2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 9 September 2006
I don't know how she does it. It must be magic. And indeed it is. `Cloven Hooves' is pure magic distilled into a completely singular story- beautifully woven, heart-rending and enthralling.
Having reached a third or so of the way into this book I did wonder whether the term `classic' was justified, because to be honest up until that point I didn't find the central character Evelyn at all easy to relate to, or even likeable. Part of the reason for this I think is that her character is very much the shrinking-violet for the first portion of the story, imprisoned by cruel and unfeeling relatives, ignored and disregarded. In other words, very unlike the characters with whom Lindholm and Hobb so often delight us. But Evelyn herself is little better- she's self-pitying, paranoid and inhibited. Only when she exhibits her assertive, independent and passionate sides does she really come alive, literally in front of the reader's eyes and believe me is that worth waiting for, because before too long you'll be voraciously devouring her story just as you have each and every one of her other successful pseudonym's many engrossing books. Going back to the roots of this author with `Cloven Hooves', I can definitely assure you you'll be discovering an early gem.
One negative aspect to the book I must point out, which I wasn't expecting- is the treatment of Evelyn by her in-laws with whom she, her husband and son are invited to stay with. This story (despite containing a faun) is more like contemporary fiction than it is fantasy in my view and for that reason I think, their cruel and inhuman treatment of her really jarred with me. While this author, writing as both Lindholm and Hobb has brought to life her share of heartless, vicious and unfeeling individuals, here she out-does herself with Grandpa Potter, Mother Maurie and their dependant, horse-whipped brood. So much so that at times I was really quite uncomfortable, but as a counter-point to Pan the faun, I must admit they work brilliantly, for without the dark how could we recognise the light?
By the time I had (very reluctantly) reached the ending there was very little doubt left in my mind. It is a classic and not because its themes are grand like those of high fantasy, but because its subjects are timeless and yet pleasingly character-specific, modest and yet epic. `Cloven Hooves' tells one woman's story, the story of her childhood, her family, her loves and her losses, and it tells all this unashamedly, without curbing its strongly female view-point. And for that the author must be congratulated, for the result is a very powerful, graphic and moving story that the reader doesn't soon forget. Certainly the most impressive story by Lindholm I've yet had the pleasure to read.
The story is made all the more poignant with the final lines that both elevate and deflate the reader. The rightness of Lindholm's writing is a pure joy.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 10 November 2002
I love all of Megan Lindholm's and Robin Hobb's books, but this is one of my favourites. It is powerful, beautifully written and deeply emotional. The daring story is totally convincing and evocative. After the last page, one is left with a feeling of sadness and longing; this book certainly deserves the title of classic.