* The Road, 2009. A man tries to keep himself and, especially, his young son, alive in a post-apocalyptic world as they search for some remnant of civilization. Based on Cormac McCarthy’s devastating novel, this movie is just as wrenching. I highly recommend it, but not  when you’re depressed already.

* Testament, 1983. I saved this one for last because it might be the one that has haunted me the most of all the scary movies I’ve seen. “Testament” is the story of a family trying to hold together and survive in the aftermath of a nuclear tragedy.  If you’ve ever been tempted to dismiss the horrifying aftermath of nuclear fallout (say, for instance, you watched the TV show “Jericho,” which I enjoyed but boy did they sugarcoat the reality of nuclear aftermath), this movie will change your mind forever. I personally think this should be required viewing in every high school. But that’s just my opinion.

Now, tell me what I missed! 😀

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Piecemeal

I have turquoise paint on my fingertips and that makes me strangely happy.

Random bits and pieces today. Tomorrow I’ll return with the rest of the horror movie list.

* A year ago, I joined Curves. I was doing really well at exercising three times a week until around Thanksgiving. I tend to lose focus at the holidays. Maybe it’s SAD or something. Whatever. Was just getting out of it when January and February hit with one vacation trip, three cases of random “itis,” a month of deafness from ear infection, followed by the death of my father-in-law and one of my husband’s aunts, the near-fatal choking of a brother-in-law, and to cap it all off, my daughter’s special white cat, which she’s had for 14 years or so, had to be put down. Sheesh.

So, back to Curves. One bit of good news among all this stress was that I did my one-year check with Curves, and even with missing three months at the end of the year, I lost 18 pounds and 18 inches over the year. So go me, right? Yeah, I think so. And I’ll try to do better this year.

* My husband’s been playing David Bowie music for the past several days, as part of a thing he’s doing for an online group. And I’m reminded of how much I really liked Bowie. I liked that he never got in a rut. I liked that he was always willing to re-invent himself rather that be bored or boring.

I admire that. Wish I had the guts to re-invent myself now and then.

Also, I have a shameless love for “A Space Oddity.” I managed to get into into the uber-Christian house somehow, as a 45, and played it over and over in my room. It was like watching a movie. For many years, that was the only David Bowie performance I ever heard, and I’ll always love it. Ground Control to Major Tom…

* Thanks for the scary movie recommendations. One I’ve wanted to see for quite a while is “Cape Fear.”  Glad it sounds as good and creepy as I thought.

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Oh, the Horror! Part 1

I like scary movies. Sometimes. Some kinds of scary movies. I’ve been thinking about movies that I actually found scary, and it’s not as many as you might think.

First, here’s how I categorize scary movies:

1 – The “BOO” movie. These are the ones that count on surprising you to make you jump. You know those horrible videos that make the rounds on the internet, where you’re told to watch something harmless “VERY” closely and you’ll see some small thing, like an animal or a ghost or whatever? So you’re watching closely and suddenly some awful monster image shrieks into the screen and scares the bejeezus out of you? That’s a BOO scare.

I hate those. If I think it’s nothing but a BOO movie, I  won’t watch it.

2 – The Gross-Out movie. These are the movies that count on gore, death, gory death, close-ups of mutilations and gory tortures and the like and call it scary. No. Not scary. Gross and disgusting, yes. Vomitous, yes. I’m looking at you, “Saw” and “Hostel” and all your kin. Those things aren’t horror movies, they’re just sickening.

If I think it’s a gross-out movie, I won’t watch it.

Which leaves 3 – the Scary Movie. I define scary as something that involves tension, characters I care about, an element of creepiness or the unexplainable, and something that makes me want to hide behind a pillow or watch between my fingers.

Before I move on into the movies, I have a confession to make. I’ve never seen a movie that scared me as much as two short stories have. If you want to understand what real horror is, I recommend “It’s a Good Life,” by Jerome Bixby and “I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream” by Harlan Ellison.

The first movie I can remember  being really scared by was the 1941 “Wolfman.” When I was just a little girl, it was showing on TV one day. All I remember is  hiding behind my Uncle Dock on the couch and being scared.

In 1958, “The Blob” showed in one of the theaters in Amory (yes, there were more than one back then). My Mom and my Aunt Bob went to see it and they took me and my two-years-older cousin with them. I would have been about 3 at the time, and all I remember from that was being scared and hiding under my Mom’s legs. Oh, and the theater floor was really sticky. Some things never change.

