Category Archives: fantasy

Book Review: Written in Red by Anne Bishop

433 pp.

Written in Red manages to make supernatural predators that are actually predators. This is not something I ever thought I’d say about a fantasy novel by Anne Bishop. This is because even when Bishop is trying to write “dark” she is also writing “fluffy.” It should be noted that while I would normally fully support dark fiction that also has silly and humorous moments, Bishop does not have the knack for pulling it off. (But she tries, oh my god how she tries.) Continue reading

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Filed under Anne Bishop, fantasy, Review: Book, urban

Book Review: Angel Town by Lilith Saintcrow

325 pp.

After the end of Heaven’s Spite I had no intention of reading Angel Town, the last book in the Jill Kismet series. Yet somehow, I ended up doing it anyway, though it was a long, hard slog through dark urban fantasy nihilism. (I am not very fond of the “The Good Guys never break the rules, while The Bad Guys break them with impunity,” paradigm, which appears to be a theme of this book. That and, Jill Kismet has Issues, Most of them Centered on Her Epic Internalized Misogyny.) Continue reading

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Book Review: Shattered Pillars by Elizabeth Bear

333 pp.

Shattered Pillars is a very transitional book that mostly continues the plot points introduced in Range of Ghosts, with additional complications as the bad guys and good guys play Spy vs. Spy. Temur continues his quest to rescue his lover Edene, unaware that she has already escaped. Edene in turn is unaware at first that she was actually allowed to escape. (Nor, when she finds out, is she able to do very much about it.) He also continues his plan become Khagan. Continue reading

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Book Review: The Serpent Sea by Martha Wells

Night Shade Books
331 pp.

In The Serpent Sea, Moon and the other Rakshura of the Indigo Cloud Court travel to their ancestral territory to rebuild their colony. When they reach the mountain-sized tree that had been the former court, they encounter a number of problems. The first problem is that their tree is dying because someone has stolen the magical “seed” that maintained it. The second problem is that Indigo Cloud has a long-simmering feud with one of their ancestral neighbors, the Emerald Twilight Court. (The feud has to do with an Indigo queen who decided to abscond with one of Emerald Twilight’s consorts.) Continue reading

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Filed under fantasy, Martha Wells, non-earth, Review: Book

Book Review: Range of Ghosts by Elizabeth Bear

334 pp.

Range of Ghosts has some fascinating world building wrapped up in an intriguing plot full of adventure and politics. The novel is set along “the Celadon Highway” a kind of analog to the historical Silk Road that linked most of Asia together with much of Europe in trade during the 12th and 13th centuries. An especially interesting aspect of the world building is that each empire or polity in Range of Ghosts has its own sky with radically different astronomical features. (As an example, the sky in Re Temur’s homeland has about a hundred tiny moons that each represents one of the male heirs of the Khagan, or “khan of khans.”) Continue reading

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Filed under Elizabeth Bear, fantasy, non-earth, Review: Book

Book Review: Glamour in Glass by Mary Robinette Kowal

319 pp.

I did not like Glamour in Glass nearly as much as I liked Shades of Milk and Honey. This is mostly because Vincent and Jane’s relationship has a few rocky moments due to communication problems. And by communication problems, I mean the kind that can result in some very bad situations if you are no longer in a romantic comedy, and there is suddenly political intrigue everywhere. (In other words, the shift in tone from one to the other was a little disorienting.) Continue reading

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Filed under fantasy, manner punk, Mary Robinette Kowal, Review: Book

Sekrit Rools

Sekrit Rools.

A new page is up. This is a collection of short lists of recurring themes/tropes/subjects that I’ve noticed crop up in some authors’ writing.

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Book Review: The Cloud Roads by Martha Wells

Night Shade Books
278 pp.

The Cloud Roads is a fantasy adventure of the improbable yet awesome geography variety. There are floating islands, multiple sentient species and ships that fly. This book reminded me a great deal of Laurie J. Marks Delan, the Mislaid and its sequels, mostly for the multiple sentient species, but also because our protagonist is an outsider alien to both his own kind and also to the people with whom he keeps trying to make connections. Continue reading

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Filed under fantasy, Martha Wells, Review: Book

Book Review: The Goddess Chronicle, by Natsuo Kirino, translation by Rebecca Copeland

Canongate Books
309 pp.

