book reviews by Althea

Tooth and Claw – Jo Walton ***

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Do you think that the concept of reading a Victorian novel where all the characters just happen to be dragons sounds like the most clever thing you’ve heard since last season? Well then, this book is for you.
I picked this up since Walton just won the Nebula, and I realized I’d never read anything by her. I thought I had, but realized that was Clayton, Jo, not Walton, Jo. (I do that a lot.) Very different authors. ‘Tooth and Claw’ won both the World Fantasy and the Campbell awards. It is a very well crafted book. It’s both an homage to and a satire of Victorian novels. Walton states that it ‘owes a lot to’ the book ‘Framley Parsonage,’ which I haven’t read, so I can’t say how closely it follows it.
However, although this is very well done, it’s not the book for me. It just seemed a little too gimmicky, a bit too tongue-in-cheek without being actually humorous. The plot revolves entirely around issues of social standing, inheritance and marital arrangements. It started out slowly, but by the end I was reasonably drawn in to the fates of these characters (which are all tied up neatly and traditionally at the conclusion.) If you are entertained by the concept of these  sorts of social issues being worried over by huge, cannibalistic, fire-breathing reptiles… who also love to wear absurdly decorative hats… go for it.


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