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I hate to fall to cliché, but “I don' know ‘bout Art, but I knows what I like . . .”
Well, I know a fair amount about Art, but I sometimes have difficulty expressing it. And the more I read Ms. Hand, the more I realize I cannot write effectively about her work.
I consider this ultimate praise because--using another deserved cliché--this novel takes my breath away.
Like Glimmering, this is a dense, slippery perusal. It is one of the most thought-provoking studies of supernatural interlacing with this world I've experienced. Like the work of Sean Stewart or John Crowley, it seems more a natural occurrence and an acceptable conclusion to events that are incongruous in a modern, clockwork universe. Certainly a romantic notion, but one validated from the traditions in Art, History and Mythology. And personally, in paraphrasing the great Victorian fantasist Arthur Machen, I'd rather delight in shuddering with the thunder than be backstage watching someone roll a cannon ball along the theatre floor. Ultimate Knowledge will tease mankind forever. That's why we invented Science as well as Philosophy.
And, of course, Religion.
It can easily be googled for plot points, so let me just quickly outline that this is a story split between a contemporary viewpoint and a Victorian one, more specifically grounded in a Pre-Raphaelite obsession with muses, fairyworlds, and Blakeian love notions. It is not a New Age doily of angels and damsels, nor is it a matinee fantasy of Dracula love bites. Like Generation Loss, it is about the creation of Art and its boundaries—both ethical as well as physical—and the possibility that the world can change as a result.
I'm prejudiced. I consider this the noblest of pursuits and one of the few lines of inquiry where the accumulation of wisdom is more important than proving any objective, empirical truth. In this realm, the journey is the destination, because, just as death inevitably sanctions the closure of this world's sensory interrogation, rational conclusion must be adjourned for any perceived intimacy.
And, to upgrade from cliché to pun, let me put you into the, ah, hands of the author and point you to this interview: