Carrie Vaughn is known primarily as the author of the popular
series of Kitty Norville werewolf novels. But in DISCORD'S APPLE,
she sets Kitty's world aside for a while to create an utterly
engaging, creative and suspenseful vision of myth, history and the
Evie Walker is leaving Los Angeles in the nick of time; the city
has been on lockdown from terrorist threats for years, but new
attacks in Russia and new partnerships between the U.S. and former
enemy China have anarchy, paranoia and outright fear all galloping
out of control. She's not thrilled about her destination --- her
tiny Colorado hometown, where she's headed to care for her dying
father --- but at least she'll be safe there. Right?
Well, maybe for a little while, but before too long, mysterious
strangers are showing up on her father's doorstep, looking for
items that belong to them --- things supposedly stored in the
Walker family's basement storeroom, a place where Evie has never
been. When her dad is away, she fields a seemingly harmless request
from a lady looking for a very particular pair of glass slippers.
But she refuses to grant the request of a far more menacing woman,
involving a golden apple that might not have belonged to her in the
first place. Who are these strangers, and what's up with the random
collection of junk that seems to have some real significance?
Maybe another newcomer to town can help Evie solve the mystery.
Alex is a bit…odd, but he also strikes her as trustworthy. In
fact, Alex is completely dependable, since he was cursed 3,000
years ago with the inability to tell a lie. Three thousand years
ago? Yes --- at the close of the Trojan War, when Alex was Sinon,
the notorious liar who helped the Greeks finagle the Trojan Horse
into the city. Sinon dropped out of the historical record after the
first part of Virgil's Aeneid, but (according to Vaughn) is still
very much alive --- unwillingly so, in fact. Gradually, Alex/Sinon,
with the help of some other familiar characters from myth and
legend, helps Evie uncover her family's role as the guardians of
certain mythical artifacts, a role that seems ever more crucial as
less savory mythic figures come knocking on Evie's door, and as the
world falls apart around all of them.
In DISCORD'S APPLE, Carrie Vaughn weaves together several
inventive narrative strands: Virgil's account of the end of the
Trojan War and Vaughn's own imagined aftermath, the origins of
Evie's family's safekeeping duties, Evie's own attempts to
synchronize her successful comics-writing career with
larger-than-life global events, and her desire to write a novel
whose character development (as it turns out) mirrors her own
escalating personal crises. Among all these (generally
well-structured) threads, Vaughn also intersperses provocative
ideas about history, mythology, and the surprising relationship
between mortals and gods.
Although it's hard to write an upbeat work of fiction about the
end of the world, Vaughn does manage to inject humor and even a
sizeable boxful of hope into her story, resulting in a novel that
will appeal to fans of mythology, classic fantasy and suspense, as
well as to Vaughn's numerous existing fans.
Reviewed by Norah Piehl on December 29, 2010