I rather enjoyed A. Ka’s first instalment, The Winter. It was an intriguing little novella that merged 16th century history with fantasy, and was successful too. I was really interested to see where the author would take us with this follow on, and to see if the great personality and Voice the author has built up would continue with a new character.
The Spring, still told by Isaac’s narrative, follows the ordeal of Eostre, a nun who has suffered too much already in her young life. Her father was a drunkard, and thanks to him falling into a lake and getting himself killed, Eostre is forced to life the cloistered life in poverty. She finds the spiritual life a little too dull for her, but as talk of a nasty plague known as the ‘Delirium’ ravages her convent, Eostre begins to struggle with what is reality and what is the effects of the plague.
A. Ka’s The Spring is a great little novella. Although the second in the series, you can read it without knowing too much of the first book, however, I fully recommend reading The Winter first as all the little nods to Beltran (the farmer from The Winter) is a nice touch. It reads as a sort of prequel story, but with a timeline paradox. It all sounds complicated, but is masterly told.
I found Eostre an interesting central character, one who is a little ahead of the times. For many in the 16th century, religion would have been a major part in everyone’s life. Eostre on the other hand, questions the role of God and what impact the religion has on the world. I couldn’t help but feel that this was part of the author’s own voice coming through. Skepticism, however, is integral to the plot, as Eostre soon finds the reality too confusing to live in. “People keep dying one moment, then pretending to be alive and well the next’ is from the blurb of this book, and it couldn’t ring more true.
Eostre is so different from Beltran though. You don’t sympathise with her as much. I feel though that the constant flipping of realities are a fascinating feature that will have you guessing as to what really is going on. It’s a little puzzle for the reader to work out on their own. The final third of The Spring really grabs hold of you, especially as Eostre is forced to undergo such brutal experiences. I really wouldn’t have liked to have been in her situation.
The first book was told in a humble way. The Spring is different. It tells the story of how the Delirium manages to disrupt an entire community. It is less about the community’s people though, and more about the fantasy side to the story. I particularly enjoyed the reference to the Hippocrene – a lake of Greek myth, which really adds flavour here. And A. Ka really starts to weave her own mythology creation into her story, and it is a delicious treat let me tell you.
A. Ka has an uncanny gift with being able to tell a story that makes you feel the wonders inside. Her voice is authentic, not forced, and her writing has such an exact crispness to it, it reads and flows so well. I felt that the flipping and changing of realities much more easy to follow here. Unlike Eostre, if you have read The Winter, you can start to pick up on little details, little threads that hold the two books together. and for such short novellas, they are incredibly clever.
I’m still not sure how Isaac fits into everything. He is featured in the both books’ first chapter – always recalling events that have passed. His name links the books together – Isaac the Fortunate series, and yet he hardly features. I find it mysterious as to how he fits into the grand scheme of the series – a series that will be told across 6 novellas. I’m already looking forward to the next instalment, The Summer.
The Spring is an addictive little novel, one with hooks in abundance. Eostre is a spunky character, which makes this novel her definitive story, and yet you know she has a bigger part to play in the series as a whole. A. Ka’s impressive imagination really shines with the fantastical moments here, and her enthralling weaving of the storyline back and forth is just superb. I may miss Beltran, but this isn’t about him. The only constant is the Delirium and the part it plays in destroying whole communities. The sarcasm that shines through Eostre in regards to religion is amusing too, although I may have imagined that.
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