Delicate and Sincere: The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black

In her newest stand-alone young adult novel, The Darkest Part of the Forest, Holly Black returns to familiar and exciting territory: faeries and dark magic at the crossing between human and nonhuman worlds. Most folks are familiar with Black’s series “A Modern Tale of Faerie” (Tithe, Valiant, and Ironside) which ran from 2002 to 2007; that series set up Black as a daring and clever writer of young adult stories that tend to feature queer kids and deal honestly with complex emotional and social issues.

The Darkest Part of the Forest follows also on the heels of Black’s last young adult novel, another stand-alone (The Coldest Girl in Coldtown)—and I like the trend that these two books have been setting for her work going forward. Both are solid, well-paced and play interesting games with the tropes of the genre of supernatural YA; both star girls who make fucked-up decisions and are trying to learn to care about themselves and others in the aftermath. The shared narrative of growth here is more complex than just “getting older” and instead deals more with “learning to cope and be whole.”

[That’s the sort of thing I’m interested in seeing…]

Comfortingly Local: Carousel Seas by Sharon Lee

Carousel Seas is the third novel in Sharon Lee’s Carousel trilogy, after Carousel Tides (2012) and Carousel Sun (2014). Like its predecessors, it’s set in the small Maine seaside town of Archer’s Beach, a town that’s home to rather more strangeness than most of its residents suspect. For Earth is only one of several worlds in a chain of magic in the universe: but Earth is the Changing Land, where things can alter their nature, can change and grow, and that makes it both dangerous and useful to powerful people across the worlds.

Kate Archer is the Guardian of the Land for Archer’s Beach, connected to it by ties she can’t break and charged with its protection and preservation. She’s also the last survivor of a magical lineage from another world, and—potentially, at least—something of a magical heavy hitter. But in all likelihood, that won’t be enough to protect her or Archer’s Beach, should the Wise—the people who control, essentially, the gates between worlds, among other things—discover that Kate was complicit in a magical jailbreak.

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A Question of Humanity: Keeper of the Isis Light

Depending upon what calendar you use, Olwen is either ten (Isis years) or sixteen (Earth years.) She thinks and remembers in Isis years, however, so let’s go with that. Despite this very young age, she actually has a fairly important, responsible job: transmitting various reports from the planet she lives on back to Earth.

She does this not because she is qualified, exactly, but because everyone else on the planet is either dead, unable to speak in words, or a not-completely trusted AI. And because, for various reasons, she can. That ability—well, strangeness, really—is what makes her The Keeper of the Isis Light.

[How much can you be changed, and still stay human? Mildly spoilery.]

The Harry Potter Reread: The Goblet of Fire, Chapters 17 and 18

The Harry Potter Reread as never been to finishing school, and thus cannot explain the benefit of being able to balance a book on one’s head. But the reread is pretty sure that it will never need to know that.

We’re about to get into some tense teacher fights and meet the wizard in world’s worst reporter. It’s chapters 17 and 18 of The Goblet of Fire—The Four Champions and The Weighing of the Wands.

Index to the reread can be located here! Other Harry Potter and Potter-related pieces can be found under their appropriate tag. And of course, since we know this is a reread, all posts might contain spoilers for the entire series. If you haven’t read all the Potter books, be warned.

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Series: The Harry Potter Reread

The Sasquatch Hunter’s Almanac Sweepstakes!

Out next Tuesday, The Sasquatch Hunter’s Almanac by Sharma Shields is a dark, fantastical, multi-generational tale about a family whose patriarch is consumed by the hunt for the mythical, elusive sasquatch he encountered in his youth.

Eli Roebuck was nine years old when his mother walked off into the woods with “Mr. Krantz,” a large, strange, hairy man who may or may not be a sasquatch. What Eli knows for certain is that his mother went willingly, leaving her only son behind. For the rest of his life, Eli is obsessed with the hunt for the bizarre creature his mother chose over him. Find out what happens next by winning one of our five copies right now!

Comment in the post to enter!

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. A purchase does not improve your chances of winning. Sweepstakes open to legal residents of 50 United States and D.C., and Canada (excluding Quebec). To enter, comment on this post beginning at 1:30 PM Eastern Time (ET) on January 22. Sweepstakes ends at 12:00 PM ET on January 27. Void outside the United States and Canada and where prohibited by law. Please see full details and official rules here. Sponsor:, 175 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10010.

A Read of Ice and Fire: A Dance with Dragons, Part 7

Welcome back to A Read of Ice and Fire! Please join me as I read and react, for the very first time, to George R.R. Martin’s epic fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire.

Today’s entry is Part 7 of A Dance With Dragons, in which we cover Chapter 11 (“Daenerys”).

