Awakenings has received a "4-Steak and Potatoes" rating from Books Devoured; This is one of my favorite reviews because of the following observation:
"It has been a while since I have read a fantasy book and it may be the first time I have read one that is set up in the way this one is. We learn about the fantasy elements but we are not really taken there. Everything we learn is told in memories and stories. The action of the book takes place on Earth in the current time. I actually liked this because it kept so many elements relatable. At the same time, I feel like I understand enough about the other world to be able to follow the story."
Every author hopes readers will "get" the nuances of his or her story. With Awakenings, I purposely set out to write a fantasy novel that would also appeal to popular fiction readers while staying true enough to the tenants of fantasy for long-time sci-fi/fantasy fans to enjoy. My choice of words in this story was very exact -- I was aiming for almost neutral description of fantastic ideas. I also wanted readers of mystery, adventure, young adult, and romance to feel that they had some skin in this game.
When I was in art school, one of my favorite teachers, Ben, would discuss art, politics, business, and everything else under the sun while we took life drawing. One day, he brought up the classic movie "The Fly" because there had been a recent remake, and the consensus was that it was not as good as the original. The question of the day was "why?" Using classic Socratic method, Ben would press us for our opinion about why the classic was the superior movie, and of course, a bunch of 20-something know-it-all art students were getting it all wrong. The answer, according to Ben, was that the original movie was not about the scientist who had turned into the Fly. It was about a wife dealing with a misfortune that had befallen her husband, and her efforts to save the man she loved. Though this was marketed as a horror movie, and had wonderful elements of horror in it, it was the romantic connection in the movie that gave it its humanity. Yes, the special effect in David Cronenberg's remake was better, but the story lacked that human elements that amplified the horror. Ultimately, the classic was a story of the wife's and best friend's loss, even as Vincent Price smashes a rock on the last vestiges of his mutilated friend's head in the last scene. This was one of the most important lessons I'd ever learned about story telling-- that any story in any genre needs to pull elements from other genres to give it dimension.
Every once in a while, a reviewer will pick up on the things I like about my own story. And that puts a smile on my face. And this review from Books Devoured gave me a very pleasant start to my Monday.