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Review: Black Spring by Alison Croggon

Black Spring
by Alison Croggon


In the cold north, where the land is ruled by wizards and fueled by vendetta, a girl with violet eyes is born. As everyone knows, this is the sign of a witch, but Lina’s high rank protects her from the wizards who would destroy her. She and her father’s ward, a dark child named Damek, spend their privileged childhood running wild, driving the servants crazy with their shenanigans. Years later, one of these servants shares the tragic, troubled lives of Lina and her family with a traveler renting a cottage from Anna’s current master. Written as a “love letter to Emily Bronte”, Black Springs is a magical retelling of the classic gothic novel Wuthering Heights.

There are a lot of ways to pay tribute to a favorite classic novel. You can retell the story from the point of view of a different character, reinventing the tale along the way – think Margaret Atwood’s The Penelopiad and how it played with the stories from The Iliad and The Odyssey. You can meld two beloved stories together, as Carolyn Turgeon did in The Fairest of Them All. If parody is your thing, you can straight up take the book and insert new content a la Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. I’m barely scratching the surface, but my point is there is a lot of room for creativity when updating or reinventing an old story.

However, an author must bring enough of his or her own voice, or infuse the work with a fresh perspective, or it will be little more than a derivative disappointment. Sadly, Black Spring falls squarely into this category. The story is lifted so directly that it’s practically plagiarism; the story structure, dialogue, and arch gothic style are basically simplified versions of Bronte’s words. This doesn’t work in Croggon’s favor; it’s so similar that it invites direct comparison, and whenever I compared two passages – Hammel’s introduction to Damek vs. Lockwood’s first encounter with Heathcliff, or the death speeches of Catherine and Lina – the new story simply paled and fell flat. Sure, she added some supernatural elements like a vicious vendetta that forces families to kill each other until entire villages are practically wiped out, overseen by wizards who prosecute witches and line the coffers of the king. But it’s not very well integrated; you could remove most of the new elements and…well, you’d have an abridged Wuthering Heights.


2.5 out of 5 stars

To read more about Black Spring, buy it or add it to your wishlist click here.



Peeking into the archives...today in:
2012: The Complete Maus by Art Spiegelman
2011: Dark Moon of Avalon by Anna Elliott
2010: Fashion Victims by Michael Roberts
2009: Giveaway: Sorrow Wood by Raymond L. Atkins – WINNERS
2008: Romeo’s Ex: Rosaline’s Story by Fiedler

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