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Across the Wall: A Tale of the Abhorsen and Other Stories

Review

Across the Wall: A Tale of the Abhorsen and Other Stories

Existing fans and newcomers alike will quickly fall into this latest title from Garth Nix as he proves his versatility as a storyteller. A wide and interesting array of subjects and settings provides fantasy readers with a good read. ACROSS THE WALL is a collection of the author's previously published short stories. However, it opens with "Nicholas Sayre and the Creature in the Case," a novella Nix wrote out of "the desire to see what happened next" to character Nicholas Sayre from The Abhorsen Trilogy.

Throughout the book, Nix is candid with readers about facts that went into the production of each short story. Information about his writing techniques and practices also are sprinkled among the pages. Readers who already appreciate Nix's fantasy adventure stories will enjoy the snippets as they add interesting background to each story. As a writer, I found it intriguing to follow Nix's patterns of note taking, ideas, and outlining so much that I chose to visit his website where I found even more details on how he creates his work.

Nix claims to be "someone who doesn't like the Arthurian mythos," but provides readers two stories written from his fantastical perspective of King Arthur and surrounding characters, primarily Merlin. "Under the Lake" explores Arthurianna from the eyes and mind of The Lady of the Lake. "Heart's Desire" retells the story of Merlin and Nimue "in a different light." Both present a sort of History Camelot and both clamor with the empty sounds of choosing power over love.

A dry wit permeates "From the Lighthouse" as Nix portrays a larger than life millionaire madman who thinks he has bought an island to assuage his entrepreneurial desires. The natives are pleasant until it is discovered how Marcus Kilman intends to change their lives with new industry and wealthy citizens looking for a travel adventure. Greed colors everything Kilman thinks and says. Nix is clever in his commentary on contemporary efforts to cultivate vacation lands out of quiet, pristine islands that would be better off left undiscovered.

For the busy days of summer, ACROSS THE WALL is the perfect book for Nix fans old and new to keep by the bed and read a story or two at a time. A word of caution: Nix has arranged the pieces to be progressively deep and macabre, so be careful how late at night you choose to read!

Reviewed by Joy Held on July 5, 2005

Across the Wall: A Tale of the Abhorsen and Other Stories
by Garth Nix

  • Publication Date: July 1, 2005
  • Genres: Fantasy, Short Stories
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: HarperTeen
  • ISBN-10: 0060747137
  • ISBN-13: 9780060747138