I blew through Robin McKinley‘s SHADOWS yesterday (somewhat foolishly, actually, since after already staying up too late watching a movie I noticed the book with only 4 chapters left sitting beside me and thought “well, I’ll just finish that chapter,” and everybody knows how *that* story ends).
I’ll read anything McKinley writes (although it appears I’ve failed to read PEGASUS, so I need to remedy that), though I find her books to be–not exactly hit or miss. More like more like “out of the ballpark” or “perfectly readable”. Most of the out-of-the-ballpark ones are the ones I read as a teen (excepting OUTLAWS OF SHERWOOD, which is one of those books I won’t re-read the final chapter of, and SUNSHINE, which I adored beyond reason).
SHADOWS hit somewhere in between for me. I actively disliked the voice/protagonist in the opening chaters even though I could tell that it was at least good and possibly better than average teen protagonist voice. I just–I don’t know. She started out too strongly angry for me, or something. I didn’t like it. However, it was Robin McKinley and furthermore Michelle Sagara (whose reading judgment I trust even if I don’t always agree with it) had recommended it highly, so I kept going…
…and it really paid off. It is, in fact, a fairly excellent book and goes a different direction than I expected and the romance is unexpectedly lovely and I forgave the protagonist for the opening chapters as she grew up, and I spent a fair bit of time mentally working out how it belonged to the Damar world (because as far as I can tell, nearly all, possibly all-all, of McKinley’s books take place in the same universe), and–not unusually–when I got to the end I wished that McKinley wrote sequels.
However: if it had not been Robin McKinley, I would not have gotten past the opening chapters. This is partly me, certainly: I’ve been bouncing off books hard lately. I’m drawn right in or I put the book down within a few pages. With pretty nearly any other author, I’d have put it down. It’s only 30 years of loyalty to her books that kept me with this one long enough to find the story I could enjoy.