Sep 30, 2010

Across the Wall: a Tale of the Abhorsen and Other Stories, by Garth Nix

I hadn't known that Nix had published a book of short stories, and I was a little hesitant lest they dampen my enthusiasm for the Abhorsen trilogy. Luckily, I was proven wrong. The first of the stories does take place in that same world, though it focuses on Nick, the young Ancelstierran man who features in the last of the Abhorsen books. The tale is engrossing and creative, and does not disappoint.

I was most intrigued by Nix's other stories in the collection. While each one holds at least a kernel of fantasy, they are all very different. The thread that runs through them is pure empathy: Nix has an incredible ability to elicit emotional responses through his writing. I am thinking, for example, of his story written to benefit children affected by war. By the end, my eyes were filled with tears and I had to take a moment to gather myself. It's a shame that short stories aren't a more lauded medium, for when they are done well, they can be so much more powerful than full-length novels.

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