I decided to read Some Kind of Fairy Tale because I heard Graham Joyce talking about the folk-lore that I research for my own books. It came recommendI decided to read Some Kind of Fairy Tale because I heard Graham Joyce talking about the folk-lore that I research for my own books. It came recommended by friends, and now I understand why.
Let me start by saying that Some Kind of Fairy Tale is beautifully written. The prose is dense and rich, and full of subtext and layered meaning. The dialogue sparkles and brings the characters into relief against each other. It bears reading slowly in case you miss something, and yet you find yourself racing forward to find out what happens. I’ve read it only once, though I think I will read it again to see what I missed. That makes it sound heavy and ponderous, but it’s not. At times I was laughing out loud at the situations and the depth of irony that emerged. There is a lightness of heart that communicates through the text. Nothing is laboured, and all that transpires follows easily from what comes before. There is nothing to throw you out of the story once you begin, and what a beginning.
In the middle of an ordinary Christmas dinner, there is a knock on the door. On opening it, a young woman is there and her first words are a bombshell. “Hello Dad.”
Tara has been missing for twenty years, the subject of a murder investigation, a missing persons search, accusations and allegations, but no body was ever found. Now she’s back, looking no older than she did when she went missing. The title is a reference to her story, and what we see are the lengths those around her will go to to explain away what she says has happened.
This is not an ordinary fairy tale, and nor does Joyce stick entirely to the conventions of the mythology. There are hints of parallel science and arcane mystery which are never explained but give a sense of hidden wonder to the book. The otherness that comes through is odd and occasionally jarring, but adds to the central mystery of what exactly happened to Tara.
Some Kind of Fairy Tale comes highly recommended, and will delight those who enjoy the blending of fantasy and reality into complex tales set in the modern world. For myself, it is a joy to find a new (to me) author with a back catalogue of work I can explore and discover....more
I read this while on holiday, expecting urban fantasy and instead finding a charming tale of paranormal romance.
Perhaps I should begin with the differI read this while on holiday, expecting urban fantasy and instead finding a charming tale of paranormal romance.
Perhaps I should begin with the difference between the two. For me, urban fantasy and paranormal romance share geography. Like the twin cities in a China Mieville novel they are in the same space, but while urban fantasy is about events, and it's driving force is plot, paranormal romance is about relationships, and ultimately about love. This book is about forbidden love and betrayal, so not necessarily a happy ever after, at least in this volume.
That's not to say that Daughter of Smoke and Bone doesn't have a goodly share of action, interesting plot twists, and fascinating world-building - it delivers on all of these. What it doesn't deliver is an ending. It ends not with the magic words, 'The End', but with the holding phrase, 'To Be Continued'. Whether this was the author's choice or the publisher's, I don't know.
Having written a series, I'm aware how hard it is to make each volume stand on its own merits, but I'm also critical of taking the easy option of a continuation. It's my personal view that this is deeply unsatisfying for the reader, but I'm also aware that some readers are happy for the story to continue on and on, especially when it comes to romance. Perhaps it's a style thing.
That said, the characters are strong and the description of the worlds of the book are engaging and rewarding. The secrets at the heart of the story, once revealed, deliver the motivation for all that transpires. It was a wrench, therefore, to be dropped out of the story without a satisfactory conclusion at just over 400 pages. My problem is that I felt it could have ended, one way or another, and it didn't.
What saved it for me were the descriptions of the chimerae, the creatures populating the world of elsewhere. Monsters are described with loving detail, bringing them into sharp focus as both the heroes and villains of the piece. They give the book it's unique flavour.
If you have an appetite for a multi-book series, sequels are available in Days of Blood and Starlight,with a third book, Dreams of Gods and Monsters, in the pipeline. ...more
I've wanted to read The Lies of Locke Lamora for some time. It was recommended to me by friends and came up in conversations at conventions and on panI've wanted to read The Lies of Locke Lamora for some time. It was recommended to me by friends and came up in conversations at conventions and on panels as a must read. The problem was that I thought that after all the hype it would be a disappointment. It wasn't. If you're looking for a great example of a 'writer's voice' Scott Lynch has it. He writes fluidly, lucidly, and the word vanished leaving me immersed in the story.
Having said that, it isn't perfect. There are a couple of moments when Scott seems to step over the boundary between daring believability and the incredulous. Maybe it's just me, but I found myself asking "How would that character know that?" and "Where did they get that information from?". It's not that it couldn't be explained by some mechanism in the plot, but rather that within such a well-paced and smoothly plotted story, the road-bumps were that much more obvious. That aside, it's an immersive book.
This is a story I will return to, and I'm looking forward to having the time to read the sequels. I loved the setting - the city is somewhere I feel I could wander, though not with anything valuable and I might take a bodyguard. It's rich culture is engaging, and the legacy of old magic/lost technology is intriguing. The characters are wonderful, though I warn you, the body count is high - don't get too attached to anyone.
All told, The Lies of Locke Lamora is a rewarding read and highly recommended. ...more
I must confess up front that Anne is a friend and a fellow Angry Robot author so I can't claim to be unbiased in this review. While it's not unbiased,I must confess up front that Anne is a friend and a fellow Angry Robot author so I can't claim to be unbiased in this review. While it's not unbiased, it is honest. It's also slightly early - the book isn't out yet, but it will be soon, hence the review.
I was given the opportunity to read The Alchemist of Souls as a preview, which I grasped with both hands. Even so, it's a hard book to classify. It stands on its own merits as a historical novel and the rich texture of the world is easily and naturally conveyed. It's not our history, though. It's like our history, and it has a familiarity which makes assumptions tempting, but the wildcard are the Skraylings, a race of creatures encountered in the expanding Elizabethan empire and an entirely uncanny lot. The nature of the Skraylings is central to the plot and adds a magical texture to an already colourful novel.
It's also a character novel, with complex motives and people that you want to know more about. In all aspects, the author does not fall into the trap of telling us too much, which only serves to leave us wanting more. It didn't turn out the way I thought it would, and I had to get to the end to find out how all the threads would pull together. I don't do spoilers (as you know, if you follow my reviews) but the ending is satisfying and suitably climactic.
The setting is rich, and as someone who knows a little about English history, and London in particular, I found it atmospheric and convincing. This is a book that made me want time-travel so I could visit Elizabethan London for myself - especially if I could visit the alternative London with Skraylings in it.
In short, I will be reading the next one. Recommended.
The Alchemist of Souls is published by Angry Robot Books and is available from 27th March 2012.