Frankie!

Mar. 22nd, 2011 02:20 pm
booksofafeather: A book and candlestick, with a feather lying across the pages. (Default)
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Short review: A baby griffin is born in a magical human family. The story is all about magic, but somehow, it feels empty of wonder and it jumps around too fast, never giving you time to have feelings about what's happening. It has some small touching and true magical moments, but in general it feels very flat, and there aren't many details for winged people to feel connected too. I don't really recommend it.

Writing: The writing is not that good... it just rushes ahead with the story without connecting with anything emotionally, and rushes into ideas that are really over-the-top without ever suggesting that this is strange or unusual. I guess they're trying to make it feel like magic is a normal part of their lives, but the result is that all the magic is taken out of the story, as miraculous things are treated as normal. The story also doesn't even really have a progression... the plot doesn't build up to a natural ending, but rather, a lot of different events happen and then it suddenly ends.

From a winged person's perspective...: Frankie can fly, but the flying scenes are really short and dull (wow... how did they make flying dull?). There is a brief reference to the joy of flight but the story doesn't dwell on it, or even really allow you to feel what flying is like. What is mentioned of the flying has some good realism in it though, and there are some other good details like descriptions of how the different feathers feel, and some mentions of the unique work it takes to care for a griffin. But the thing that I think most winged people will notice, that will overwhelm this, is how often he is talked about as a "horrible monster"... even by his family. It's meant to show how non-magical see him, not meant as hurtful towards him, but it doesn't make the impact any less.

Trigger warnings: Many people call Frankie a monster, demonic, and terrifying, even the magical characters. At the beginning, one person tries to attack him because of this view.


More thoughts...: This book was really a disappointment... I saw that this book's name kept coming up with a few people on Librarything who had a large number of my books in common, so I thought, "this must be a well accepted otherkin book". I don't know if it is or not... but there is not much in it that I would recommend for otherkin or winged people, or anyone really.

The book's big problem is that so many magical things happen, but it feels magical only occasionally. There are some small true parts that people who are familiar with magic might recognise (the experience of magic is a thing that's hard to keep in the memory; feeling energised and delighted before a storm) but it's mixed in with a lot of description that feels almost casual. The same is done with the griffin's flying. There's a lot of talk about how they train him to fly, but instead of spending that time on complex descriptions of how it feels to be a griffin flying, they spend all their time with a running joke that compares him to an airplane. Now, when you're writing a book about a magical griffin character, why would you want to make the readers keep thinking of airplanes? Most people who write about the joy of flying in airplanes prefer to compare them to birds! It seems the wrong way around. Maybe a little bit of a joke about this would have been fine, but they really do treat him like he is an airplane and nothing more, in a way that's almost insulting.

This book is trying to make magic feel natural and normal, but this isn't how you do it. A book that makes magic feel natural is Gwinna, but they don't do it by making the magic and flying feel down-to-earth. They do it by describing the magic beautifully and intensely, showing how amazing and unusual it is, but showing that people love and delight in it anyway. You can make magic feel like something you do every day, but it still has to keep its magical nature. Trying to make magic feel "normal" is beside the point.

The story might be better if it was even funny in the way that it's trying to be. I think that comparing the magic to everyday things is supposed to be funny, but because the writing is not too competent, it doesn't even do that. It's a shame. Even the pictures in this book (it has six picture pages) are disappointing, since the human children are drawn very realistically but Frankie doesn't look anything like a real bird, lion, or combination of the two. I think even I could draw a better looking gryphon ^^; I would give this one and a half out of five... there are a few nice little details but this book isn't worth the time. For gryphon/griffin stories, Mercedes Lackey's Mage Wars series is still the best I've found.
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