It’s a slightly futuristic England, and humanity has achieved the art of time travel. There are whole ‘history’ departments at Oxford dedicated to invIt’s a slightly futuristic England, and humanity has achieved the art of time travel. There are whole ‘history’ departments at Oxford dedicated to investigating different time periods – in person. Kivrin has set her heart on traveling to medieval England – specifically the 1320′s. And in the normal course of things, no problems would arise. Except that a virus spreading through Oxford infects her team, and results in her being sent to the wrong time, herself delirious with fever. Cue a sort of thriller as her team in the future tries to figure out what went wrong, where she ended up, and how to get her back in the middle of a quarantine, cast against Kivrin’s own experiences in a medieval England that was not at all as she had been trained to expect. It’s an interesting contrast. Both time lines have a sense of desperation, though the future story has tinges of absurdity and humor, while the medieval story is at turns heartwarming and hopeless. It’s a really good read, and kept me engaged the whole time. I did feel it ended a tad abruptly; I would’ve liked to see a little more of the aftermath of the whole thing. But overall it’s a unique take on the time travel motif, and well worth a read. It won the Hugo and Nebula awards, so clearly others agree.
I didn’t realize when I read this that it was published in 1992. I had just assumed the prevalent use of landline phones and handbell choirs was a sort of slightly alternate history. Ha! In other words, the more ‘modern’ portion of the story being 20 years out of date didn’t interfere with my enjoyment of the book at all. And I just now when writing this review saw that is was the first in a series. Surprising, as I think it stands alone, but also yay! because I will definitely pick up the next one. :)...more
I was given a free copy of this book for review from NetGalley.
Oh, where to start with this one... How about the cover? You'll notice there's a dragonI was given a free copy of this book for review from NetGalley.
Oh, where to start with this one... How about the cover? You'll notice there's a dragon on it, and that the series is called Dragonlands, so it should be no surprise that I jumped on this. It's the story of Tressa, a girl growing up in the village of Hutton's Bridge, which has been surrounded by a mysterious (and deadly) wall of fog for the past few decades. Each year, 3 people are sent into the fog to try to find a way through; no one ever comes back. And now Tressa's name has been picked. But the day before she is set to go, a dying dragon falls from the sky, shattering the villagers' long-held fears/belief that nothing exists on the other side of the fog. That, combined with a sickness ravaging the village, fuels Tressa's determination to reach the other side of the fog and bring the wall down.
Sadly, this intriguing premise was not very well executed. This book suffers from a surfeit of telling-not-showing syndrome, and being plot-driven rather than character-driven. We never really get inside any of the characters' heads, and there are a few who exist solely for a single plot point and no other reason (Vinsa, Henry, certain parental figures). The decisions of the main characters are often baffling and out of nowhere. And there was such unrealized potential for worldbuilding - I wanted to know more about this world and the Dragonlords, but they are never really explained or gone into much detail about. Which is a shame. And I realize this is only book #1 in a series and some things may be made clearer in book #2, but as an addict of fantasy series in general, I know it's possible to world build more than this and better than this in the first book.
Overall, it was an interesting idea, but it just didn't deliver for me. I won't be picking up book #2.
This is the story of Ewan, a boy stolen by the fairies as an infant, and Colby, a boy who meets a genie and makes a monumental wish. Their two storiesThis is the story of Ewan, a boy stolen by the fairies as an infant, and Colby, a boy who meets a genie and makes a monumental wish. Their two stories, otherwordly in their own ways, intersect and change the course of both boys’ lives, and the delicate balance between our world and the realm of magic. This book is strange and moody and surprising. And it recognizes that all actions, even or especially magical ones, have consequences. The characters are pretty much all antiheroes, in that I wasn’t sure if I actually liked them as adults, but I found them compelling nonetheless. There’s a unique take on magic, and the interweaving of so many tales and myths in fun and tangled ways. There are the usual seelie and unseelie fairies, angels and djinn and leprechauns, old gods and new wizards.
The author lives in Austin, and a good part of the story takes place in Austin, which was another level of meta-trippy for me, living there myself. It definitely veers more towards the old Texas version of Austin than the modern tech version, but it was recognizable all the same. You don’t often see a lot of those creatures from mythology in a setting like Texas, so kudos to the author for originality. And, as I said, it was a bit surprising in parts, definitely not predictable/rote. If you’re looking for a book that is 1 part old western, 1 part adventure story, and 5 parts modern fantasy, give this a try. I also have a copy of the 2nd book in the series, and am looking forward to see what that has in store for the characters.
I was given a promotional copy of this book by Harper Voyager U.S. for review....more
This is the story of Griffin Shaw, ex-murdered-PI turned angel-grade escort into the afterlife, who makes a slight misstep and finds himself stuck bacThis is the story of Griffin Shaw, ex-murdered-PI turned angel-grade escort into the afterlife, who makes a slight misstep and finds himself stuck back in the real world, in his former human flesh. It’s also the story of Kit Craig, a stubborn rockabilly reporter in Vegas whose best friend just got murdered following a lead (the soul Griffin was escorting). In order to get back to the heavenly plane, Grif is supposed to escort Kit’s soul when she’s killed following the same lead her friend was after. Except Grif is quite taken with Kit and decides to protect her instead, and help her with the investigation. Cue noir crime caper in modern times.
Oh, this book. I wanted to really love it. The premise was promising – a murder mystery with clear dollops of romance and paranormal, right up my alley. And to be fair, I didn’t hate it. It was ok – mildly entertaining. But it fell far short of what I’d hoped it would be after reading the back cover blurb. The author clearly has a fixation with the rockabilly lifestyle; it’s so emphasized and brought up so often regarding Kit’s character that it’s distracting and annoying. I’m pretty sure Kit spent more time getting her nails and hair done, and thinking about vintage dresses and vintage stuff for her home, than actually investigating her friend’s murder. Grif’s side of things was more well done. He was actually a fully fleshed (ba-dum-ching) character, with clear motivation and some conflicting drives. More complex, in other words, and so more believable. The author has also thought up this whole hierarchy of angels in the afterlife that we get glimpses of through Grif – that was interesting and I was curious to know more about it. The murder mystery plot itself was ok. Not the most original or surprising, but still moved along well enough to keep me engaged in reading. Overall, it’s a quick read that doesn’t take too much effort.
**I was given a promotional copy of this book by Harper Voyager U.S. for review.**...more
This one started a bit slow, but was worth the effort. There are some motifs I've come across many times before in fantasy: orphan protagonist, companThis one started a bit slow, but was worth the effort. There are some motifs I've come across many times before in fantasy: orphan protagonist, companion animals that humans mind-meld with, evil mages, an initially-disliked romantic interest. That said, it was still a fresh read. The protagonist (Reisil) is very sympathetic, and stronger than she thinks. The interactions from her companion animal, a hawk named Saljane, were (somehow) believably bird-like; I'm not sure how that was accomplished, exactly, but I liked it. Reisil's healing skills and reluctance to follow the path of the ahalad-kaaslane (wandering judge-warrior-explorer) with Saljane add an interesting twist and perspective to things. The feud between the two countries highlighted in the story isn't as fully fleshed out as it could be, but suffices. I did like that the deities of the two nations were real entities and made appearances; it brought a nice level of consequence to those in the book claiming to do things in their name. This first book ended in a good place; there's still quite a bit of mystery and a few unresolved points - enough to make me want to read the next book, but not enough to make me frustrated with this first one....more