This week’s book recommendation is going to be a little different. I’m going to talk about The Wretched of Muirwood by Jeff Wheeler, a book that I do recommend and enjoyed reading. But as I sat down to actually write the recommendation, I got the following:
Lia is a “wretched,” someone who was abandoned to the Abbey and does not know who their parents are. She has spent her entire life wanting to become a learner, which would mean that she would be taught how to read. [Which either includes learning magic or learning magic includes learning to read. I’m really not sure.] Unfortunately, due to [insert strange story about a single wretched a long time ago doing something that didn’t seem that bad here], that is forbidden. But she is still practicing in secret, something she shouldn’t even be able to do, but for some reason, she’s different.
Yeah. That’s the actual text I wrote for the start of the recommendation. Somehow, I can’t write a summary of the book that sounds like a positive review… and I really enjoyed the book. I’ve started reading the second already.
I love worldbuilding, and the world that Wheeler built is fantastic. He obviously put a lot of thought into the politics and intricacies of the various groups, created a history of the nation it’s set in, and did a significant amount of research into the magic system.
But given the last couple blog posts on having someone else read your work, I thought it was worth discussing the book from that perspective. The two bracketed comments above are not minor points. Lia’s driving motivations are finding out who her parents are and learning magic. But when I started writing about what it meant to be a learner, I realized that I have no idea why only those who can use “the Medium” are allowed to learn how to read. And the reasoning given for “wretcheds” not being able to become learners is that one once went off and avenged his family.
It’s a great world, and the story is wonderfully done too. And I’m sure Wheeler has arguments here, and these things actually do make sense. There are hints that Lia has some special reason she shouldn’t be trained, so maybe that plays in. But, as an editor, these are the kind of things I’m looking for in the developmental editing pass. I love this world and want to know more about it. So what’s going on with not training wretcheds? How does reading play into magic?
Again, this is a recommendation. It’s a good book. Hopefully, some of my questions will be answered as I get deeper into the second. I just wish I knew the answers when I was reading the story the first time.