Previous entries are located in the Index. The only spoilers in the post itself will be for the actual chapters covered and for the chapters previous to them. As for the comments, please note that the Powers That Be have provided you a lovely spoiler thread here on Any spoileriffic discussion should go there, where I won’t see it. Non-spoiler comments go below, in the comments to the post itself.

And now, the post!

[Are you not entertained?]

Series: A Read of Ice and Fire

J. Michael Straczynski Will Adapt Kim Stanley Robinson’s Red Mars for Spike TV

It’s been a long road bringing Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars trilogy (Red Mars, Green Mars, and Blue Mars) to the small screen. First it was James Cameron who held the rights, with the intention of creating a five-hour miniseries; later, Gale Ann Hurd had a similar idea, intended for Syfy. The next network to set its sights on the trilogy was AMC, back in 2008 and fresh off the start of Mad Men and Breaking Bad.

Finally, Spike TV took over the rights—and according to Deadline, they’ve signed on Babylon 5 creator J. Michael Straczynski to adapt Red Mars.

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Words of Radiance Reread: Chapter 25

Welcome back to the Words of Radiance Reread on! Last week, Carl spoke of cons and curry; this week, we turn to Kaladin’s Comedy Corral for your entertainment.

This reread will contain spoilers for The Way of Kings, Words of Radiance, and any other Cosmere book that becomes relevant to the discussion. The index for this reread can be found here, and more Stormlight Archive goodies are indexed here. Click on through to join the discussion.

[It is customary to start training men by using weapons without edges, soldier.]

Series: Words of Radiance Reread on

Weird Magic: Pacific Fire by Greg van Eekhout

Pacific Fire is Greg van Eekhout’s latest novel, a fast and slick sequel to last year’s California Bones. It situates itself in the same peculiar subgenre as California Bones, a subgenre so unusual that I find it difficult to think of many examples outside van Eekhout’s own work but one that nonetheless feels like a subgenre in its own right: the fantasy heist novel.

The heist story—the caper plot—is a thing unto itself. It often crops up in espionage thrillers or as part of some larger narrative. California Bones is a heist novel whose major focus is the heist itself. Pacific Fire combines elements of the heist with the more straightforward thriller narrative of bad things are going to happen and SOMEONE has to stop them.

[Contains spoilers]

Midnight in Karachi, Episode 4: Adam Roberts

Welcome back to Midnight in Karachi, a bi-weekly podcast about writers, publishers, editors, illustrators, their books and the worlds they create, hosted by Mahvesh Murad.

This week’s guest is Adam Roberts—academic, critic and prolific writer with a number of pseudonyms and a couple of dozen novels. He’s been nominated for the Clarke Award three times and has won both the BSFA Award and the Campbell Memorial Award. Adam talks about writing in various forms, Tolkien, judging awards, and how all his books are secretly outsourced to someone else.

[Listen Now!]

Series: Midnight in Karachi Podcast’s Hugo and Nebula-Eligible Fiction from 2014

Awards season is upon us, with nominations open for both the Hugos and Nebulas. With nomination deadlines coming up in February and March, we would like to take this opportunity to remind you of’s awards-eligible works from 2014.

We are tremendously proud of our authors, illustrators, and editors for creating such wonderful novellas, novelettes, short stories, graphic stories, and illustrations this year. We hope that you will nominate your favorite stories for the Hugos, Nebulas, and other upcoming awards which honor outstanding works of science fiction, fantasy, and horror—but most of all, we hope that you have enjoyed reading these works as much as we have!

As a reminder, you can download our free anthology Some of the Best From from your favorite ebook retailer.

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Tiamat’s Terrain: Comics that Traverse the World

I didn’t mean to fall into comics at the beginning of 2015, but sometimes that’s just the way the wind blows. And these comics, hailing from France, Italy, Cyprus, and America, traverse the whole world, entering unexpected longitudes and latitudes.

Intriguingly, the content that takes the reader into far-flung corners of the globe reflects the authors’ own travels and lineages: Squarzoni, a French graphic novelist who worked in ex-Yugoslavia, has traveled through Mexico, Palestine, and Israel as a human-rights observer and has published work on Central American politics and the Holocaust; the Italian, Hugo Pratt, inducted in 2004 to the Will Eisner Hall of Fame, lived in Argentina, London, Italy, Switzerland, and France, while also traveling Patagonia, Canada, and Africa; Wilson is an American who lived and worked for a time in Cairo; Hoplaros grew up in Zimbabwe before moving back to her home-country, Cyprus; and Sattouf, who used to write for Charlie Hebdo, is a French-Syrian who spent his childhood in Algeria, Libya, and Syria. With well-traveled captains like these at the helm, you know you’re in for a rip-roaring ride.

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Series: Tiamat’s Terrain