When you wander through a library, and see hundreds of books, you still need a good cover to catch your attention. Especially when you’re in the beat-up paperback section, and they all look the same. If you are familiar with an author, you’ll probably look at everything they’ve written, but if you aren’t… most of those books will continue to gather dust.
After finishing my latest read, I looked it up online to find some more details, and I found a picture of the original cover. Oh, yes, now I do remember that one. You see, I learned to love books by Patricia C. Wrede, starting with Cimorene’s adventures in Dealing With Dragons, and the rest of the Enchanted Forest Chronicles. Since then, I’ve read almost everything else she’s written… except for the Lyra books. I didn’t do it on purpose. But if I came across one of them with that old cover, I would have overlooked it.
First of all, it looks like the Shannara books, and with my apologies to Terry Brooks, I never liked the first Shannara book (maybe it was The Sword of Shannara), so I never continued to read them. So, the picture gives me the willies, right from the start. Also, now that I have actually read Caught in Crystal, it’s obvious that the original illustrator never read the book. Next to having a bad cover, having a cover that’s just plain wrong? That’s messed up, in my opinion.
Aside from my issues with book covers, someone noticed from my previous blog posts that I loved reading Patricia Wrede books. You’ve heard me talking about Thirteenth Child and its sequel, Across the Great Barrier. So, I was asked to read Caught in Crystal, at long last, and tell everyone what I think. So, here goes.
The story begins with a black traveling carriage pulling up in front of the inn in Copeham, where the innkeeper is one Kayl Larrinar. Though her children, Mark and Dara, are alarmed that this black carriage may be bringing death or bad luck to visit them, Kayl recognizes a sorceress when she sees one, and knows what she has to deal with. A member of the Silver Sisters, Corrana has business with Kayl, whether Kayl wants to put it off, or not. Within a day or so, the widowed Kayl also receives a visit from her husband’s best friend, the wizard Glyndon.
All of these arrivals can’t be coincidence. Corrana has been sent to bring Kayl back to the Star Hall, as there is unfinished business from 16 years ago. Glyndon has come to prevent Kayl from going, as he has unexplained visions that foresee Kayl’s death. The children only see the excitement of a journey, and finding out more about their mother’s past. They didn’t know that she was once a warrior for the Silver Sisterhood.
I enjoyed how the story built on itself, bit by bit, telling you about Kayl’s worries, and showing flashbacks to her training with the Silver Sisters, though I didn’t think there were enough details about her Star Cluster (her team of four Sisters). There should’ve been more details about how their friendship developed. Maybe it’s in another one of her books.
As this was one of Ms. Wrede’s earlier books, I think she left out details in some areas that should’ve been covered more. One chapter encompassed a trip of six months time, and then, the children were showing skills in the Star Hall, that you barely knew they might have gained while traveling. And did Kayl ever tell her children more about their father, and details of the Sisterhood? That one chapter took her from out of shape to extremely fit, with a jump that felt like it was skipped. So, I felt like some chapters could have been more detailed, but I think she learned this with her next books, as I’ve never had any issues with the rest of them. : )
Otherwise, your curiosity will build, as you wonder what the Twisted Tower is, what was the evil black creature that Kayl and her friends fought, sixteen years ago. Why do the Silver Sisters need Kayl now, when they never tried to bring her back before this? What does Glyndon see in his visions that keep him at Kayl’s side? And why are the Sisters so prejudiced against Glyndon, the Varnan wizard, but not against the cat-like Wyrds? The rest of the country seems to be turning against the non-human inhabitants, so why not the Silver Sisters, as well?
I really liked this book, though I think I still like some of Ms. Wrede’s other books better. I think that the world and the details of it would grow on me, as I continue to read the rest of the Lyra books. It’s my understanding that Caught in Crystal is the first, chronologically, but it was written third or fourth of all the Lyra books. So, I’m curious to see what the other books contain.
But no matter what my opinion is, what’s yours? Do you have a favorite book by Patricia Wrede? She is a phenomenal author with a scope of imagination that I can only hope to achieve, someday. I would like to be able to write as well as she does, if not better. While I see what the future holds for my writing, you go pick up a Patricia Wrede, and get reading!