I fell right in love with this book straight away, for the unconventional romance between Abe and Joanna. I loved that they didn’t seem to be possessive, that they didn’t live together 100% of the time, that they had differing interests. I loved the way Abe knew Joanna. I really wanted the story to be about the strength of their bond, unshaken because deep-rooted. I really did.
Spoiler: it’s not. It’s about the two of them being changed, deeply and irrevocably, by a man and a woman who might just be Hades and Persephone. (It’s not much of a mystery, really, given how quickly the clues are given. I mean, as the reader you work it out quickly because you know Beagle’s a fantasy writer; it wouldn’t be obvious to the characters, by any means.) And that change includes their separation, seemingly also irrevocable. And I hated it. I’ve read that story with the young pretty girl who turns an old guy’s head time and time again, and I didn’t want to read it again. I wanted to read about two people who wouldn’t let life shake them apart — even when life or even a goddess tries to come between them.
So it’s not really the book; it’s definitely a matter of preference. And the strength of my reaction to the bond between Abe and Joanna shows how beautifully Beagle can write and observe his characters. It’s all wonderfully written, I just wanted a different story.