This was one thing at first, becoming another in the middle and ending as something else. Strange and not quite solid, like the fairy tale motif thatThis was one thing at first, becoming another in the middle and ending as something else. Strange and not quite solid, like the fairy tale motif that inspired it I had trouble picturing it exactly....more
This was an interesting take on both the Cinderella fairy tale and on werewolves in general. The book starts off with the 5 "Blood Princes" meeting beThis was an interesting take on both the Cinderella fairy tale and on werewolves in general. The book starts off with the 5 "Blood Princes" meeting beneath what turns out to be the "World Tree" and nearly coming to blows with each other because god save us from men who can get along. From there we jump int Prince Etienne's story, or rather Loupe's story that has to do with Etienne.
If I had one complaint about this book its that we're never exactly told what the intentions of the "well meaning" witch are. If I had to guess it was to make it so that Etienne--who she thought was cursed, not born a werewolf--would no longer be afflicted with something she thought was unwanted, but that's pure speculation on my part.
Loupe's situation is all too well laid out. Stuck as an unwilling participant in her stepmother and stepsisters plots to hunt the prized wolves for their pelts, Loupe spends her days (and nights) stuck inside the family's basement skinning and curing each skin to be sold. One such day caused her to be bitten by a not quite as dead as it appeared werewolf, cursing her. Which would mean double death since her stepmother would take unholy GLEE in hunting down her stepdaughter that she hates.
While overall I found Etienne and Loupe's romance satisfying, there was a couple leaps in relationship development early on that made me twitch. I did like that both refused to be crushed under the weight of their individual issues--Etienne spent his days searching for a cure to his mixed blessing while Loupe sought ways to protect the wolves. And despite the attraction both felt, it was their mutual interest in the protection of the wolves that initially had them bonding.
I'm looking forward to seeing what happens with the next set of Princes - I believe our dear vampire Prince is up next and considering how well his visit went over in this book, I'm sure he'll have a super easy time of it XD...more
Fight Your Fiction. In a world filled with adaptations I adore ( Fables, Once Upon a Time, The Eyre Affair series) it can be a bit hard to write anothFight Your Fiction. In a world filled with adaptations I adore ( Fables, Once Upon a Time, The Eyre Affair series) it can be a bit hard to write another version that doesn't smack of familiarity. Thompson does it like gangbusters though and man what a trip.
Brand and I need to discuss his semi-annoying habit of screeching all his panicked worries though.
Thompson, who some of you may remember as the author of the omg fabulous i love this book THE GIRL WHO WOULD BE KING in 2012, comes back with another stellar example of what potential self-pubbed authors should aspire towards. Funded once more by Kickstarter, Thompson plays with fairy tales and fiction instead of superheroes this time around giving us all a chance to see how well (or not so well) Fictionals turn out in real life.
Getting the obvious out of the way--yeah if you enjoy the Buffy the Vampire Slayer type of urban fantasy (snarky out of the box thinking heroine, unreasonably hot guys providing assistance, geeky best friends who provide support/back up) then there's every expectation that you will enjoy this. Moving beyond that, fans of fiction coming to life with unexpected results will enjoy this as well. Or fans of action oriented heroines who DO use their brains.
Tessa won me over pretty quickly. Her take no shit attitude coupled with her very realistic response to suddenly having powers and a destiny and expectations foisted upon her endeared her to me instantly. Micah's sensible "give her space" approach was also a welcome relief, especially as Brand more or less was an excited jumpy puppy from the get go. As I mentioned earlier, he had a habit of screeching his panic, which very quickly became annoying.
As for the Fictionals we have the Snow Queen (from the self-named fairy tale), who's annoyance at being dragged into the "Scion's" life and battles is palatable throughout. Robin Hood, who's brought in as Tessa's fighting coach and is one of two people who benefits the most by fighting his "fiction". Fenris--aka the Big Bad Wolf--who I don't care how shady the guy is, name him Fenris and make him a wolf in human form and I will love him. End of story. Then there's a few I can't name for spoilers, but let's just say its not just Fairy Tale Fictionals running around in the town of Lore mmkay?
There's an insta-love just add hormones romance, but Thompson endeavors to show that Tessa doesn't just let herself be ruled by those hormones. As she learns more about Fictionals and what they can (and can't) possibly do, she does step back and say "Wait. How real is this thing I'm feeling?" I will admit that through that romance a lot of interesting concepts are brought up (moreso then the secondary character's plight, who much like Robin is trying to fight their narrative, but we see less of that struggle). Thompson explores how the evolving landscape of fairy tales and fiction over the centuries can both inhibit a character and offer them flexibility. Also the whole "can a person really change" concept is very much present for various different scenarios (good and bad).
