JanineB- Reviews / Book Reviews / C+ Reviews#ownvoices / dreams / Emperor / experimental novel / Fantasy / goddess / LGBTQIA+ / m/m / POC / POC author / quest / resistance/oppression / second-person POV1 Comments
Dear Simon Jimenez,
I’ve been waiting with bated breath for the release of The Spear Cuts Through Water, your follow up and a novel in the fantasy genre, and was thrilled when I obtained a copy.
The Spear Cuts Through Water is an ambitious novel. It balances unusual scope with unusual intimacy, not an easy thing to do. Its POV structure and formatting are experimental, and it shifts between three fantastical settings, two of them different lands separated not only by a large body of water but also by eras in time, as well as a third place/time that is in fact timeless and that connects the other two.
This is hard book to describe, and the best I way I’ve figured out how to do it is by providing screenshots (see below) as well as describing some of the departures from style conventions before describing the characters and settings as I get into summarizing the beginning of the story.
As you can see from the screenshots, even the way the text is laid out is unexpected. There are bolded, italicized and centered titles between some of the scene breaks, and often they are comprised of a phrase or a sentence that begins the next scene or one that ends the previous scene. Once in a while a title doesn’t seem to be part of either, and is (I think) being used as titles typically are. Sometimes the titles are complete sentences but occasionally they sometimes only a part of a sentence. As you can see in my first example, a title can end in a comma.
More importantly, though, much of the narration is in second person, not first or third. There are also sections where the main narration is interrupted by another character or characters’ POV for a sentence or a few sentences. The interjectors are often unnamed, though I was usually able to figure out who they were from context. Their interruptions (for lack of a better word) frequently shift the narration from second person narration to first person and then back to second person. They usually don’t get a separate paragraph but are offset by within the same paragraph through italicized text.
Since you’re probably having difficulty keeping track of all this, here’s the first of the promised screenshots as an example of what one of the titles looks like (you can see the interjections in the following two screenshots, which I’ve placed near where some context for those excerpts is given):
Janine Ballard loves well-paced, character-driven novels in romance, fantasy, YA, and the occasional outlier genre. Examples include novels by Ilona Andrews, Mary Balogh, Aster Glenn Gray, Helen Hoang, Piper Huguley, Lisa Kleypas, Jeannie Lin, Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Naomi Novik, Nalini Singh, and Megan Whalen Turner. Janine also writes fiction. Her critique partners are Sherry Thomas and Meredith Duran. Her erotic short story, “Kiss of Life,” appears in the Berkley anthology AGONY/ECSTASY under the pen name Lily Daniels. You can email Janine at janineballard at gmail dot com or find her on Twitter @janine_ballard.