Last week (or maybe it was over the past two weeks…I’ve lost track), I read Graceling, Fire, and Brightly Woven. I was struck by the similarity in these three strong heroines with supernatural abilities. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that the connection between these three books is far greater. Kristin Cashore and Alexandra Bracken have devoted a tremendous amount of page space (and time and energy) to creating intricate worlds for their characters to live in.
These worlds are similar to our own, or to an earlier version of our own: There are people who live in houses with forests, mountains and oceans nearby. They travel on horse or foot or boat. They fall in love and have children. But both worlds are also inhabited by the fantastic: people with perfect, preternatural abilities in one thing, like cooking or tending to animals or killing; monsters so beautiful as to be bewitching; world-weary wizards and kingdoms rife with political intrigue.
All three books contain the kind of story that stays with you, worlds that inhabit your thoughts in that time before falling asleep. It’s a readerly type of magic, being lost in a world through a book. So many of my favorites have created a new world for their stories: Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, The Golden Compass. It’s a special experience, almost like a secret between reader and author.
I hope these two authors will continue to write in these worlds. It’s always a bit sad, as a reader, when the world that you’ve been living in suddenly disappears with no hope of more to come. I remember reading the last page of The Deathly Hallows and the remorse that I felt for finishing it so quickly. I wasn’t ready for that world, that reading experience, to end. That’s how I feel about these two worlds, too.