Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Seven Markets by David Hoffman

The Seven Markets by David Hoffman
series: The Seven Markets (1)
So reads the sign that seventeen-year-old Ellie MacReady encounters on her way into the village one day in the summer of 1726. A thing of legend, the Market appears only once every century.   Ellie grew up hearing her father's stories about the Market, but nothing he told her prepared Ellie for what she was to encounter there.

Reading The Seven Markets was a bit of a rollercoaster ride for me. I went from thinking "oooh, this is good" to regretfully telling Russell that I was going to hate the book (more on why below). I then moved on to cautious optimism, which later morphed into delight. There followed some bewilderment (ditto), but I ended the novel on a good note.

The Seven Markets is described as a science fiction fairy tale. I've always disliked the fact that science fiction and fantasy are nearly always lumped together in non-specialty bookstores.1 The creation of this single category further degrades two genres that are already marginalized as "genre fiction" (as opposed to "real" fiction) by reducing them to subgenres. While I am by no means an expert on either genre, I grew up with a man who did the majority of his book-shopping in that department.2 While there is cross-over between the two genres, I think that's the exception rather than the rule and that their real commonality is their reader.
In any case, The Seven Markets is the rare book that belongs in the science fiction and fantasy department because it is a cross-over that has significant elements from both genres.

From this blog's tag cloud, it is obvious that I read (and post about) more fantasy than scifi. While the gap is actually significantly wider than the tags would have you believe, I do appreciate both genres. I am, however, a particularly picky reader of the two genres, mostly because I become overwhelmed by the heaviest versions of either. The bewilderment mentioned above is a result of that tendency of mine, while the possible hatred relates to a particular fantasy trope3 for which I usually have no patience.

The Seven Markets is like nothing I've read before. The novel, like the Market itself, is full of endless wonders, but it is also tightly constructed. As a reader you never know what will happen next. I'm loathe to go into too much detail on the plot because much of the novel's magic--and what makes it such a compelling read--is in how and how much it reveals itself. I'd just caution readers not to be put off by the (intentionally) jarring transitions between the first few chapters. While those types of transitions continue to move the narrative along, you do become accustomed to them.

If you are interested in The Seven Markets, but not sold yet, check out the sample available on the author's website.

For what it's worth, Russell and I have already purchased two copies of The Seven Markets to give as gifts4 (it's a particularly good choice for lovers of fantasy, science fiction, and strong, female protagonists) and intend to purchase at least one more in the very near future for the same reason.

I have to admit, though, that I'm looking forward to Hoffman's next book, Beautiful Handcrafted Animals (forthcoming Spring 2013),5 much more than I am Ellie's next adventure. Of course that doesn't mean that I won't whip though The King's Glamour (forthcoming Summer 2013) as soon as I can get my hands on it.
n.b. Links within this post either go to Amazon (no referral) or Hoffman's website, rather than my usual.
  1. Case in point: Amazon.
  2. My father is the first person I disappointed by my inability to slog through The Lord of the Rings.
  3. In the footnotes because specifying this could be considered a SPOILER. I don't think it's too much of a spoiler, but continue at your own risk.
    I generally dislike (and sometimes despise) stories that involve humans crossing over into the faerie realm and getting stuck there outside of time.
  4. Even though The Seven Markets is only available via Amazon, a company that I'm trying not to patronize when I can help it.
  5. David (oh, jeeze, see the disclosure statement) describes this one as "suburban fantasy" (as opposed to urban fantasy; forgive the lazy Wikipedia link), which sounds just like my cup of tea.
disclosure: I received a review copy of The Seven Markets from the author, with whom I am friendly.

No comments:

Post a Comment