If you’re looking for an adventure into the darkest woods, read Uprooted. These are not the grandfatherly trees of Fanghorn that might sing you a poemIf you’re looking for an adventure into the darkest woods, read Uprooted. These are not the grandfatherly trees of Fanghorn that might sing you a poem and step on your orcish enemies. They aren’t even like Old Man Willow who’ll gently lull you to sleep before trapping you beneath its roots. No, these woods are far worse.
Their lush shadows crawl into you. They worm into your heart, your mind, rotting you, hollowing you out until nothing remains but vile sap. Then you’ll never escape the forest, even if you leave. You’ll return raving to spread the woodsie sickness among your loved ones. You’ll cackle and dance over the corpses of your neighbors when the wood overgrows the village. You’ll help the forest beasts plant seeds in the mayor and smile when he screams with new life.
The green plague won’t stop until it has overrun the kingdom, until not one human voice disturbs the hush, until every castle crumbles from the press of roots.
Villages cling to existence at the edge of the woods. The mage who holds back the tide of leaves is the Dragon. He demands but one thing from his subjects, that they sacrifice a new girl into his keeping every ten years. This time he chooses Agnieszka, the protagonist.
She is torn from her family, forbidden from seeing anyone but the Dragon. Yes, this story has many traditional fairy-tale elements, from Beauty and the Beast to Snow White. I loved how Baba Yaga played a role. I liked less how the heroine’s main character trait was her apparent clumsiness.
Do read the book. Don't listen to it. The audiobook agonized me with its mispronounced words and the flat delivery from the narrator, but I couldn’t stop. I had to know what lurked in the heart of the woods....more
I knew this was the right book for me up reading descriptions of corpse engines with gears made of severed toes. This isn't your Disney-lite zombie apI knew this was the right book for me up reading descriptions of corpse engines with gears made of severed toes. This isn't your Disney-lite zombie apocalypse. The Black Fire Concerto takes horror to Lovecraftian levels, accompanied by spectral harps of burning nightmare fire and sniper-rifle flutes. You really don't want to interrupt this concert.
This book has more immediacy than most published epic fantasy. I might be tempted to call it young adult fantasy, given the heroine's age, but there's no romantic encumbrance typical to the genre. The protagonist does change and grow, so it would be unfair of me to think of her as a mere foil to the relentless personality of her lady mentor. But I do....more
For a fantastic exploration of The Other in the city of New York, read The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker.
Two creatures of myth. One city at theFor a fantastic exploration of The Other in the city of New York, read The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker.
Two creatures of myth. One city at the turn of the nineteenth century. At a time when a plethora of cultures streamed through Ellis Island, the jinni immigrated in a brass bottle. The golem marched out of the sea, mud staining her skirt.
If a sea monster reading you grisly fairy tales sounds like a great idea, you may love Sea Change by S.M. Wheeler.
Once upon a time, a girl named LillyIf a sea monster reading you grisly fairy tales sounds like a great idea, you may love Sea Change by S.M. Wheeler.
Once upon a time, a girl named Lilly was born with a port-wine-stain birthmark. Had this smear of red been on her ankle she might have led a normal life. Instead people called her a demon, a witch child, because half her face crawled with a bloody splotch.
Superstition treats no one kindly, but even if Lilly had lived in our world she might have felt dominated by a few inches of skin pigment. Imagine if the first thing anyone noticed about you was a “defect,” if it began every conversation. Lilly handles it with heroic aplomb. When someone tells her that her birthmark is ugly, she replies, “Does that make the other half of my face beautiful?” And again, when another person asks her what kind of monster she is, she says, “None, except that I am human.”
If you love the idea of dominating through geometry, then The Rithmatist is the gearpunk fantasy for you.
I wish the hardcover book came with three pieIf you love the idea of dominating through geometry, then The Rithmatist is the gearpunk fantasy for you.
I wish the hardcover book came with three pieces of chalk. Just so I could hold one and imagine drawing a circle of protection around myself. Anchoring it with lines. Defending it with chalk drawings that come alive. Scrawling wave patterns that snake outward in white blasts of power.
If you’re looking for a YA fantasy about a witch burning her world’s sexism at the stake, then Eolyn might be for you. The tale is alive with nature mIf you’re looking for a YA fantasy about a witch burning her world’s sexism at the stake, then Eolyn might be for you. The tale is alive with nature magic, beautiful prose, and sensuality.
The story begins with a fairy-tale aura, a girl in the woods chasing the spirit of her lost mother. Eolyn is born into a family of witches, “magas” as they are called, in a world shackled by prejudice. Women fear to leave their homes or try any profession, lest a competitor brands them as a witch. The ruling male mages obliterate Eolyn’s village, and she escapes into the woods.
