Friday, April 18, 2008

REVIEW: 'Ringcat' by Donna Barr

Title: Ringcat
Author: Donna Barr
Price: $ 9.19
Genre: fantasy?
ISBN: --
Publisher: A Fine Line Press
Point of Sale: Lulu

I think Donna Barr rocks. I think her comic books Desert Peach and Stinz rock. I was thrilled to find she had some content on Lulu and I bought Ringcat fully expecting that it would rock, and it did. Really positive reviews have a way of being very uninformative. The thing is that when I try and describe this novella it sounds like the kind of book I would never buy, and certainly wouldn't enjoy. But here goes.

Ms. Barr often writes stories set in an alternative world in which technology is behind in some ways, almost modern in others, dark nasty magic is lurking in the countryside, and the Nazi party is still the national government in Germany--or something somewhat like it. The world of Ringcat is a kind of soft-edged dystopia that might be very broadly compared with Robert Harris's Fatherland.

The story involves a feckless and very young SS officer being sent to investigate a series of grave robberies and the disappearance of the previous investigator (a female officer by the name of RingCat). From there the tale is kind of a romance, kind of a mystery, has a literally lashing of kinky rural customs and a very idiosyncratic kind of horror twist at the end that is truly glorious.

Ms. Barr's work is vivid, quirky, dark, unique, intelligent and just basically wonderful. Okay, so I'm a fan; I have been for some time. But what is the small and independent press for, if not to deliver this kind of genre-defying material to an enthusiastic reader such as myself?

My only criticisms are that the illustrations are reproduced way too small at only a couple of inches across, I could barely make sense of them let alone really appreciate the details--and the bonus short story at the end is fine but I think it distracts from the climactic last few chapters of the main story.



Donna Barr said...

You're right. If I ever laid this book out again, I'd do the illos at their full size -- three inches wide and high. The originals are actually extremely tiny; even I can't read them any more. If you think I'm obsessive now, I was beyond the beyond back then. And thank you so much for enjoying RINGCAT!

Emily Veinglory said...

You are more than welcome. Damn, now I can see some typos. Must go fix them.

Markus F said...

This might be a little late. But i read Ringcat yesterday and it was one of the best stories ever.

Emily Veinglory said...

It is still one of my favorites.