Five Books With Magical Transformations

Transformations wield power. That thrill of changing is part of the reason why I love all kinds of transformation scenes, from the frosted ball gown swirling around Cinderella to Jacob Black ripping off his shirt and going full wolf.

But my favorite transformations are often quieter. The changes the character undergoes are more or less reflective of an emotional state. How the characters appear—either by choice or curse—becomes illustrative of their psychological plane. Sometimes the character’s transformation foreshadows who they will be or how they will one day see themselves. In these five books, transformations range from the benign and the charming, to the conniving and powerful.

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A Philosophical Take on Parallel Universes in Gunnhild Øyehaug’s Present Tense Machine

Gunnhild Øyehaug’s Present Tense Machine, translated by Kari Dickson, is a novel about parallel universes. In that way, it’s like a host of other novels—some long and others short, some intimate in their scope and others focusing on the largest possible canvas. What makes Øyehaug’s novel stand out is the relative modesty of its scale, along with a tone that’s at once playful and philosophical.

Early in the novel, its narrator (who seems to be Øyehaug herself, or at least a similarly omnipotent presence in the narrative) cites one character’s argument around several films that “are based on the idea of parallel universes”—in this case, Interstellar, Arrival, and Doctor Strange. And while those works don’t necessarily have a lot in common, they do end up serving as an early point of contrast to the narrative of Present Tense Machine.

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Life’s But an Existentialist Shadow in Joel Coen’s The Tragedy of Macbeth

How do I even write about this? Joel Coen has created a stunning, often terrifying, German Expressionist-ish take on Macbeth that, when it chooses to be, tips into full horror. While it isn’t my favorite take on the play (that would Akira Kurosawa’s Throne of Blood) this is the first time I’ve seen a Shakespeare adaptation and immediately wanted to rewatch it before the credits were even done rolling.

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Wallace and Gromit Are Headed to Netflix—Along With a Chicken Run Sequel

Netflix must have plenty of cheese. The streaming platform is teaming up with Aardman Animation to bring us the first Wallace & Gromit story in more than a decade, which is just far too long to go between incredibly charming animated films about a man, his dog, and the importance of cheese.

But the Aardman/Netflix partnership extends beyond a love of Wensleydale and into the barnyard: A sequel to Chicken Run is also in the works!

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The Deeply Personal Art of Organizing Your Books

Let’s not have any more fights about rainbows, okay? I know. I know that if you are a person who believes deeply in the power of the alphabet, the books-by-color thing makes your fingers twitch. I have been that person. I have hated on books-as-decor-objects, I have screeched at the idea of all-the-books-spines-in, I have shaken my judgmental little head at the rainbows flooding bookstagram, no matter that I’ll practically jump out of a moving car to see a rainbow anywhere else.

But I have also come around to the fact that every one of these choices is valid. And so are all the other possible options, too.

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Gale Weathers Is Better Than Any Final Girl

Horror fanatics spend a lot of time deconstructing the much-abused Final Girl. In position as the Last One Standing against every unthinkable monster lurking in the dark, her ability to survive is a badge of honor, but also a mark of what our culture values (or conversely, stubbornly refuses to appreciate) in young women.

Because the Scream series is a meta-narrative all about deconstructing movie tropes, Sidney Prescott’s journey has always been prime real estate for discussing and dismantling Final Girl stories, a role that she has undertaken with all due pain and a crackling temerity. Which is why it’s fascinating that, twenty-five years on, the person who arguably defines the Scream films is not Sidney at all—no matter who Ghostface happens to be calling.

[Spoilers for all five Scream movies.]

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Rhythm of War Reread: Chapter Sixty-Five

Hey, it’s Thursday again! Welcome back to the Rhythm of War Reread, where it’s time for some fun in Navani’s lab. This is a fairly science-heavy chapter, so… be warned, I guess? This week we cover some basic principles which will later prove to be the foundations for Navani’s breakthrough, as well as set-up for some other significant plot moments. Come on in and join the discussions of light, the Cosmere, and everything.

[If I were trying to do this with liquids, I’d use an emulsifier—but what kind of emulsifier does one use on light?]

Series: Rhythm of War by Brandon Sanderson

Hawkeye’s Fra Fee Will Turn Into a Prince In Disney+’s Gaston Musical Prequel

The Gaston musical—the show you know you never wanted—is moving full-speed ahead at Disney+. We already knew that Luke Evans and Josh Gad will reprise their roles as Gaston and LeFou respectively, and we also knew that Briana Middleton was on board as a new character named Tilly, who happens to be LeFou’s stepsister.

Today we got some more casting news—Fra Fee, who played Maya Lopez’s (Alaqua Cox) second-in-command Kazi Kazimierczak, will be joining the Beauty and the Beast live-action prequel as Prince Benoit Berlioz, who Variety describes as “a childhood friend of Tilly’s who has grown into a handsome, charismatic, confident prince.”

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Feeding the Drama-Eaters: P. Djèlí Clark’s Ring Shout (Part 4)

Welcome back to Reading the Weird, in which we get girl cooties all over weird fiction, cosmic horror, and Lovecraftiana—from its historical roots through its most recent branches.

This week, we continue P. Djèlí Clark’s Ring Shout, first published in 2020, with Chapters 7-8. Spoilers ahead!

[“You ever hear the story of Truth and Lies?”]

Series: Reading the Weird

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