Across the Wall by Garth NixAcross the Wall is a collection of short stories by author Garth Nix, the first one being a continuation of The Old Kingdom Series, The Creature in the Case, which I reviewed separately here. The rest is an assortment of stories, ranging from two unique takes on the Arthurian legend, one modern retelling of Hansel and Gretel, a war story, a contemporary about family ties, a paranormal about the ability to wield lightning and a truly kick-ass western with a female lead. There's magic, romance, history, superpowers, legends and fairytales all rolled into one!
(A Tale of The Abhorsen and Other Stories)
The Old Kingdom #3.5
Published July 5 2005 by HarperCollins
Nicholas Sayre will do anything to get across the Wall, back to the Old Kingdom.
Thoughts of Lirael and Sam haunt his dreams, and he has come to realize that his destiny lies there, along with all those he cares for. But here in Ancelstierre, far south of the Wall, the Charter is dormant, and among the obstacles Nick faces is one that is not entirely human, and which has a strange power that seems to come from Nicholas himself.
With "Nicholas Sayre and the Creature in the Case," Garth Nix continues to explore the magical world of The Abhorsen Trilogy. In additional short stories that range from classic fantasy -- two widely different takes on the Merlin myth -- to a gritty urban version of Hansel and Gretel, to an unusual take on the role of nature in matters of love, and to a heartbreaking story of children and war, Garth Nix displays the range and versatility that have made him one of today's leading writers of fantasy for readers of all ages.
Clearly, I purchased this book to quench my desire to read ALL THE Old Kingdom THINGS. And yes, that story is my favorite of the bunch. However, I was surprised by how much I thoroughly enjoyed the rest of the stories here. Truly, they all showcase Nix's incredible gift as a writer, one that I might only have discovered last year, but that I've come to appreciate immensely. Nix has become one of my all-time favorite authors so clearly, I now NEED to read everything he's ever published.
Transcending all genres, Garth Nix deftly navigates from first person to third person narrative, depending on what suits the story he's telling. Some stories are tragic, or sad, others are funny or exciting. Nearly all of them have the chilling, ominous tone that Nix seemingly trademarked. Despite the fact that only one story is actually set in The Old Kingdom, there are hints of that world's influence scattered in his other stories, and I enjoyed discovering them as a read.
It's a bit of a challenge to attempt to review a collection of 13 short stories, each one prefaced by an introduction by the author himself. I can't really go into detail on every single one though, but other than The Creature in the Case, my favorites were The Hill, the aforementioned contemporary about familial bonds (shocking, right?!) Heart's Desire, the second Arthurian tale and the Western, Hope's Chest. There were only a couple of stories that I didn't feel as invested in, but since they're all quick reads, it was never an issue getting through any of them.
Across the Wall *might* be better suited for hardcore Nix fans, or obsessive types like me. If you appreciate Nix as an author, you should definitely check this out! if however, you're merely enjoyed The Old Kingdom books, you may want to seek out The Creature in the Case as a solo read. Personally, I feel like this book made me appreciate Garth Nix's talent on a whole other level.