Review: The Silver Bough – Lisa Tuttle

the silver boughThe award-winning author of The Mysteries returns with another captivating novel in which modern-day enigmas and age-old myths come together with spellbinding results. Here is an enchanting tale set in a land rich with folklore–and ripe for a rekindling of the old ways.

Nestled on the coast of Scotland, Appleton was once famous for its apples. Now, though the orchards are long gone, locals still dream of the town’s glory days, when an Apple Queen was crowned at the annual fair and good luck seemed a way of life. And outsiders are still drawn to the charming village, including three very different American women.

Enchanted by Appleton’s famously ornate, gold-domed library, divorcée Kathleen Mullaroy has left her cosmopolitan job to start anew as the town’s head librarian. Widowed Nell Westray hopes for a quiet life of gardening in the place where she and her husband spent their happiest moments. And young Ashley Kaldis has come to find her roots, and learns that the town’s fortunes turned when her grandmother was crowned Apple Queen–then mysteriously disappeared.

When a sudden landslide cuts Appleton off from the wider world–and the usual constraints of reality–the village reveals itself to be an extraordinary place, inhabited by legendary beings, secret rooms, and the blossoming of a rare fruit not seen in decades. Most unexpected is a handsome stranger who will draw all three women into an Otherworld in which luck and love will return to Appleton–if only one of them will believe. 

Lush with the romance and allure of ancient traditions, The Silver Bough will propel you into a land where, as in Eden, the bite of a single apple can alter the whole course of reality.

Rating: 2/5

For a book blurbed by Neil Gaiman and George R.R. Martin, this was TERRIBLY DISAPPOINTING. I mean, the premise sounds like we’re in for a gorgeous Scottish magical realism/fantasy tale, but what I got was 350 pages of bland meandering description where nothing happens until the last quarter.

I don’t have a problem with slow books, when the prose is rich and you can still understand why certain things have been included. But here, the journey was fairly boring and the destination really wasn’t that much of an improvement. There was just far too much scene-setting, and since each chapter focused on a different character, sometimes on the same event, my interest waned.

I will say that the author aptly portrayed the slight sinister air around the mystery of what was happening, and it was very effective:

There’s something going on that we don’t understand. I have a feeling we’re just glimpsing the tip of an iceberg, and it’s huge, and it goes down deep, into regions we can only guess at, or glimpse in dreams.

But unfortunately, any impact that might have had was dulled by the fact that, as I mentioned, things only got going in the last few chapters. In particular, there was one helluva creepy scene that came out of nowhere and at least injected some excitement into the otherwise neutral, flavourless prose. (Ironically, descriptions of apples and the mythology saturated the book.)

All in all, an interesting concept where the execution was totally lacking. Made worse by my expectations and that pretty cover.

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6 thoughts on “Review: The Silver Bough – Lisa Tuttle

  1. Sorry to hear you were disappointed, I’ve always been curious to read this author. This book was on my radar too because of the gorgeous cover and the blurbs, but I don’t think the style will mesh very well with my tastes.

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    1. I’d actually never heard of the author before, but when I looked her up she seemed pretty prolific. But yeah, the style of this one definitely didn’t mesh with me, and certainly wasn’t in the standard fantasy style that I usually love.

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  2. I saw this one while browsing through my local bookstore today, and was intrigued by the cover and blurb. I am glad I put it down in the end though, because if you didn’t like it – I think there’s a very high chance I will not either 😄

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    1. I’m flattered you trust my opinion! But yes, it was just too mediocre, in my opinion, and goodreads seems to agree with me, judging by the reviews and ratings! Such a pity, with such lovely cover and intriguing premise.

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