The Goddess Chronicle does not go anywhere, and I am pretty sure it is not supposed to. Our protagonist is a young woman named Namima. She is dead and has been dead for a very long time. She serves a goddess who is dead and has been dead for a long time. Both our protagonist and her goddess have a lot in common besides being dead; both were betrayed by the men in their lives, and this book is mostly about how they were betrayed and what they did about it. (Spoiler: This is a very literary fantasy by which I mean there is nothing but ennui all the way down and no one cares.) Continue reading

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Book Review: Emilie & the Hollow World, by Martha Wells

301 pp.

Martha Wells is one of my favorite writers. I enjoy her characters and worldbuilding, which tends toward fantasy of the magic-fueled technology variety. (There is really not enough of this kind of fantasy out there.) You will get airships, adventure and sorcery, and enjoy every minute of it. Continue reading

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Filed under fantasy, Martha Wells, non-earth, Review: Book, steam punk, young adult

Book Review: Eight Million Gods, by Wen Spencer

355 pp.

Eight Million Gods has a slightly manga-plot feel to it, only partly because it takes place in Japan. (And it is also not because the cover features a pink haired character in a crop top sailor suit. Maybe.) Our Heroine is a writer named Nikki, who has spent most of her adult life on the run from her mother, who keeps sticking her institutions. Nikki has OCD, which tends to manifest as a compulsion to write. Her favorite genre is horror, and she has a loyal following of fans who are more than willing to help her escape her mother’s clutches. Continue reading

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Filed under fantasy, Review: Book, urban, Wen Spencer

Book Review: Steadfast by Mercedes Lackey

298 pp.

This installment of the Elemental Masters series is a retelling of Hans Christian Anderson’s “The Steadfast Tin Soldier.” Our “ballerina” is a circus acrobat and dancer named Katie who is on the run from an abusive spouse. Our “tin soldier” is a former soldier named Jack Prescott who is an elemental magician of Fire. Our “goblin” is Katie’s husband, a ne’er-do-well named Dick, who was the Strong Man at the circus where Katie was previously employed. Since this revamp is not a precise retelling of the fairy tale, we also have Jack’s friend, Lionel Hawkins. Lionel is an elemental magician of Air, who works as a stage magician at the music hall where Jack works as a doorman. There are also a number of other helpful individuals. Continue reading

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Filed under fantasy, Mercedes Lackey, revamped fairytale, Review: Book

Book Review: Box Office Poison, by Phillipa Bornikov

316 pp.

Box Office Poison is a slight departure from the urban fantasy/paranormal romance cocktail of first person narrative, female character in some kind of criminal justice field, supernatural romantic interest with possible triangle. (It is also apparently the second book in a series, though I only found this out from the blurbs on the back of the book.) In this case, our heroine is Linnet Ellery, a human lawyer working for a vampire law firm. The basic set up is “at some point in the past all the supernatural beings decided to come forward and reveal their hidden presence.” In this case the supernatural beings are werewolves, vampires and elves. Continue reading

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Filed under fantasy, Phillipa Bornikov, Review: Book, urban

Book Review: Sea Change by S.M. Wheeler

304 pp.
Sea Change is essentially one of those fairy tales where the protagonist must negotiate a series of deals in order to obtain his or her objective. Our Heroine is a young woman named Lilly whose home life is best described as dysfunctional and estranged. Her only friend is a kraken named Octavius. When he turns up missing, this leads to a sequence of events where Lilly is forced to leave home and go on a quest to find him.
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Filed under fairy tale, fantasy, Review: Book, S.M. Wheeler

Book Review: Heir of Autumn by Giles Carwyn and Todd Fahnestock

466 pp.

Heir of Autumn is the first book of a fantasy series. This not only the first book in the series, but also the first book written by these authors. First novels always seem to be at least a little awkward. The writer or writers haven’t quite hit the tone they were aiming for, the prose or dialog might be a little stiff, the pacing might be off. Even if the writer has previously been published, the first novel is often immediately recognizable as a first novel. It is sometimes difficult for me to like a first book for these reasons, and I think that might be part of the reason I did not like this particular book.  Continue reading

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Filed under fantasy, Giles Carwyn, non-earth, Review: Book, Todd Fahnestock