Monday, March 21, 2011

More On The Battle Of The Books

Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword by Barry Deutsch lost in the first round of Battle of the Books, but I happen to have just finished reading it, and it's definitely not a loser.

Hereville is a quirky little graphic novel that began life as a web comic. It bills itself as being about "Yet Another Troll-Fighting 11-Year-Old Orthodox Jewish Girl." It seems to take place in a fairy tale type world, though the kids go to a school that's contemporary enough to have a cafeteria.

One of the things that I'm not fond of in traditional fantasy is that the world building often becomes very over the top, as if the author has to go further than the last author to publish a fantasy novel. What I really liked about Hereville is that the world building seems to be all about Orthodox Judaism. (I say "seems" because that's how ignorant I am about Orthodox Judaism.) I like my fantasy with a contemporary, real world edge. This book had that for me, it was just a contemporary, real world that I don't know.

The stepmother--not a stereotypical, fantasy stepmother.

The pig--well, not a stereotypical, fantasy pig mainly because I'm not aware of any other pigs in fantasy.

Mirka--could easily have been a stereotypical, fiesty fantasy girl but the bit about being an Orthodox Jew took care of that!

A quick and clever read with an ending that suggests that Mirka might be back to do something with that sword. I hope the Battle of the Books brings more attention to this title.

1 comment:

Monica Edinger said...

I too hope the BoB gives Mirka more attention. Glad you agree with us that it was a worthy contender.

And FYI, one of the more interesting pigs in fantasy is Hen-Wen in Susan Cooper's The Book of Three. The hero, Taran, is an Assistant Pig-Keeper and Hen-Wen is his very-important-charge.