What makes a character enjoyable to me?
I like someone who breathes:
Dazed, Annie followed the enormous woman through a tiny gate into a tiny yard bordering a tiny cottage. Serena bent over almost double to fit through the door. Inside, the ginger colored bun on the top of her head was flattened against the ceiling....
A woman appeared in the kitchen doorway, holding out her arms and smiling. “Serena, back at last.”
Beatrice was a perfect replica of her sister: only where Serena was very large, Beatrice was exceptionally small, down to the tiny ginger bun perched on top of her head. Serena stepped forward to embrace her sister and for a moment Annie thought she would take the roof of the cottage with her.
“Now what would you like for dinner? We’ve got eggs and cheese and some decent bread—a bit hard, but only at the heel, and that’s all right if you want to make frogs-in-a-hole...”
She did not know what to say. She held Bea’s hand. Bea’s palm was soft but each of her fingers had a callus at the tip from working the loom.
I like someone who sparkles:
“Yes, you two—get going. There are extra blankets in the back, and a canvas if it gets really wet. And mother’s pistol.”
When neither Page nor Annie moved, she sighed, hands on hips. “Listen, you two sprouts. I’ve seen more strange things in my life than you can imagine. This ranks among them, but it hasn’t curled my hair yet.”
I like a character whose absence would dullify the book—but on the flip side, if the entire cast were these special treats, the story would border on ridiculous.
Kind of like real life, isn’t it? You know nice people, and then you know people that breathe and sparkle. Life wouldn’t be the same without them, but life wouldn’t be the same with too many of them. (The image in my head is Monty Python’s Bicycle Repairman sketch, with all those Supermen sitting at the barber’s, taking the bus ... creepy.)
Breen’s Serena and Beatrice add just the right touch to Darkwood’s cast of characters.