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Cobweb Bride

By Vera Nazarian

Cobweb Bride by Vera Nazarian is a lovely fantasy story with the feel of an old-fashioned classic. This creative novel offers a unique exploration of life, death, and the impossible space between. While this is not a quick or easy read, the cleverness of the plot and the depth of the character development are enough to keep readers engaged to the end. While it does require some patience — the first third of the book is thick with purple prose and dialog — the author eventually settles into a beautiful and fluid writing style.

 

What would happen if Death suddenly stopped?

This is the question the author proposes to the reader. Nazarian not only personifies death into a three-dimensional character but transforms the concept itself from something fearsome to something necessary and desired.

 

"Since the dawn of existence, you mortals have feared dying, feared the unknown and the pain of it, and yet, pain is part of life, not death. And I-I am the first moment after pain ceases. . . It is life that fights and struggles and rages; life, that tears at you in its last agonizing throes to hold on. . . Whereas I, I come softly when it is all done. Pain and death are an ordered sequence, not a parallel pair. So easy to confuse the correlations not realizing that one does not bring the other."

 

World Building

In the beginning of the book, the author is almost over flowery in her world building descriptions. It was a bit distracting and hard to visualize. Too much information for the imagination to kick in.

 

"Flakes of white glimmered through the frost - blurred glass of the myriad windows of the Winter Palace of Lethe. In moments the snowflakes turned into armies. They piled and compounded, stretched and distended into geometric symmetry. Folding into garlands of impossible gauze veils, they appeared at last to be the faint and vaporous spinnings of a sky-sized ice spider casting its web upon the world."

 

I will sound like a broken record, but after the first third of the book, this does get better, and she seems to relax some in her descriptions and becomes easier to digest. The author eventually reaches the goal in world building: to let the reader emerse themselves into a world of their own creation based on the implied descriptions of the author. Just enough information to build the world while still allowing the reader's imagination to help it flourish and become real.

 

"At last they passed the farthest outlying buildings, and the thoroughfare continued onward past empty fields on both sides, and occasional shrubbery. The sun rose, pale and veiled against the winder white sky, and just ahead of them was the dark shape of the looming Northern Forest. From the distance it looked like a streak of unresolved shadow against the northern horizon, but soon enough, they knew, it would become great trees, predominately evergreen pine and fir. And then it would surround them."

 

Character Development

I enjoyed every single character in this book and there were many. Each had their own distinctive purpose. I liked the way the author introduced a hint of budding romantic relationships but did not let the characters become distracted by romance when they had such dire tasks ahead of them. The idea of future romance was subtly implied but was not a focus of the book. There were many other relationship dynamics that were being built, destroyed, and changed throughout the book and although a true romance was not found, it was not missed. Death himself was given life and made for a striking character when present.

 

"He began as grey smoke. Then, darkness deeper than soot. his form solidified into a man, gaunt and tall, clad in black velvet like a grim Spaniard. He wore no cape, but somehow his face was hooded, as though a veil rippled between him and anyone who might look."

 

Percy, one of the main female characters, was full of growth as she moved her way through the story. Finding her beginnings as a least favorite peasant daughter, who many (including herself) felt to be dull and useless, she evolved into a role of leader and caretaker for a group of wayward Cobweb Brides. I enjoyed the way the author had the reader's perception of the character change with her. We learn as she does her true worth.

 

The young Infanta, Claere, was another strong character and even as her own situation and sense of self changed, so did her relationship with the young man she is traveling with. Their relationship starts out in the worst of ways but transforms into something more as they are bound together in ways neither one of them could have expected. Again, this relationship is not based on romance in any fashion, but a general closeness and a need found only in trying to survive a long journey with someone who had inflicted irreparable change in their lives. Their story was so complicated and interwoven with pain and tragedy that the book could have survived their story alone.

 

There were many, many well-developed characters in this book and their voices were all so very distinct that it was not hard to distinguish between them once the book was in full swing.

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