I read Bleeding Violet on Justine Larbalestier’s recommendation, and it strikes me that it has some common elements with Larbalestier’s (très nifty) “Magic” series: both feature estranged families struggling towards reconcilation and less than wholly sane characters. Reeves also eschews standard supernatural fare (vampires, zombies, et al) in favor of inventing a mythos that draws on a few established sources, but is still pretty fresh.
Narrator Hanna Järvinen is more than a little crazy (literally; she prefers “manic depressive” to “bipolar disorder”), and when she runs away in search of her absent mother she finds that Portero, TX is arguably even crazier than she is. I don’t want to spoil any of the plot surprises (and there were a few that blindsided me) but I will mention a few of the things I really appreciated about this novel:
- Hanna has to figure out a lot of things about what’s going on in Portero, and instead of beating the reader over the head with her revelations Reeves usually assumes that the reader comes to realizations at the same time Hanna does.
- For once, most of the interpersonal conflict, particularly between the romantic principals, doesn’t stem from misunderstandings that could be cleared up if people would just talk to each other.
- Hanna makes some very poor choices in the course of the book, but not only does Reeves do a good job of keeping her sympathetic, it’s easy to see how Hanna’s bad decisions look reasonable to her at the time.
- It’s an honest-to-goodness self-contained novel, instead of one book padded out and published in separate volumes. (Reeves forthcoming novel Slice of Cherry, which I’m impatient to read, is apparently also set in Portero, but doesn’t sound like a direct sequel.)
- No vampires!
I didn’t think it was perfect — I thought there were a few issues of internal consistency; the “rules” of Portero didn’t feel rigorous. And some of the characters’ actions strained my credulity. But on the whole, I liked it quite a bit.
Whiny quibble. I read the “nook” edition of the novel, and every ellipsis in the text was rendered as a question mark. Distracting. Hopefully it’s been fixed by now.
needs more demons? more than adequately supplied on the demon front.