I’ve spent the last week in a debate with a friend of mine named Christopher.
He lives in New Hampshire, where the weather is below freezing from November to March, and has already had one or two snowfalls this year. I live in Texas, where the weather has been averaging room temperature for three months now, and I still haven’t been able to wear my (expensive, badass) camel trench–despite the fact December is hours away. I’m sick of warm weather. I’m desperate for snow.
“It’s cool for like, five seconds,” Christopher says.
I send him a gif of Veruca Salt and reply, “I want it. Now.”
Maybe. But I also just really love winter.
The Remaking of Corbin Wale was winter in a book. Roan Parrish has written a few wintry novels at this point and I’ve consumed them all greedily, happily, while wrapped in blankets, seated before a fire, with my AC set to 65. (I’ve had to make do.) And out of the three–maybe four?–times I’ve embraced the ritual, Corbin Wale was truly elevated above the rest.
It’s not just the perfect setting captured in every chapter, from every perspective:
The wind outside rustled dry leaves and the air inside smelled of pine and dried sage and tomato from his dinner.
Or the holidays that orbit the story, giving character to particular sequences:
Blue and silver garland draped the counter, and on the tables were centerpieces of glass bells that held glittery blue and silver stars. At the door, a blue-draped table was laid with dreidels and bags of chocolate gelt. They’d covered the counter in blue velvet and turned it into a bar, with one of the servers bartending behind it.
All in all, it looked cozy and festive, and Alex couldn’t have been happier.
It’s the unique personalities of our two main characters and the way they connect and keep connecting from their first meeting to the very last page. Parrish’s prose is incredibly visual, even when showcasing something as intangible as a feeling of love. There’s a lot of talk of forests and earth and oceans and stars, at exactly the right intervals, and with exactly the right emphasis to help you understand how these very unique characters work.
Alex is earth. And a cast-iron pan. No, really.
“You keep yourself nicely seasoned and oiled and on the back burner ready for anything.”
He’s warm and thoughtful and he’s a really good baker. In fact, he’s so good at baking that he’s able to open up a shop in Ann Arbor and keep the business thriving despite (and the book mentions this) most small businesses failing within a year.
Parrish describes the pastries a lot. It was almost a little mean. I’m taking my parents out to my favorite Jewish deli for lunch today; I need some latkes. Like Alex, my family is Jewish, but no one is good at baking, so this book simultaneously scratched an itch that I had and made me terribly envious, too. Latkes will fix that, I think.
And then, Corbin. Corbin is…himself.
“Everything he says or does, he says and does with such total integrity. He’s completely, purely Corbin. He almost seems–this is silly, I know. He seems like he lives in a different world. I don’t just mean his own fantasy world. I mean, he seems like a creature from another place.”
He’s an introverted, socially-battered artist, who’s turned in on himself because he’s different and he’s had to build defenses in order to survive. Defenses include friends he’s dreamt up, that follow him, that guide him, that comfort him when he’s in need. As an only child, I definitely found myself nodding along understandingly as we learned about each character he’s created; each character he’s been forced to create to feel loved.
Corbin’s also cursed.
Anyone who loves a Wale dies within twelve months. Completely relatable. Instead of killing my lovers, though, my curses are more like giant pitchers of water crashing over my head at restaurants (not once, not twice, but three times this has happened to me; about once a decade), or natural disasters chasing me across the globe (the 2011 earthquake in Japan; the never-before-seen and now commonplace earthquakes in the Dallas metroplex over the last five years), but nevertheless. I relate.
Even if you aren’t the type to believe in something like that–Alex isn’t, not really–it’s still moving and touching to see Corbin describe and disassemble this magic that follows his family. It’s moving and touching to see Alex understand, or try to understand, and press on as gently as he can.
There are also several secondary characters that give the story depth; friends and family, dead or alive, that fill in the gaps in our MC’s background and personality. None are “thrown in” at any point. Every character and scene served a purpose that propelled the story forward in a way that demonstrated how far Parrish has actually grown as an author. Don’t get me wrong, her early releases are all completely masterful–but Corbin Wale is an excellent demonstration of how Parrish’s writing ability and capacity for emotion are under constant growth. This wasn’t just a work of romance; it was a work of heart.
And that’s it. That’s what Corbin Wale made me feel. For hours, I was enraptured. In any case–I don’t rate books based on some kind of scale. Any review you read here is a signed recommendation from me to you. And I heartily recommend this story.
You can find the e-book and print copies of The Remaking of Corbin Wale here:
You can find Roan Parrish and her various magical and wintry works here: