Do you go to cons only to discover that the Guest of Honor is someone you’ve barely heard of? That certainly makes me feel stupid. For instance, last year Lucius Shepard was the GoH at Readercon, and had interesting things to say in his interview. I decided I needed to do my homework. Now I’m glad I did, because it helped me know what to expect from him. In the opening of softspoken, Sanie is more intrigued than frightened of the voice in the house. She is an intelligent woman trapped in the sort of tiny little town that anyone with half a brain would leave, but her husband has decided to return to his roots. And it turns out those roots aren’t exactly healthy.
Though it’s beautifully written, it turns into one of those ghost stories where you’re screaming at the hero to get out, get out, but Sanie is too feckless to do it. Instead, her mounting frustration at the lack of something to do drives her inward. For most of the book, it’s not entirely clear whether there’s something supernatural about the sickness she discovers in her husband’s family. But when Sanie meets her inevitable doom, you’re sure. The voice in the ending closes a circle with the voice in the beginning, giving the book a satisfying sense of wholeness. I just didn’t care for what was inside the circle.
Tomorrow: The Book of American Prayer