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Swallow's Dance: 07/30/19

Swallow's Dance

Swallow's Dance by Wendy Orr is set on Crete in ancient times. Leira is a young teen about to start her initiation as a priestess when a violent earthquake and tsunami devastates the area and thrusts everything into chaos.

The majority of the book should be a coming of age in a post disaster recovery. It should be about a girl helping her mother and other survivors. And maybe it is but I didn't get beyond the first chapter.

There's a thing with historical fiction, especially ones set in ancient times, where the author choses to write in a stilted, overly formal language. Yes, language has changed over time, especially English. Modern day English is hardly recognizable from it's earliest forms, and certainly didn't exist in the time that Swallow's Dance is set.

The choice to use formal antiquated sounding language in a novel adds an extra layer between the narrative and the reader. It's a distraction.

Further more, this novel also includes apparently random switches between prose and poetry. Poetry, or snippets of poems, were common in early forms of novels. These poems were usually quotations of texts that were commonly known by readers at the time.

Later novels, such as Emily of New Moon by L. M. Montgomery, played with the by then clichéd act of including poetry, by including poems that young Emily had written herself. Though they weren't the best of poems, they fit the narrative and showed the protagonist's growth.

But this novel's inclusion of poetry, written by the protagonist, comes at random. There's no segue into the poem or out of the poem. It's just stilted text, followed by a lengthy passage of a poem, followed by more stilted text. I didn't have the patience for this mess.

One star

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