This week I want to tell you about several books I really liked, one book that I found entertaining, and one that’s really disappointing. Let me tell you about books! Let me SHARE THE JOY!
*ahem* Too much caffeine. Right, moving on…
Have you heard about Aliette de Bodard’s The House of Shattered Wings? If you haven’t, you might have been hiding under a rock. Out almost simultaneously in the UK and the US, The House of Shattered Wings is a fantastically gripping novel, set in a Parisian landscape shattered by the Great War — but de Bodard’s Paris isn’t the Paris of our own history, although it is recognisably familiar. This is a Paris ruled by Fallen angels, where human and Fallen have organised into Houses that contend against each other for power and status. The House of Shattered Wings revolves around power, and secrets, and loyalties, and with its vastly compelling cast of characters, it’s a joy to read.
It stands alone, but damn do I want sequels. ALL THE SEQUELS.
Zen Cho’s Sorcerer to the Crown (also to be published at the same time in the UK and the US) is another novel that stands alone but is sufficiently delightful to cry out for sequels. Cho has written a fantasy deeply in dialogue with the tropes of the Regency romance and the fantasies of Englishness, while skewering all the prejudices of the form with a sharp and loving eye. It is not especially my kind of book, and yet I ending up enjoying it immensely.
Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo came as something of a surprise to me. I didn’t expect to like it, considering I’d bounced off her first trilogy with the end of its first book: but I was promised fantasy Hustle only with more female characters and better violence, set in a milieu influenced by the early modern Netherlands, and damn did it deliver. Capers abound! (I always did like a good caper story.) Ends on a cliffhanger, though, so be warned.
Sophia McDougall’s Space Hostages is an explosive sequel to her magificently entertaining Mars Evacuees. The war with the Morror is over, and thirteen-year-old Alice Dare and her friends have been invited to take part in an interstellar journey of peace, reconciliation, and resettlement. But as it turns out, the Morror aren’t the only other sentient spacefaring species out there, and Alice is once again flung headlong into the middle of danger. Genuinely funny, very fast-paced, and entirely delightful: would recommend to everyone.
A Red-Rose Chain by Seanan McGuire is her latest novel in the long-running Toby Daye series. It propels Toby out of her comfort zone into a different kingdom entirely. It’s fun, fast, light, and entirely a series novel: don’t start here. I found it entertaining, but not doing anything particularly compelling with its characters and events.
Saving the worst for last: Erika Johansen’s The Invasion of the Tearling. It’s incredibly disappointing. I was entertained well enough by Johansen’s Queen of the Tearling, a coming-of-age story whose flaws I had put down to first-novel teething problems. One always hopes for better things in a second book after a flawed first: a more well-honed craft, a stronger structure, a more coherent theme. Alas, The Invasion of the Tearling is a step back in coherence, in pacing, and in character engagement from its predecessor—quite a long step back, at that.
What have you folks been reading lately? What have you enjoyed—or not—that you want the world to know about?