He tightened his picker-staff grip, desire rotting into resentment. Most creatures of the ground had vanished from the Expanse, caught by the underground menace or fleeing its clutches. Krawg had pursued that rusty-hinge chirp, compelled by hunger and, even more, by a longing to see feathers lift a mystery into the air, to hear a song take to the sky.
So when a cry pierced the dusk and a solitary shadow winged low over the river–a stark and simple rune written on the sky’s purple scroll–he held his breath.
He glanced about to make sure he was alone, then smeared his tears with his sleeve. It was a bird. A bird with tousled crestfeathers and a ribbon tail gliding northward. In Krawg’ chest a pang rang like an alarm bell. He wanted to join the bird there, suspended.
“Ballyworms, Warney. What’s wrong with me?”
(from The Ale Boy’s Feast by Jeffrey Overstreet)
Quoting from my review at Speculative Faith of The Ale Boy’s Feast (all of which, including a plot synopsis of the whole series, you can read here):
I loved The Ale Boy’s Feast. As the above plot summary indicates, it should not be read apart from the rest of the series—but read within its context, it’s a challenging, moving story that is both a heart-pounding adventure and a heartbreaking song. Jeffrey Overstreet’s writing has only gotten better, as even those characters who appear only for a few scenes are depicted with the detail that makes them human. His prose has all the density and mystery of poetry, demanding that readers pay attention. Not in any way a simplistic allegory, this book nevertheless offers us a lens through which to see ourselves, our world, our stories, and our history; a lens through which to cast aside deception and embrace beauty and truth.
I find myself at a loss, really, to sum up all I experienced as I read this book. I feel that I have read many different stories and could review them all, or I could just rise on a whirlwind of words, images, impressions—of glassworks, kites and kitemakers, golden ale, underground rivers, far northern mountains, toys, wings, love, death, nightmares, tears, men, women, and children. I close the covers and savour the names, the places, the accents, the people.
I can’t really do it all justice. The best I can do is encourage you to read this book, to read all four, and savour the feast with me.
I shall post my recent interview with Jeffrey tomorrow, and give you a chance to win a copy of the book. Until then.