Started out quite promisingly, with an interesting protagonist and a world that someone had clearly given quite a bit of thought to in terms of world-Started out quite promisingly, with an interesting protagonist and a world that someone had clearly given quite a bit of thought to in terms of world-building (loved the talking birds, though I could see how they could be quite a pain, as indeed some of them are in the book).
Then it all went a bit grisly when it came to talking about how the titular Machine God was brought to life (the last thing I read that had a similar feel to it was KJ Parker's The Belly of the Bow) but after that it kind of lost its way. The ending was a bit of an anti-climax, as was the moustache-twirling behaviour of our 'unexpected' villain.
Sadly our protagonist also didn't really seem to survive intact and became himself a bit of a caricature, neither one thing or another. Disappointing.
I really wanted to give this collection 4 stars but there were a couple of (in my opinion) quite weak stories that pulled it down to 3 and a half, whiI really wanted to give this collection 4 stars but there were a couple of (in my opinion) quite weak stories that pulled it down to 3 and a half, which of course Goodreads doesn't let us do.
My favourite stories were 'Careful Magic' by Karen Healey - a confession, I hadn't read any of her work before this but will definitely be checking her out now - and 'The Truth About Owls' by Amal El-Mohtar, whose other short fiction I had read and enjoyed.
All in all, it's a nicely mixed load of stories, looking at folks outside the white, straight, able-bodied mainstream for its characters and for that it's definitely worth a read but, like I said at the beginning, the quality overall of the storytelling was a little uneven for me. ...more
**spoiler alert** I've always wished that Goodreads had the option to give half-stars, because 3 seems harsh but I was struggling to hit 4 where this**spoiler alert** I've always wished that Goodreads had the option to give half-stars, because 3 seems harsh but I was struggling to hit 4 where this book was concerned, so I would have loved the option to split the difference.
Anyway. I think I came across this writer initially via comments on Twitter and thought it was worth picking up via Kindle - have to say, if I was buying a paperback, I would much prefer the more stylised cover above than the generic 'girl in vaguely medieval-style dress' YA cover. Also, given that Thorn's hair colour is mentioned on a number of occasions, it seems sensible to have a cover where that's actually the case, you know? Not to mention the plot-device cloak that also makes an appearance in this version.
So, onto the book itself. I was pleased by how well-written it was, with a good turn of phrase and some very good characterisation - there were certainly moments in the story played for emotion that hit the right note without becoming mawkish (Violet's funeral stands out for me in this regard).
The problem I had with it is two-fold and both really revolve around the character of Kestrin. While (understandably since it is all told from her POV) we get to see a lot of Thorn's inner workings - to the point of vexation at times, imo - Kestrin still remains a bit of a mystery. Part of that is the pacing of the story overall, with a lot of time given to Thorn's building relationships with various folks in the city, then a sudden rush through the 'testing' of Kestrin which had me looking at the page count a little anxiously to see if it would all fit before the end. To me, ending the story where the author chose to, left a lot of things about Kestrin unresolved - is he the man Thorn clearly thinks he is, what is he going to do (if anything) about the issues of injustice his citizens are living under, and so on.
And then there's the whole 'oh, by the way I was the Wind you were telling all your secrets to while growing up in an abusive household and I've actually been stalking you for years' issue. No, that's not romantic, it's just creepy and intrusive. Not the best basis for a positive adult relationship, to my mind. ...more
Not bad, though if there was a drinking game where you drank every time Byren's 'powerful thighs' get a mention (usually from his own pov, which is aNot bad, though if there was a drinking game where you drank every time Byren's 'powerful thighs' get a mention (usually from his own pov, which is a bit peculiar), it could be dangerous for your liver......more