I will admit that this is less self-contained then TGWWBK was. TGWWBK very clearly was an "ending" to a chapter in Bonnie's (and Lola's) life. The epilogue ad the sneak peak aside, a reader could finish TGWWBK and feel like they got a whole story. STORYKILLER however ends with a lot of loose ends floating around. Not just for Tessa, but in regards to Micah, Brand, Fenris...heck even Tessa's parents. The phrase "Plots within Plots" certainly sums up some of the storylines.
This isn't a problem for me, as I happily will hand over my bank account information to Thompson as long as she promises to keep writing, but its important to keep in mind so you're not shocked at the end when everyone is still alive and not dead by rocks.
And oh yeah, Batman is totally real. And awesome (or so Aladdin claims)....more
THE LAIR OF THE TWELVE PRINCESSES, being a re-imagined version of "The Twelve Dancing Princesses" is one of those rare short stories in which you areTHE LAIR OF THE TWELVE PRINCESSES, being a re-imagined version of "The Twelve Dancing Princesses" is one of those rare short stories in which you are like 'My god I need more'. Not because the story itself was missing anything--it really really wasn't--but because you want more time with the characters.
In the afterword Davis explains how she submitted this (in various forms) to various anthologies one of which was Marion Zimmer Bradley's Sword and Sorceress anthology series. One assumes that she submitted after Bradley passed away and the anthology went on to be maintained by Elizabeth Waters (etc all), but honestly this story reminded me so strongly of those anthologies growing up. They were my lifeblood--its how I fell in love with Tarma and Kethry, and Margaret Ball and dozens of others. And the twists this story takes would have fit in perfectly.
The basic story is this--King has 12 daughters who each night inexplicably wear through their shoes. Countless folk have tried to figure out the mystery of how they leave their locked from the outside room. In comes a down on their luck soldier who offers to figure out the mystery. Usually this soldier is in possession of several magical artifacts (or gains possession of them) and usually they use their cleverness and guile to find out what's going on before their head is on the chopping block. The Fae are often involved, or at least magic of some kind. Depending on the variation the soldier either marries the oldest daughter or the youngest daughter and all is happy in the land once more.
Davis takes this story, twists it until it breaks then made some very interesting choices in fixing that break.
Bay is an ex-soldier for His Majesty's army with a pension dwindling fast and little enough options to fall back on. Her one saving grace is her smart mouthed, sly imp who owes her three wishes and is in a great hurry for her to spend them so that he can be free of her (or so he continually says). Intially the story plays out like you'd expect--King is harried, Princesses are often gone at night, Princes have died endlessly because of this.
What changes is when Bay finds out about the Princesses' night time romp abouts. Davis is quick to be like 'Oh so you thought you understood eh?' and then slaps you in the face with a round of pay better attention to the subtle clues.
I really enjoyed this twist around. I liked that at no point did Bay succumb to the easy way out and have her imp solve the problem. That she makes it a point to tell him that all the details he seems to irritated by are what life is about. I like that she uses her wits and her battlefield expertise to build a trap. And I like that her ultimate goal in life does include retiring somewhere comfortable, but also somewhere far far away from the turmoil of battle.
I want more of her life. I want to know how she met the imp and how she spends her wishes and if he is as eager to leave her side as he claims. I want to see the repercussions of the solution she has and if it affects her in unseen ways.
For the Kindle edition, Davis also includes her first foray into re-imagining the tale with decidedly...gruesome results. Very highly recommended or anyone who digs Female Soldiers or redone fairy tales. Seriously. Go buy it. and help me convince Davis we need more Bay in our life
Chaos Tryst was an odd book, which given the "chaos magic" that affected the characters' lives perhaps makes a certain amount of sense. Ari spent muchChaos Tryst was an odd book, which given the "chaos magic" that affected the characters' lives perhaps makes a certain amount of sense. Ari spent much of the story sleep deprived and loony because of it while Maksim spent a lot of the story fighting "Bear" and the primal urges his other self was trying to force upon him.
What I found most interesting was that we saw things mainly from the perspective of Ari or Maksim, both of whom viewing their chaos magic in very different ways. Ari embraced hers and strived to match her trickster parents' legacies, while Maksim fought against the pull of his magic, feeling it contributed to his family's curse. However whenever the two came together and something bad seemed to occur, Dubbin would show us the opposite side.
For example at one point the explosive chaos magic between Ari and Maksim literally causes an explosion. Maksim is horrified, thinking they had ruined some poor soul's livelyhood. But little clues point that this wasn't the disaster he thought it was and later Dubbin confirms this by explaining how it had helped the person.
