“Stealing the Elf-King’s Roses”

Diane Duane

I picked this up for a reread as a break from my “read all the ebooks I’ve got” project, and upon finishing it was surprised to find that I’d never written a review. Well, no time like the present to correct that!

In short, I adore this book. It’s a truly wonderful piece of alternate-history fiction, and the way that’s expressed is done so very perfectly. I’ve got the revised edition, which includes at the end some of the author’s notes about the differences between the worlds it takes place in and ours—and yes, worlds, plural, one of the divergences is the discovery of interdimensional travel, but it’s clearly stated that we’re due to figure that out soon. But even without that, it feels like if you were given the chance to ask Duane about anything in here, pull at any of the strings, she’d have a bunch of notes already prepared. My favorite moment of this is a couple words in passing, where the characters are finally shocked enough by something to say it full out, and suddenly their previous swear of “Suz!” makes more sense: “Suzanne H. Christ!”

Beyond that, the story is weird and fun, and the whole ‘mix of universes’ thing, with the politics that comes from having all these different timelines coming together, makes for a fascinating setting. And, of course, I absolutely love any book that showcases great friendships, and doesn’t fall over itself trying to shoehorn in a love story.1

Overall, this book is a delight, and I heartily recommend it. Pick it up directly from the author’s ebook store, and browse around while you’re there—I love everything of hers that I’ve ever read.2

  1. It was, apparently, a common complaint with the earlier edition that the cover art and title made it sound like a romance novel; I assure you, a romance novel it is not. You’re welcome to read it as if it is one, though, and I bet you’ll find your expectations subverted in a very fun way!
  2. Citation: I’ve got a quote from one of her books as a tattoo.

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