Fire and Hemlock (SPOILERS)

Katarina Hjärpe head_overheels at
Tue May 18 16:54:55 EDT 2004

>DWJ's real-world/magic novels have some sort of gadget or McGuffin that
>explains how the magic intrudes on the "real" world - in 
Hexwood there's
>the Bannus, in TotG there's the Monigan-worship, in Ogre there's the
>chemistry set. I think the lack of one in F&H points to a deeper 
>about the place of magic in the novel's world.

You know, it's interesting, but you voicing this made me realize that one 
reason I like this book is because it's another of the magical realism-ish 
kind of books I'm so fond of, from Selma Lagerlöf to Liv Ullmann. Weird 
things happen in the ordinary world, without any out-of-world intervention 
that takes away the rules of normality. A duchess is also a wood spirit, but 
only for one chapter, and then she's a duchess again. A pompous boyfriend 
loses his cowboy boots and is transformed into a mackerel.

To me, F&H is easy to accept because I've always liked the sort of stories 
where the world basically is a very weird place while it's still 
recognizably our world.

Think of Uncle Ted in Deep Secret. He promptly refuses to believe in 
anything magic, despite the fact that it's going on all around him. Now, in 
Deep Secret, the story is told by Rupert, who knows damn well that this is a 
load of crap. But Polly in F&H *doesn't* know that. She has to deal with the 
fact that people around her do not believe in magic, and with the rational, 
drab explanations they come up with.

Now here and nowhere are really just two sides of the same thing. The fairy 
tale world isn't a special world - it's *our* world, and the fairy queen is 
a lady who's visible to all, who has been married and divorced and married 
again, and whose stepson goes to a very expensive boys' school. It doesn't 
just happen at night, and you don't have to step through a wardrobe or get 
on a train to get there.

Nina treats the fairy world like a game, coming up with new superstitions 
all the time. She might very well affect the world around her, but she's 
never going to know that, because the devil would have to show up with cape 
and horns before she noticed anything was amiss. Polly, on the other hand, 
notices that things are wrong, but being a modern girl rather than a 19th 
century forest dweller, she can't very easily accept this. In order to beat 
Laurel, she has to take on a very "old-fashioned" kind of mindset.

This is all strictly IMO, of course, and even people who like the book might 
disagree strongly with me. What do I know. :-)


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