This is kind of a catch all for mythology and fairy tales, with Kitsunes and the Bears of the Goldilocks story and Baba Yaga all inhabiting this universe along with heaven knows what else. It can be a bit overwhelming; Dubbin doesn't waste much (if any) time explaining how this all occurred, it just is and the characters talk and act like there was never anything else. The casual way Ari refers to being born in the 1800's is as common place as finding a green skinned Goblin Princess attractive.
A fast read with an interesting occupation for the heroine and a hero who fights his alphaness with athe tenacity of a bear (ha!) make this to be an enjoyable, if weird, read....more
**spoiler alert** By the end of this story I was so disappointed and angry that I couldn't form words. Before I enumerate what happened to make me so**spoiler alert** By the end of this story I was so disappointed and angry that I couldn't form words. Before I enumerate what happened to make me so unhappy let me discuss the few things I liked.
I enjoyed reading about Calia at first. She doesn't let herself break down under her mother's indifference (or the calculated cruelty), she cares about others without being obnoxious and she's not annoying. Which is important to say now because this changes.
Meanwhile the Cold King, Valenka, isn't all that bad at first. He isn't cruel, doesn't abuse his servants or demand much of anything beyond 'Do what I say' and loyalty. Tossing his servants into a cold dungeon room until he feels they aren't going to run away is perhaps a tad bit much, but he has his own insecurities and paranoia so its not that bad (at first).
I liked watching the friendship grow between Calia and Valenka. While I thought her stubborn refusal to understand that her stubbornness was really what was holding her back from what she wanted (freedom to do as she pleases pretty much), was grating on the nerves it didn't detract from the fact the two had a warm bond. The secondary characters were all very interesting as well. They had distinct personalities for the most part (Cato and Jos, the cook and house "maid", sometimes felt similar though) and gave a good counterpoise to Calia's previous life.
Things were moving along nicely, if predictably given the fairy tale this is based on. I was in a warm happy place when it all rocketed downhill faster then I could blink.
In short order Valenka goes from fairly Princely with some minor anger problems to a Grade A Creep:
-- he locks her in a dungeon cell, in the dead of winter, without a blanket, water or food. The window is open and she nearly dies. All because she told him a pregnant woman shouldn't be locked up like that.
-- he accuses her of lying about being nearly raped by two guys, of injuring herself and making it all up to trap him into revealing his secrets
Calia meanwhile forgives him, after some harsh words and bitchy comments that he should have believed her, then keeps tossing a snit because he's afraid to walk around without his mask on. Thereby proving she hasn't learned a thing about why he acts the way he does. And then true love saves the day because god help us if it didn't.
Honestly by the end I didn't think either of them deserved love. His servants all deserved happiness, which they all got because they were all STAND UP fellows (even Jos by the end), but Calia and Valenka didn't grow as a couple. After what Valenka did I just could not buy the romance anymore. He shouldn't have needed his entire staff telling him that Calia wasn't lying in order to believe her. Nor should he have let his rage get to the point where he ignored the fact he tossed her into a life threatening situation.
Calia, for all the backbone she grew facing off against her mother finally, should have stood up for herself more. She shouldn't have relented. I think its problematic whenever a heroine says to her supposed love interest 'be the man I want you to be'. (to be more specific she says "the man I thought you were"). His acceptance of what he was, her expectations of him and them growing as a couple shouldn't been jammed into the last few chapters. It never felt as if Valenka accepted himself, it felt like he was doing it to please Calia....more
First a warning - this is a violent, gore fest more often then not. Bigby isn't a subtle man to begin with and these folks pissed him off something baFirst a warning - this is a violent, gore fest more often then not. Bigby isn't a subtle man to begin with and these folks pissed him off something bad and he let's loose on them. Also there is a lot of nudity running around these pages. Male and female. I wouldn't call it explicit persay--girls are obviously girls, guys are obviously guys, but its pretty clinical overall.
FABLES remains one of my favorite comics and barring something slipshod editor deciding to butcher it, that's not likely to change. I've looked forward to this book for a long time mainly because Bigby is my favorite character, bar none (save Snow White and Cinderella), and it promised to give us a bit of back story on the man behind the wolf. In that it didn't disappoint. Bigby has spoken of his time in WWII, when he helped out the Allies (unofficially) to stop the encroachment of the Nazis, but in this he reveals just what he did exactly.
The art isn't anything to write home about, its not up to the usual standards of the comic and part of that may be because most of the story arcs had one artistic team (inkers, layout, pencils) throughout. WEREWOLVES has numerous inkers and in a comic book that can really fudge up the artwork. From a reader's perspective, it made folk hard to tell apart (I kept mixing up Diana and Oda, or Alwin and Carl for instance, which in turn confused me as all four had separate agendas more or less). The werewolves, whether intentionally or not, were all colored basically the same so even though Bigby was going through them wholesale at one point, I had no idea who was dead and who was not.
