skygiants: the aunts from Pushing Daisies reading and sipping wine on a couch (wine and books)
[personal profile] skygiants
I regret to report that Night Fall is probably the least interesting Joan Aiken book I have ever read, in large part because there is not much time for anything to happen in it -- it's like 150 pages long and I read it in the course of one round-trip public transit ride from Brighton to Chelsea. That said, Joan Aiken managed to fit PLENTY of nonsense into, for example, The Witch of Clatteringshaws which has even fewer pages, and yet contains a Loch Ness monster, an evil plastic surgeon, a golf-club-riding witch, and the rightful king of Britain, so 'too short' is clearly only half an excuse at best.

The problem is that Night Fall spends at least 50% of its pages carefully setting up Our Heroine Meg's unhappy childhood, raised by a distant and judgmental father and his even more judgmental servants after the death of her loving but irresponsible film-star mother and stepfather. The one thing her father approves of is her engagement to the extremely boring stockbroker next door, who breaks his promise to take her to study art in Paris, and does not like her cat, and it's all very psychologically stifling.

So then by the time that Meg decides to confront her psychology by running away to a tiny mountain town where she witnessed a MURDER as a SMALL INJURED CHILD there is just not room left in the book for very much to happen, although someone does attempt to murder her by leaving a giant rat in her car, which is up there as overly convoluted murder methods go.

The best part of the book however is when Meg finally confronts the villain with his crimes, and the villain laughs evilly and explains that she cannot act against him because he has stranded a hostage on a tiny cliff-ledge who will be murdered if she tells what she knows!

The hostage is her cat!!

UNDERSTANDABLY, MEG IS HELPLESS.

(Well, not exactly helpless. She eventually dives down on the cliff-ledge to rescue the cat, then has to be rescued in turn by the love interest with whom she has spent a very nice half-hour or so talking about urban renewal, and who subsequently expresses the opinion that if she had fallen off the cliff he would have thrown himself in as well, because it's True Love. This young man is clearly very desperate for other young people with whom to discuss urban renewal. Unfortunately, Meg seems to forget in the sudden upswell of affection for anyone who is not a boring stockbroker that this still gets her no closer to art school in Paris.)
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