I’ve read Carroll’s Land of Laughs and found his characterization very impressive in that particular book, although I felt his plot bottomed out toward the ending as it abandoned those previously established traits.
With Bones of the Moon, however, I never really connected with his protagonist, Cullen James, or her friends and family. While they had interesting backgrounds, they simply didn’t feel real to me. Because of this, and what I consider awkward dialogue, I couldn’t fully immerse myself in Bones of the Moon.
I would like to note that Carroll had an incredible concept. I especially enjoyed the role of abortion in the novel and the psychological undertones that resulted. Carroll did a remarkably nice job of leaving the specifics of the fantasy world that his main character travels to rather vague. At one point, you think that she is slipping into Rondua during her dreams, but then you suspect that it’s just the opposite: that Cullen is sliding into our world from Rondua. But then, just when you’ve about made up your mind one way or the other, Carroll hints that perhaps this is all simply in her head—the mind’s way of dealing with an unhealed emotional scar. And then the end of the novel arrives, and all three of these possibilities converge, and you’re left with no answers at all.
If this sounds complicated, it is. And, had the dialogue been just a little more practical, I think things might have been different for me. But the dialogue tended to teeter on the edge of hyperbole, and this took me right out of the novel.
I won’t give up on Carroll, though. The two novels I’ve read by him have had some extraordinary qualities and it’s obvious that his imagination is superb. Perhaps I’ll try one of his more recent works and see what I think since the two I’ve read were from before 1988.
It should be noted, by the way, that Carroll had rave reviews for Bones of the Moon by none other than Stephen King himself, so take that into consideration.