Years pass as she attunes herself to the wild and her inner powers. She meets Achim, a teleporting mage and king-to-be. His mother was a witch, too, and he has not yet fallen prey to his tutor’s sexism. Affection builds between the two, though we know that the stars would have to cross, do the loop-de-loop, and dance the polka before a romance between these two could work.
Achim leaves her behind for good to begin his training in spells and statecraft in earnest. When Eolyn becomes a young woman, she ventures out of the forest into a world bristling with hostility, in part to find answers and justice, but mostly in search of Achim.
Eolyn can commune with animals, fly through the wild, and create illusions. What she cannot do is hide the fact that she is a maga. She is without guile. And that sort of deficiency in this land is enough to get a girl burned....more
If an adventure of pyrates and assassins kicking ass under a two-sunned world sounds like it’d rock your boat, then you may love Adversarius by ML CheIf an adventure of pyrates and assassins kicking ass under a two-sunned world sounds like it’d rock your boat, then you may love Adversarius by ML Chesley. Here you’ll find bilge rats aplenty, an ogre who is uncomfortably short of stature, a prince learning to stand up to his tyrant father, flaming ships, and burning betrayal. (Betrayal is the syrup on the adventure-story pancake.)
Adversarius is an Indie novel that features a princess rescued by a dread pyrate, Sorcha, of all people. She then elicits the help of cutthroat mercenaries to secret her away, past murderers hired by royalty. Another brutally powerful woman, Nightshadow, features in the story, and the prince is also a viewpoint character, who is engaged to the marked-for-death princess.
A tale of intrigue, strong women, and, most of all, swashbuckling. ...more
If you love your eighth son of the eighth son to be endowed with supreme magical talent, then Equal Rites may be the book for you. Except, oops! That If you love your eighth son of the eighth son to be endowed with supreme magical talent, then Equal Rites may be the book for you. Except, oops! That eighth son was actually a daughter. There's no tradition on Disc World of women being wizards, but that doesn't stop her from riding a flood of pluck and reality-fizzing magic down from the mountains to Ankh-Morpork to teach those stuffy wizards the meaning of the word “flabbergasted.”
Much of the book is told from the perspective of the tough-as-enchanted-nails Granny Weatherwax, she's a witch who doesn't approve of flying but will do what she must to keep the young would-be-wizard on the right side of trouble. Equal Rites is a tale about their journey to the Unseen University, and when they get their we'd expect some small magical mishap must be overcome. But the most enchanting part of the book is Terry Pratchett's wordplay, and he's in fine form here. I feel this may be a good book to delve into the Disc World, and also it would likely be well loved by younger readers....more
If you enjoy your Dark Lord to be dripping with velvety charm and the perfume of jasmine and nightshade, then Night Master's Tales may be the book forIf you enjoy your Dark Lord to be dripping with velvety charm and the perfume of jasmine and nightshade, then Night Master's Tales may be the book for you. The stories are all touched by the prince of irresistible darkness (or so he would like to believe), and one tale weaves into another in a most natural way. For instance, one story is of a demon forging jewelry out of a maiden's tears. The next story is about a man that flawless piece of jewelry causing havoc in the world. The following story is about a wise blind man returning the cursed necklace to the underworld and saving the crying maiden. The wordplay is delightful, like the sound of jewels plinking into an urn.
For full disclosure, some of sexual scenarios are described. If you can withstand similes comparing breasts to flowers and peaches, you should be fine with the book....more
Clearly, I can't review my own book. I most certainly can talk about it, though, and if you enjoyed the peril and adventure in Graceling, then you mayClearly, I can't review my own book. I most certainly can talk about it, though, and if you enjoyed the peril and adventure in Graceling, then you may enjoy Gown of Shadow and Flame. If you loved the desperation and magical struggles in Poison Study or Touch of Power, then this may be the novel for you. I suggest that Gown of Shadow and Flame is a darker tale, and here it's the magic that's toxic, forbidden, painfully beautiful, and terribly wondrous.
This story features a young woman who turned to a carnivorous magic out of desperation. It granted Celaise safety through beauty and terror. Now she finds herself in an awkward position: being a hero. The Lord of the Feast commands her to wipe out packs of ravaging monsters, lest they destroy the same villages on which the Feasters prey. Celaise must fight beside the very people she would most often stalk. She understands the monstrous and the bloodthirsty. What she has forgotten is how to belong, and what frightens her more than tooth or claw is struggling to control her own magic, which urges her beyond sanity to sacrifice the man she’s come to care for: Jerani.
I am as pleased as a hobbit at second breakfast to think of others enjoying the story that I was so thrilled to write. You can discover the novel on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00AFHSQHW
Feel free to avail yourself of the Goodreads page, which contains an extended excerpt that you can read on your browser or download as a PDF.
As always, wishing for you to touch the sky and read fantasy, A.E. Marling