Fire and Hemlock (was Fantasy starter pack)

Allison Marles apm at
Fri May 14 16:23:11 EDT 2004

One of the things I've always loved about F&H is the way the
things Polly makes up start coming true.  Usually people are
so busy saying not to let your imagination run away with you
or that it's all in your head or to live in the real world,
or any number of irritating and uninteresting things. 

I quite like that the things she imagines have an effect on 
the real world and become part of reality.  But even more
so that they are just a bit different than she pictured and
take on their own lives.  If that didn't happen it would be
a bit too fake seeming. The whole idea gives a sense of
empowerment that your ideas have an effect on the world.


On Fri, May 14, 2004 at 04:49:19PM +0100, Hallie O'Donovan wrote:
> On Friday, May 14, 2004, at 10:38 AM, Ika wrote:
> >Hallie wrote:
> >
> >>I'd definitely put in a vote for Fire and Hemlock
> >
> >and a few other people mentioned it, and that reminded me that when I 
> >was
> >first poking through the list archives online a while ago I was really
> >surprised to see Fire & Hemlock (and Deep Secret) so high on the list of
> >favourites, as they're probably two of my three least favourite DWJs.*
> >
> >This has nothing to do with putting together a fantasy starter pack, 
> >as I
> >read barely any adult fantasy, so my preferences probably aren't helpful
> >in trying to convert anyone, but I'd be very interested to hear what
> >people see in Fire & Hemlock in particular.
> Personally, I think the default is that you've to defend your 
> non-likingness of Fire and Hemlock, rather than the other way round, but 
> just to humour you...   ;)
> This is off the top of my head, and given that said head is not feeling 
> too brilliant atm, so this may all be revised.  (Or will be said much 
> better by others, saving me the need to revise.)   I love Fire and 
> Hemlock in part just because it's such a great story - all the 
> complexity and layers and everything wouldn't make it if it didn't have 
> that basis, but for me it does.  Then, given that it has some of my 
> favourite themes (not favourite if they're done as by-the-numbers 
> bibliotherapy for teens, obviously!) - learning to be able to disregard 
> what other people might think, or not letting it dictate your behaviour 
> at least, learning to balance compassion and empathy for others with 
> what you need to do, the willingness to admit that you've made a mistake 
> and try to do what you can to rectify it.  And this is all treated with 
> the most gloriously complex layering of myth, legend, fairy tale, 
> literary allusions - oh my!  Then I love the basic story of Tam Lin (in 
> part because it's one of those stories which has an active heroine), and 
> I love the way DWJ has taken what she wants and what works from the 
> tales she's using and blithely discarded what doesn't work, instead of 
> allowing herself be restricted by the story she's re-telling.
> There's also something about its complexity which just works perfectly 
> for me, too, though some other complex books leave me feeling thicker 
> than a plank - this one just fit with some F&H-shaped slot in my brain 
> or something.  Much harder to explain it than to just have it all feel 
> perfectly sense-making from the first read, mind, as I know from writing 
> up a few 'what *does* the ending of F&H mean' type posts!
> And I love the others in the Dumas Quartet, and the books Tom sends, and 
> Tom himself, and Granny and the pots of tea, and the gifts, and the 
> three-person goddess aspect of the characters, and Ivy's and Reg's 
> awfulness is just so perfectly done, and the heroic driving, and the 
> lessons Tom gives Polly through the books, and ...  I could go on for a 
> while, but probably enough for now!
> So what don't you like about it?
> Hallie.
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