I’ve been tagged! My fellow horror writer, Rami Ungar, has tagged me in The Perfect Book Tag. Thank you, Rami.
It’s my first tag. Stop it! I’m not excited! You’re excited. (Yes, I am excited).
Now, acknowledging the fact that perfection is impossible for imperfect beings, and judging my choices by my current state in life (some of these choices were extremely difficult to make, and in another day I would select a different candidate) I present to you my perfect books.
THE PERFECT GENRE
(pick a book that perfectly represents the genre)
The Last Unicorn was the first movie I saw in the cinema, and it pretty much set my standard for how life is supposed to be. The book is every bit as beautiful, magical, sad and funny. It is encapsulates what I love about fantasy – animals, nobility, quests, heroic love, tragedy and a sly wit that acknowledges everything is falling apart, but there is still magic and happy endings.
Oh, and much like Maggie Grue, I’m still waiting to see a unicorn.
THE PERFECT SETTING
(pick a book that takes place in a perfect place)
You really can’t beat Middle Earth for the perfect fantasy setting. I may say I’d rather be magic dancing with the Goblin King in the city beyond the Labyrinth, before entertaining Westley, Buttercup and friends in my summer house in Florin, but the truth is these places wouldn’t exist without Middle Earth. While my hobbit nature would keep me safely in the Shire eating my twenty five meals a day, I’d love watching Beorn’s reality tv show, learning about the creatures of Mirkwood as narrated by Gandalf, and grumbling about how slow the eagles are to step in on matters of war. As for the fireworks, I’m glad that wizard doesn’t call around often because the noise upsets the cats and dogs for weeks afterwards.
THE PERFECT MAIN CHARACTER
(pick the perfect main character)
This was another difficult one. There’s Octavia Leander, caring, clever and deeply spiritual. Lirael, who has similar traits and wields the bells that control the dead. Then there are the arrogant, mysterious, tortured characters like Sherlock Holmes and Agent Pendergast. However, there can only be one, so I choose…
Bilbo, Bilbo Baggins, the greatest little hobbit of them all.
Why does Bilbo win as a perfect character? Because, as you will see from my perfect trope, he is perfectly normal. In fact, he’s so ordinary it seemed like Gandalf got it wrong inviting him on the quest. He has no super powers, no magic, no expertise and no epic qualifications at all. He’s small, middle aged and has hairy feet. You know what he does have though? Brains, bravery and heart. With those things you can kill a wicked witch, or loot a dragon’s treasure.
THE PERFECT BEST FRIEND
(loyal and supportive, pick a character that you think is the best friend ever)
With so many to choose from, I was at first tempted by Samwise Gamgee from The Lord of the Rings. He cooks and cleans and even carries you without the slightest complaint, and who wouldn’t want to be best friends with the only creature to wield the power of the One Ring in Mordor and not be corrupted?
Then I thought of Fezzik the giant from The Princess Bride. He listens to your endless stories about fencing and sobers you up after a bender. Plus, he’s big and strong and great at riddles.
While both would be great best friends, my perfect best friend has to be The Disreputable Dog in the Abhorsen series of books by Garth Nix. First of all, she’s a dog (a German Shepherd perhaps), she can talk, she knows magic, she can turn into a little soapstone statue for ease of transport and she lives in a library. Oh, the places we’d go! First thing I’d get her to teach me would be how to make a charter skin.
THE PERFECT LOVE INTEREST
(pick a character you think would be an amazing romantic partner)
At first I was going to say Mr Knightley from Emma by Jane Austen (the book, not the adaptations). They’re best friends, he’s kind and thoughtful and generous. He’s not afraid to stand up to Emma, and who couldn’t love a man who gives up his fancy estate to come live with his wife and her father in their home because he doesn’t want to upset his father in law?
However, then I remembered Westley. Handsome, brave, loyal, intelligent, and a man who loves deeply.
All I need say is ‘As you wish’.
THE PERFECT VILLAIN
(pick a character with the most sinister mind)
What makes Count Dracula the perfect villain? Is it his ability to change shape into a wolf or a bat or some smoke that comes billowing through your keyhole? Is it his cruel disregard for life and his ability to turn you into a slave? Perhaps it’s his riches that enable him to pretty much buy his way out of any hole his evilness gets him into.
No, for me what makes him perfect is that cobra like hypnotic allure that draws you in and, if you’re not careful, leaves you a willing lamb to the slaughter.
THE PERFECT FAMILY
(pick the perfect bookish family)
I don’t read a lot of books that feature perfect families, or even ok families, so this was a stretch.
I wouldn’t mind being a part of the March family. They write and put on their own plays, have cute friends and look after their ill. They even love each other enough to sell their hair to buy Christmas presents. If that doesn’t say perfect family, I don’t what does.
THE PERFECT ANIMAL OR PET
(pick a pet or fantastic animal you need to see on a book)
Ahhhhhhh! Why are you making me do this! How can I choose, I love them all! So many perfect animals.
Ok, I’m under control again. I can do this. I can.
I’ve chosen Betsy, the titular Grey Goose of Kilnevin. Her desire to join the wild geese makes her wander far from home, but she makes friends with a young girl called Shiela, and together they go on an adventure that is a little surreal, very Irish and improves both their lives.
Betsy is an ordinary little goose with big dreams who would die for her friends. Perfect.
THE PERFECT PLOT TWIST
(pick a book with the best plot twist)
No spoilers, so I’ll just leave the cover here.
THE PERFECT TROPE
(pick that trope you would add to your own book without thinking)
While The Choosen One trope is all the rage these days, I much prefer the opposite. You know, the No One Would Ever Choose You trope. Bilbo Baggins fits snugly in, as does Babe from The Sheep Pig (I’m talking about the book here, not the movie adaptation).
In The Hobbit, Bilbo is the last person a company of dwarves would invite on an epic quest to slay a dragon. In The Sheep Pig, Babe is the last animal on the farm that anyone would expect to be good at herding pigs.
Lirael almost fits into this trope, but her powers as an Abhorsen and a Remembrancer make her too special.
THE PERFECT COVER
(pick a cover you would want on your own book)
It’s a funny thing, but I never paid that much attention to book covers before I started publishing my own books. Yes, there were ones I liked better than others, but I didn’t judge.
Now, I’ve so many book covers I love that I can’t possibly limit the perfect cover to one. In fact, I’m collecting the names of my favorite cover artists with the hope of being able to hire them one day.
This cover was my introduction to the work of Ivan Cakić. I haven’t read this book yet, but look at that cover. It is beautiful and awesome and makes me want to read the book. That’s what makes it perfect.
I love all of Kathleen Jennings’ work, but I’ve chosen this cover because it’s so badass and funny at the same time. From reading the info on the book, I don’t think these stories would appeal to me, but I’m tempted to buy a copy just to look at this cover everyday.
I’ve loved Laura Tolton’s work since I first saw her magical illustrations of scenes from the Abhorsen trilogy. I’ve read Macbeth, but not this version. Maybe it’s time I got a new copy.
THE PERFECT ENDING
(pick a book that has the perfect ending)
I’ve tried to vary my perfect choices, I really have, but I keep on coming back to the same stories.
Abhorsen has the perfect ending because it wraps up enough threads to be satisfying, is epic and almost spiritual in dimension, and also a little sad. It makes me cry every time I read it. Ugly tears, but for all the right reasons.
And…. it’s done. Wow, that was harder than I thought it would be. I tag…
What do you think? Tell me your choices in the comments. If you’ve a blog, why not take part? Join the fun!