Orson Scott Card
John C. Hansen
HarperCollins . Hardcover:
Suggested retail price: $24.00 (US)
Orson Scott Card has a new hardback on bookshelves. Treasure Box, an"urban horror" novel published by HarperCollins, showed up a month early -probably due to the fact that TOR will publish Children of the Mind inhardback late in July. The ISBN is 0-06-017654-7 and the cover charge is $24for 310 pages of suspense. Actually, the suspense fills somewhat less than310 pages, but who's counting. The dust jacket is silvery-blue with embossedlettering and a simplistically drawn, partially opened box under a very large"Orson Scott Card" with the words "Treasure Box" in much smaller print belowthe image of the box.
I began reading the book right away and experienced some difficulty puttingthe book down once I got past the first couple chapters. Sometime around 3amthis morning I finished it. :-) The only break in reading longer than acouple minutes once the kids were off to bed was from 9:30 to 10:30 when Iwas chatting on AOL at the weekly Hatrack River town meeting (in character). Speaking of "urban horror" you should have seen Lady Hampton - now thatwas horrific! :-)
As an aside, Waldenbooks, where I bought my copy, only had two in stock. Iwouldn't be surprised if that was the entire order they got fromHarperCollins. Both were shelved alphabetically in the "New Fiction" sectionrather than in one of three or four areas set aside for the books they are"featuring" (or "selling", I suppose). My guess is HarperCollins is spendingextremely little to advertise this new book. They must not have a lot offaith in Card's selling power.
Card recently changed his rather liberal pre-published book policy - as youcan see from the notice on his official web site (http://www.hatrack.com/).He had only recently put Children of the Mind up there for freedownloading in a similar fashion to what he has done in the past on AOL.COTM has now been removed and complete novels will never appear on the webpage due to publisher's concerns about best seller lists. The theory is thatif you have an electronic copy of a book you will not rush out and buy thehardback within the first couple weeks after it comes out. HarperCollinswon't allow any electronic transfer of manuscripts that they purchase so Cardis unable to give his fans an advance look at novels that they publish.
Having done my part to push Treasure Box to the top of the NYT BS list letme just give a brief "appreciation" of the book.
Quentin Fears (pronounced Fierce) is a wealthy recluse still grieving for theloss of an older sister (Lizzy) in a tragic childhood accident. He made hismoney working for an unnamed software company in Washington state. Now hetravels around the country helping people fulfill their dreams. In DC hemeets the "perfect woman" and after a week and a half he proposes to her. She is his first true love - and he comes to love her more than the memoryof his sister. Following a brief and blissful engagement - and a bizzarebrush with pre-marital intimacy - they marry and begin to live happily everafter. But things are not always what they seem - it seems. :-)
In the end Quentin tangles with ghosts, witches, beasts, and brats. OverallI think Card does an admirable job weaving the storyline without giving awaythe secrets too early. Unlike Lost Boys, this story isn't "Mormon"in anysignificant way. And it isn't a sad or sentimental story either. TB isn'thorrific. It's gripping at times and generally spooky once it gets going. Reading much of it after midnight probably helped. :-) It certainly held myinterest, but the end result was "interesting" and "very good" rather than"Powerful" and "Spectacular". I expect a re-read will point out all thepoignancy I missed at 2 o'clock in the morning. Card is writing about powerand the treasure box in TB contains a powerfully evil force. His closingparagraph seems to suggest that the ultimate "power" contained in a verydifferent "treasure box" is the power to create new life.
© 1996 John C. Hansen