The Innkeeper’s Song by Peter S. Beagle. ★★★
This wasn’t a book I was really suited for. It’s slow paced and lyrically written. “Sedate” might be a good word to describe it. I had to struggle to keep with it.
Three strange women arrive at an inn, searching for a wizard two of them once knew. The story’s told from many different perspectives – the women, the innkeeper, the stable boy, a boy who’s searching for his dead fiancee, and a shape shifting fox are the main POV characters, although there’s a few others like the barmaid or the pot boy. Some of them have very distinctive voices – the fox and the innkeeper’s chapters were always interesting for this reason. Others blend together.
My appreciation of the book varies by scene. There was one truly excellent sequence where Lal, one of the women, used the power of storytelling to win a fight. However, the ending was very mystical and vague, sort of like a Robin McKinley book. Then there was something like twenty pages spent on a (non-graphic) multi-person sex scene that felt largely unnecessary.
It is very well written. If there’s one thing about Peter S. Beagle, it’s that he can write. But I kept catching myself drifting away whenever I was trying to read it. It was hard for me to stay focused on the text. There’s probably a lot of thematic stuff that’s flying over my head, and to understand it I’d probably have to read it again, which I won’t be doing.
There’s definitely people out there who would like this book. I’m just not sure who. People looking for a strange, dream like fantasy novel? People who prefer books focused on characters over plots?