Top critical review
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on November 15, 2002
For the most part, this is an excellent book. It begins as a fairly normal love story in Vienna, but elements of the bizarre keep seeping into this ordinary artistic world. Pretty soon, magic, suspense, and amazing twists are everywhere. It's delightful and heartwrenching. I was reading it, tense and excited, tears occasionally coming to my eyes, and wondering to myself how many friends I could recommend it to.
Then, suddenly, it ended. And the ending was no thrill--the complex story the author was weaving around the tale of Rumplestiltskin suddenly fell apart into a barely tenable, uncompelling solution. And then, to make matters worse, came the incomprehensible section in which, as best I can figure out, Little Red Riding Hood makes a threatening first appearance. Don't worry--I haven't spoiled the book itself for you, because this section has almost nothing to do with the rest of the book.
I was very disappointed--I'd rather simply read a bad book, than read a book that is astonishingly good, right up until the bad ending. If you ask me, Carroll's editor isn't doing his or her job. However, I'll be on the lookout for books of Carroll's that are more complete, because his style is, at its best, genuinely fantastic.