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Tuesday, May 15th, 2018
Book Reviews

Recommended Reading - Florida's Top 25, Plus Bears, Nightingales

Katherine Arden

The Bear and the Nightingale

Del Ray

Katherine Arden’s lush Romantic Age prose way upholsters the bare-boniness of the Grimm brothers’ tales. The big serendipity in this, Arden’s first novel, are the freshly minted insights into Russian folk stories—asides so perceptive, so psychologically on point as to provoke a “How did you know that?” from the reader.

In the frosted forests, 700 years past and two weeks north of Moscow, Vasilisa Petrovna’s mother dies giving her birth. Later, as a daughter, “Vasya” embodies the virtues of our contemporary, self-enabling #MeToo heroine. She’s as fey as Cassandra, wandering the forest alone, communing with the ancient, elemental spirits of tree-and-tarn.

Vasya’s father is a nobleman, and she his favorite. But on a pilgrimage to Moscow, he unwittingly betroths Vasya by accepting the talisman of a stranger that no one else remembers seeing, and only to save the life of his hotheaded son.

In the end, Vasya’s spiritual wounds come not from tree-and-tarn, but bloodsucking Christian undead. Oh, my.

- Wynn Parks

George S. Lemieux and Laura E. Mize

Florida Made – The 25 Most Important Figures Who Shaped the State

The History Press

Former U.S. Senator George S. Lemieux and freelance journalist Laura E. Mize might start some arguments with their choices—where else would you find Walt Disney and Fidel Castro together? Still, they covered the big and the little picture in Florida Made, presenting each case according to the nature and the pervasiveness of the subject’s contribution to the state’s establishment, for better or worse. I was delighted to see George Washington Jenkins Jr. (founder of Publix), and agreed with Henry Flagler’s Number One spot (Disney is second). There were some surprises. The book is filled with photos and maps.

- Bruce Collier