Wednesday, March 6, 2013
Really enjoyed Michael Langlois's Bad Radio. Fast-paced, well-edited, gloriously creepy. The book has a lot of action, but there is enough time spent on character development to allow readers to connect with the protagonists. The characters, and their interactions with each other, rang true to me; for example, though Abe and Anne obviously care about one another, there is no forced sudden romance.
Great quick read: nothing incredibly dense or mind-bending, just a fun story with intriguing characters and sufficient body horror to make you squirm for days after you've finished the book.
And now that I've lavished the book with praise, I'm going to address the one thing that drove me nuts:
A town of 30,000 people is not a tiny town. It's not even particularly small.
I grew up in the country and the closest town of any size was about 15,000 people. It has a movie theater, grocery store, Wal-Mart Supercenter, two hardware stores, two auto parts stores, five or six motels, one nice hotel with actual suites, and about fifteen restaurants. A town twice that size would not be a "small town" with just a run-down diner and one cheap motel. For that you want a population more like 800 or 1,000.
Small detail that probably wouldn't bother most people at all, but for me it was a glaring case of Did Not Do the Research.
The Woodcutter is a deeply enjoyable little story: not complex, but lovely and magical. My initial impression was that it would be a dark take on a traditional fairy tale. Instead, it turned out to be sweetness hidden beneath a thin layer of darkness, which is just fine with me. The characters are compelling, though drawn with simple strokes: I especially loved the deep, quiet, fierce love between the Woodcutter and his wife of twenty years.
Is the story without flaws? Not at all. The pacing is somewhat uneven, and it sometimes felt as though the author were cramming in as many fairy tale characters and scenarios as possible. I had to roll my eyes and smile fondly at some of the fairy tale conventions that came into play (true love! at first sight! conquers all!). But for me, the likeable characters and simple, beautiful prose more than made up for the shortcomings. I am excited to see where author Kate Danley will go from here.