moon-shaped


In one sense, this is rather well written: the author has cleverly woven a few distinct fairy tales and folk myths into a coherent whole. But in another sense, it's awful, bogging down these clear and elegant tales in murky 21st century prose, subjecting their archetypal characters to bland psychologising. When I read stuff like

You hadn't thought that something so transparent would have been effective, but pretending to now know how to light the oven...
or
The first day all you felt was anger -- anger at your stepmother for dreaming up such a heartless idea, anger at your father for going along with it (not once but twice!), anger at your brother for his inept plan. This last feeling was the hardest to admit. The first time, his plan had worked flawlessly. And yes, when the two of you had heard that your parents -- no, your father and stepmother -- were going to try again to abandon you in the forest, he had tried to prepare. But breadcrumbs? How could he have thought that would work?
my first thought is "Grandmamma, how dull we've got!" The author's condescension towards the original tales isn't warranted, and his dime-store psychoanalysis isn't an improvement. In the main, people read fairy tales to get away from this kind of stuff; to experience the wonder and strangeness and simplicity of their worlds, where people have big, simple passions without feeling self-conscious about them, where people do things without stopping to analyse how they feel about doing them, where people have feelings without inflicting their infinitely subtle details on all and sundry. The author can probably write well, but here he has failed to match style and subject matter.

In addition, Moon-Shaped doesn't work as a game. It's almost never clear what I should do, what I can do or what I've just done; I couldn't get anywhere without following the walkthrough. The walkthrough led me to one ending; I had no idea how to get to the others, and little desire to see them.

Rating: 2


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