Featured Author – Paula Volsky

Probably best known for Illusion, an alternate history of the French revolution with a most logical magical system, Paula Volsky has a strong grasp of research, an excellent turn of characterization, and well-crafted plots.

Her characters speak in distinct voices, with mannerisms and sentence structures of their very own. Many of them have a wicked wit, with fine turns of sardonicism and humor. She has a rare talent for seeing into the minds of unsympathetic characters–making us see the world through the viewpoint of a petty, sulky, or loutish person. Her characters also change and grow, sometimes with absolutely catastrophic things happening around them. She pulls no punches, with side characters the reader has grown to like being destroyed if the plot calls for it.

Nevertheless, somehow she does not rank as one of my favorite authors. I’m not really able to analyze why, and of course these things frequently elude understanding anyway. But it’s a good mental exercise. It’s not her turns of phrase, which are always readable and occasionally brilliant. I guess I do find myself aloof from her characters, not fully involved in them, but that’s the only thing I can put my finger on.

I feel that she would excel if she turned her hand to humorous writing, rather than injecting a thread of humor into her fantasy work. Her sarcastic word choices would really shine!

Nevertheless, I do recommend her as a good read, full of action and excellence. Some of her other works include The White Tribunal, a scorching and sometimes ghastly display of witch hunt mentalities, The Wolf of Winter, and The Gates of Twilight. Good hunting!

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