Re: Sixty-One Nails

One of these days I’m going to learn that just because a book has a cool idea or an awesome premise doesn’t mean I’m going to like it. In his feature in The Big Idea, Mike Shevdon has some very cool things to say about other worlds and the true meaning of ancient ceremonies. But after reading the first chapters of Sixty-One Nails, I couldn’t remember why I was so excited by the prospect of reading it.

Niall,  recently divorced from a paper cut-out of a paranoid shrew,  dies of a heart attack on the Underground. Or so he’s told by the mysterious old lady who revives him. All he knows is that he felt ill and now he’s late for work. She tells him she is called Blackbird and he is called Rabbit. Strange enough things happen on the way to getting him out of the ambulance and not in hospital that her powers seem real enough not to be a con (which thought never crosses his mind). She explains that he has fey blood. That’s why she could save him. That’s also why a mysterious evil was trying to use his death to cross over.

Okay, an interesting premise but the pattern of the telling drove me crazy. Something odd happens. Blackbird explains. Rabbit allows himself to be pushed along the path she sets. Then something else odd happens. Blackbird explains.  It is so talky!

As I inched along, the book got better, giving me the constant feeling that I shouldn’t give up because the real story was about to begin. It helped that Rabbit is forced to fend for himself, even though he’s pretty much demonstrated that he can’t. I was charmed by the furry troll. The invasion of Rabbit’s home is truly spooky. But I felt weighed down by boredom, by a supposed villain who came off as a mere jerk, by some extended business about picking the right stones, by a vision that presumably would become meaningful in a couple hundred pages. By the time Rabbit suddenly discovered his own magic, I didn’t care enough to get pissed off by the fact that magic was the only thing he was competent at.

I hung in there until the book was due and I couldn’t renew it, and I still fell ten pages short of the 150 page mark.Well, I’m invoking the life is short rule. If a book can’t get me excited in 150 pages, you can’t say I didn’t give a fair chance. Besides, that’s what the library is for. Someone else will like it more than I did.