currently playing on my laptop: Til My Heart Stops by Too Far Moon
Fantasy novels take me down roads I’d never travel via contemporary tales. The otherworld aspect gives me distance to objectively examine sacrifice, abuse, desire, selfishness, addiction, lust, love, friendship, betrayal, submission, and drive. Through reading, I meet complicated people and learn about myself in a way that doesn’t involve gallivanting around dark alleys, running from psychotic professors and risking life and limb to dig up dead people, battling sadistic martial arts experts, or confronting less than honey-sweet world leaders.
But why do we even want to meet these wild folks? What draws us to Leigh Bardugo’s Darkling and her Kaz, Maggie Stiefvater’s Gansey, and Sabaa Tahir’s Elias?
Kaz and the Darkling would kill you if it served their goal.
Gansey wouldn’t notice you unless you spoke Latin flawlessly or had a Welsh king in the family tree.
Elias would really be better off without you so he can try to stay alive.
Can all agree we don’t greedily gobble up these characters’ stories because we’d love to share a Kit Kat with them? (Okay, maybe Gansey.)
It’s the mystery of their passion. Each of these fellows are driven to accomplish something that means more to them than their own safety, the safety of their friends, or anything us normal people consider top tier in the list of Protect This or nothing matters.
And that is fascinating.
Passion is magnetic. It heats a story until your fingers burn, flipping those pages to find out if the character will get what they want and at what cost.
Some may argue these gentlemen aren’t too hard on the eyes. That their looks and/or prowess is what makes us love them. But looks aren’t enough to heat a story.
It isn’t the Darkling’s eyes that get us. It’s the amalgam of danger and possibility woven into his unflinching desire to rule the world (so to speak) that makes us so very curious. Gansey is a golden boy—a Gatsby type—but it’s his beaten up journal and his shining leadership we seek out. Elias may have the build of a fighter, but our true fascination in him is his impossible situation and how he chooses the difficult path every time. We want to follow him around and ask why, why, why? Kaz might have the smooth moves, but we are drawn to the contrast between respect and ruthlessness in his behavior.
Hats (crowns, helmets, horns) off to the authors that understand this magnetism, this passion that makes stories endlessly enjoyable. We salute you!