23. Faces Under Water by Tanith Lee
I used to read a lot of Tanith Lee's books, back in high school. I really like her 'dark' retellings of different fairy tales. She came into my mind recently, so when I was at the library I though I would see what they had by her, and I discovered this series. It is a four book series, with each book dealing with one of the four elements and the process of alchemy. I have since learned from Father Roderick, in the Secrets of Harry Potter that historically students of alchemy had to go through four tests, related to the four elements, from which they would emerge stronger and knowledgeable. So I wish I would have listened to that podcast before I read this book, as it really helped me make sense of it.
The book is weird. It is very dreamlike and takes pace in a parallel Italy, in a parallel Venice (called Venus). It is Carnival, and everyone wears masks for 6 weeks. Even when they are going about their daily business, they wear masks. The story is about a former upper class man who is wandering Venus and falls into a mystery involving a mask he found floating in a canal. This doesn't at all describe what goes on in the book. A lot of different things happen, and it is often confusing and murky.
The book was interesting to read because the atmosphere was so well done. When I finished I was not totally satisfied. I still feel like it, or I, was missing something. I have the other books from the library, and wasn't sure if I was going to read them, but I started the next and so far it is much better so I will see how it goes.
Basically, a weird, but interesting book. Very dark and dreamlike.