The next movie I can remember really being terrified by wasn’t technically a horror movie at all. Sometime in the early ’60s I saw on TV the 1953 version of “The Great Houdini,” starring Tony Curtis. I was so totally freaked out by his magic tricks and especially the thought of being trapped underwater that I had nightmares for weeks. That was weird.

After that came a long dry spell of uber-religiousity and no movies except what made it onto TV. I learned to love Alfred Hitchcock and found “Lifeboat,” “Rear Window” and “The Birds” to be nicely chilling. The first horror movie I saw on the big screen after that was “Halloween” in 1978. Holy cow. I was scared witless! I still think the original “Halloween” is the scariest of that whole bunch and never needed to be remade. I saw “Halloween” in Cincinnati on a weekend night when flash flooding was slamming the area and my friends and I had to drive back to West Virginia in the foggy rain in the middle of the night after watching “Halloween.” Yeah, it was a seminal experience. LOL

The next year, I was so terrified by the TV ads for “Alien” that I had nightmares and was afraid to go see the movie itself. When I finally worked up the nerve, it was, in fact, scary as all get-out. I still find it scary, and  I’ve probably seen it four times now. Just for the fun of it,  here’s  a list of movies I’ve found worthy of being called a “scary movie.”

* The Shining, until the end when it did something so different from the book that it jarred me entirely out of the mood.

* The Thing (1982), which has a wonderful tense and paranoid feeling going on until the special effects monkeys got out of the box and spoiled it with silly monsters.

* Freaks, directed by Tod Browning, 1932. “One of us, one of us…”

* Invasion of the Body Snatchers, 1956. I think this one is more or less a perfect horror movie. No monsters. No explosions. No gore. Just sheer nail-biting tension and queasy fear.

* Village of the Damned, 1960. Who could watch those sinister all-alike children and not be creeped out?

* The Innocents, 1961. Arguably the best ghost story movie ever made. Based on “The Turn of the Screw.”

* Carnival of Souls, 1962. I only saw this movie last year for the first time, and I have to say that it’s weird and creepy. It probably wouldn’t be scary or surprising to a contemporary movie fan, but for its time it was out there. Way out there.

* The Haunting, 1963. Based on Shirley Jackson’s classic “The Haunting of Hill House,” this movie still has power to scare the pants off the unwary. It was remade sometime in the ’90s, I think, but that version is wretched. The original still holds power to mesmerize, to draw you in and leave you as heart-thumping terrified as the unfortunate people who come to stay in a haunted house. This would still go on my list of Top Ten Scariest Movies Ever.

* Scariest movie I never saw: “Night of the Living Dead.” When it came out in 1968, I didn’t want to be anywhere near it. One of my cousins, who was just a bit older than me, went to see it and then told me the whole thing! Aaaargh! So I got the nightmares without even seeing the movie. Still haven’t seen it. Probably never will.

* The Wicker Man, 1973. The makers battled studios and everyone to get this made the way they wanted it, and it’s a creepy masterpiece. Do NOT be fooled by the remake with Nicholas Cage. *shudder* “The Wicker Man” depicts a modern man running headlong into an ancient and isolated way of life, and it remains eerie, with a surprising, maybe even shocking, ending.

* Carrie, 1976. Needless to say, this one hit a little too close to home for a chick who grew up in an uber-religious setting. Man, did I feel for Carrie. Her rage was frighteningly cathartic.

* The Omen, 1976. “All for you, Damien!” Need I say more? This one has a bit more  gore than is absolutely necessary, but it’s fairly easy to see it coming and close your eyes.

* An American Werewolf in London, 1980. This one is a bit more gory than I like, but it carries it off with such wit and charm that it’s impossible not to like it. And really good music. 😀

* Poltergeist, 1982. The tree. Need I say more? Okay. The clown doll. Yeah. Go calm down. I’ll wait here for you.

* Cujo, in 1983, reminded me anew that I was terrified of big  dogs. Dammit, Stephen King, that was not necessary!

* Aliens, 1986. Ripley in the orange mecha suit facing down the queen monster.  I’m not sure I’ve ever felt so empowered as by that scene. And I love Ripley, totally.

* Prison. A 1988 haunted prison movie that I bet you’ve never even heard of. I wouldn’t have either, except that my crazed fandom of Viggo Mortensen drove me to search it out. It’s a decent scary movie, directed by Renny Harlin.

