a book review for the upcoming season

I have recently finished "Hiddensee," the latest from Gregory Maguire, best known for "Wicked" and its sequels, and many other well-regarded novels as well.

I think it has enjoyed only modest success so far; personally, I think it might have done much better with a clearer, catchier title. 

It is Maguire's version of "The Nutcracker," and it (sort of) answers the question: What exactly is the story with Drosselmeier, the slightly spooky, mysteriously powered, one-eyed elderly toymaker?

The book is utterly gorgeous albeit subtle and slow-moving, so, if you are hoping for a traditional fantasy of a powerful sorcerer, you will be sorely disappointed.

The book's PR team did a great job with this part of the description: 

"How can a person who is abused by life, shortchanged and challenged, nevertheless access secrets that benefit the disadvantaged and powerless? . . .  If the compromised Godfather Drosselmeier can bring an enchanted nutcracker to a young girl in distress on a dark winter evening, perhaps everyone, however lonely or marginalized, has something precious to share."

The book is in three sections, with the middle section being by far the longest. I have just re-read the first and third sections several times. If you also do so, then perhaps you will realize that Drosselmeier's injuries began long before his lost his eye, and not in the way that he grew up being told, and that therefore in some ways his self-imposed solitude was actually for the best.

It can take many years sometimes to realize what really happened to us when we were very young. Some myths we are told are not true. Others are all too true. And yet other myths can help us survive. As someone famous (Neil Gaiman, I think) once said: "Fairy tales are more than true, not because they tell us that dragons are real, but because they prove that dragons can be beaten."


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