Thumbs up for The Dire Days of Willowweep Manor by Shaenon K. Garrity. Young adult graphic novel.

A wonderful teen graphic novel about a modern girl obsessed with Gothic novels, who rescues a gentleman from drowning only to find herself swept to an island universe that obeys the rules of a Gothic novels. Worrisomely, the universe seems to be having issues….… >> Read more

Neither thumbs up nor thumbs down for The Empress of Salt and Fortune by Nghi Vo. Fantasy.

A novella that was pleasing to read but left me disappointed because it could have been so much more. (Even while remaining a novella, yes: I’ve read some incredibly evocative novellas and short stories.) The prose is aesthetic, but lacking in any unexpected detail and self-contradiction which would make the setting and the characters feel real.… >> Read more

Two thumbs up for Mo Dao Zu Shi (Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation) by Mo Xiang Tongxiu. Fantasy.

This review contains spoilers, but you’ll thank me. Context first: my roommate and I watched The Untamed on Netflix over the course of something like five days. It’s 50 hour-long episodes – my eyes stopped being able to focus and I was learning Mandarin by osmosis by episode 40.… >> Read more

Thumbs up for The Guiding Nose of Ulfant Banderoz by Dan Simmons. Fantasy.

A novella set in the world of Jack Vance’s Dying Earth; I haven’t read any of that series but it didn’t reduce the pleasure I took in this gleefully purple little gem. Shrue the Diabolist learns of the death of Ulfant Banderoz, proprietor of the Ultimate Library, and sets out on a quest to possess the library’s secrets.… >> Read more

Neither thumbs up nor thumbs down for The Identity Thief by Alex Bryant. All ages fantasy.

I have mixed feelings about this book. I read it pretty much in one sitting, so certainly I found it engaging. And I laughed quite a few times. But did I really find it enjoyable? I’m not sure. What I was thinking, as I read, was: This is a book I would give to a kid as a bang-up fictional example of how discrimination spreads throughout a populace, and what role the media plays in shifting public opinion.… >> Read more

Thumbs up for Monster, She Wrote: The Women Who Pioneered Horror and Speculative Fiction by Lisa Kröger and Melanie R. Anderson. Literary history.

The publisher Quirk Books’s jawdropping and funny reference to vintage horror novels, Paperbacks from Hell, was one of my favorite books of 2017. When I saw they were publishing a history of women horror writers I got very excited.… >> Read more

Thumbs up for The Affair of the Mysterious Letter by Alexis Hall. Fantasy.

This is one of the only books I’ve found that fill the void in my life created by the lack of any more Johannes Cabal. It’s a Sherlock Holmes/Lovecraft mashup narrated by a straightlaced ex-soldier who falls in with powerful, colorful, and not at all straightlaced consulting sorceress Shaharazad Haas.… >> Read more


Two thumbs up for Johannes Cabal (series) by Jonathan L. Howard. Fantasy.

The adventures of Johannes Cabal, antisocial necromancer, as he seeks the cure for death (occasionally assisted by his brother Horst, the unwilling vampire–who got all the charm in that family). My friend Alex has been bugging me to read these for years now. When I finally got there, I ended up binging all five books and all available short stories in 12 days.… >> Read more