'Uprooted' feels like a Slavic-accented old fairy tale, one that you just haven't happened to hear before. Charming, magical, with engaging4.5 stars.
'Uprooted' feels like a Slavic-accented old fairy tale, one that you just haven't happened to hear before. Charming, magical, with engaging characters that actually grow and change over the course of the story, i had a major case of "one-more-chapter-itis" a couple of nights running. there's rarely higher praise for a novel than that it's compellingly readable....more
dear Max Gladstone: your picture should be right there in the literary dictionary next to the term "worldbuilding" so that people can look up how to ddear Max Gladstone: your picture should be right there in the literary dictionary next to the term "worldbuilding" so that people can look up how to do this concept right. plenty of people that have wonderful imaginations love to throw everything whackadoo they dreamed up into their fantasy/SF/horror/genre-mashup novel, and end up coming off like ADD children, blinking at a whole bunch of pretty but meaningless images in quick succession. 'Two Serpents Rise,' like your series starter, comes off like this at first. the city is full of mystical ex-disciples with no gods left to pray to, flying Quetzals bearing cops on their backs, a skeletal King in Red, and an economic firm that governs commerce based on a soul rather than gold standard (as in, pieces of one's soul are the literal coinage of the realm). these cinematically painted images are tossed in front of the reader like scattered coins so effortlessly that watching the author pick them back up again and pocket all these seemingly throw-away ideas into vital parts of the narrative is masterful. AND some characters happen to not be straight, AND AND some happen to not be white, and who they are and who they love is, again, part of the plot and not just a haphazard colors-of-benetton random choice. the story is a little slower in some places than the impeccable Three Parts Dead, but just as well-written. i almost didn't miss that first book's heroine in getting wrapped into this one - turns out that Serpents has absolutely nothing to do with the prior book, other than that they clearly have happened in the same world, so feel free to read out of order....more
'Night's Master' - 4* - a collection of linked myth tales about the darkest of demon lords and his manipulation games with humanity, the first in this'Night's Master' - 4* - a collection of linked myth tales about the darkest of demon lords and his manipulation games with humanity, the first in this series reads more like a vintage mythology book than a plot-driven fantasy novel, and that's a wonderful thing. vain kings, wicked sorceresses, blind seers, and lovers of all stripes have their lives cracked and shaped by their collisions with Azhrarn's power. by the end, little pieces of story that were dropped in the beginning get picked back up and placed into a satisfying conclusion that's all about the subtle delicacy of her writing craft. Lee's lushly dreamy language was already well-honed, despite this being one of her earlier books....more
after a pair of somewhat lighter historical-fantasy-romances (albeit, ones with a darker undercurrent in the form of nasty villains), the series divesafter a pair of somewhat lighter historical-fantasy-romances (albeit, ones with a darker undercurrent in the form of nasty villains), the series dives much more deeply into that dark tone with the 3rd installment. Hobson has apparently completed the tale of the delightfully-named Dreadnought Stanton and his dirt-witch bride, moving on to tell the story of the couples' youngest son here. from the get-go, the main character is a pretty gawd-awful jerk (his willful carelessness likely killed his elder brother's favorite horse), but again, the interesting little twists on both the world Hobson has built for these interesting people to walk through and their own personal foibles keeps being engaging. there's a lot going on here (Tesla and his super secretive factory, the remains of the magic rock system, a whackadoo preacher, some "cursed" children), and with the book ending on an almost-cliffhanger, we're left wondering how much of it is red herrings or real plot anchors....more
an occasionally unevenly-written "normal people end up in a fantasy land" sort of tale, only SWEET BABY MONKEY IT'S ABOUT VETERINARIANS TREATING UNICOan occasionally unevenly-written "normal people end up in a fantasy land" sort of tale, only SWEET BABY MONKEY IT'S ABOUT VETERINARIANS TREATING UNICORNS AND WHATNOT.
BJ is a 4th year vet student in the middle of a brutal life upheaval that makes her question whether she can finish school. on the verge of walking out the door, she's invited by a large animal prof to join an ambulatory rotation, where she finds herself again by finding herself in an entirely different world. there's a somewhat superfluous bad guy plot tacked on the end, but that bit is easy to ignore in favor of the droll but deadly griffin and his ilk.
the fun of this for me was absolutely in the details. the afterword says that O'Donohoe's wife was a vet student during the writing of this novel, and her influence on accuracy of both the vet student experience and the practical realities of emergency equine surgery are utterly evident. this one is highly recommended for anyone who's both a fantasy lover and an IRL veterinarian....more
right from the beginning of this book, the 2 literary hooks being set are fairly obvious: this is utterly a Jane Austen pastiche + a gentle touch of mright from the beginning of this book, the 2 literary hooks being set are fairly obvious: this is utterly a Jane Austen pastiche + a gentle touch of magic, and there's a talented but homely heroine lovingly supporting everyone else while assuming no possibility of love for her own non-pretty self. i happened to be perfectly in the mood for both of these things, and so 'Shades of Milk and Honey' was an utterly charming read, quite firmly in the camp of comfort food.
Jane and her sister are very minor gentry out in the country (the family isn't called the Bennets, but you get the idea), where their father is working on putting aside a small dowry/living for each of them. Jane is very plain, but has natural talent weaving the sort of household glamour that a well brought-up lady would use to enrich her home. her sister Melody is the pretty one that of course relies on her face rather than any aptitude in a vocation to catch a suitor. a wacky mom, a host of possible suitors in the neighborhood, some balls and parties, a pending scandal of epic proportions, and a bright sparkle of everyday magic all end up in the mix. though the story about this family's escapades is complete in this volume, the writing is plenty enough to have me checking out the second in the series....more
it's clear by every "god's teeth!" and "zounds!" that 'alchemist of souls' was lovingly researched. it tells the story of a down-on-his-luck minor nobit's clear by every "god's teeth!" and "zounds!" that 'alchemist of souls' was lovingly researched. it tells the story of a down-on-his-luck minor nobleman/swashbuckler/body gard and an Elizabethan-era theater company brushing up on a new play as part of a competition to be judged by the skrayling ambassador... and that's about as far as the plot goes. apparently, good queen Bess did in fact marry Dudley, and more unusually, there are some magic-y creatures called skraylings populating the new world right alongside the red man, but none of those situations gets examined in any detail. we the readers are never completely sure what's up with this race of not-humans - they may or may not have fangs or tattoos based on rank/assumed gender, they're sorta england's allies and they have cool healing technology, but they're quite aloof and the alliance could break down at the quirk of an eyebrow. the theater competition worked on so diligently for 3/4 of the novel is apparently only there to introduce an overly broad cast of characters, which includes only one female (dressed as a boy, of course, cuz chicks of the era certainly didn't do so much as go OUTSIDE or anything).
the long and short of this bloated, leisurely paced novel is that Lyle has created a rich and interesting world, and unfortunately spends so long showing us it's little nuances that she forgets to craft a compelling plot....more