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Shobhana Bhattacharji

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince By J.K.Rowlings, Bloomsbury, London, 2005, pp. 607, £16.99   Guardians of Time Vol. 1: The Named; VOL. II: The Dark By Marianne Curley, Bloomsbury, London, 2002, pp. 333 & 334, each £3.99 (India), each £5.99 (UK)   Stravaganza: City of Flowers By Mary Hoffman, Bloomsbury, London, 2005, pp. 489, £4.99 (India), £6.99 (UK)   Septimus Heap: Magyk By Angie Sage. Illustrated by Mark Zug, Bloomsbury, London, 2005, pp. 564, £4.99 (India), £6.99 (UK)   The Ominous Omnibus: BOOK the First, The Bad Beginning, BOOK the Second, The Reptile Room, BOOK the Third, The Wide Window, from A Series of Unfortunate Events By Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Brett Helquist, HarperCollins, New York, 2005, pp. 593, marketed by Media Star at $11.50 (in India); US $19.99/$27.99 CAN     The Last Straw and More By Helen Parker, Milton Keynes, England, Scripture Union, 2003,pp.112, price not stated.   Bindi Babes By Narinder Dhami, Delacorte P, New York, 2003, pp. 184, US$14.95   Bollywood Babes By Narinder Dhami, Delacorte P, New York, 2004, pp.184, US$14.95   The Foreshadowing By Marcus Sedgwick, Orion Children’s Books, London, pp. 278, £3.99; original price £8.99   Tin Fish By Sudeep Chakravarti, Penguin, New Delhi, 2005, pp. 236, Rs. 250.00   This pile of fantasy and some young adult fiction is for 9 to 21-year olds. Once upon a time, when verse was the vehicle for fantasy, it was known as romance,1 and it was read or heard by young and old. Verse romance, the novel’s closest ancestor, was first and foremost a story. About a century ago, there was a dastardly attempt to deflect the importance of story in prose fiction, encapsulated in E.M.Forster’s regretful oh-dear-yes-the-novel-tells-a-story. It was an influential idea. Nevertheless, some writers resisted it. Graham Greene, for example, wondered why he ever allowed himself to become entangled in Percy Lubbock’s Craft of Fiction which taught him the importance of “`the point of view’ but not how to convey physical excitement.”   Now I can see quite clearly where I went wrong. Excitement is simple: Excitement is a situation, a single event. It mustn’t be wrapped up in thoughts, similes, metaphors. A simile is a form of reflection, but excitement is of the moment when there is no time to reflect. Action can only be expressed by a subject, a verb and an object, perhaps a rhythm – little else. Even an adjective slows the pace or tranquillizes the nerve. I should have turned to Stevenson to learn my lesson ‘It came all of a sudden when it did, with a rush of feet and a roar, ...

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