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on May 20, 2012 :
A beautiful fairy tale. Literally.
Diane Graham brings new life to an old genre, the fairy tale, with her vision of five kingdoms separated and oppressed by a cruel overlord. Her storyworld contains all the old favorites: dragons, fairies, talking animals, evil curses, and true love.
The first-person, present-tense voice takes some getting used to, but it totally works. Since Ocilla is an amnesiac, all she has at the outset is her "here and now." As the story progresses, she discovers her world and herself anew.
The story is an episodic quest, as Ocilla and her allies travel across the five kingdoms, breaking curses and preparing for the final showdown. It's all wrapped in lyrical, beautiful prose. Vivid sensory details put you right in the story.
Most of the story progresses through slow, lyrical periods of discovery alternating with moments of sheer terror. The first 80 or 90 percent of the story proceeds at a measured pace, but the ending comes in a rush -- almost too hurried, leaving some questions unanswered. But this is a quibble. Great story. Great characters. Happy ending. And it has what I've come to see as the essential element of great speculative fiction: a storyworld you'd like to go visit. Often.
(reviewed long after purchase)
on March 13, 2012 :
I Am Ocilla is a complex adventure mostly told from the perspective of an amnesiac trying to make sense of fairies, intelligent critters, and nightmares that are clearly more than dreams. Full of wit and wisdom, the tale unfolds for the reader as Ocilla gradually gets a grip on who she is, who she's been, and who she's meant to be.
Although I'm not a fan of stories that switch from first person perspective to third person, this only occurred a couple times when something important to the plot occurred and Ocilla could not be present to relay it to the reader.
The characters are interesting and distinct from each other. Each has unique quirks, strengths, and foibles. Even the common fantasy sorts of creatures like fairies and dragons are not just copied from old legends and stories. They have characteristics that make them recognizable but still different from the usual expectations.
The plot is full of fascinating twists and turns, complicated because Ocilla's amnesia includes curiosity bordering on recklessness. The story moves along at a good pace without bogging down anywhere. The endgame scenario did seem a little rushed because it focused on Ocilla's conflict with the antagonist rather than on the general melee of good vs. evil creatures. Still, the story resolves in a reasonable and satisfying way. There was no sense of something left undone.
Check it out!
(reviewed within a month of purchase)