Review of Thomas the Rhymer by Ellen Kushner

Ambiguously gendered 80’s rock star?

Thomas the Rhymer by Ellen Kushner. ★★★

On the plus side, the writing quality was good. On the bad side, there was no drive to the plot (if there was a plot).

From the blurb, I’d assumed that it’d mainly be about Thomas after fairy land dealing with only being able to speak the truth, but turns out that the majority of the book is set before and during fairy land. Overall, I think Thomas the Rhymer need an injection of some conflict. There just wasn’t enough happening.

The “back in the mortal earth” was the last two sections, of which the third is the one dealing with the adjustment of only being able to speak the truth. Not much is done with that, and we don’t see that many difficulties being presented there.

I did not like Thomas at all in the beginning – he was a womanizer who never really seemed to care about other people. Yes, he got better in the end as a result of the stint in fairyland, but I think the truth telling should have been more of a force of change for him. What happens to a character who’s constantly lying when he’s forced to speak only the truth? Nothing significant, according to this book.

I don’t think the entire last section should have been there. The end of section three seems to be the basic happily ever after, story’s done… and then there’s another section? It does do something with a detail from earlier in the book, but it still wasn’t reason enough to have an entire new section.

Besides the lack of plot, it was well written, but it just wasn’t very satisfying. I wouldn’t recommend this one, unless maybe you’re a big fan of the ballad it’s based on. Otherwise, don’t bother. Pick up one of her Riverside novels instead.

I’ve got the other edition, but this cover art is too beautiful to ignore.

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