Tag Archives: Gene Wolfe

Pandora by Holly Hollander

Hermetic Library fellow T Polyphilus reviews Pandora by Holly Hollander by Gene Wolfe.

Gene Wolfe Pandora by Holly Hollander

As a fan of Gene Wolfe’s fantasy and science fiction, I couldn’t pass up a free copy of Pandora by Holly Hollander, which I picked out of the detritus of a folded secondhand bookshop. This book, however, belongs very self-consciously to a different genre: the murder mystery. The titular Hollander is a teenage girl who serves as the narrator. The story is set in a tony Chicago suburb in the mid-1980s, and though it was written as a contemporary fiction, the absence of cell phones and the Internet now marks it as a period piece.

Holly fancies herself the principal sleuth of the story, but she’s not the only one investigating the crime, and there’s no guarantee that she’ll be the one to solve the mystery. She’s an avid mystery reader and a child of privilege, and she seems to get along well with people, but knowing Wolfe’s fondness for unreliable narrators, I had to wonder if she weren’t a “mean girl” or somehow papering over her own faults in the course of the story.

The novel is parsed into short, fast-reading chapters, with frequent asides and reflections on the authorial process by Holly, whose “first book” Pandora is. The foreword also serves well as an epilogue, and can be re-read with the pleasure of context after finishing the chapters. Pandora would serve well enough as YA literature, and my tween daughter is certainly welcome to read it if it takes her interest. [via]

The Devil in a Forest

Hermetic Library fellow T Polyphilus reviews The Devil in a Forest by Gene Wolfe.

Gene Wolfe The Devil in a Forest

This novel is a pretty quick read. The “science fiction” imprint and the “fantasy” label are both misleading; there’s nothing supernatural or counterfactual in the setting or the plot. It’s just a straightforward adventure story set in a medieval village and its environs. The protagonist is a savvy but ignorant fifteen-year-old weaver’s apprentice.

The interaction between Catholicism and the vestiges of indigenous European religion is a major subtext of the story, and it’s no Wiccanish glamorization of the latter. Wolfe’s own Catholicism often informs his fiction, and it may do so here, but in any case, the result is a more realistic treatment of the material than one usually encounters in a novel with this sort of historical setting.

There’s a significant plot-twist that seemed a little obvious to me, but the whole thing was so lucidly written and well-paced that I didn’t mind a bit. [via]