Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Kelly Barnhill, new Victoria Goddard, and a few other things I've been reading

It's been three months since my last post: I'm not sure if that's because I've lost interest in blogging, or I haven't read much that made me excited to talk about, or life has just gotten really busy with other interesting things to occupy my mind and time. Or a combination of all three. But I'm not ready to call it quits yet, so here are a few short reviews of a few things!

The Girl Who Drank the Moon was on everyone's blog for a while when it came out, and I finally read it, and it's as awesome as everyone said! Very original: lots of folk-tale elements and the narration has a fairy-tale feeling to it, but there's a modern sensibility behind everything—there are no unexamined tropes here. Very pointed critiques of human behaviour and society. Interesting, complex characters; unusual in that the adult characters are more prominent than the titular girl, and we get lots of different POVs, so I don't know how that will work for younger readers. Felt similar to some of T. Kingfisher's not-exactly-for-young-people novels, like A Wizard's Guide to Defensive Baking and Minor Mage. Whimsical and hopeful while unflinching about the damage people can do to each other. Beautiful writing.

The Troubled Girls of Dragomir Academy, by Anne Ursu, is another middle-grade novel that's been widely raved about that I finally got around to reading. I love Ursu's writing, and this one didn't disappoint. Similar themes to Girl Who Drank the Moon, actually: standing up against evil that persists because of false beliefs deliberately perpetuated by those in power to make sure they stay in power. (Hmm. That doesn't ever happen in the real world; I see no relevance to our current state of affairs. Ahem.) Girl power and friendship. Pretty dark story, actually—misogyny isn't fun to read about—but I promise it has a happy ending!

The Redoubtable Pali Avramapul is the next installment in Victoria Goddard's hugely epic Nine Worlds series of series, and I loved it! My second favourite after Hands of the Emperor, I think. It made me go back and reread The Return of Fitzroy Angursell, and with this book (and Petty Treasons, a novella) I have fallen completely in love with Fitzroy. Also Pali! Full review on Goodreads , but the TL;DR is go read this book! (After you read Hands and Return, though.)

And speaking of Victoria Goddard, I also thoroughly enjoyed Portrait of a Wide Seas Islander, which is an event in Hands of the Emperor told from Buru Tovo's point of view.

Nettle and Bone is T. Kingfisher's latest, and it is her trademark dark, funny, weird, folk-tale-ish story of unlikely heroines defeating evil with cleverness, unexpected magic and sheer stubbornness. This one is definitely adult fairytale—trigger warning for abuse—but not horror. (I can't read her horror!) I'm never disappointed in anything this woman writes.

I also read a couple of new novels in Rachel Neumeier's Tuyo world: Keraunani, which is a fun romantic adventure starring Esau, and Suelen, set right after the events of Tuyo and introducing a new character and a new, fascinating magic: the surgeon-dedicate. (I love the covers for this series!) 

Oh, and I don't seem to have mentioned her newest Death's Lady series on my blog (how is she so prolific?? the woman is a writing machine!). It's reverse-portal fantasy starring a psychiatrist and a woman warrior, and it's every bit as good as Tuyo with a different vibe. (My Goodreads reviews here and here.)The latest in that series, Shines Now, and Heretofore is a fun exploration of one of the minor characters in the main trilogy (I love the way she does this in her series: returning to the world we loved and seeing a new perspective on it.)

You may notice that I haven't been very adventurous in my reading: I've been mostly sticking to authors I love. Maybe I'll start exploring outside my box now: is there anything you think I should read that I might not otherwise try?