Late this summer, our library system in Ohio had some major budget cuts. It wasn’t before I had a chance to suggest, and they had a chance to order, Regina Doman’s fabulous series of Fairy Tale novels.
The last time I felt this way about a series of books, I was in the throes of the Harry Potter series. (We’re still in line for the movies and rather, ahem, fanatical about them. To call us big fans is not only appropriate, but also a little bit of an understatement.) I see the sort of excitement and enthusiasm that I feel for Doman’s series in the Twilight saga that’s sweeping the nation. I have some reservations about Twilight, but here is my answer to that need that those books seem to answer: Regina Doman’s phenomenal Fairy Tale novels: The Shadow of the Bear, Black as Night, Waking Rose, and Midnight Dancers.
Here’s a list of reasons why I will not only be purchasing all of these books for myself and for all the nieces and girls in my life, and why I think it is well worth your investment too:
1. The Writing
Say what you will, but this is one of the most important aspects of any book for me. These books did not let me down. It’s safe to say, in fact, that they pleasantly surprised me. I am not sure how to express this so that I don’t sound like a big snob. I’ve read quite a bit of self-published and small press stuff lately, and let’s just say my expectations weren’t high for this series. These books were good reading (Dare I call them great? Yes, I do!), and one of the reasons was the writing.
2. The Plots
I don’t read that much YA, but I’ve been reading more and more. For one thing, it’s fast. For another, it’s what the teen girls in my life are reading. In the YA I’ve read — and, for that matter, in some of the more recent novels I’ve read — sometimes the plots are, well, predictable and maybe even a little disappointing. And you know what? Maybe I didn’t realize how much I missed a page-turning, rip-roaring, can’t-guess-the-ending plot until I came across it in these books.
3. The Themes
Talk about some WOW themes! Here are books that uphold values without shoving faith down your throat (more on that in a moment), that make you think without hurting your brain, that get into your life and make you reexamine. In the interest of not spoiling the books for you, I won’t be more specific.
4. The Handling of “Issues”
How do you talk about homosexuality, life on the streets, celibate life, dating without sex? I mean, just looking at that list, I’m getting sort of glazed-over bored or I’m bracing myself for a lecture. I’d be lying if I didn’t also tell you that these issues — the very issues these books approach — scare the jeepers out of me. In these books, though, these issues and more are not only handled well, but in such a way that, as a mom of young kids, I took some pointers. As a reader, I wasn’t dulled by preaching (there is no preaching in these books) and I wasn’t sidelined from the action.
5. Faith NOT Shoved in Your Face
Earlier I mentioned that I’ve been reading some self-published and small press stuff in the last year. Quite a bit of that fiction has also been Christian in nature. I want to like Christian fiction. I want to be inspired and changed and motivated by the expert use of a story to teach a lesson. Most of the time, though, there’s some disappointment, and for me, it comes in the form of a book trying to “save” me. I want faith to be a background, part of the air the characters breathe, without becoming a vacuum that sucks the life out of the story and the interest out of the characters. I want to see real people, not painted images who never make a mistake and who talk to God in ways that, well, seem fake. Am I asking too much? Not with the Fairy Tale novels. I am 99.675% sure that you could read these books and not have it matter that you were non-Catholic or non-Christian or non-whatever. The fact that the characters are Catholic matters, yes. It’s who they are. But it’s as much a part of who they are and how they work as where they live. And it’s most definitely NOT shoved in the reader’s faith. To which I say to Regina Doman: THANK YOU.
6. The Look
These are small press books, so I admit to having lowered expectations. These books, though, are an example of small press done right. I’m not trying to be a jerk. I don’t usually point out when I’m annoyed by some of these things I’m pointing out, because there are always good things to share. The Fairy Tale novels, though, do so much right that I can gush and rave and mention things like a good-looking book design. It’s like dip with your chips: makes the reading experience that much better.
7. The Writing (and Editing)
Yes, I know I’m mentioning this twice. I’m a bit of a writer and quite an avid reader, and I just can’t stress this. I didn’t accidentally come across any typos. I didn’t find any sentences that should have been reworked. (I say that as an English geek.) I could just totally enjoy the books, not in spite of the little annoyances, but freed completely from them.
So what are you waiting for? The delight of this reading await you and the young people in your life.
Disclaimer: I read three of the four books thanks to the Ohio Public Library system. By luck, the Catholic Company Reviewer Program was offering a few of them to reviewers and I happened to snag one. I did receive a free product because of writing this review. I was going to rave about them before that little bonus, though, and I’m still purchasing the other three…sometime.
If you’re looking for some other reading today, you can find it over at Conversion Diary, where Jen is hosting the Friday round-up of Quick Takes.