With an eye towards female-focused YA speculative fiction, Thea James’s Old and New is a monthly column that examines new and shiny speculative fiction titles, contrasted against an older, foundational (or underrated!) SFF work.
This month’s subjects are two favorites. For the new, there’s Traci Chee’s under-appreciated Reader/Sea of Ink and Gold trilogy (The Reader, The Speaker, The Storyteller). For the old, there’s the sadly unfinished Resurrection of Magic books (Skin Hunger, Sacred Scars) by Kathleen Duey. Both series alternate backwards and forwards in time; both feature a small core cast of main characters including a female character with magical ability who will make decisions that will change their respective worlds. Most importantly, both series meditate on the magic of oral, but especially written, tradition. There is magic in words—Sefia and Sadima know this, and wield that power as best they can.
But I’m getting ahead of myself: let’s start with Traci Chee’s Sea of Ink and Gold trilogy.