Today, my brother regarded me with awe as he said, “Wow. You are really obsessed with ferrets.”
Which is what it all boils down to. Anything I dive into, be it project or past-time, is always done with more compulsion and dedication when it somehow involves ferrets. So I wasted no time in jumping into Spellbent the evening I received it. Because despite the fact that I read very little fantasy and stated openly that it was not usually my genre of choice… there was a cute little ferret on the cover. Yes, I am that obsessed.
But let it be made clear – you do not have to be a fuzzy fanatic like me to appreciate Spellbent. If the presence of a ferret was the only entertaining aspect of the book, I still would not have been able to read it. I tore through Spellbent as quickly as one of my favorite Nicci French books, and that’s fast. It was easy to get into and easy to follow. Thoroughly enjoyable. All things I rarely ever say of fantasy. Because fact is, most fantasy I’ve read takes place in other worlds, other centuries. The heroes are characters that are often not human and not people I can identify with, and that makes it harder for me to follow. I probably sound simple-minded when I say that, but the quickest way for me to lose myself in any book is to see myself as the heroine. In most fantasy books, I cannot. In Lucy Snyder’s novels, I can. This isn’t Tolkien and his world of Middle-Earth; this is modern-day Ohio. The book is woven with a very practical approach to magic and how it affects everything, from the economy to the government to the average working talent and their interactions with the mundane around them. All explained in ways that even I can understand. No easy feat, believe me.
Jessie Shimmer is a young woman still learning the extent of her magical abilities when her whole world is turned askew. In Spellbent, she suddenly finds herself on the run, trying to save her love from a hell with roots that run far deeper than she could’ve imagined. And faithfully accompanying her is a rascally ferret familiar, Palimpsest. He is unusually dignified for a fuzzy, and I was highly amused by an early description of his voice… a Canadian librarian. (I kept imagining Joel Sutherland portraying Pal in the heavily CGR’d movie adaptation. So how about it, Dreamworks?) And most importantly, Snyder’s description of ferret mannerisms were fairly accurate. With the only exception being a description of Pal’s excrement, which had been described as a small warm pellet. I wish that were true of ferrets, believe me! But Pal is a magical familiar, not a born fuzzy. So for argument’s sake, that was magical poo, and therefore correct.