Driftwood by Marie Brennan

Posted On 10 August 2020

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DriftMy TL:DR Five Word Review: My oh my.  How unusual.

What a strange and strangely unique story this was.  On the face of it, it’s a world with different countries colliding together and then shrinking before disappearing from existence completely.  A story brought together by different inhabitants from all those countries recounting their own stories, all centering around one particular character, a character called Last who is known simply because he’s been around longer than anyone else.   It’s an odd concept, this group of people sitting around recounting their own tales, it feels like a meeting of strangers at a funeral all sharing stories of the deceased, which is also kind of fitting when you consider that each of the worlds here are about to pop out of existence.  And, at the same time as being a totally fictional place cram packed with imaginative and quirky details this can also be taken as an allegory, maybe of the history of the world or perhaps a look at disappearing civilisations.  It’s not as though we haven’t discovered our share of civilisations that have become extinct and it’s a fascinating part of the world’s history and this particular book takes a look at the way stories are shared and passed down from one generation on to the next until finally they’re so fundamentally changed or parts of them completely forgotten that that particular time and place is eventually lost to us.

So, this story really highlights the way we tell our stories.  Short story collections don’t usually work for me but this one did and that’s because it’s not a typical anthology, it’s a complete story told by a number of different people and in that respect it works very well.  This is a world that contains multiple worlds, it’s like a collection of all the disappeared civilisations, an imagining that brings them together, jostling for position, almost like flotsam bobbing randomly upon the waves before being sucked into a vortex.

The writing is good, it’s crisp and there is no wastage.  To be honest it surprised me that it pulled me into the story because it isn’t really character focused (although Last is the main thread throughout) and I do like my stories to be character led.  It’s difficult to get to grips with the characters when they’re discovered in this way and yet I find myself in the strange position of liking Last and in fact I think he could totally be the star of his own show if the author decided to tell his story.

In terms of world building.  Well, I had no problem picking this one up and running with it.  It’s like if you imagine all the fairy tales ever told belonging to one world, like the Neverending Story, if you like, they’ve all come together for their last gasp before blinking out of existence.  And like the Neverending Story there is no shortage of worlds and people – they’re not deeply dwelled upon but they are quite fascinating and sketched in a way that is entertaining and curious all at once.

In terms of criticisms.  Well, I can imagine that this might not appeal to everyone in fact I’m the first to confess that when I started this I had that horrible sinking feeling that it simply wasn’t going to be my cup of tea.  It certainly doesn’t follow a traditional format and in some respects it feels like a precursor to something else – I certainly hope so.  It’s not a swords and sorcery style story, in fact it’s really not a traditionally told story at all – but I find that it worked for me on this particular occasion and even more so because of the style, creativity and ability to make me ponder.  I like a good ponder.

Overall, I’d give this 4 out of 5 stars

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.




17 Responses to “Driftwood by Marie Brennan”

  1. proxyfish

    This does sound interesting and I might pick it up… but I feel as though I will have that exact same sinking feeling! I have enjoyed some of her other books but they seemed a lot more character focused.

    There is only one way to find out… 😀

    • @lynnsbooks

      Yep, as I was just saying to Maddalena – only one way to be sure.
      Lynn 😀

  2. maddalena@spaceandsorcery

    I’ve already encountered comments about the “strangeness” of this novel and I wonder how it would meet my tastes, but I guess there is only one way to know… 😉
    Thanks for sharing!

  3. imyril @ There's Always Room For One More

    I’m so excited to read this. It feels like it doesn’t have all the elements that make a book a sure-fire hit for me, whilst also being a concept that is absolutely my jam.

    • @lynnsbooks

      Haha – yes, I know what you mean. I do like a traditionally told tale with great characters that I can latch onto – but this is very thought provoking.
      Lynn 😀

  4. Tammy

    I’m very excited to try this now. I actually enjoy stories with connected short stories so this will most likely work really well for me😁

    • @lynnsbooks

      Fingers crossed and look forward to reading your review.
      Lynn 😀

  5. waytoofantasy

    I think the concept of this one seems SUPER interesting, the way the stories are all interconnected to form a bigger picture. I like stuff like that. Also I do love this author. Definitely want to check this one out. 🙂

  6. Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

    I did hear this one was a bit unusual, but since you and I have similar tastes I’m hoping I will enjoy it as much as you did. I too have a worried feeling this will turn out to be not my thing, but hey, if it worked for you it can work for me!

    • @lynnsbooks

      Exactly. She is an excellent wordsmith after all and I was very intrigued by the place. The world building is unusual but surprisingly effective and I would definitely read a story that focuses on Last.
      Lynn 😀

  7. Rebecca

    This had the COOLEST world and concepts!

    • @lynnsbooks

      Yes, so much originality. I could definitely read more from this world and take a closer look at Last – that’s a story that would be intriguing I think.
      Lynn 😀

  8. mervih

    Great review! I’ve enjoyed Brennan’s previous books and I just love that idea and structure so I need to pick up this book.

    • @lynnsbooks

      I hope you enjoy it but regardless I would be really keen to see what you think. If you do review it will you drop me your link please?
      Lynn 😀

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