“The Storyteller’s Throne” by Jocelyn Bates

This is a book of gentle fantasy dealing with terrible situations. It disguises the horrors of life with allegory and poetry, allowing the characters to recognize their vulnerabilities and become whole again in the loving, supportive environment of a fantasy world.
The main character, Grace, spends the first part of the tale remembering and dealing with a sexual abuse incident that happened when she was six years old. Her new friend, Kai, suffers from a surfeit of empathy that causes the emotions of others to abrade against his psyche to the point of self-destruction.
Gathered in a nebulous magical place where everything is possible at the blink of a thought, these two join with others like themselves to find a better answer to the angst of growing up than the solutions provided by the present-day manipulations of society, schools and other institutions.
The image of the collage is central to the understanding of this story, as it is to some extent a collage of the emotions of its characters. Despite this dependence on unreal and obscure imagery, the plotline is straightforward, so the general themes of the book are accessible.
However, the writing style does not ultimately solve the problem of translating the storyteller’s art, which consists of telling, into book form, where showing is the main form of communication. The unfortunate result is that the storytelling sometimes slides into lecturing, which might be acceptable in a live performance, but does not hold the reader to the pages of the book.
Likewise, as anyone knows who has ever mistaken a joke for an insult in an email, live communication conveys all sorts of information that written language does not. The accuracy of the writing and the precision of the punctuation and spelling are even more important to readers who are trying to decipher the subjective emotional messages of a surrealistic tale. It is unfortunate that this writer was unable to find an editor sufficiently sympathetic to the demands of creativity to assist her with the mundane chore of proofreading.
A flawed gem of undeniable beauty. Recommended for fans of Surrealism of the gentler sort.
(4 / 5)

About the Author: Gordon Long

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