Across the Wall is a collection of short stories by Garth Nix, author of The Old Kingdom series (Sabriel, Lirael and Abhorsen). While I don't usually do short stories - I find the lack of long term character and plot investment challenging and unrewarding - I really loved The Old Kingdom series and as this book purportedly contained an Abhorsen tale, I decided to give it a go.
First of all it took me ages to buy this book because I had purchased the new edition covers of the trilogy and in Australia, they did not sell the new edition of Across the Wall. www.bookdepository.com.uk was able to remedy this.
I have to say I really, really enjoyed every short story in this book. All were instantly and completely engaging and gave enough information for me to instantly connect with the story and characters but withheld information in a way that provoked healthy curiosity. Most of the stories had potential to become a novel unto themselves, while the rest felt complete as short anecdotes similar to a fairytale.
Reading Nicholas Sayre and the Creature in the Case brought back a lot of memories from Sabriel and also reminded me that I have pretty much forgotten them entirely. I would really like to read them again, but that's unlikely to happen any time soon.
My favourite story was Under the Lake, which was a different take on the Arthurian character of the Lady of the Lake. Nix was able to take a classic character and give it a fantastical spin, hinting at ancient peoples and magics previously unknown. He shows the other, darker side of the character (much like Elphaba in Gregory Macguire's Wicked) which highlights that what we knew before was just what had seemed to be the truth. All this and more in just a few short pages.
Quite a relatively short book but I am very glad I read it - would recommend to anyone who wants to try short stories!
In lieu of the release of Inheritance I think I am just going to knock of another shorter book from my list - The Broken Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin (which funnily enough is book two of the Inheritance trilogy) as I spotted book three in Dymocks the other day.
PS ... I saw The Sending by Isobelle Carmody in Target the other day and almost wept. I have been waiting for that bitch to finish the series since I was FREAKING TWELVE! Although this is still only the penultimate book, it's still a pretty big step. And even thought it was on sale my partner refused to allow me to buy it because of the fact that I still have thirty odd books to read. He obviously doesn't understand how this works.