The New York Times calls her “the talk of librarian circles.” Readers can’t get enough of her recommendations while bookstores and libraries offer standing room only whenever she visits. Since the release of the best-selling Book Lust in 2003 and the Librarian Action Figure modeled in her likeness, Nancy Pearl has become a rock star among readers and the tastemaker people turn to when deciding what to read next. (complete bio) Nancy weekly reviews books on Sound Focus (KUOW); this week she discusses Territory by Emma Bull and Interred With Their Bones by Jennifer Lee Carrell.
Emma Bull's newest novel, Territory (Tor, 2007), belongs to a fantasy sub-genre that I find hard to resist, that of "alternate history." It typically starts with places and people that we think we know all about, and then gives them a subtle (or not so subtle) twist, creating a sort of parallel world which is different, in large and small ways, from the world we inhabit. The territory referred to in the title is Tombstone, Arizona. The "familiar" historical events around which the novel is built are those leading up to the famous shoot-out at the O.K. Corral on October 26, 1881. Part of the fun here is having what you thought you knew about all those events undercut. And a typical result is to find yourself, as I did when I finished Territory, half-way convinced that Bull's version has as much truth in it as the old legends do. Maybe more, in fact. (more)
Readers searching for a fast-paced, yet intelligent and atmospheric mystery need look no farther than Interred With Their Bones (Dutton, 2007), Jennifer Lee Carrell's impressive debut novel. When American Kate Stanley arrives in London to direct a new production of Shakespeare's Hamlet at the refurbished Globe Theater, her one-time close friend and professor, the eccentric and brilliant Harvard Shakespeare scholar Rosalind Howard, gives Kate a present, telling her that she must follow wherever the gift leads. Roz then goes on to inform Kate that she's made a mind-boggling discovery that will undoubtedly turn Shakespeare scholarship on its head. That night, before Kate has a chance to learn more, there's a fire at the theater, Roz's body is found in Kate's office, dead, and a valuable copy of Shakespeare's plays is discovered to be missing. (more)