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Expendable Mudge Muses Aloud

On the Overgrown Path - David Herter Rating: 3.5* of fiveThe Book Description: En route from Bratislava to Prague in the deceptive spring of the 1920s, Leos Janáček, famed opera composer, ethnographer, and amateur psychologist, is stranded in an obscure and enigmatic mountain village, lured from his train by a song of blood. Here, Janáček must become a detective far from home. Attempting to solve a bizarre murder in which he himself is suspect — and whose perpetrator might be a wild animal, a jealous lover, or Nature unhinged — he brings to bear his singular skills of observation and poetic insight, and most importantly, his belief in the truthfulness of the "little melodies" heard in everyday life: the cry of a bird, the plash of snow from the eaves, the horrendous lie voiced with a smile. What he uncovers is a many-stranded aria of ravenous Nature and mischievous Time, threatening to consume his world. My Review: What a beautiful little package this book is! I love the Millais cover image, Ophelia, and particularly like the way it resonates with the dark, supernatural story Herter is telling here.This little beauty was very pleasant to read. It's a supernatural fantasy set in 1923 Czechoslovakia, featuring the composer Janacek as its main character. The evocative language, and the use of Janacek's known habit of recording every sound in musical notation wherever he was, were very nice features of the book. The dialogue was, in a word, wooden; some of it was intentional, and I could completely see that the author was attempting a 19th-century cadence with sterling success; but then, but then, but then...almost every time Janacek speaks, the statement is an exclamation! As thought this 70-year-old man of a certain dignified station in life was a Valley Girl! That made the unnaturalness I felt was a hallmark of Janacek's dailogue all the more evident!The supernatural-death-dealer elements were fine, and well-handled; the story path of the isolated village with dark secrets and darker customs is well-worn, but nonetheless enjoyable to tread; yet the whole, which I began wit every expectation of adoring, ended up in the "glad I read it, but won't re-read" category. I would cheerfully recommend the book to anyone who likes dark fantasy tales, and would equally recommend it to anyone interested in moody, atmospheric fiction. Just don't pin your socks to your pants, they are in no danger of getting blown off by On the Overgrown Path.