* Jacob’s Ladder, 1990. One of the rare movies that affect me and my husband equally strongly. We couldn’t even talk after it was over, just walked out to the car in a daze and drove… somewhere… in a daze. Emotionally wrenching, the exterior horror elements of demons and whatnot never overpower the interior horror that the main cast members are going through. Another for my Top Ten list.

* The same year, “Misery.” Kathy Bates is awesomely terrifying as the “very best fan” of a stranded writer. *shudder*

* The Reflecting Skin, 1990. This post-World War II story twines the stories of a younger brother who’s become fascinated by the idea of vampires and an older brother who’s home from the Pacific following the deaths of their parents. Child abuse, vampirism, lonely love and the aftermath of bombing in the Pacific mingle to make an eerie, tragic story. Hard to find. This is another Viggo movie.

* The Kingdom. This was released  as an eight-part TV series in Denmark in 1994. Directed by Lars Von Trier, it’s eccentric, haunting, funny, terrifying … everything you could want from a horror movie. If you can, watch the Danish original. There was an American remake later, with Stephen King, and while it’s okay I find it’s not nearly a effective as the original. Even with subtitles.

Ooops, out of time. Will finish this later, maybe  tomorrow.

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Hey Hey, We’re the Fundies!

I spent the formative years of my life being forced to attend, a minimum of three times every week, a church that was so far right it believed that Southern Baptists were evil, liberal heathens. Yeah, you read that right.

Ever heard of Bob Jones University? We believed that fine institution was too liberal.

No kidding. It was an evangelical, premillenial, independent Baptist church. Theologically and socially, it was somewhere to the right of Rick Santorum. This week, when I was thinking about the lessons I learned from The Monkees, I also pondered the lessons I learned in church. It wasn’t all bad. There were some truly sweet people and at least three people that I actually considered to be Christians. But the lessons I learned from all those years in the fundamentalist tent have haunted me ever since.

* Obey authority without question. All authority. Always.

* Do what you’re told.

* Don’t ask questions. (This was a big one.)

* Accept your fate.

* Do what you’re told.

* Any personal dreams or hopes you might have don’t  matter.

* Movies and TV are godless and Satanic, but it’s perfectly okay for preachers to deliver sermons that cause nightmares for weeks. Yes, this happened, more than once. The one I *still* have nightmares about now and then is the one where communists arrest my mom and make me watch while they stick needles in her eyes and nails in her ears. Yes, this was a sermon. I was maybe 10 or 11 years old.

* Do what you’re told.

* The best sermons/testimonials are the ones where the person spends 9/10s of the time talking about their lives of sin, in detail, and then wrap it up with a little bit of praise God I got saved. Those were almost as good as TV/movies.

* It’s possible for a preacher to break my Daddy’s heart.

* “Mean Girls” have nothing on Christian girls.

* Do what you’re told.

* Two-faced is normal.

* Sly hypocrisy and underhanded meanness are apparently Christian acts.

* Do what you’re told.

I was about 25 years old before I finally managed to break free of that quicksand horseshit, and it’s the reason I’m as liberal as I am today. I’m not anti-Christian: I just don’t see many of them around. I just see way too many hypocritical Pharisees.

In some ways, I miss church. It’s nice having that church family around. But I won’t go there again. Until I find a church that preaches love, compassion and acceptance, I won’t be darkening any church doors. I doubt that God minds. If He does, She’s never mentioned it to me and we talk all the time.

Hey Hey, I’m Free!

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Hey Hey We’re the Monkees!

The out-of-the blue death of Davy Jones this week got me thinking about The Monkees and how much I loved them. I did. Still do. Had a major crush on Peter, but I thought they were all terrific. Davy, in fact, was my least favorite Monkee, at least until I found out he’d been a jockey.

More love.

The Monkees were a formative part of my youth. Such “radical” music as Dylan, Marley or The Beatles would never have been allowed in our house, but The Monkees came across as silly and harmless, except for their long hair and music, and I was able to sneak them under the parental radar. I just about wore out my Monkees albums and had every song memorized. I still remember an amazing number of them, all these years later.

But in retrospect, I realized that I learned some pretty important things from the Monkees. Herewith, my list.

* You can always choose to laugh.

* Puns are an acceptable form of humor; the more groan-y the better.

* If you say rebellious things with a smile, you’re more likely to get away with it.

* Take the chances that come to you. If they’re not perfect, so what? Make changes. If you can’t make changes, watch for the next chance and move on.

* Stand up for your own integrity.

* War is a losing – and a loser’s – game.

* Ask questions.

* Defy authority.

* Don’t take any of it too seriously.

* Follow your own path.

Maybe these don’t seem like much to you, but to me they were absolutely radical ideas. And I loved them. Love them. Hey hey…

 

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Kickstarter

In an attempt to raise enough money to rent space for my writing workshops, maybe advertise them a little, and print up a small booklet of some of the resulting writing, I’ve signed up to try and start a project on Kickstarter.com. No idea how it will work or if it will work, but I really miss teaching and I don’t have the money it will take to schedule the workshops. I’ve got the money I made from selling hats at the Windows Market, but less taxes and charity and existing expenses, there’s not enough for the workshops.

So maybe this Kickstarter thing will work. I figure nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?

Oh, and also … I’m giving my Freedom manuscript one more thorough onceover, and after the first of the year I plan to start sending it out. Feel free to send me any good wishes you have lying around unused.

 

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Mining for Craft

So there was a really interesting prompt after I posted yesterday, and I thought man, I’m gonna write about that. But of course I forgot to write it down and now I can’t remember what it was. Sheesh.

Which leads me to the current game that is eating much of my brain space: Minecraft. A year ago, I’d never heard of it. Six months ago, I’d barely heard of it. Now…

Well, now I’m addicted. It’s like Legos for grownups, with a whole world made of blocks of various kinds that you can build with, dig through, explore, manipulate … it’s more fun than a head full of hair!

Especially since I play it on the “Peaceful” setting, which means I don’t have to worry about bandits and zombies and things that go BOOM! I don’t like those things.

For me, the perfect game just lets me explore and maybe monkey around with things a little bit, and that’s what Minecraft offers. I love it.

If you don’t like games that require a fast twitch response and just enjoy meandering around and building – and shearing sheep and arguing with chickens, but that’s another story ;D – I highly recommend Minecraft. No, I didn’t create it, nor am I getting any payment for this plug. It just makes me laugh, and I like to share things that make me happy.

www.minecraft.net

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Be Quiet!

I  was five years old when I started school. There was no such thing as kindergarten in rural Mississippi back then, so thanks to my December birthday I started first grade at age five. To be honest, I don’t remember much about first grade, but I do remember two things.

One, at some point I was given a printed-out copy of a drawing of a Scottie dog to color. With due diligence, I colored said Scottie perfectly, completely black … with a red collar. I recall someone – new teacher? mom? – saying something along the lines of “That’s not very cheerful.” To which I replied, more or less, “It’s a Scottie dog. They’re black.” This continued for a bit with comments about bright colors and comments about yes, but it’s a Scottie dog and they’re black.

I would not be moved.

So that’s the first thing I remember from first grade. I had a tendency to be stubborn and could be argumentative. And I knew, dang it, that Scottie dogs were black.

The second thing I remember from first grade is that I got in trouble a fair amount, and always for the same thing – talking.

Don’t talk.

Be quiet.

Stop talking.

Sit in the hall until I say you can come back in.

Give me your hand (for the ruler swat).

Always about talking. I made perfect grades, did whatever I was told, was a class leader, read all the time, but still played sports on the playground at recess. But I liked to talk, and it kept me in trouble through my whole first year’s encounter with formal education.

At some point in that first-grade year, I decided that talking just wasn’t worth the trouble, so I shut up. I didn’t really speak in school much for the next 12 years. I wrote. I talked to my cat, and to my short-term dog. I talked to myself, while wandering the fields and woods around my home. But I didn’t talk in school.

Talking has always been my Achilles’ heel. I like to talk with people. It made me a pretty decent reporter, and a more than okay teacher, but it just keeps me in trouble with people who don’t talk much.

I talk too much. I blab on. I babble.

So I’m told, even now. Guess it’s time to shut up again, and start writing it all down. And talking to the dog. Heck, I can get a fake ear-phone-thingie and talk to myself even in public, and nobody will think I’m some kind of lunatic.

Yeah, that’s the ticket. Be quiet.

Thanks.

 

P.S. Scottie dogs ARE black, dang it. And I’ve colored outside the lines ever since. So there. 😀

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Laying Low

One thing I really hate is when I hit those pockets of life in which nothing I do is right. I’m sure you know what I mean.

It’s those days, weeks, months when everything you do is just slightly off, seems just slightly irritating to those around you. If you’re quiet, you’re too quiet. If you talk, you talk too much. If you try to remain calm, you’re apparently sad. If you give in to exuberance, you’re embarrassing. And worst of all, it’s all in your own head. Not like anybody’s actually saying any of these things.

But it makes existence … odd. I suspect others back away to give me space, and then I feel isolated.

