Friday, 19 September 2014

The Magician's Land by Lev Grossman

The letter had said to meet in a bookstore.

This is the opening line and opening paragraph of the novel. The next paragraph begins with weather, stating that it drizzling and cold but not cold enough for snow which means that it is not a night for a bookstore. I personally don't see the connection between bad weather and going to a bookstore. The paragraph continues with a character standing at a bus stop as the rain drums down. Doesn't sound like it's drizzling to me. I understand drizzle and drumming rain to be two different things, but that's just me. Perhaps I'm over-complicating things. Or perhaps this writer is. The next sentence in this paragraph contains a POV switch and a long sentence fragment. I will add it here for your critical judging pleasure.

Not one of your charming, quirky bookstores, with a ginger cat on the windowsill and a shelf of rare signed first editions and an eccentric, bewhiskered proprietor behind the counter.

I fail to find a verb in this line making it a phrase. Punctuation does not a sentence make.

The POV switches continue the next paragraph: Inside you could still hear the noise of cars...and I'm reminded of grade 6 homework I've checked in the past, hardly something a New York Times best-selling author should aspire to, or am I behind on the latest writing trends?

First thing said:

"Attention, Bookbumblers patrons!"

This opening feels like it should be the opening of a film rather than a book. It lacks conflict and lacks revealing character. It has an aura of suspense but only in that we know nothing about anything of the situation. As well, without conflict, there is no reason to care. I suppose since this is a series that there is something here that people who have read the series would find intense and suspenseful, but anyone picking this up without reading the other books, won't be interested or hooked by this opening.

Verdict: Fail

Theodore Moracht

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