Find it at your library!

This is a story of failure.

It starts like this: I read Wintersong and liked it, but didn’t feel like I got the full experience because I wasn’t familiar with the source material (the movie Labyrinth). So I got a DVD copy from the library and planned to watch it on a Friday night after work. I thought watching the movie would magically make the plot of the book click in my brain.

If you’ve seen Labyrinth, then you know the idea that someone could watch it and the world would subsequently make more sense and not less is balderdash. David Bowie, rest his soul, dancing around in tights with a roomful of Muppet backup singers did not help me understand anything. Also, I fell asleep around 30 minutes in, because in my dotage I’m pretty much incapable of staying awake for an entire movie.

So I have to admit, what I enjoyed about Wintersong was the gorgeous writing and the equally gorgeous setting it evoked. I read it slowly over a couple weeks, and every time I dipped into it, I felt like I was falling into a fever dream that, while beautiful, never coalesced into anything I could really grasp. Are Liesl and the Goblin King in love? Or is he her jailor? Which of them is saving humanity by staying in the underground, again? How many ways can the Goblin King take away Liesl’s music? And what exactly does he want with it once he gets it?

Soooo many questions, so few answers. If there were a quiz to take at the end of this book, I would fail it. Plot-wise, I have pretty much no clue what happened. But if I were judging a book beauty contest based on looks alone, Wintersong has enough flash and sparkle to win first runner-up, no problem.

Find it at your library!

I decided to read Idaho because I had heard it was about a woman married to a man whose first marriage had ended in a mysterious tragedy, and that sounded interesting. I did not realize that I would be reading a story about dementia and memory loss. I did not expect it to hit quite as close to home as it did. I still have a lot of processing to do.

I’m not sure I would have read Idaho if I’d known more about it, but it ended up being a very powerful read for me, so I guess I wouldn’t change anything. It’s one of those books where every little reveal feels very big, very significant--so I’m not going to do much summarizing here. The less you know going in, the richer your reading experience will be.

I will say that I have something of a family history of Alzheimer’s and dementia, though not the early-onset variety that features in this book. And it made me think a lot of things and feel a lot of feelings to watch Wade lose touch with his life and his memories, especially because he knew it was something that was likely to happen to him.

Of course, dementia is only one thing that’s going on in this book. There’s also a terrible, unfathomable crime, an unusual romance, and a lingering mystery that seems destined to remain so. Ruskovich’s writing is beautiful, meditative, evocative of the rugged landscape of the titular state. Idaho is a lovely book, even in its starkness. The only thing it left me wanting was a little more closure, a few more answers to the questions it raised.

With regards to Random House and NetGalley for the advance copy. On sale today, January 3!