In this fantasy romance for all ages, a boy catches a glimpse of Fifika, as he flees with his family from danger, traveling with his clan with haste to the lands of the boyar, a mysterious benefactor. Smitten, the boy becomes her playmate there in the Carpathians where the boyar resides and whose hillsides are filled with enchanted beasts. The boyar assures the clan that the beasts are harmless unless provoked, but some of the members are not so sure… When tragedy visits Fifika’s family, the boyar invites her and the boy into his castle to learn from his English tutor, a lazy and fearful man. The boy, now almost a man, falls deeply in love under Fifika’s tutelage. – Goodreads
I’m never keen on re-writings of books (unless executed exceptionally… think Angela Carter), but In the Service of The Boyar simply uses the story of Dracula as a base and then chooses a new angle to approach from. It’s a nice little tale which stays interesting from start to finish. Jason Graff manages to create effective visual scenes without relying heavily on adjectives and needless description. I think adults who enjoy dark fantasy, light horror, or historical fiction would get the most from this book, but it’s also suitable for teens and young adults.
This week’s poem is David Gascoyne’s Salvador Dali. I hope it inspires you!
by David Gascoyne
The face of the precipice is black with lovers;
The sun above them is a bag of nails; the spring’s
First rivers hide among their hair.
Goliath plunges his hand into the poisoned well
And bows his head and feels my feet walk through his brain.
The children chasing butterflies turn round and see him there
With his hand in the well and my body growing from his head,
And are afraid. They drop their nets and walk into the wall like smoke.
The smooth plain with its mirrors listens to the cliff
Like a basilisk eating flowers.
And the children, lost in the shadows of the catacombs,
Call to the mirrors for help:
‘Strong-bow of salt, cutlass of memory,
Write on my map the name of every river.’
A flock of banners fight their way through the telescoped forest
And fly away like birds towards the sound of roasting meat.
Sand falls into the boiling rivers through the telescopes’ mouths
And forms clear drops of acid with petals of whirling flame.
Heraldic animals wade through the asphyxia of planets,
Butterflies burst from their skins and grow long tongues like plants,
The plants play games with a suit of mail like a cloud.
Mirrors write Goliath’s name upon my forehead,
While the children are killed in the smoke of the catacombs
And lovers float down from the cliffs like rain.