Book Review: The Slow Regard of Silent Things

"This story is for all the slightly broken people out there,” writes Pat Rothfuss in the Author’s Endnote of The Slow Regard of Silent Things. “I am one of you. You are not alone. You are all beautiful to me.”

I just put this book down. Church bells are chiming down the street outside my apartment and I can’t stop looking at the book cover, a Shutterstock image of stone stairs, a tunnel tinted blue, lit by a full moon.

It took me over a month to read these 159 pages, mostly because I was saving them like a favourite candy, or a vintage bottle of wine.

Rothfuss has done something unique. And I don’t mean a clever plot twist or a memorable character. Although Auri is impossibly memorable, and as she prepares for her visitor, she goes deep diving, places things on shelves, and makes soap. Her days are named: a turning day, a doing day, a finding day. Making, tapering, burning, deep, waxing, white days. At times Auri is a tangled mess but also has excitement fizzing in her chest. She sprints and washes and weeps and sweeps her way through each day in the Underthing where things tick and click, and tremble and whisper. There is grace, patience, a kiss, and nothing. There are clay pots and silver bowls. Jars and bottles and berries and honeycomb. A brazen gear and a white bone.

Rothfuss warns his readers from the outset, “You might not want to buy this book.”

This story transports and transforms. As a reader, I am taken into a world I would have never known otherwise. And while this is true of other stories, there is something magically tactile about The Slow Regard of Silent Things. It is make-believe, yet real to the touch. The story appeals to all things sensual. A deeply entrenched sense of truth permeates the pages. Spiritual, perhaps. But that is up to you.

Rothfuss recaps his thoughts on readers' expectations in the Author’s Endnote in a conversation with Vi Hart:

“Readers expect certain things. People are going to read this and be disappointed,” he told Vi. “It doesn’t do what a normal story is supposed to do.”

To which Vi replied, “Fuck those people. Those people have stories written for them all the time. What about me? Where’s the story for people like me?”

So, no. You might not want to buy this book. But…as Rothfuss puts it: “If you love words and mysteries and secrets. If you are curious about the Underthing and alchemy…Well, then this book might be for you.”

This story doesn’t do what a normal story is supposed to do.

It does much more.