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
Neither thumbs up nor thumbs down for A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab. Fantasy.
I had picked this up before and put it down; the second time I reframed it as “Young Adult” in my head and was able to whip through it. Still, it was a book for a day on which I was too tired to move or to think very hard.… >> Read more
Thumbs up for Spoonbenders by Daryl Gregory. Fantasy.
An utterly delightful family drama…about a family composed of con men and people with genuine paranormal abilities. I read it in one day, laughing all the way through, because my father was, in fact, a respected amateur paranormal researcher in the 1990’s, when this book takes place. But I’m confident you’ll find it funny even if you had a more mundane upbringing.… >> Read more
Thumbs up for Circe by Madeline Miller. Fantasy.
I liked Miller’s first book The Song of Achilles enough that her new book, Circe, immediately went to the top of my read queue. In it, she lets Circe—a witch who was Odysseus’s lover in part of the Odyssey—tell her own story. A knowledge of Greek myths might add something, but I don’t think it’s necessary.… >> Read more
Thumbs up for The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal by K. J. Charles. Fantasy.
I suppose it’s possible K.J. Charles might write something I didn’t love, but it hasn’t happened yet. The Charm of Magpies series is a bit better than this one, simply by dint of being more developed, so if you haven’t read her books yet, start there. Then, when you need more, read this.… >> Read more
Thumbs up for As the Crow Flies by Robin Lythgoe. Fantasy.
A typical fantasy quest story with atypically excellent writing. The main character, Crow, a thief, is a beautifully-drawn combination of neurotic, clever, avaricious, devout (in his own way…), snarky, and just plain funny. If you like fantasy with a memorable first-person narrator, don’t miss this. (One caveat: the female characters are all given extremely short shrift, but I don’t know if that’s typical in the author’s novels or if this book is an outlier.… >> Read more
Thumbs up for Reflections: On the Magic of Writing by Diana Wynne Jones. Nonfiction/writing.
The problem of a collection of essays and speeches by one person on a single topic is immediately obvious: the content becomes repetitive. The story of Diane Wynne Jones’s early childhood is now ingrained in my mind, because I’ve read it five or six times. But it’s unfortunate that that is what I now first think of when I think of Reflections, because the non-repetitive bits are filled with such wisdom and cleverness and humor.… >> Read more
Thumbs up for The Fox’s Tower and Other Stories by Yoon Ha Lee. Science fiction and fantasy short stories.
I’ve raved about Lee’s work here before and will do so again. If you’re not ready to commit to his bizarre and wonderful trilogy about starship warfare based around calendars, try The Fox’s Tower. Most of the stories are at most a page or two, poetic and strange and warm.… >> Read more