Emma (emmaco) wrote,
Emma
emmaco

Urban fantasy sans faeries

Ysabel by Guy Gavriel Kay stars 15-year old Ned, who has travelled to Provence with his famous photographer father. Ned knows he’s lucky to be missing school but is also tied of being babied by his father’s assistant and is starting to feel bored. But Ned's worries are soon superceded by new concerns as the past becomes tangled with the present, placing his family and friends into danger. Kay does a great job at gently introducing the many different historical events that have occurred in the region.

Ysabel tells an interesting and action-packed story, especially if you’re a sucker for travel or history in a book. I like the modernity, too, though – the characters researched stuff on the internet and used mobile phones to communicate with each other at key moments. Too many books seem to ignore the reality of 21st century life in order to maintain tension in a story! It reminded me of Charles de Lint’s books at times. I’m not sure what it was - possibly large cast of characters thrown together and forced to deal with the reality of the supernatural. I did like that there are no clear baddies.

Sometimes the tone of the main character felt slightly off to me, like Kay was trying too hard to write from the POV of a teenage boy. And at times it felt like there were almost too many storylines going on so that they and the corresponding motivations of some of the characters couldn’t be fully developed.

If you like urban fantasy but would prefer historical characters (admittedly ones with supernatural powers) to faeries, this might be the book for you. Even though this isn’t marketed as a YA book, I definitely agree with Colleen that it would have strong YA appeal.

* Is it petty to want to bop an author on the head for getting to live in Provence to research their book?
Tags: books, fantasy, kay
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