Tor.com content by

Meghan Ball

The Enduring Legacy of Garth Nix’s Sabriel: Necromancy, Loss, and the Afterlife

Despite the best efforts of my parents, I grew up weird. They tried to interest me in wholesome, appropriate activities like horseback riding and ballet and in return I spent hours laying on my floor with my arms crossed over my chest wondering what a grave felt like. I don’t know why I did it. My sister is incredibly (by most standards) “normal,” in the sense of NOT being fascinated by things like death or witchcraft. I can’t tell you why some little girls become Misty of Chincoteague and others become Wednesday Addams. All I know is that I spent a lot of my childhood learning about various afterlifes, mummification, and Victorian memento mori.

My mother, who tried so damn hard to make me “normal,” did her best to keep me in books. She felt books were a safe place for my mind and they kept me out of trouble. I was a voracious reader and devoured any book placed in my hands. My mother was a teacher and would work the yearly Scholastic Book Fair, always squirreling away some books for me. That’s how I think Garth Nix’s Sabriel, one of the foundational books of my life, first found its way into my hands. I don’t think my mother had read the back of the book, or else she would have never given it to me. She saw the paperback cover, recognized it as a fantasy novel in the same vein as the others stacked high in my bedroom, and figured it would be fine.

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Five More Books That Deserve Awesome Soundtracks

We’re officially more than halfway through 2020 and the less said about the first half, the better. Thankfully, two things that are eternally welcome, especially during a pandemic, are good books and fun playlists. In spite of everything, incredible new books are still coming out and great bands and artists are still releasing new music. We might not be able to browse our favorite bookstores or go to our local music venue to catch a show, but we can still enjoy these pastimes while we’re staying safe at home. Yes, friends, it’s that time again: I’m Meghan, your friendly music-obsessed book nerd, and I’m here again to pair up some fantastic new and recent releases with some excellent songs to help take your reading experience to a whole new level…

Grab a book, grab your headphones, and settle in!

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Five Amazing New Novels That Deserve Their Own Soundtrack

We are three months into 2020 and the world might seem pretty bleak at the moment, with spring still a couple weeks away in the Northern Hemisphere… Good thing your friendly neighborhood book DJ is back again to highlight five more amazing books that deserve equally amazing soundtracks.

There is nothing quite as soothing to the soul as good music paired with good literature, and this season has been an embarrassment of riches where great new books are concerned. Each one is more dazzling and inventive than the last and you are sure to lose a few hours of sleep if you make the mistake of starting these books before bedtime. (Don’t say I didn’t warn you.) There’s something for everyone here, everything from hair-raising cosmic horror to vigilante librarians and more!

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Series: Five Books About…

Five SFF Books That Demand a Soundtrack

There are two main obsessions in my life: books and music. You can usually find me hunched over a book with a pair of headphones slapped securely over my ears. Both obsessions have lead me to wonderful things; I am an avid writer and a truly abysmal guitar player. They’ve also started to mix together in my weird, wormy brain. Books have begun to take on soundtracks of their own as I read them. Words become notes and chords, narrative themes become bands, and soon I can’t read a certain book without having to pair it with an album or playlist, like pairing wine with a specific dish.

Some books come preloaded with music in their pages. Grady Hendrix’s excellent ode to metal, We Sold Our Souls, is all Black Sabbath and Slayer and Metallica. Catherynne M. Valente’s hilarious Space Opera is the very best of glam rock like David Bowie and T. Rex and the glittery disco-pop of ABBA. Science fiction and fantasy books specifically about music are relatively rare, though—it’s hard to distill a purely auditory experience into book form unless you’re actually writing about rock stars or the music business. And yet, some books still demand their own playlists, turning my brain into a Spotify algorithm gone rogue. Some books crackle with the same jangly energy as the Rolling Stones or have the same brittle pop charm as Taylor Swift. Some books dance or mosh or stage dive. Some books are a solo guitar and the reek of bad whiskey and cigarettes, while others thrum with the lyrical rush of a perfectly delivered rap battle victory.

Here is a small sampling of some recent books that, in my mind, evoke particular bands and music genres…

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Series: Five Books About…

Good Omens, Part 9: It’s the End of the World as We Know It, And I Feel Fine

Here we are. The final battle. It all comes down to this. Welcome, my friends, to the end of the world. It’s been my absolute pleasure to be your guide, the Virgil to your Dante, for the last few weeks as we traveled the winding roads of Good Omens that have led us up to this point. This is where it all goes down. It’s finally time to see which side wins. Are you ready? Here we go…

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Series: Good Omens Reread

Good Omens, Part One: The Very First Dark and Stormy Night

Hello friends, and welcome to the end of the world! My name is Meghan and it is my utmost pleasure and privilege to reread Good Omens with you. Written by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, Good Omens is a delight of a novel and has been a fan favorite for decades. It will soon be a six-part series airing on Amazon Prime in 2019. To prepare for that momentous occasion, we’ll be reading the book together over the next ten weeks and discussing what makes it so wonderful.

Without any further ado, let’s get started. This week’s discussion covers the first 35 pages of the novel (going by the 2006 paperback edition published by William Morrow).

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Series: Good Omens Reread

Introducing the Good Omens Reread!

At its heart, Good Omens is a story about friendship.

I mean, yes, it’s also about the end of the world, but mostly it’s about friendship. It’s about the friendship between an angel and a demon, between a young boy and his best friends, and it’s about the friendship between the authors themselves. None of this—the beloved novel, the fandom that embraced it for almost three decades, the highly anticipated television adaptation—would exist without friendship.

In the impressive new trailer for the six-part Good Omens serial, Aziraphale shouts that he isn’t friends with Crowley, which they both know is a lie. They’ve known each other since the very beginning of everything. After awhile, it’s nice to see the same face every few centuries. They may not have that problem anymore, though: the end of the world is coming, and they only have one week to stop it.

Welcome to Good Omens.

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Series: Good Omens Reread

It’s Time to Get Very Excited About Good Omens

Good Omens, Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett’s classic book about the Antichrist and Armageddon, is finally getting the TV treatment it always deserved. Fans have been begging for decades for this favorite novel to make its way onto our screens. Fancasts have been going around for years on Twitter, Tumblr, and even LiveJournal (that’s how long people have wanted this! It’s practically archaeological!).

For years the biggest names from British TV and film have been thrown around on various fan lists, and now I’m happy to say the real cast of the upcoming six-part series lives up to even the most exacting fan’s standards. Just based on the cast alone, Good Omens is already shaping up to be an incredible show. When you combine some of the best actors from every important genre show in the past ten years, how could it not be?

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