Tuesday, September 7, 2010

September Indie Book Review: Hearth and Harvest

This month's featured independently published book is a small compendium of short stories, Hearth and Harvest by Julie Cox.

All six of these stories have an eerie, almost Neil Gaimanish quality to the writing.  A very distinct voice coupled with a beautiful use of language to evoke images and feelings of place and time.  These stories feel like poems wrapped around plot to me, and in a few cases the plot appears secondary to the imagery.

I should probably make it clear that when reading, I'm looking for plot and dialogue.  These are my main treats in a story.  I'm generally not a huge fan of language so much as story.  These stories are excellent examples of beautiful use of language, but on the plot front some of them are a little weak.  As stories, as opposed to prose poems, they range from lovely (Leatherskin: A steampunk rift on Pygmalion, which you should all go out and download the book so you can read it.) to confusing (Written In Stone: Which is beautiful, but three reads through and I'm still not one hundred percent sure what is going on, or more importantly: why.) to abrupt (Reaping: A sweet little tale of a woman rescuing her god, that would have been quite a bit more satisfying at novella length).

Hearth and Harvest is available on Smashwords in electronic form.  I had some problems with the format for Adobe ePub.  I could download it just fine, but once I exited the book, it was gone when I returned to ePub.  I tried a few other Smashwords books as well, and had the same problem.  It's entirely possible this is a problem with Smashwords, or that I'm overlooking some technical component for making this work properly.  On the upside Smashwords offers ten formats, including .mobi for Kindle and PDF.  Or you can just read it online.  Finding one that works with your particular set up shouldn't be too much of an issue.

It costs whatever you want to pay for it.  On the strength of Leatherskin alone, I'd suggest paying for it.  (I paid $2.00.)  Hearth and Harvest comes in at about 30 pages, so it's a very short little thing.  Call it lunch break or coffee break reading.  A very pleasant lunch break.

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