You may have read before how very much I love the work of Mary Borsellino. Well, here’s some more of that love heading your way.
Borsellino’s latest isYou may have read before how very much I love the work of Mary Borsellino. Well, here’s some more of that love heading your way.
Borsellino’s latest is a shortish YA fantasy called Ruby Coral Carnelian. The title is a reference to this world’s wizards, the kind of magic they use and their willingness (and success) in using blood magic.
The story sees Del, assistant to the Ruby Warlock, discovering the wizard intends to sell him on to another wizard and realizing that this isn’t going to end well. As Del plans to run, he discovers that one of the Ruby Warlock’s twin step-children, away at boarding school, is in trouble and that the other plans to rescue him. Del ends up helping, and he, Nicholas and Kelsie end up on the run, escaping from powerful people who mean them harm.
So far, so straightforward, and it gets difficult to provide details without also providing spoilers. As always with Borsellino’s work, there is more going on than a simple plot explanation can reveal. The characters are flawed yet sympathetic, the story taking some unexpected turns as they learn about themselves and each other.
Ruby Coral Carnelian initially reminded me of my old favourite Diana Wynne Jones. Like many of Jones’s books, here’s a tale that partly explores what happens when kids learn that the adults in their life aren’t necessarily dependable, and are possibly even dangerous, and must fend for themselves and grow up at the same time.
Adding texture to this are themes relating to gender identity, concepts of privilege, the assumptions we make, and even notions of disability and wholeness.
In trying to capture the flavour of this book, I told a friend ‘imagine Diana Wynne Jones pencilled the art, but then it was inked by a Vertigo artist’.
So that’s sort of it. The core of a story that feels as traditional and as sound as a book by the late great Jones, but with its own freshness (and darkness) that explores new territory and reaches different conclusions.
There are many reasons why I think Mary Borsellino is one of the great underappreciated genre writers this country has to offer. The way she combines horror and compassion. Her capacity to create detailed, believable worlds full of cruelty and beauty. Her splendid characterisation. Her queer sensibilities and sure sense of creating people with real flaws and imperfections that are somehow both very real and simply perfect.
Frankly, I know the hyperbole is a lot for a writer to live up to, but also frankly, I have never yet been disappointed by one of her books. I struggle more to tame my praise than to find enough adjectives to add.
If you’re not sure you want to tackle Borsellino’s longer works like The Wolf House or The Devil’s Mixtape, give Ruby Coral Carnelian a try to see if what makes me pretty much get a literary boner speaks to you too....more
This end to the Underland series is mostly fabulous, except for the very end which I found frustrating. Still, you can see the seeds of the emotionalThis end to the Underland series is mostly fabulous, except for the very end which I found frustrating. Still, you can see the seeds of the emotional and moral complexity that makes The Hunger Games so compelling.
** I wrote the above about five minutes after finishing the novel. I'd like to add that, a day later, I appreciate the ending in terms of the series' themes, but it still leaves me hanging a bit. I would love to see a story set five or ten years later to see what has been achieved in the Underland, how that contrasts with the Overland and what Luxa and Gregor (and their respective family and friends) make of each other now....more
**spoiler alert** Not as polished or as complex as The Hunger Games, but the first book of the Underland series is a fast-paced, entertaining read. Th**spoiler alert** Not as polished or as complex as The Hunger Games, but the first book of the Underland series is a fast-paced, entertaining read. The characters are distinctly drawn and there are enough surprises and depth of character to hold my attention riveted from start to finish!
She has to be doing something right if she can make me cry over the death of a cockroach. I even got to sort of like the spiders, which is a big ask for an arachnophobe. I can't wait to read the rest of the series....more
Lucy Sussex's breadth of talent and knowledge are on display in the third of the 12 Planets anthology series. In four short stories you see historicalLucy Sussex's breadth of talent and knowledge are on display in the third of the 12 Planets anthology series. In four short stories you see historical fantasy in ancient Babylon about the world's first chemist, snappy modern crime in Melbourne, a delightfully sensual tale of female sexuality and an urban fantasy playing cheekily with ideas if authorship and created worlds.
Each story is distinct, a gem, and you have to marvel at the intelligence and imagination behind four such different stories. ...more
This is a fun book, although the madcap pace an be a little too breakneck and, well, madcap. The combination if ethereal and downright earthy can be aThis is a fun book, although the madcap pace an be a little too breakneck and, well, madcap. The combination if ethereal and downright earthy can be a little jarring too. But all in all, a flighty, entertaining tale. ...more
Feisty, funny, clever, powerful and full of awesome historical Julias. And vampires. A magnificent kickoff to Twelfth Planet Press's 12 Planets seriesFeisty, funny, clever, powerful and full of awesome historical Julias. And vampires. A magnificent kickoff to Twelfth Planet Press's 12 Planets series, and a brilliant introduction to Roberts' work. If you love the idea of powerful women in Ancient Rome, Roman theme parks in the Aussie outback and fighting to save the world on an airship full of monsters, this is so the book for you....more
It was only when I finished reading The Last Days that I realized it was the second book in Westerfeld’s Peeps series. It didn’t matter, because The LIt was only when I finished reading The Last Days that I realized it was the second book in Westerfeld’s Peeps series. It didn’t matter, because The Last Days stands on its own.
Something sinister from deep underground is corrupting New York (and by implication, the world). The rats are coming up, and seem to be in league with the cats. A disease is spreading among the humans, leaving them repelled by their former lives, by their own reflections – leaving them with very sharp teeth and a worrying hunger. In the midst of all this, Moz, Pearl, Minerva and Zahler just want to be rock stars. This would be easier to achieve if Minerva wasn’t infected, and the world wasn’t ending.
Scott Westerfeld’s YA novel zips along at a bracing speed, avoiding predictability and taking some surprising turns. Language is used playfully, often as a result of the way it’s used and reinvented by the band members. The chapter titles are taken from real life band names too, which is fun whether or not you recognize them.
Any book that combines rock music, vampire myths, playful language and saving the world is on my must-read list. I was delighted to find The Last Days was as good as I hoped it would be, and I’ll be backtracking now to find the first book set in this universe, which apparently deals with another band, Morgan’s Army....more