The Lightness of Dust, by M. L. Weaver

633009ea9e0cbf841af8691977cb9fcc

Rating: +4 Literary Supernatural

Available at: http://www.amazon.com/The-Lightness-Dust-Meronymy-ebook/d...

Summary

The book is woven from three separate threads from three very different times.

The first takes place soon after the dawn of human civilization. A young woman named Kere lives in a sprawling port town. She has a powerful healing gift and the love of an earnest young man who is far too poor to impress her uncaring, greedy father. Her father will earn greater wealth by selling her and her gift into servitude as a priestess at a local temple.

The second thread takes us to the city of Seattle during the Great Depression. There, a struggling artist and handyman creates beautiful paintings, but can barely afford to buy painting materials. He does maintenance for a local performing arts theater. He buys a ticket for an evening performance -- he usually watches from backstage -- and finds himself smitten by a talented violinist. They meet, and she asks him to paint her "as she used to be." Their romance is cut short by World War II.

The third takes place in modern-day California, where Jake -- a research professor -- is slowly-but-surely losing control of his lab to the ambitious, weird, overcompetent Amanda, whom he's hired as a grad student. He's working hard in pursuit of tenure, and his relationship with his wife, Elyse, is suffering. Meanwhile, Amanda teams up with another professor to study a Bronze-Age port town circa 3000 B.C.

Though the three threads are introduced early, it's not clear that they're meant to tie together in a meaningful way until about two-thirds of the way through the book. Patience, gentle reader.

Review

I started out thinking I was going to hate it. For the first page-and-a-half, I thought it was going to be a death march through a thousand miles of purple prose. The prose is lush and ornate, especially in the scenes about Kere, the Bronze-Age woman. I've been trained by hours reading bad fantasy books to expect this sort of prose to become tiresome, self-important dreck. But it's actually quite beautiful, if you have patience with it. On rare moments, I did find myself thinking, "Okay, that sentence got away from him. Coulda used an editor." But for the most part, Weaver has a gift for striking just the right note, choosing just the right word, and creates something unexpectedly beautiful.

In the second scene of the book, when it first switches to Seattle, I had an uncomfortable moment of uncertainty. It took longer than it should have to nail down the setting. That's definitely a tweak I'd like to see him make.

The three threads do tie together, but they do so rather late in the book. When they do, the tone shifts somewhat, and the pace of the book picks up. Sad, sweet tales about people separated by vast gulfs of time suddenly shift into fast-paced supernatural horror. I can't say much without giving away the whole of it, but Weaver tied it together in a way that really worked for me, but might not work for others. The last tenth of the book is fun in a very different way than the rest, and the ending was pretty awesome.

I always recommend reading the sample before buying. In this book's case, that might be more important than for most books. I soon grew to like Weaver's style, but you may have a different reaction.

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