Monday, September 19, 2016
We met Nell Ingram in the Jane Yellowrock short story “Off the Grid.” (In the anthology Blood in Her Veins). She is a very interesting character, and I can see why the author wanted to spend more time with her.
Nell has escaped from the cult in which she was raised, but still lives both by many of their tenets and in fear of the leaders. She managed to escape an early marriage to the pedophile who was the leader of the church, and inherited his land when her husband died, but has remained both alone and lonely, separated from her family and everything she knew growing up, but not a part of the modern world.
“Oh,” I said, embarrassed. They must think I was a little country bumpkin. Which I was, I realized. Face burning, I said, “My thanks for demonstrating the proper methodology.”
I set the shotgun on the table and got out three pottery mugs. I wasn’t using John’s maw-maw’s good china for outsiders whom I might have to shoot later. That seemed deceitful.
Nell is a very interesting character, and extremely different from Jane (which is good). Her accent bugs me, but that’s because it’s different from the accent I’m used to. And also because I despise you’uns and yins and anything except y’all.
“You’uns been out there all day. You thirsty? Hungry?”
They answered all at once with opposing responses. “No.” “Yes.” “I’m a vegetarian.” And the strangest response, from Occam, “I’d gladly pay you on Tuesday for a hamburger today.”
There’s another thing that I especially like, and that is Nell’s reintroduction to her family and the church she left. The church was very black and white evil in the short story (it WAS a short story, so that’s not a failing) but here we get to see a far more complex and interesting group, and that things weren’t necessarily as Nell thought, once she reopens communications.
“‘The end justifies the means.’ Niccolò Machiavelli espoused that and he got it wrong. The end only matters because of the means.”
My head dropped and my eyes went wide. I couldn’t have been any more surprised if Sister Erasmus had stripped naked and danced across the front porch. Her pinched mouth didn’t smile, but the corners of her eyes wrinkled up in amusement. “You think you the only one a us churchwomen to get an education?”
Nell’s gifts are of the earth, and like Jane’s gifts, are not black and white, good and evil. They are what Nell will make of them, which I like.
I also liked the way we get a glimpse of how vegetation might see the world.
(O)ne tree, a dogwood, had taken root and another had tried to and died. The ground was covered in pine needles, and when I pushed a hand through to the soil, it was to discover that the lone tree was afraid, fearfearfear leaking through every rootlet and stem and reddening leaf. It had been afraid since its partner tree had died, thinking it the last tree on the face of the Earth.
And this also amused me:
The road was full of curves that followed the contours of the earth, and I liked the road, as it had become part of the earth. I had a general location and a direction.
Many many roads in West Virginia have become a part of the earth, I would think.
I admit I was a little nervous about this series, because I did not like Faith Hunter’s Rogue Mage series, but I like Nell, and I like the complexity of the characters and the story.
Published by ROC