I’ve been debating for weeks whether or not to write a Sleeps With Monsters column on this year’s Hugo debacle, and you know what? I’m not going there. It’s much more fun to talk about books.
Books are awesome. And the first book I want to recommend to you attention this week is actually called The Awesome. It’s the Young Adult debut of Eva Darrows, a writer who has also debuted in YA horror under the name Hillary Monahan with Mary: The Summoning (2014). The Awesome is a brisk, cheerful—I’d go so far as to say chirpy — urban fantasy starring Maggie, seventeen-year-old apprentice monster hunter. Maggie has an unconventional relationship with her unconventional monster hunter mother. Now she’s up for her journeyman licence, but she can’t qualify for it unless she loses her virginity. Awkward hijinks ensure with her best friend’s male cousin—and meanwhile, Maggie and her mother are in trouble with the local vampire boss over killing one of his scions. And a sapient zombie is living in their basement. The Awesome isn’t particularly deep, but it is fun, fast-paced, and remarkably entertaining—definitely worth checking out.
I’m not all that impressed with Patricia Briggs’ Dead Heat, the latest in her Alpha & Omega spin-off series from the Mercy Thompson books. It’s a perfectly cromulent series instalment, don’t get me wrong—Anna and Charles show up and have adventures involving fae, magic, peril, the fact that Charles is both old and immortal unless something kills him, and a relationship based on mutual respect—but it doesn’t ever exceed the sum of its parts. I’m a demanding reader, it’s true, and Dead Heat is fun as far as it goes: it just doesn’t go far enough.
Martha Wells has collected her Ile-Rien short stories in Between Worlds, and they are—to be frank—an absolute delight. But I’m completely biased, here: Wells’ The Element of Fire ranks among my favourite novels; I love the characters of The Fall of Ile-Rien trilogy, and I wish there were more books like Death of a Necromancer. Between Worlds satisfies my desire for MORE STUFF LIKE THIS while making me feel sad, very very sad, that there are no more Ile-Rien novels in existence.
The Glorious Angels is Justina Robson’s first novel since 2011. An odd, dense, compelling book (a single standalone? Perhaps… Like much about this novel, its ending is open to interpretation), I’m not quite sure what to make of it. It begins by appearing to be neither fantasy nor science fiction, but some odd amalgam of the two: later, it seems as though we may have been watching any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic in action. It may be read, perhaps, as planetary opera. The characters are fascinating; the cultures, odd. I suspect it of having thematic arguments deeper or smarter than my ability to perceive or follow: certainly it is arguing something about consciousness and communication, identity and philosophy, ways of being in the world—perhaps several somethings. I would like to be able to follow those arguments. I will have to read The Glorious Angels again.
What are you all reading this week?