This book grabbed me and wouldn't let go. I ended up reading it in two sittings, and then had problems getting to sleep that night because I kept imagThis book grabbed me and wouldn't let go. I ended up reading it in two sittings, and then had problems getting to sleep that night because I kept imagining things in the shadows.
When you think of old-school faerie tales - Grimm rather than Disney - this is a modern example of those old stories. The ending is unsettled and unsettling....more
September returns to Fairyland to find that her shadow, which she sacrificed to save a child in the previous book, has become the Queen of Fairyland-BSeptember returns to Fairyland to find that her shadow, which she sacrificed to save a child in the previous book, has become the Queen of Fairyland-Below. Worse, the shadows in Fairyland are disappearing into Fairyland-Below, where they enjoy the freedom to be the masters of their own fate. But the shadows are the sources of magic in Fairyland, and as more of them leave for the underworld, magic is disappearing from Fairyland. September has to solve this problem before Fairyland disappears forever.
I was really tempted to just write a review that said, “This book is awesome and you should all go buy it now. Stop wasting time reading this review.” However, out of a sense of professional responsibility, let me explain why this book is so wonderful.
Catherynne M. Valente is the true heir to Lewis Carroll. Her imagination has created a world that is both strange and fearsome in its wonder. Every page reveals a new creation that is simultaneously new and as old as story. This is not a book that can be read quickly, for the wonderful language requires that you slow down and read it aloud in your head. (I can’t wait until my son is old enough for me to read this aloud to him.) This is a book not to just be enjoyed, but savored slowly. It is a fairy tale of the heart, of coming of age, of the cruel necessities and tender mercies of growing up. The fact that this is a book written for middle graders should not dissuade anyone from reading it. The story reads at multiple levels, and resonates with the mythic truths that underlie the best tales of things both impossible and true.
The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There is destined to be a classic. It is a sequel to The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, which I read earlier this year and thought was fantastic. I wasn’t sure if Valente would be able to keep that level of magic and wit in a second novel, but she did. With this installment in the FAIRYLAND books (there will be another to come), Valente has firmly planted herself on my “buy on sight” list, and this book is on my shortlist for best novel of the year. You can expect to see my reviews of her backlist popping up in the future as I read more of this tremendously talented author....more
Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan is a twist on a classic Gothic romance, like Jane Eyre. Complete with a mysterious mansion on a hill, a desperate love triangle, mysterious goings-on and troubled characters, Unspoken throws a twist into the formula by reversing the genders of the main characters, setting it in a modern setting, and adding a sense of humor.
Kami lives in Sorry-in-the-Vale, a small English town that lives in the shadow of the Lynburn mansion. The Lynburns have been gone since before Kami was born, and most of the people in the town are glad they have been gone. However, one day the lights in the mansion are back on, and word whips quickly through town that the Lynburns are back. Kami, an aspiring journalist, thinks this would be a great story for the newly resurrected high school newspaper. However, she is surprised to discover that the Lynburns have returned with not one, but two gorgeous boys her age, one looking like an angel, and the other like a fallen one. Whispers of the Lynburns’ dastardly deeds start resurfacing, and Kami is caught between the attentions of both of the Lynburn boys and the voice in her head that she’s heard since she was an infant. And then animals start being ritually killed in the woods, and Kami is determined to figure out what is going on, and that’s before someone tries to kill her.
Kami is a fun heroine. She’s spunky, mouthy, and headstrong. She has an entertaining group of friends and is a born leader. As the adventure unfolds, she seems to plunge in headfirst without much awareness of the danger, beyond the level you would assume normal for teenage belief in their own immortality. Where I do appreciate Kami’s personality the most is in her refusal to be a stupid swoony girl over the two boys that are interested in her. Rather than stringing them both along, she shows reasonable doubts about both of them and is clearheaded enough to understand why they are interested in her, rather than considering it true love. Without giving away any important plot details, the central triangle drives the plot not just romantically – there is surprisingly little actual romance – but strategically in both revealing the plot and driving the conflict forward.
The book shifts from a fairly Disneyfied spunky girl detective story to a more mature PG-13 with both an increase in violence and language. Additionally, the last 75 pages or so reveals a lot of information and then ends without any resolution. The atmospheric darkness that hangs over the story is not cleared away and has actually darkened as the story ends. I was actually frustrated with the lack of resolution. There are ways to leave the story open enough to continue while providing a sense of closure to the installment of the larger tale.
This is a fun addition to the realm of YA fantasy. As Unspoken ends with a fairly significant cliff hanger, it will be interesting to see where the story goes with a lot of the mystery dispelled and the alignment of the characters more crystalized. The book ends with the central love triangle being completely reconfigured, so I assume that the continued volumes in THE LYNBURN LEGACY will play with the inter-character conflict. I’ll definitely be reading the next book in this series, but I don’t think this book will have the crossover to broader audiences that some YA fiction will, but will appeal to fans of YA fantasy and gothic fiction....more
I've been rationing these stories out because who knows when or if we will ever get another chance to visit Bordertown. In any anthology there are goiI've been rationing these stories out because who knows when or if we will ever get another chance to visit Bordertown. In any anthology there are going to be some stories that are stronger than others, but I particularly loved the stories by Catherynne Valente and Charles deLint....more
Safe-Keepers can be trusted to never reveal a secret. So it's no surprise that when a royal bastard needs to be hidden, a Safe-Keeper would be the logSafe-Keepers can be trusted to never reveal a secret. So it's no surprise that when a royal bastard needs to be hidden, a Safe-Keeper would be the logical place to hide the child. When the royal messenger who left the infant in the dark of night with the Safe-Keeper is found dead by his own hand a few miles away, the secret that the baby boy who was left behind becomes more of an open secret. The Safe-Keeper decides to raise the child with her own daughter who was born that night. But what happens when the King can't have any more children, and starts looking for the child who may be his son?
Sharon Shinn develops an interesting idea here. There are people in this society who are responsible for keeping secrets until they need to be told, people who have a mythical ability to know and tell the truth, and people whose presence grants the dreams of others. One of the things about any system of magic is that it should come with a cost. Dream Makers have lives of sorrow and challenge, Truth Tellers are generally feared and unwelcome, but the Safe Keepers don't seem to have that same cost, other than having to keep horrible secrets. It seems a little unbalanced, though that may be because their powers are the weakest.
The idea is intriguing, and I liked the development of the characters, but the plot was a little weak, especially the ending that wrapped up all the different story lines in about 15 pages so neatly that Martha would call it a good thing. It sort of felt like she was only allowed to write a certain number of pages, and got so carried away that she had to slap an ending on as quickly as possible. The idea is interesting enough that I'll seek out other books in this series - I believe they are shared world rather than character - to see what other stories unfold....more
And it is on this day, the 26th of March, in the year two thousand and twelve, that I, Ruth Arnell, having been ushered into the world of fantasy readAnd it is on this day, the 26th of March, in the year two thousand and twelve, that I, Ruth Arnell, having been ushered into the world of fantasy readerdom by Arrows of the Queen, have given up on Valdemar....more