Review: “Chrysanthe” by Yves Meynard


Title: “Chrysanthe”

Author: Yves Meynard

Genre: Adult, Fantasy, Dark Fantasy

Release Date: March 2012

Summary:  Christine, the princess and heir to the real world of Chrysanthe, is kidnapped as a small child by a powerful magician and exiled in a Made World that is a version of our present reality. In exile, supervised by her strict “uncle”(actually a wizard in disguise), she undergoes bogus memory recovery therapy, through which she is forced to remember childhood rape and abuse by her parents and others. She is terribly stunted emotionally by this terrifying plot, but at seventeen discovers it is all a lie. Christine escapes with a rescuer, Sir Quentin, a knight from Chrysanthe, in a thrilling chase across realities.

Once home, the magical standoff caused by her exile is broken, and a war begins, in spite of the best efforts of her father, the king, and his wizard, Melogian. And that war, which takes up nearly the last third of the work, is a marvel of magical invention and terror, a battle between good and evil forces that resounds with echoes of the great battles of fantasy literature

☆: 1/5 – made me violently nauseous.

Review: I really wanted to like this one, guys – the blurb sounded fascinating, and TOR kindly sent me a review copy so I could read it.

But sadly, it wasn’t meant to be. It was well-translated – but that was about the only thing it had going for it. While the prose Meynard writes at first weaves a spell much like the old time fairy tales do, it turned into more telling than showing. And when he wasn’t telling, his showing was so slow that it felt like I was stuck in a bog – unable to move, and there were some pretty horrible things that were happening in front of me.

If you’ve been reading the blog for awhile, you know that I don’t shy away from…well, to use the best word for it, “controversial” content in my books. In fact, I try to actively seek them out – I like authors that challenge the status quo in any fashion because they’re brave enough to.

However, there are exceptions to that desire of mine for controversial content. And Crysanthe is one of those exceptions.

The content in Meynard’s book, with how Christine is tortured by her therapist/the Snake was just a little too hard for me to read. And this is coming from someone who can read or watch just about anything terrible while eating pizza – I’m pretty numb when it comes to stuff like this. But the almost-graphic scenes of child rape were just way too much for me to handle – to the point where I found myself running for the bathroom and for the next half hour after that, on my knees dryheaving and violently nauseous.

I wish I could say I was being dramatic, but I still have a fair amount of bile in my throat.

While I commend Reynard on giving it the old collage try, it seems like a fair amount of reviewers agree – there could have been some other way to “cover up” Christine’s memories of her true life in Chrysanthe without the fake child rape involved. It’s not actually addressing the problem of pedophilia and child rape, and if anything, is almost mocking a very real problem. It felt like it was used as a convienent yet controversial and eye-grabbing way to twist the fantasy genre to his making. But news flash, guys: when you use an issue in that way, you’re exploiting the subjects of that issue. Namely, in this one, victims of pedophilia. I am not one of them, but I do have a few friends that have been, so this one struck a little too close to home than I would have liked.

So, I couldn’t finish it. Not while trying not to vomit. Even though the descriptions weren’t out-and-out graphic, they were still explicit enough to sicken me. They show up in Chrysanthe itself with the Snake talking about how it was a way to hurt the future Queen of Crysanthe in this other parallel world, and it’s a major plot point. I just couldn’t get past that.

I wish I could have, but I couldn’t. However, these are just my feelings about it – the omnibus of the complete “Chrysanthe” story are now out in North America through Tor Books. If you have a stronger stomach than I do, you might be able to tough out that plot point and make it further to the end than I did.

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