BOOKS ....... FREE STORIES ....... TALES OF TAM YS ....... ARCHIVE ....... EDITING ....... SARAH


It came with the rains.

I went out early this morning, before dawn. I went to rescue a river. Going home over crimson soaked into the black roads - traffic lights reflected in fallen rain - I thought the world was so magical I could hardly bear it. Some people find their home behind a white picket fence or on a moorland or beside the sea; for me, it is in the rain. And we have had a very long dry summer.

When I got home, I found the book waiting in my inbox. I hadn't been able to buy the hard copy - books are luxuries here, at this time, which is difficult when you are acquainted with so many writers online and want to support them all. But I had to have this particular story in some form, and so I got the ebook.

I read the first pages as my curtains seemed to swell with the lightening, burgeoning world outside. I read words as birds sang rain-glint and earthworms. To be honest, I'd feared beforehand that I would ache from it, as probably every writer does when faced with something they wished they themselves could write - but infact there is no fear possible when you sink into a book written with sincerity and with service to the story. There is only a welcoming, tender experience.

Tatterdemalion, by Sylvia Linsteadt, is a book of wild magic, and that was what I was most expecting from it. But those first pages have impressed me mostly with a sense of wild ordinary. Nuts and dandelions and hearts and sorrows. And perhaps because of this, or perhaps because of Sylvia's love for the story - and for nuts, dandelions, wildness - which resonates so gently and clearly throughout, the book seems to have its own soul. As if it was not written but is a living thing existing elsewhere and dreamed into word-shape by Sylvia.

They tell writers to write what you know. Tatterdemalion is a good example of why this is helpful advice. When you can write with confidence, you can be brave, and you can be wild, and you can let your love shine through. And I suspect people read books because they are looking for love.

Another of the things which worried me beforehand was that my own feeling for Rima's art would be papered over by Sylvia's interpretation of it. But now I know this won't happen. I have adored the art for over a decade, and there's enough depth in it for a hundred different stories told into a hundred different hearts.

No doubt I will review this book properly when I've finished it. But I've been waiting for it so long ... from way, way back when Sylvia first posted glimpses of it, or something like it, something about wheeled magic and music beneath the moon, on her weblog ...  (and then to find it, on page 37, the very same passage - what a moment of satisfaction!) ... that I had to at least acknowledge its coming.

And soon, I hope, another book, Thick As Thieves, by the amazing Megan Whalen Turner, which has been six years in the waiting. Yes, books are a luxury - but some are simply necessities.

art by rima staines


  1. After the long wait, Tatterdemalion did not disappoint. Enjoy your reading!

  2. Ahhh, Tatter... wonderful, isn't it :) xx

  3. usually, i am a book devourer, voraciously tearing through story. especially with something i have anticipated as long and as avidly as "tatterdemalion". but i found myself holding back from starting it; instead of diving right into the story, i paged through it, perusing chapter titles, studying the pictures, hesitating...i think, knowing the general outline, that i was worried i would find it beautiful but sorrowful, and i am feeling a little delicate these days. once started, i read it in complete sections, and took small breaks between sections. unquestionably, a story of beauty and depth and relevance, poetically written. i have always found rima's imagery to be very poetic as well, and wistful, and soulful. sylvia's words, arising from and intertwining with rima's paintings, made a window, a mirror, and a medicine.

  4. Thank you for this kind review Sarah! I just came upon it recently & am very grateful for your thoughtful words. I am so glad you have enjoyed Tatterdemalion; it was such a labor of love, a raw wild thing to set free on the world. Bless you for taking the time to share you thoughts about it. Warmly, Sylvia


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