I'm always swearing I'm not going to start any new series, but when I read the first chapter of this book, "The Red Empress," included as bonus materiI'm always swearing I'm not going to start any new series, but when I read the first chapter of this book, "The Red Empress," included as bonus material in Unseaming, I was instantly hooked. (Proof: I haven't reviewed Unseaming yet.)
Dark, disturbing, and inventively disgusting, The Black Fire Concerto envisions a post-apocalyptic America where The Storms, otherworldly and deadly, have mutated the land and its people. They also brought magic, new and powerful and sometimes very black. Here there be ghouls -- and worse than ghouls: cannibal cultists and megalomaniac magicians who aren't afraid to harness the horrors the Storms left for their own ends.
This book really is unflinchingly gory and body-horror heavy, but there's also something that is bright and refreshing about The Black Fire Concerto: its two protagonists. Erzelle, a young harpist in servitude as house musician at a gruesome gastronome's club, and Olyssa, the imposing, mysterious traveler that rescues her -- are both women. So rarely do we see women cast as epic heroes that Allen's tale took me by surprise.
And it certainly is something different. When Erzelle joins the majestic Olyssa (think King's Gunslinger crossed with the goddess Athena in a bad mood) on a quest to find Olyssa's missing sister, they face events and obstacles by turns magical and utterly nightmarish. But it's their master-and-apprentice pairing that makes the story pure gold. I don't usually get exerted over lack of adequate female representation in fantasy, but I guess it must be pretty bad for me to react so strongly to seeing it done right.
Not for everybody, and definitely not for the squeamish, The Black Fire Concerto is luxuriously nightmarish dark fantasy, and I'm going to be tapping my foot impatiently for the next book in "The Stormblight Symphony." Now, please, Mr. Allen....more
I finally finished, but honestly can't feel good about writing a review of The Bone Clocks, because my reading of it was so interrupted, so much in fiI finally finished, but honestly can't feel good about writing a review of The Bone Clocks, because my reading of it was so interrupted, so much in fits and starts. First, I had to return it to the library, mid-book; then I bought it on Kindle, which proceeded to give me problems at about 90% through. Obviously, problem solved, but I'm not sure it all sunk in, thematically speaking. I remember thinking "Wow! This is turning into some awesome urban fantasy!," then lost the thread at some point. I know I like Mitchell's writing quite a bit, as well as his ability to create and inhabit a large cast of very different characters.
Someday, I will obtain another physical copy and give it the better shot I know it deserves. ...more
Simply wonderful. Rothfuss weaves literary magic from the quotidian in Auri's tale, the story of a broken girl doing her best to bring balance to theSimply wonderful. Rothfuss weaves literary magic from the quotidian in Auri's tale, the story of a broken girl doing her best to bring balance to the world.
(Hey Patrick: this is a story for me, too. Thank you.)...more
Loved it. Brilliant. A melancholy fairy tale about a wonderful and terrible time and place just beyond reach of adult memory, and quintessentially BriLoved it. Brilliant. A melancholy fairy tale about a wonderful and terrible time and place just beyond reach of adult memory, and quintessentially British in mood and execution, The Ocean at the End of the Lane is Neil Gaiman at his best. Though this is meant to be an adult novel, it's certainly no scarier than The Graveyard Book or Coraline. Which is to say: for children, but also capable of terrifying adults on an existential level. The beauty of Gaiman is that he just writes stories, and different people find different things inside them. In that way, his tales are mythic.
More specific thoughts to come . . .
P.S. And the shout-out to Timothy and the Two Witches? Also brilliant. Serendipitously, I recently unearthed my battered old Dell Yearling copy of that book, which I loved to death as a child. Time for a reread....more