Andrea Hairston: Redwood and Wildfire

I finished Hairston’s harrowing and beautiful Redwood and Wildfire about a week ago, and I’ve been struggling to write about it in a way that does it justice. But it’s today that I learned about the acquittal of one George Zimmerman in the murder trial of one Trayvon Martin, and that — and what itContinue reading “Andrea Hairston: Redwood and Wildfire”

Alyssa Goodnight: Austentatious

There was a lot I enjoyed about Austentatious, but also a fair bit I found problematic. The novel scored big points with me early on by dropping a reference to The Princess Bride without belaboring it with an explanation. And I enjoyed its breezy, nerd-culture-reference-spiked tone throughout. I’m generally favorably inclined toward modern spins onContinue reading “Alyssa Goodnight: Austentatious”

Greg Ketter: Shelf Life: Fantastic Stories Celebrating Bookstores

Greg Ketter, owner of Minneapolis’ DreamHaven books describes this volume as a labor of love, and that’s evident. But its thematic focus is so narrow that it’s probably better dipped into than read straight-through: it’s a bit too easy to play spot-the-trope (haunted bookstore, haunted books, store-of-books-never-written, store-of-books-that-warp-reality), and I found the quality uneven. IContinue reading “Greg Ketter: Shelf Life: Fantastic Stories Celebrating Bookstores”

Dia Reeves: Slice of Cherry

I liked Reeves’ first novel Bleeding Violet so much that I ordered her second in advance of its publication date. And then I didn’t read it until now thanks to a quandary familiar to me: I didn’t want the new book to be the same as the one I just read, but I wanted toContinue reading “Dia Reeves: Slice of Cherry”

Jim C. Hines: The Stepsister Scheme

I first heard of Jim C. Hines via his project of challenging the objectification of women on “urban fantasy/paranormal romance” book covers by painstakingly (literally) re-creating the poses with himself in the starring role. Like much of my favorite activism, it’s funny and serious at the same time. (He even tackles a book where IContinue reading “Jim C. Hines: The Stepsister Scheme”

Sarah Rees Brennan: The Demon’s Lexicon

I wasn’t initially terribly impressed by Brennan’s world-building, but I was drawn in by the good cop/bad cop juxtaposition of brothers Alan and Nick. I thought it was pleasingly unusual that the primary viewpoint character was really not that nice a boy, and there were a few other good details, but I thought I’d workedContinue reading “Sarah Rees Brennan: The Demon’s Lexicon”

Brom: Krampus

Krampus mixes a familiar, if competently drawn, macho fantasy of a down-on-his-luck guy trying to win back his estranged bride with the conflict between Christianity and Norse beliefs, personified in the opposing midwinter present/punishment dispensers, jolly Saint Nicholas and the frequently frightful Krampus. The odd blend is seasoned by a generous spatter of grue. IContinue reading “Brom: Krampus”

Tod Davies: Lily the Silent

Lily the Silent reminded me of works by authors who blur the line between fable and emotionally realistic, less overtly symbolic (if still fantastic) narrative, like Angela Carter, Rachel Pollack, and Kelly Link. There’s a lot I admire about it. It’s unambiguously, but not heavily-handed, feminist. It explicitly opposes the conventions of Tolkein-derivative heroic fantasy.Continue reading “Tod Davies: Lily the Silent”

Caitlin R. Kiernan: Trilobite

I loved Threshold and it scared the bejeezus outta me, but I’m not sure that I completely got it. It’s a bit of a puzzle box. It’s not the sort of book where one version of “objective reality” is an applicable concept, and it’s about the unknowable more than about the unknown. But throughout IContinue reading “Caitlin R. Kiernan: Trilobite”

Catherynne Valente: The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making

I loved this book so much that weeks later I’m still struggling to express my reactions coherently. Valente explicitly draws on the works of Barrie, Baum, Carroll, Lewis, and the folk tale tradition as represented by the Grimms and Andrew Lang’s compendia. It has a dash of post-modern self-referential awareness of its own narrative (butContinue reading “Catherynne Valente: The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making”