These two books have little in common other than their publication dates, but both are novels that can leave you pondering.
The William and Hester Monk series by Anne Perry is one of my favorite historical mystery series. Each new release piques my interest, and I downloaded An Echo of Murder as soon as it was offered.
William Monk is an enigma. In the The Face of a Stranger, the first novel in the series, he awakes in a hospital bed with amnesia. He learns his own name only by a visit from someone who knows him, but hides his complete loss of memory of his past. What he does learn fairly quickly is that he was a policeman; however, what he learns about the sort of man he was--doesn't present a flattering picture.
Over the many novels since then, Monk has continued to learn more about himself, has met and married Hester Latterly, and has had some career changes, all involved with investigating murder; he is currently the Commander of the Thames River Police.
Hester Latterly Monk served in the Crimea under Florence Nightengale. She, too, has had several changes in her career, but she is dedicated to medicine and to serving those who can least afford care. Intelligent, outspoken, and courageous, Hester is the kind of woman who precipitated change in the roles of women during the Victorian Era, and along with Nightengale, Hester was outraged and critical of those in charge of the disastrous Crimean War.
Both characters have an innate sense of justice, and Perry uses each of them to explore social and political issues of the time. One of my favorites in the series was a mystery involving some of the first experiments with blood transfusions.
An Echo of Murder deals with a horrific series of murders against members of the Hungarian immigrant population in London; the "echo" is relevant to present opinions and treatment of immigrants, a problem that has always existed. Those who are different have difficulties in their attempts to maintain their own histories and culture and to assimilate into a new society.
Aside from Monk and Hester, there are a number of recurring characters that make their appearance. Perry does a fine job with characterization, plot, and addressing the kind of social issues that never go away.
Read in June; blog review scheduled for Sept. 4
NetGalley/Random House/ Ballentine
Historical Mystery. Sept. 19, 2017. Print length: 320 pages.
The Forgotten Beasts of Eld by Patricia A. McKillup is one of those books that has had an enduring effect on its readers over the years. First published in 1974, the next year it won the Young Adult World Fantasy Award. It has influenced authors such as Susan Fletcher, Peter S. Beagle, Bruce Colville, Ben Lory, Gail Carriger, and Max Gladstone.
Both a poetically rendered fairy tale and a morally complex narrative that illustrates large and small corruptions that result from destructive decisions, the novel turns a fairy tale into a kind of parable.
The villains can't be absolved for their decisions, but their reasoning and histories are understandable in the realm of human flaws and motivations. The heroine is justified in her fury, but is also forced to confront her own destructive need for revenge.
A beautiful wizard; magical, sentient animals,; lovely prose; and complex attachments and relationships have made The Forgotten Beasts of Eld a classic adored and re-read by those who first discovered it decades ago. Does it appeal to today's youth? I don't know, but it seems that its influence remains in the works of many current authors who fell in love with it when they first read it.
I've read other books by McKillip, but it was Lark's review that encouraged me to read this one. Fortunately, it was still available on NetGalley.
Read in June; blog review scheduled for Sept. 4
Fantasy/Fairy Tale. Sept. 19, 2017. (has been re-published numerous times, but I love this new cover!) Print length: 248 pages.
I think it's that combination of McKillip's lovely prose and her ability to create characters that I care about that keeps me coming back to her books. :)ReplyDelete
I always find it interesting to see which books have had enduring influence on other authors. I've enjoyed other books by McKillip, but this is the first time I've read The Forgotten Beasts of Eld. This one book influenced so many fantasy authors!Delete
That is interesting. I never knew it was a favorite with so many other authors.Delete
I never got into the Monk series, although I did enjoy the Inspector and Charlotte Pitt series for a number of years. I stopped reading the series when they became too political. Maybe one of these days I'll give the Monk series a try.ReplyDelete
McKillip is an author I would like to try, but haven't gotten around to yet.
I started with the Pitt series, but then found I liked the Monk books better, partly because Monk remembers so little and doesn't like the man he discovers he was before the injury and partly because I like Hester's feistiness. This was not my favorite in the series, but some of the issues have current interest.Delete
Both authors I'm not familiar with but both sounds like an interesting read based on your reviews. :)ReplyDelete
If you read Ann Perry's Monk books, it would be best to begin with The Face of the Stranger, the first in the series. :)Delete
I usually enjoy Anne Perry's books but sometimes I have a hard time ignoring her personal past. I wonder if I'm rewarding "bad behavior." Several books in the Pitt series involve sexual abuse, which makes me wonder even more about her back story.ReplyDelete
I can remember getting ready to go to work and hearing the story on NPR. I was pretty much stunned. She had not started the Monk series at the time, but I had read several of the Pitt books.Delete