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A Fine and Private Place: 06/04/11

cover art

A Fine and Private Place by Peter S. Beagle was his debut novel at the age of nineteen. I wish I could say I read it with that fact in mind, but I only discovered it while writing the reviews. The Black Gate blog post has more information on the history of the novel.

The truth of the matter is I don't remember why I added the book to my wishlist. It was an early book on the list and one of the first to come off as I started my wishlist reading project.

The book follows a very small group of characters, some dead and some alive. The protagonist, if I were to pick one, is Michael, a young man who awakens in his coffin on the day of his burial. He's dead and he, as well, as the authorities, suspects his wife of poisoning him.

Michael is taken in by a man who has forgotten how to die. He's not a ghost but he's far too old to be alive but he's not exactly immortal either. He though is aided by the living, a kindly old woman and a talking raven. He is also a friend and mentor to those ghosts who don't want to give up on the living, such as Michael and later, a woman named Laura.

Beagle's writing style in A Fine and Private Place reminds me of Roger Zelazny. Specifically I was reminded of A Night in the Lonesome October for the interaction of the living, the dead, the undead and the animal familiar.

While I enjoyed the book it didn't hold me as strongly as The Last Unicorn did. I found the pacing and changes in point of view uneven.

Three stars.

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