once upon a time, i read Hopscotch, cortazar’s fan-favoritiest novel, and i did it aaaaalllll wrong. i misunderstood the rules and thought i was supposed to read the whole novel like a regular book and then go back and reread it using the page-order laid out in the “Table of Instructions” to “hopscotch” back through the story, and i don’t know what i thought would be revealed by this double-dip method, but it’s what i did and BOY, was i pissed to discover it was meant to be an either/or situation, not a “read this 600 page book twice, sucka!”
so, if any of YOU are dum dums the way i
was am a dum dum, let me clarify that THIS book offers the same reading options: you can either read it from page 1-472 (that’s the ARC page-count—if it’s longer in the finished book, don’t stop at page 472!), OR you can follow the Baroness sequence, which will usher you back and forth through the guts of the book, alternating between the three separate-but-connected storylines, which is what i did.
i haven’t read it the other way; the conventional way, and that may also be a perfectly satisfying read, but you can read plenty of other books that way, most of them, in fact! very few books can be read as a backy-forthy journey, so when those opportunities arise, i say “take ‘em!”
this one reminded me of Cloud Atlas and The Mirror Thief, all of them time-jumping, multiple POV-having, samefolk-appearing fantasy adventures with a little of this and a little of that, genre-wise: romance and mystery and true historical events and personages* wrapped in an intriguing puzzle box guiding the reader through discrete storylines peppered with recurring motifs, but this is the only one of the three that you can read without knowing how many pages you have left before it’s over! it’s like chutes and ladders—the book; sometimes it’ll make you look like the fastest reader ever, sometimes it’ll look like you’ve been reading for hours and are only fifty pages in. it’s exercise and an adventure you can take without leaving your house!
this is a wonderful chonk of a book, and even though it is primarily a love story with other stuff stuck to it, and i do not typically give a fig about love stories, i liked this one.
i wanted to write a better review for this book but then the world got terrible and now my brain is bad. read the book and then write a better review than this.