Hunting Monsters: This was a story that attempted to define the boundaries between good and evil in monsters and humans aliOriginally posted on my blog
Hunting Monsters: This was a story that attempted to define the boundaries between good and evil in monsters and humans alike. It describes a world where otherkin have the same rights as humans, whether they're monsters or not. This is a story based loosely on what happens after Little Red Riding Hood, and Beauty and the Beast. What I loved most about this story was the deviation from a traditional family setting. Xiao Hong lives with her mother, and is raised by both her and an estranged woman whom she calls Auntie Rosa. This alteration in the traditional family setting, as well as creating a Chinese main character in a white, traditional world creates a richer world and makes her mother a far more complex character than previously believed. Loved it. 5/5 stars
In Her Head, In Her Eyes Hase is a woman with a pot over her head, covering her eyes. As such, she is ridiculed not only by her fellow servants but the wives of her masters. She comes from the Island, where patterns are made up and people are born with them. Hase has been sent to get inspiration for pattern ideas. This was certainly an imaginative tale, a retelling of a Japanese tale that I've never heard of. This story changed tones very quickly, and I found that to be jarring at some points, and as a result, I'm giving it 3/5 stars.
Mrs Yaga I love that this story uses Polish words; it makes me feel right at home, just like Uprooted did. It also explores a mother-daughter relationship that isn't fully noticeable until the very end, when Aurelia realises that Yaga is sending all those boys on hopeless quests because she knows they're not good enough for her daughter. It's very reminiscent of Brave, in which the daughter claims herself, instead of letting a boy do it for her. 4/5 stars
The Mussel Eater This is a retelling of a Maori myth, which is a category I'm very unfamiliar with. Even so, the tone of the story feels ideally exotic and foreign, yet still familiar enough that I can understand some of the concepts (with Australia being so close to New Zealand). The story is utterly seductive, with food being a way to seduce--and ultimately, shackle--the Pania. Food is the focal point of the story, with Karitoki attempting to lure the Pania with cooked food and rubbing her with scented oils in a way to humanise her, to make her his. The ending is wonderful, paying homage to the imagery of food, and is a delightfully dark feminist twist. 5/5 stars
The Astronomer Who Met the North Wind I wasn't too much a fan of this story. It was mainly the constant telling versus showing. That sort of thing feels jarring to me, and I've never really liked it. The sotry felt rushed, and while it was a beautiful premise with interesting characters--I loved the tricksy North Wind--it never felt fully formed to me. I liked the honesty of the story, of Minka being defiant of all the people who try to dissuade her from being an astronomer because of her age or because of her gender. Her resistance to this wall of negativity is what drives the story, and I really liked the strength and will she displays. 3/5 stars
The Ninety-Ninth Bride This was the longest tale, and once again, relied on telling instead of showing. As a retelling of the 1001 Nights, of course there's going to be some quick recapping of some of the stories, but it just felt so derivative. The big reveal at the end, though, was what made it stand out. 4/5 stars...more
This was an interesting take on Alice in Wonderland, where Alice's friend, Ada, falls into Wonderland and tries to find a way out. Unfortunately, the wThis was an interesting take on Alice in Wonderland, where Alice's friend, Ada, falls into Wonderland and tries to find a way out. Unfortunately, the writing just didn't do it for me. Yes, there were some beautiful passages, but most of it was bogged down by pompous writing. Additionally, it ends rather vaguely, hinting at certain ideas, but not really going anywhere. (view spoiler)[ It is mentioned that the skeletons of two girls were found in a river at one point, and a boy who ends up in Wonderland, Siam, falls down a chimney shute, so I had come to the conclusion that Wonderland was some sort of purgatory, and it's a shame that it didn't end like that, because it would have been cool as fuck. (hide spoiler)]
My fave quotes from the book: A story in a book has its own intentions, even if unknowable to the virgin reader, who just lollops along at her own pace regardless of the author's strategies, and gets where she will. After all, a book can be set aside for weeks, or for good. (Burned at the grate.) Alternatively, a story can be adored for centuries. But it cannot be derailed. A plot, whether abandoned by a reader or pursued rapturously, remains itself, and gets where it is headed even if nobody is looking. It is progressive and inevitable as the seasons. Winter still comes after autumn, though you may have died over the summer - pg 70 ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I've been a fan of Lani Lenore for nearly a decade, when she published her stories on fictionpress.com and fanfiction.net, and when she decided to pull her stories, rewrite, and publish them, I immediately got my hands on her work.
In The Nutcracker Bleeds, a dark retelling of the Christmas tale of The Nutcracker, we are thrown into a world where toys come to life during the night, and are thrust in the midst of a war between toys and mice. When Olivia and her maid Ann are shrunk due to mouse magic, they are forced to find their own roles in this world: Olivia as Queen of the toys, and Ann, a wayward girl who might be the catalyst to everything.
