Somehow, sometime, I must’ve become an official Shannon Hale Fan.
Except for River Secrets and Rapunzel’s Revenge, I’ve read four out of six of her fantasy works. Today, I woke up thinking about Enna Burning, the novel that took away my sleep last night. And I finished it up and the verdict is…. bookliscious! I’ve read many good reviews, and have had this book suggested to me many times by other bloggers, but I never got around to reading it because my TBR pile is ridiculously huge (right now it’s one full bookcase). I, for the love of me, don’t understand why I keep adding to it.
Anyway, I acquired Enna Burning yesterday at a huge booksale where everything was 50% off, which is all I need to start raiding the shelves. Uh, if you’ve read the last post, add five more books to that list. I’m proud of myself, though, for restraining the urge to buy too many, goodness knows I’m not made of money! I need to eat! And buy textbooks…
Back to the review: Enna Burning is set in the same world as in The Goose Girl: Bayern. The novel focuses on the friendship between Enna and Princess Ani. The story was a very engrossing portal into their world. It made me read it feverishly. The descriptions of the elemental fire raging inside Enna was so poetic and imaginative. At some point during the night as I read this, I felt like jumping into a pool of icy water. Shannon Hale writes so vividly of the burning claustrophobic powerlessness Enna feels from the fire inside of her consuming her, beckoning to her, clinging to her very being. I also loved Shannon Hale’s descriptions of the wind that Isi/Ani could call:
It curled off Isi, around their clasped hands, up Enna’s wrists. The breeze felt as familiar as a touch from a friend. It had a sense of Isi about it. She seemed to know which direction it would flow before it moved, as she often knew what Isi would say before she finished a sentence.
The bits where Sileph tried to seduce Enna were nail-biting. And the parts where Finn and Enna had their moments were heart-squeezing. There was a lot of romance and adventure and life and death situations intermingled enough to burn my eyes out. It was nice that the words weren’t too small and the lines were spacious… you start to notice these things when you’ve been reading for several hours straight (the publishers must’ve anticipated this novel would do some such a thing to its readers).
There’s something about a Shannon Hale work. A certain grittiness that makes the world seem more real and intimate. I was genuinely afraid for Enna, because I saw no other way out, except a tantalizing hint or two. I had the same Shannon Hale experience while reading The Goose Girl and Book of a Thousand Days. There’s something raw and poetic about her descriptions of her character’s emotions and especially of their courage. Shannon Hale weaves her tale using a spotlight, as the story focuses tighter and narrower on a certain scene or character. One image that stands in my mind is Enna or Ani or Dashti, mustering up all the last ounces of their inner courage and facing the enemy despite all the odds against them.
I think the perks to reading all night, is that the images and the dialogue seem more vivid. The whole world quietens and narrows down to the yellow circle of the lamp and the stage is set in your imagination. The only problem is waking up the next day and feeling all muffle-headed and ornery, as I am right now, after reading it through the night.
Rating: 4.5/5 Feverish dreams