Oh man, am I ever enjoying this book! I read The Historian last October and liked it so much I was reluctant to start The Swan Thieves for fear of jinxing this author . . . or something. (Who really knows why or how authors click with their readers anyway?) So this week I thought I'd take a chance, picked it up and just started reading. I won't say I was blown away -it is kind of slow- but I just really like her voice. I like the characters and I'm interested in who they are and where the whole story is going. I have no idea if this feeling will hold throughout the book, but I really hope it does.
Outside the village there is a fire ring, blackening the thawing snow. Next to the fire ring is a basket that has sat there for months and is beginning to weather to the color of ash. There are benches where the old men huddle to warm their hands - too cold even for that now, too close to twilight, too dreary. This is not Paris. The air smells of smoke and night sky; there is a hopeless amber sinking beyond the woods, almost a sunset. The dark is coming down so quickly that someone has already lit a lantern in the window of the house nearest the deserted fire. It is January or February, or perhaps a grim March, 1895 - the year will be marked in rough black numbers against the shadows on one corner. The roofs of the village are slate, stained with melting snow, which slides off them in heaps. Some of the lanes are walled, others open to the fields and muddy gardens. The doors to the houses are closed, the scent of cooking rising above the chimneys.