Saturday, September 19, 2015

Short Story Saturday: How Old Holly Came to Be, by Patrick Rothfuss

Writing Quality: 5/5
Enjoyment/Appeal: 5/5

"How Old Holly Came to Be" is Patrick Rothfuss's contribution to the anthology Unfettered, which I talked about in this post. The story is told in an almost chant-like rhythm that uses repetition to describe the change, growth, and rising consciousness of a holly tree. The lady who lives in the tower beside the tree cares for it, and in return it cares for her. There is war and magic and love and pain, but they are described in the slow, distant, matter-of-fact way in which I imagine a tree would see the world. The story spans decades. Centuries. But for the tree, time doesn't seem to mean much.

I've never read anything quite like this story before. The idea of conscious trees isn't new, but the question of how they gain self-awareness and what the world looks like from their point of view is new, and Pat's answer to that question is raw and beautiful.

This story left me with a sort of sweet, melancholy sadness. I loved it, and I read it a second time through immediately after reading it once. I'd like to read it again right now, even though I just put it down, like a favorite new song a teenager listens to over and over and over again, memorizing every word and note.

I would recommend this story to fantasy readers who like to delve into something a little different once in a while. In particular, if you're a fan of Pat's and you haven't read this yet, get on it! It's one of the shortest offerings in Unfettered, and it's incredibly good.

Recommended ages 16+. Seattle: Oak Press, 2013. Print. 574 pages. ISBN: 978-0984713639. 

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