Story wise this was an interesting conundrum for Bigby. He kind of helped create the mess and was at a loss as to how to finish it. Technically no one in that town is a true Fabletown resident. None of them came from the Homelands, or were born from parents who fled the Homelands (such as Snow and Bigby's children), and thus the charter didn't cover them. On the other hand they weren't exactly Mundys (humans). He basically let it play out, hoping for a graceful outcome, but knowing the outcome would be far worse then anything he wanted to find.
A word to Oda, she tried to seduce Bigby (for what reason is never quite explained, we really only have Bigby's own guess) and he turned her down flat. If she goes prancing off to Fabletown and mentions such a thing to anyone (even in jest), Snow will find out and Snow will put a silver bullet in her chest before Bigby can so much as blink. And I will pay good money to see that....more
In general I like Kelly's writing. I've read several of her erotic historical short stories and haven't been let down. And since this is a co-writtenIn general I like Kelly's writing. I've read several of her erotic historical short stories and haven't been let down. And since this is a co-written set of stories its hard to say that which she wrote and that which the co-writer (SL Carpenter) wrote and that which they wrote together.
Basic premise is that Aurora (aka Sleeping Beauty) gets together with some of her Princess friends (Belle, Snow White, Scheherazade, Odette and Cinderella) every so often to discuss the trials and woes of being a Fairy Tale princess. This time however she announces her idea they all write the TRUE stories of how Princesses became...well Princesses. Each would submit the naughty truth and they'd split the proceeds.
So herein are the the true tales of Jack and the Beanstalk, Humpty Dumpty, Rapunzel, The Ugly Duckling, Little Red Riding Hood, and Snow White even. Plus what Pinocchio is really up to.
However I was a wee bit shocked by some of the content. Everything and anything fetish wise is tossed in here--BDSM, multiple partners, male/male, female/female, female/male/female, bestiality (though thankfully not in great detail), sex toys...you name it, its included. A bunch of which made me uncomfortable (see The Ugly Duckling retelling) though admittedly the better majority was amusing....more
**spoiler alert** I admit this up front, the cover to this novella is gorgeous. I'll also admit that the raciness of the novella had me fighting a blu**spoiler alert** I admit this up front, the cover to this novella is gorgeous. I'll also admit that the raciness of the novella had me fighting a blush while I read it. I wouldn't say this is an explicit story, but Talia definitely is an experienced woman by the end of it.
I think the important part is that Nevitt didn't exploit or judge Talia's actions. Her first time is with the only guy who has ever shown an interest in her, who enjoys her company and if not because of an awful father, would have been her husband. There is obvious affection between the two, but like any other young girl Talia doesn't recognize the difference between real love and fairy tale love.
She continues because a) it helps save her and her mother from starving to death, b) she carefully chooses men who can help 'better' her (teach her usable skills) and c) she gives a certain amount of confidence and companionship to men who would otherwise be overlooked. Oh and she enjoys it too of course.
I thought the way it weaved into the plot of Sleeping Beauty was gracefully done. The resolution was also tastefully done and had a certain ring of Talia thumbing her nose at those people who had treated her so cruelly. Talia was a strong character, resourceful and pragmatic. What use was her virginity if the only man she wanted to marry was to become a monk? Why be the mistress to wealthy men who leave you cold and dry, instead of men who can teach you skills to survive?
By the end I was rooting for Talia to have her happy ending. She had a lot of disappointments in her life, made a lot of sacrifices, but any regrets she had were mostly centered around not marrying Willard and not having children. Its what she wanted most and had been denied it for a stupid reason of a petty man.
This is the first in Nevitt's planned 'Accidental Enchantments' series of retold fairy tales. I'm definitely looking forward to the next installment! ...more
Prelim Review: Marriott has, to date, not let me down as far as the enjoyment level, attention to detail and kick-ass heroines are concerned. The factPrelim Review: Marriott has, to date, not let me down as far as the enjoyment level, attention to detail and kick-ass heroines are concerned. The fact her books tend to feature non-Caucasian centric story lines just adds to the wonderfulness.
In this re-imagining of the Cinderella Fairy Tale (its not really a retelling, Suzume's journey is much darker than Cinderella's I think, and emotionally more painful) Suzume finds herself at the center of a decades long cat-and-mouse game. Unable to let go of the past, but also unable to forgive those who directly (or indirectly) had a hand in her misfortune, Suzume's path of vengeance treads a dark and dangerous road.
Marriott doesn't mince words in her books; her heroines suffer and suffer terribly. They're almost reborn like the Phoenix by the time the novel is over in fact. Suzume is no different. She begins the book as a cheerful, curious child and ends the novel experienced, sophisticated and with a clear idea of who (and what) she is.
Full review to be published at Poisoned Rationality...more