Tuesday 21 August 2012

#OBSummer #Books - Ford 99 - Dust to Blood

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Genre - Paranormal 
Rating - PG13
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Dust to Blood is as much about the journey from a book-centered world to the world of real-life action and interaction as anything else. The character who tells the story, Anne Crosby, begins the adventure thinking she's just on a wild-goose chasing research tour. She's based out of Chicago, has traveled regularly to libraries around the world, but this is her first trip to Russia. Her boss has pushed her to research dragons as real creatures, though she has no inclination to believe in such myths. Before too long, she's met additional researchers as well as the individuals for whom they are doing the research.

Along the way, she's introduced to the paranoia common to Communist-bloc countries, where Big Brother had been such a presence in those populations' lives that they're still looking over their shoulders in the early 90s, even though technically the Iron Curtain has fallen.

By the time we get to page 99, we're forced to consider that maybe the KGB is still active, as Anne and her research associate unearth a subterranean dungeon, complete with an incarcerated individual. What they've learned to that point compels them to rescue the girl to see if she might help shed additional light on the mystery that drove them to explore the antique castle from which they pulled her.

So there's some urgency to abscond, retreat to a more protected space back in Moscow. In order to do that with as little comment as possible, Anne and her friends have to clean up the detainee and figure out how to clothe her.

The minor thread of who's trustworthy is highlighted with Anne's thought: "The girl has good reason to be mistrustful after the shameful treatment she has received, but Olga seems to have a deft and calming touch. Even though she doesn't get her to relinquish the figurines, she does persuade her out of her clothes and into a hot bath. After some gentle soaping and washing, the girl begins to relax into Olga's ministrations, and finally, tentatively begins answering her questions."

The mystery evolves further with the very strange responses the women get from the apparent teenager, and it soon becomes clear that there are more connections with the research job than Anne had anticipated.

The scene builds the tension behind the evil the somewhat faceless enemy the KGB has become and adds urgency to resolving the mystery that brought Anne to Moscow in the first place. Underlying the fear of a human agency that has already shown a terrifying ability to inflict pain and horror is the additional fear that there might be more to life than the surface of the things Anne's always relied on to keep her grounded, without any need to address an unseen element of life.

Anne's normal inclination to just observe is challenged for the first time in this scene, and she doesn't have the tools to understand all the ways she's being asked to change. My hope is that the question of how she will change keeps readers turning the page not only to the end of this book, but intrigues them enough to continue reading the remaining two books of the series.

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