Sunday, August 20, 2023

Juniper, Gentian, and Rosemary by Pamela Dean


DNF @ 51%

There are lots of reasons to DNF a book, okay? Sometimes I will read a book and I will think to myself, "This is a bad book." Sometimes I will read a book and think, "While I personally hated this book, I can see why someone might like it." Ultimately, there is not that much difference in how I will rate these two experiences (a two is a two), but I might actually recommend the latter to someone else if I thought it was a match for their own niche tastes. Because at the end of the day, I am a reader, and I love seeing people find the books that they're looking for even if I didn't enjoy them. 

JUNIPER, GENTIAN, AND ROSEMARY falls into this latter category. This is my second Pamela Dean that I have tried and failed to finish and I think it's just a matter of her writing style not working for me. Her characters are so precious; picture a full-time dark academia girlie who wears peasant dresses and spends all her time reading clothbound editions with sprayed edges of Kierkegaard or Tolstoy, and that is the target audience for this book.

I saw people comparing this book to Madeleine L'Engle and I was like, YES. Because the characters in the book were a lot like the Murray family. I mean, this family literally does table readings of Shakespeare after dinner. I'm sorry, but what? This book is a retelling of a Scottish ballad called "Riddles Widely Expounded." Basically, a suspicious hot guy moves next door to this family with three girls and he seems to have echolalia or something like it, because rather than generating organic speech, all he does his speak in riddles and quotations. That sounds like an interesting premise, but apart from a few sinister foreshadowy moments, NOTHING OF INTEREST HAPPENED UP TO 51%.

The writing in this book is great and the dark academia vibes are immaculate for those who are interested in that aesthetic. But unless you're looking for THE SECRET HISTORY: MY SWEET SIXTEEN EDITION, I'm not sure you'll find this very accessible.

I did like the '90s romantic/alt girl aesthetic though.

2 to 2.5 out of 5 stars

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