Book Reviewed: Blackbird House, by Alice Hoffman
If 2010 was the year of Neil Gaiman, then 2011 is the year of Alice Hoffman. I became very attached to Gaiman last year, reading a lot of his work in a matter of months. The same thing is happening with Alice Hoffman now. I'm not sure I like her quite as much as I like Gaiman, but I really enjoy reading her books. They give me the fuzzy feeling of lying in bed and listening to someone spin a tale as I nod off into more fantastical territory. That's a quality that very few authors inspire in me.
I picked Blackbird House as my next Hoffman read because it shares a format with her book, The Red Garden, which I loved. This time around, a series of stories follows the different inhabitants of the Blackbird House, built in Massachusetts before the Revolutionary War. The House sees its share of hope and heartbreak, love and tragedy. The first story, "The Edge of the World" (which is also my favorite in this collection), sets up a tone the rest of the stories follow. Some are more successful than others, and some of them aren't evenly crafted. Hoffman has a tendency to save the big turning points until really late in her stories, and this doesn't always work. Also, only a few of the characters (Larkin Howard, Violet Cross, the entire Hadley family) genuinely won me over in this collection, unlike The Red Garden, in which I was constantly falling for a new character.
I still think that Alice Hoffman can spin a yarn like no one else out there, though. I love to just sit down with one of her books and become immersed in it, even when I don't find all the components satisfactory. I also give her credit for the way she weaves parallels and mirrored images throughout her stories. It gives the entire book a little extra heft. I have the feeling all of you are going to get sick of hearing me talk about her before I get sick of reading her. Apologies in advance.