I know I’ve written a previous post on Charlie N. Holmberg, specifically discussing her stand-alone novels. This time, however, instead of discussing individual plots or characters, I’d like to dive into one of the aspects that all her works have in common – namely, her gift of realism.
Every single one of her books has at least one scene that feels so real, it makes you cringe – because, of course, it is always the violent, the painful, and the unpleasant that make for a realistic story (much like the way bad news travels fastest or the way we can’t turn our eyes from a car accident; must be our human nature). In The Paper Magician you can practically feel the stifling heat and humidity as Ceony all but drowns in her quest to traverse the four chambers of Thane’s heart. In Followed by Frost the descriptions of Smitha’s issues as a “frozen woman” are uncomfortably detailed – living along in the woods, being chased by dogs, even just trying to relieve herself is a challenge. The scene of Alvie grappling with her kidnapper and being thrown down the stairs in The Plastic Magician made me wince – same with the fight scenes in The Glass Magician and The Master Magician (glass slivers and paper projectiles, ouch!) And in the most recent novel I’ve read – a book based in the Midwest during the California gold rush, titled Veins of Gold – the near starvation and anxiety that plagues Gentry and her siblings was starting to give me stomach cramps as well.
In some ways, these surprisingly sickening or violent passages seem at odds with such fun fantasy stories that are otherwise filled with wonder and magic. And while all the gory details make her works very real and do keep you on the edge of your seat, biting your fingernails… at times it’s a little too much for my taste. Maybe there really is too much of a good thing. Or maybe I’m just a wimp ><. The discomfort I feel when I read such graphic descriptions makes me, well, uncomfortable! It’s called “fiction” for a reason! Either way, you probably won’t find such specifics in my novels. I’m not inclined to go very far beyond the confines of “young adult” labeling – partly because I’m not one to torment my characters (I do know they’re just imaginary, don’t judge me), and partly because my focus is on the overall story. I try to give my works an element of reality, but I feel that concentrating too hard on the nitty-gritty roots us more in this world, and detracts from the message of hope and love that I want my stories to convey.
What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments section!
Until the next time, keep reading!
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I have two passions: reading and writing. You can't write good stories without first reading good stories - that's my theory, anyway. So this is where I'll share with you the depth of those passions: background on what and why I write, as well as talking about the books that I read and how they impact my writing.