Y’know what? I’m just a mess, and need to stop thinking about this stuff. Here’s some actual factual things:

* I got myself apparently banned from our governor-elect’s Facebook page, and I didn’t even use any bad language. I just kept asking when he’s going to apologize for basically calling me a minion of Satan. Guess he doesn’t like the question. Guess I’d better keep asking it at every juncture.

* Finally reading “Guns, Germs and Steel,” thanks to the Amazon lending library, and finding it fascinating. Right now pondering the issue of disease from the point of view of the disease microbe. Very very interesting.

* Recently read “The Blacksmith’s Daughter,” a first novel by a very dear friend, and enjoyed it greatly. You can find it at Amazon. Also read “The Whip” by Karen Kondazian, on the recommendation of Jim Beaver, and really liked it. It’s a novel written by a screenplay writer, so it reads like a movie, but it’s based on the real life of Charlotte “Charley” Parkhurst, who lived as a man and a stagecoach driver in Goldrush-era California. Nobody knew she was a woman until after she died.

* Been making lots of hats and suchlike lately, which means I’ve been watching lots of movies/TV. Saw “Rio Bravo,” with John Wayne and Dean Martin. Reminded me of why I had such a huge crush on Dean Martin back in the day. Watched “Dark Knight” again, and renewed my admiration for the spectacular creepiness of Heath Ledger’s Joker. Watched (thanks, streaming Netflix!) “The Trouble with Angels,” which I hadn’t seen in at least 30 years. It holds up amazingly well, all things considered, and reminded me why I basically idolized Hayley Mills as a youngster.

All these things are quiet, and quiet is a good thing for me to be right now. Quiet and non-bothersome. And keep many of my opinions to myself. It all works out better that way.

 

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Review: The Blacksmith’s Daughter

First, I enjoyed this book, which is available as an ebook through MUSA/Euterpe and also through Amazon.

Second, I’ve known the author literally since she was born, and count her as a dear friend. Just to get that out there in the front of anything else.

That said, “The Blacksmith’s Daughter” is as good a fantasy first novel as any I’ve read in a while. Fantasy novels have certain things going for them, or against them, depending on personal preference. They have a fair amount of backstory/world-building to do before they can get deep into the story. Anybody who’s ever read Tolkien knows that this has been a challenge all the way since the Big Daddy First Fantasy to Rule Them All, The Hobbit/Lord of the Rings. If you’re the kind of person who loves to dive head-first into a new world, with unusual names and unheard-of places and Important People you need to learn and remember early on, then you’re already comfortable with reading fantasy and won’t have any problem with all these things.

If you’re not accustomed to it, you’ll find that the Prologue is a strenuous chew. But hang in there, all will come clear and you’ll find that you needed to know all that prologue.

About midway through chapter one, “The Blacksmith’s Daughter” really hits its stride and from there on out, there’s plenty of plot to pull the reader though the occasional bit of necessary fill-in.

“The Blacksmith’s Daughter” hovers on an edge between standard fantasy, mild romance, and the Young Adult category the publishers have chosen to put it in. While many of the tropes in the story are fairly standard fantasy, none of them comes across as cookie-cutter. The pint-sized heroine is great fun, unexpected and full of twisty quirks, unusual strengths and a quiet competence not often seen in fantasy females. I love that not only is she a blacksmith’s daughter, she’s a blacksmith herself.

Oddly, the main hero character engaged me the least. He was certainly fine, but nothing really sets him apart. The main hero’s long-time best friend is far more interesting a character. I’ll be keeping an eye out for him if and when the promised sequel comes along!

All-told, “The Blacksmith’s Daughter” provides everything a reader could want from a fantasy novel: Engaging main characters, entertaining secondary characters, wizardly wizards, icky bad guys, sword play and magic. And about that magic: I’m really hard on magical systems in books and movies, because so often it’s misused as an abrupt deus ex machina. Wave your arms and make everything sparkly and fixed: That kind of magic. So I’m pleased to report that the magic in “The Blacksmith’s Daughter” has clearly been well thought out and has sane uses and limitations. Thanks, Arley, for that gift.

In conclusion, I only have one more thing to say: Where are the maps? You can’t have fantasy lands without maps. LOL It sprains the reader’s tiny mind!

My recommendation: Read “The Blacksmith’s Daughter.” And when you’re done, let me know what you think about Enith.

Because I think she’s fab. Just like the chick who brought her to life: Well done, young wizard. Well done indeed.

 

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