The Hidden Palace by Helene Wecker
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Like the first book, this one is truly excellent.
These are lush characters, complicated, subtle, and both are so aware of the pulls that threaten to tear them apart. Their nature versus the pull of humanity, just trying to live and survive and perhaps find a little love in this pre-WWI human world.
No kind of review can truly explain this. The details, the immersion, and the depth of emotion are what make this a great book. It's magical realism done right. I truly cared and got torn apart by all the pulls.
A little bit of brutal honesty here: I've never been much of a fan of Magical Realism. I can count on only two hands the number of MR books that I thought were truly great. The rest either felt pretentious or vapid or an excuse to write a banal book and slap a little bit of magic in there to have it slide into the specific genre like an evil-ass bird egg-bombing another species' nest.
But Helene Wecker's two novels are the real deal. Genuine and heartfelt. They came alive for me and this is why I'm so impressed.
This might be one of my favorite fantasies of the year and it's not even close to being my preferred subgenre. :)
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