I’ve been quite interested in this one ever since I saw Victoria Schwab talking about it on Twitter. I didn’t even havReceived to review via Edelweiss
I’ve been quite interested in this one ever since I saw Victoria Schwab talking about it on Twitter. I didn’t even have to know much about it: I was sold from the quotation that apparently sparked (though I haven’t, in fact, read Vicious yet, which was the source).
“Plenty of humans were monstrous, and plenty of monsters knew how to play at being human.” That’s really the core of this book: monstrous humans and human monsters, and the interplay between them, and sometimes how difficult it can be to recognise. It took me a while to get into the world and really understand what was going on — for the first 10% I was a little confused — but I think the worldbuilding works well. All the questions I had initially were answered as I read on; you just have to do a little work as a reader, which is something I actually enjoy, so was very much fine with me.
I really like the concepts underlying this: the way Corsai, Malchai and Sunai are created, their attributes, the way the city is split into two halves. There was a lot of background stuff that I think can be developed a lot more, and I’m excited to read it in future books. There’s a lot of depth to the monsters as-is, too: their limitations, the differences between them, the way they interact. The bonds between the three Sunai are quite different, despite the claims of Leo that they’re monsters, just monsters, just implements of judgement.
The description “Romeo and Juliet + Sin City” was a misleading one, to my mind. There’s little, if any, romance, which is what people automatically think of when they think about Romeo and Juliet. I expected something more like a retelling, which this isn’t so much; it just shares themes — connection between two opposing sides, the splitting of the city, the expectations of family.
Overall, I found this fascinating — and I actually liked it more than A Darker Shade of Magic, which I enjoyed and which I know many people thought couldn’t get much better!
The Frog Princess is one of my sister’s favourite comfort-reads, so it was the first thing she thought to recommend when I had a reading challenge proThe Frog Princess is one of my sister’s favourite comfort-reads, so it was the first thing she thought to recommend when I had a reading challenge prompt to read something recommended by a family member. It takes a generic medieval-ish setting (castles, royalty, witches), and the usual Frog Prince story, and gives it a little twist to complicate it. If you’ve seen Disney’s The Princess and the Frog, you know the basic twist — apparently, the film was somewhat based on this book, though my sister disagrees about the whole idea. (Setting is different, characters different, etc, etc.)
It’s fun enough, though because it’s aimed at — well, I’m not good at judging: middle grade, perhaps? Whatever that means in British terms… — anyway, say middle grade, it’s pretty slight. It has a fairly clever and strong-minded heroine, who is not the perfect sort of princess — a princess who laughs in entirely the wrong way, and is clumsy about everything she does. That’s an okay role model for kids, even if the whole story basically rushes her towards adulthood and romance, whether she likes it or not.
The main male character is mostly insufferable. Randomly demanding kisses, acting as entitled as they come, boastful… The romance itself, though it has some cute moments, fails to enchant me.
In terms of other characters, there’s some interesting and funny stuff going on in the background, like the character of the snake and the bat. All in all, cute enough, though it’s not something I’ll come back to the way my sister does — wrong point in my life entirely for it to become charmingly nostalgic.
I originally received this to review via Netgalley, but took so long about it, I ended up picking it up in a shop. I’m actually not really sure what tI originally received this to review via Netgalley, but took so long about it, I ended up picking it up in a shop. I’m actually not really sure what to make of it: on the one hand I found it engaging, but on the other I found the way it was set out maddening. I don’t know if this issue was deliberate, present in the original, introduced in translation, or a result of some typesetting issue, but scene breaks were several times completely elided so that one scene slid into the next and you only realised because one character was saying something that didn’t make sense in the context of the previous conversation. This happened enough to be completely confusing, rather than just happening once or twice. The other thing is that thoughts are denoted in the exact same way as speech, so you never know if a character is saying something aloud or just thinking it.
Awkwardness of language I’m quite prepared to put down to the issue of translation, and also the fact that the original was written in a wholly different context to modern SF. But combined with the layout issues, I found it frustrating.
On the other hand, the story is interesting, featuring the slow psychological breakdown of a crew as they must adjust to the fact that they won’t make it home, that one of them has to be hooked up to a computer and another is turned into a human calculating machine. The beginning doesn’t work as well as I’d like, because you don’t already have the emotional connection to give it impact, but I can’t see how else the book could sensibly be structured. There is quite a bit of exposition delivered by dialogue, which can be annoying — but I do wonder if part of that is different literary conventions.
The final chapters, the resolution of the story, also tell us why the title is A Legend of the Future. It’s an excellent ending, to my mind; wrapping things up with just enough uncertainty left that you’re not sure exactly what happened, what is real and what is hallucinated and suggested…
When I read the first few sections, I wasn’t much impressed, but my interest grew as I kept on — I think it rewards the effort.
Unnatural Creatures is a fun collection with a rather diverse set of authors, including Gaiman himself, Peter S. Beagle, Nnedi Okorafor, Nalo HopkinsoUnnatural Creatures is a fun collection with a rather diverse set of authors, including Gaiman himself, Peter S. Beagle, Nnedi Okorafor, Nalo Hopkinson, Diana Wynne Jones… it includes some stories published before which fit with the theme, and a couple which seem to be published for the first time here. Most of them weren’t stories I knew already, and I thought overall it was a good selection; there were none which really didn’t work for me, though I wasn’t so interested in ‘The Compleat Werewolf’, particularly given how long it was.
Some of the creatures are more traditional than others: werewolves and ancient animal gods and the spirits of trees juxtaposed against a predatory bicycle, the story by Gahan Wilson, etc. Which is always good, to my mind, because werewolves and unicorns and such have been done, and a bit of new blood is always interesting.
My favourites of the collection? Hmm. ‘The Griffin and the Minor Canon’, by Frank R. Stockton; ‘The Sage of Theare’, by Diana Wynne Jones; ‘The Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchist Bees’, by E. Lily Yu; ‘Prismatica’, by Samuel R. Delaney… Stockton’s story, for example, is fairly traditional in the sort of structure and moral, but then there’s that odd sad note of pity for the Griffin, despite — well, you should probably read it for yourself. ‘The Cartographer Wasps’ is a fable, too, with a different sort of feel. And then ‘The Sage of Theare’ has a figure familiar from Jones’ other books — Chrestomanci!
Yes, it’s definitely an interesting combination, and a collection worth spending some time with, I think.