Sunday, October 03, 2010

Review: "Discord's Apple" by Carrie Vaughn

When Evie Walker returns home from Los Angeles to the small town of Hope’s Fort, Colo., to care for her terminally ill father, she gets quite a bit more than she bargained for in Carrie Vaughn’s “Discord’s Apple” ($23.99, Tor).

Walker lives in a world that has broken down. Terrorist attacks have led to martial law in many areas, including her new home of Los Angeles. Most of the nations of the world are at odds with each other and on the brink of open warfare. In this environment, she writes a comic book somewhat similar to World War II-era Captain America that features a patriotic military team and revolves around current events. But she puts her life on hold when she learns of her father’s illness to head back to a place she thought she’d left forever.

Soon after she returns, strange people begin to appear in Hope’s Fort and strange things begin to happen. When a woman shows up asking for something in the storeroom of her father’s house, Evie discovers a warehouse of mythical and magical treasures from throughout the ages. Her family has been charged with guarding the treasures for generations, and she is destined to take up the mantle from her father whether she likes it or not. But things are changing rapidly, and not everyone who comes looking for something from the storeroom has a right to it.

Best known for her Kitty Norville series about a werewolf radio host, Vaughn makes a departure for this tale rooted in Greek mythology. It’s an attempt at a grand, sweeping story line, and on most levels it works.

One thing that readers might find off-putting is the structure of the story, which actually consists of several stories twisted together. There’s the main story in which Evie is destined to become keeper of the storeroom. There’s a background story that gives some insight into the fascinating story of a stranger named Alex who comes into her life, and the villains of the book who are seeking the object of the title. There’s a story that unfolds in interludes that sheds light on Evie’s family, and there are also a few lengthy passages taken from the comic that Evie writes.

Of those storylines, only the ones from the comic miss the mark. They’re intended to tie into Evie’s personal life, but the connection is never really made, and I think the book might have flowed better without them.

On the upside, “Discord’s Apple” offers a unique view of the Greek pantheon, as well as some of the heroes of the ancient world. It weaves together a modern world gone crazy, a place that it doesn’t take too much of a leap to imagine our own world becoming, with the magic of a world where ancient gods rule by their whims and manipulate people like chess pieces. There are also guest appearances by a few other legendary heroes, unrelated to the Greek myths. I won’t spoil the surprise in this review, though.

I have to admit that I was never that interested in Vaughn’s Kitty Norville novels, as I’m a bit burned out on the urban fantasy scene at the moment and tend to gravitate only to proven authors that I know I like in that genre, but I found “Discord’s Apple” to be an interesting concept and a lively read despite a few bumps in the road.

A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher.

No comments: