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The Tale of Raw Head and Bloody Bones: A Novel

Average Rating 3.5
( 3 )
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  • Posted July 10, 2014

    The Tale of Raw Head and Bloody Bones is certainly an interestin

    The Tale of Raw Head and Bloody Bones is certainly an interesting title for an interesting book. Tristan Hart, the psychotic Squire's son who dreams of becoming a surgeon but can't seem to stop his fantastical hallucinations long enough to complete his studies, acts as the narrator. The book revolves around his medical ambitions and his attempts to come to grips with the alternate reality full of faeries and the monstrous "Raw Head" that his brain creates for him. For most of the book, it is apparent that every action taking place is "really" real, but eventually Wolf begins to blur the lines between reality and the inventions of Tristan's madness. Unfortunately, and somewhat counter-intuitively, this was where the book began to suffer for me, personally. The intentional fogginess surrounding the veracity of Tristan's experiences begins to overstay its welcome (at points, I was just wishing for some sign that indicated I could begin to take the pages at face value again, because many of the hallucinations in one such extended stretch truly are nonsensical) and in some part cause the book to feel about fifty pages too long or thereabout. However, the rich characters, occasionally surprising humor, and overall enjoyable narrative style outweigh this possible shortcoming (which may only be a reflection of my own personal preferences) to make for an impressive and worthy debut novel. 

    Several warnings: 1) There are multiple passages of very explicit sexual and/or gory scenes. They're not pervasive, but they definitely appear. In detail. 2) Wolf writes the entire book in an imitation of Georgian English, meaning you'll see plenty of verbs ending in "-eth" and capitalized nouns throughout. If it comes off as a gimmicky ploy at first (as it did with me) then do yourself a favor and reserve judgment until after you've read a few chapters. After thirty pages or so, you begin to stop noticing it - which I intend as a high compliment. After these stylistic quirks become less jarring, Wolf's writing talents begin to shine through. He really is a captivating writer, even when employing the overly-wordy Georgian style to describe fairly mundane stretches of activity.

    More honestly, I would rate the book a solid 3.5 stars, but chose to round it up to 4 instead of down to 3 simply due to Wolf's obvious writing talent. This is an author to keep an eye on - get to know his work now so you'll know whether or not you should be on the lookout for his inevitable future endeavors. 

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    Posted April 30, 2014

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    Posted November 22, 2013

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