Thursday, April 30, 2009

Hand of Isis

When I was two, we lived with my grandparents, and I am reliably informed that I used to terrify my 6'2" 250-pound grandfather by toddling up to him, holding out a kid's book (which he had read to me so many times already that he had it memorized), and saying, "Read it, Grampop! It's good!" I'll try not to do that to you all, but....

Jo Graham's Hand of Isis is out. If you've read her first novel, Black Ships, then you know the kind of writer you're dealing with: elegant, intelligent, and compelling. (And if you haven't read Black Ships, which is a version of the story of Aeneas, told from the point of view of Gull, who is Pythia and a seer.... Well, you should. It's an amazing novel.) Hand of Isis is the story of Cleopatra, told from the point of view of her half-sister and handmaiden Charmian, and it's wonderful - searing at times, tragic, and yet profoundly hopeful. Graham's grasp of period is fantastic, the characters are complex, and it's connected to Black Ships in ways that would be a spoiler to reveal.

Read it! It's good!