Sunday, April 13, 2014

Book Review: Anahita's Woven Riddle

I believe I may have read this book before, or at least part of it. The title wasn't unfamiliar to me when I found it in the library and when I was reading it bits and pieces early on seemed even more familiar. However, after checking this blog (it's even better than goodreads for keeping track of what I've read and seen) I couldn't find it so I believe I must have dropped it early on before. And, while it's not a poor story, I think I can see why I would have done that, and why it made so little of an impression on me that I picked it back up.....

Anahita's Woven Riddle by Megan Nuttall Sayres



In Iran around the turn of the century, Anahita's family are semi-nomadic herders and it's come time for her father to choose a husband for her. But Anahita has always been a bit more independent than many of the people in her village and wants some choice in the matter so she proposes a plan, let her create a weaving that will serve as a contest and whoever understands it (and therefore understands her) will then be presented to her father for consideration. But will her father accept having his authority challenged and will any man even try for a wife who has such strange ideas?

So, why would I have dropped this book if it's not a bad book? It's not poorly written but unfortunately it's a bit boring and the plot would work much better as a short story or novella. Anahita gets the idea for her woven riddle within the first few pages but then doesn't actually act on it until the last third of the book, the rest of it is filled with what is supposed to be build-up to the event and development of the characters who will vie for her hand. When I was first reading the summary for this story it reminded me of a number of fables I had read when I was young and I was interested to see how it would work as a full length story and it just didn't. That's a problem that quest-type stories have, when there's only a singular, relatively simple, goal to the story you have to really flesh out the rest to keep it interesting. And sadly that just doesn't work here, while there were some moments when I could really empathize with Anahita or one of the men most of the time I found them just dull, especially since I knew that all of the character's who wouldn't become her husband would never be an important part of her life (and the story hints at rather strongly who it'll be early on, although in some ways that's a plus since it shows that it flesh out Anahita's goals and dreams quite clearly). Heck, it was a rather safe bet that the story would end as soon as the riddle was solved, which is what happened, and in keeping with many a fairy tale, Anahita's hand was won by the most worthy of her suitors, meaning that despite all the page time they were given the other men hadn't really changed or grown regardless. While I guessed who was most likely to win her hand I was hoping it would be someone else since it would have given the story a different meaning which I just think would have been a bit more interesting. 


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