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Friday, August 16, 2013

“War for the Oaks” by Emma Bull (Reviewed by Casey Blair)

Order “War for the OaksHERE
Read An Excerpt HERE

ABOUT WAR FOR THE OAKS: Acclaimed by critics and readers on its first publication in 1987, winner of the Locus Award for Best First Novel, Emma Bull’s War for the Oaks is one of the novels that has defined modern urban fantasy.

Eddi McCandry sings rock and roll. But her boyfriend just dumped her, her band just broke up, and life could hardly be worse. Then, walking home through downtown Minneapolis on a dark night, she finds herself drafted into an invisible war between the faerie folk. Now, more than her own survival is at risk—and her own preferences, musical and personal, are very much beside the point

By turns tough and lyrical, fabulous and down-to-earth, War for the Oaks is a fantasy novel that’s as much about this world as about the other one. It’s about real love and loyalty, about real music and musicians, about false glamour and true art. It will change the way you hear and see your own daily life.

ANALYSIS: I worried that Emma Bull’s War for the Oaks would be over-hyped. I've read a lot of urban fantasy so I worried if this book that helped found the whole genre of urban fantasy might feel over-worn, uninspiring. I worried that this take on the fae would be no different than any other take I'd seen before.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Emma Bull's War for the Oaks is absolutely amazing.

In the true spirit of urban fantasy, this book is set in the city of Minneapolis, specifically, and that means something. I've only passed through Minneapolis once, but you can feel its presence in this book.

The fae were spot on, particularly as regards etiquette and honor. I love how she dealt with the name of the phouka and the 'thank you's’, the deceptions and the debts, and the evaluating and twisting of ethics into something unexpected for all sides involved.

There were a couple of tropes that irked ever so slightly, namely when the main character is not quite believing something fast enough, or not seeing something that is glaringly obvious  to the reader.

There is no ass-kicking PI protagonist here. I mean, she's incredibly strong, but not in the martial arts sense. There may or may not be a rock and roll battle to decide the fate of the world, which is amazing in and of itself. The magic in the world is numinous in the best way. I knew the romance was coming a mile away and loved every second of it (well, except when the protagonist seemed to be too dense about something, like the love interest's motivations).

The very best part was the emphasis on the power of humanity, of human nature, and that power roared through this story.

I adored this.


Anonymous said...

I think you should change the title of your blog to Fantasy WAR books - seems like books with "war" in the title or cover are all you review anymore.

Not that I don't like some of these books, but branching out into other venues would be more interesting.

Liviu said...

Interesting comment and while not quite accurate (see recent reviews of books like Last Banquet, Secret Knowledge, Evening Empires which have little to do with war per se, though it's true they are not fantasies either), I think that the issue lies mostly with what is published today in the fantasy genre

Jenster H said...

I loved this book. It is one of my favorite Fantasy books.

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