Autumn, April 1, 2008 (view all comments by Autumn)
I bought this novel on a whim one day at work and have never regretted it. More a collegiate romance than a sprawling fantasy epic, Tam Lin does incorporate fantastical elements by syncing up with the traditional English ballad of the same name. Some may find it a wee bit intimidating because the author drops in classic literature references constantly and expects you to know the verses and authors she is referring to. Nevertheless, the characters are captivating and the plot kept me reading nonstop- I just couldn't bear to put it down! Also recommended is Dean's Juniper, Gentian, and Rosemary, a book that reworks another traditional British ballad.
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crowyhead, March 19, 2007 (view all comments by crowyhead)
This really is a lovely, absorbing novel, but it's also kind of frustrating. It bills itself as a fantasy novel -- and it is -- but it's nearly 500 pages long and the fantasy element doesn't come to the fore until the last 75-100 pages. It's as though Dean suddenly recalled that she was meant to be writing a retelling of a fairy ballad, not just an exceptionally well-written collegiate romance, and the whole story suddenly comes to a galloping magic-strewn conclusion. I won't lie -- I still really liked the book. It made me nostalgic for my days at my own tiny, liberal arts college in the northern Midwest, and parts of it are deliciously creepy in a Secret History kind of way (what IS it with creepiness and Classics majors, huh? Novelists love that combo). But overall it's not 100% successful and that made me twitchy, because I wanted it to be even better than it was. I still recommend it, but with reservations.
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