The main problems with this work of non-fiction theory are that:a)
it is far too verbose b)
it has one argument throughout but it loses the clarity of that argument oftenc)
it is not written in a way that properly communicates to the audience what it is talking about
I will break down these three points quickly and give my view of this entire little volume.A) Verbosity
I have no idea whether this book was written as part of an academic thesis or merely as an argument for the quality of fantasy as narrative literature. However it has the typical academic issue of adding extra words in where they do not need to be. Only these words are there to the extreme. I'm not against wordiness. I like a lot of words and I'm one of those people who love how wordy Lord of the Rings
and similar books are. But when you lose track of the argument because of the amount of words and the length of sentences that is when I have a problem. The sentences were too convoluted and went on and on and on and on and on and on at times.B) Argument
The argument made in this book (indicated by the subtitle) is that fantasy is a genre of subversion. Ironically this book does not subvert many of the typical academic writing conventions and as such is one of the weaker such texts I've read. The argument indicated the literary quality of fantasy, defining fantasy as including all texts connected to the fantastic (even Charles Dickens and Charlotte Bronte gained a mention) and did not focus necessarily on what we consider fantasy today (perhaps the text is just a little dated?). The argument did lose its strength from chapter to chapter, waxing and waning, as the author wrote on different types of fantastic texts and ways of looking at those texts. She tended to err on the side of psychoanalysis (which I'm no major fan of necessarily), after all if you read almost any book in a certain light you can support near any argument about the author's sexuality and mental state. She also tended to refer back to Freud far too often, clearly favouring his ideas (I think Freud has some interesting ideas myself but I don't accept many of them personally) and in some instances those of Jung.C) Communicating
A reader can expect a degree of slow, plodding writing in academia. When you're talking about theories, sometimes, no matter how you paint it, the theory will still be bone-dry. Of course though the text should not be bore your audience away, and I feel that most people reading this would fall asleep after a half hour of slogging away. There were some nice terms in the book, like paraxis
which is to do with prepositions used to push the work of fiction across the axis of the real and into the 'uncanny.' But those ideas and the reference to obscure fantasy or gothic texts I've barely heard of aside, the argument was not communicated very well at all. Not to mention that I've read and heard these ideas elsewhere, delivered in much more condensed and fascinating ways.
In short a mediocre piece of theory with some interesting ideas. On the whole it was too dry, too dusty to be worth much to anyone wanting to read about fantasy theories however and I suggest looking to more modern and fascinating intellectual writers who know how to communicate much better. Two stars for the ideas and for the brief periods where the writing stood out more than for the rest of the book.