The plot is definitely the star of the show. It never stops being a thrilling ride, there's always something happening. This makes it a quick read, despite its crazy length (600+ pages on the ebook). It is almost overwhelming, the amount of action that's flung in your face.
Their foe comes in the form of the Rat King, who has a limited supply of magic, and in order to replenish his magic levels enough to turn back into a human, he must eat either tiny Olivia or tiny Ann. Thus, his army of rats and mice are constantly on the lookout for the girls, and kill any toys that come in their way.
Olivia is nonplussed about the whole situation, so sure that her toy guards will protect her in her fortress of books. Not only that, but she pines after her brand new nutcracker, Armand. Armand is a curious character. Made of wood, but with the heart of a human, he was transformed into a nutcracker by the Rat King many centuries ago. His mission is to defeat the Rat King and become a human again.
The cast of characters is massive, and it's so fun to see all the interactions between all the characters. There's a puppet who carved himself a wooden phallus; a glutton of a toy who gorges on food that rots within him; and an androgynous doll who lusts after Armand, so much so that he plans on replacing Armand's head with his own.
There are multiple threads of narrative, and they all interweave nicely, and get tied up in interesting--though sometimes convenient--ways. Ann and Armand's endings felt too good to be true, and I think that was my main disappointment.
I found this an engaging read, and it saddens me that so few people know about Lani Lenore and her work, so I've decided to give away my copy of The Nutcracker Bleeds.
The writing is so lovely. It feels so musical and whimsical, rolling off the tongue in sweet waves. I stopped often to reroriginally posted on my blog
The writing is so lovely. It feels so musical and whimsical, rolling off the tongue in sweet waves. I stopped often to reread sentences and passages, often reading them aloud to hear the music in the words. There's a rustic quality to the words--to the story itself. Set in an Eastern-European setting, it felt almost like coming home. I'm of Polish descent, and it makes me homesick for a place I've never been.
Agnieszka's fumbling of magic is endearing, and completely realistic. She's just a plain girl who knows nothing of magic, despite having it flow through her naturally. The way she stumbles her way through saving her village is courageous, even though she is in a constant state of terror. She's a strong character, learning to bond with a fickle thing like magic, and an intolerant fickle man like the Dragon.
The Dragon felt like a more adult version of the arrogant and selfish Howl from Howl's Moving Castle, trapping young women in his tower. His utter impatience towards Agnieszka is comedic, I couldn't stop giggling to myself. He is so uptight and to-the-letter that it's impossible for him to imagine a world different to the one he's carved out for himself, so when chaos follows Agnieszka, it's interesting to see his reactions. They are just such polar opposites, and yet they fit together perfectly.
The friendship between Agnieszka and Kasia was so raw and beautiful that it hurt whenever something went between them. And a lot of things went between them. The whole bloody Wood was conspiring to break them apart.Friendship plays a huge role within this book, and Nieszka and Kasia are together until the very end. It is their friendship that allows them to fight back the corruption of the Wood.
The Wood is a magical entity that creeps ever closer to humanity, and the Wood is corrupt. Everything within it is corrupted and pure evil, but it wasn't like that always. Long, long ago, the Wood was merely a copse of trees, who survived the invasion of humans. Since then, it has been growing ever larger, consuming whole towns, pulling people into the bark of the trees to create heart-trees.
This is a book about magic and redemption, of the corruption of good people, and the purity of those corrupted. It managed to weasel itself into being one of my favourite books ever. ...more
I am so disappointed by this book. The first 100 or so pages made me so sure that I'd give this a high rating, and when Clara begins to have a romantiI am so disappointed by this book. The first 100 or so pages made me so sure that I'd give this a high rating, and when Clara begins to have a romantic, almost sexual relationship with Anise, the supposed evil queen, I decided that it would be a 5 star book, simply because I thought it would deviate from the norm. I don't know why I'm surprised. I should have known that an author and publisher--and everyone else who worked on this book--wouldn't seriously stick to something as important and as ground-breaking as a queer relationship. I honestly thought that Clara being queer and falling for Anise would have been the twist. That the 'evil queen' was good all along. But now, knowing what I do, it feels cheap. All those charged sexual scenes between Clara and Anise turn into queer-baiting. Re-reading with what I know now, I can see the clear distaste Clara has for her Sapphic relationship with Anise. Even though she shares a kinship with Anise, and even though she realises that Anise's weakness is her loneliness, she still just decides to be with her prince Nicholas because he's really hot, and she's practically been getting off to the hot statue of him for her entire life.
I am so disappointed that Clara is made to feel like her relationship with Anise was something wrong, was something she had to pretend in order to get wheat she wanted. It hurts, as a queer person, to see a flicker of representation, only to have it doused by an ocean of NOPE....more