Hi, I'm Leng!

Writer of fantasy-adventure web stories.

The Magic Thief and Other March & April 2020 Reads

Jacket cover for The Magic Thief by Sarah Prineas Jacket cover for The Castle Behind Thorns by Merrie Heskell Jacket cover for Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

I realized that I didn't do a book review for the month of March. It was just so crazy last month, I think we can all agree on that. I haven't been able to keep up the reading pace I had set at the beginning of the year, unfortunately. With all that's going on, I haven't had a lot of reading mojo, but I do hope that I will soon find the right book that will push me out of my slump and help me through these uncertain times.

These are the books I managed to finish in the last two months.

The Magic Thief by Sarah Prineas

I wanted something light and fun to read, so I picked up a couple of middle grade fantasy. The Magic Thief was one of them. It's about an orphan who becomes a servant/apprentice to a mage at a time when the magic in the duchy is slowly disappearing. I liked that the main character is eager and positive, since a lot of the books I read recently have male leads who are pessimistic and snarky. However, I think he also suffers from the know-it-all-newbie trope prevalent in many fantasy books. This is where someone who is new to a certain concept (ie. magic) somehow fixes all the problems within it, beating even those who have spent their whole lives studying it. I'm not defending ivory towers at all, and I do think that fresh ideas from diverse sources are required for creative problem solving. But I think that some fantasy books take this to an extreme sometimes, especially when they don't give a reason why that character is more likely to come up with just the right ideas.

The Castle Behind Thorns by Merrie Haskell

I love, love, love this book! It's quiet and understated, definitely not the kind of action-packed adventure you usually find in MG fantasy. It's about a boy who wakes up in a sundered castle, trapped behind a wall of thorns, and a dead girl who comes back to life. They try to figure out how to escape from within while discovering the mysteries of the castle. The story is really about forgiveness and healing, and it is so beautifully told.

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

I don't usually read literary classics, but this was recommended to me by my manager. It was very difficult to get into this book. The first half was not written in linear order, and it was hard to grasp what the general thrust of the plot was. The first few chapters were painful for me to read, because I just couldn't understand the purpose of the repetitiveness and contradictions. I know it was trying to show the stupidity of Catch-22s, but it felt extremely forced somehow. It wasn't until the second half, or the last quarter really, that I actually started to enjoy it. I think it's one of those books that gets better with re-reads, after you know where the earlier inside jokes come from, and you're more familiar with the vibe of the book. But I'm not sure if I had enough of a positive experience with this novel to consider a reread.

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