It is Wednesday and I am still ill

So I am on the verge of getting better, but still coughing and spluttering and exhausted easily and VERY VERY BORED OF THIS! I would like a modicum of health and ability to think back now please.

But on the upside, look what arrived at the library yesterday!!!!! I am 170 pages in and it is SO GOOD!

Cover for Children of Blood and Bone by Tomii Adeyemi - image of black girl with white hair

And with that, I am off again to down cough syrup. Please be assured that there will be Tantamount and book reviews once I am back on my feet.


Enjoy my ramblings? You can buy me a coffee if you want!
Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Advertisements

Book Review: Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor

Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor

I’ve always been fascinated by candles.

This book is also published under the title What Sunny Saw in the Flames, which has a few textual differences mainly related to dialogue (or so I’ve heard).

I devoured this book. I picked it up and did not want to put it down until it was done, continually asking “What happens next?”. And yet, I find it (along with a lot of Nnedi Okorafor’s work) hard to review: I know that, as a white English person, there are going to be things that I miss. And there are places where I know I am missing things, and probably things that I am missing that I don’t notice I am missing. I really, really love Nnedi Okorafor’s work, but I am scared of somehow, without meaning, doing her a disservice by being ignorant in my reviews.

So, here is what I think I can confidently say; Sunny Nwazue is a wonderful, engaging protagonist with a clear and unique voice. The imagery is stunning, and the plot is carefully done. I loved the writing style, and the magic system is fascinating. There is a whole hidden magical world that Sunny is drawn into, which (I think) has a basis in a real secret society, and the rules of the magical world were brilliantly thought out. I enjoyed the friendships, and the way that they grew and changed. I like reading things that are not set in Europe or America, especially fantasy. Overall, I strongly recommend this book: it’s gripping and fun, although the danger is very real…

Rating: read this book, look deeply into candles.


Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Book review: Red Witch by Anna McKerrow

red witch by anna mckerrow

Writing this while I remember it.

This is the sequel to Crow Moon. I will try to avoid spoilers for Red Witch, but there may be some for Crow Moon.

Red Witch is a fantastic read. It does a lot of really exciting, unexpected things. Firstly, it has a different point-of-view character from Crow Moon‘s, which is a bold move considering they are both first person books. Crow Moon was from the point-of-view of Danny Prentice; Red Witch is from the point-of-view of Demelza “Melz” Hawthorne. As a reader, I was instantly given a new perspective on things that I thought I was familiar with; events from Crow Moon are given a new sheen, and a whole layer is added to the worldbuilding. I made a lot of “Ooooh” noises.

On top of this, Melz has left the Greenworld following the murder of the lad she was in love with (who was her sister’s boyfriend, so her grief is a complicated beast)(Her sister is Saba, and I am still a little unhappy with how she is presented? I want more insight into her motives). The Redworld and the fuel wars have been mentioned, but now Melz is stumbling around in the middle of it and it is never quite what we have been led to believe. A lot of the beginning struck close to home for me because I have been the awkward teenager wearing a handknitted jumper trying to figure out how the rest of the world works (Steiner education!)(I still wear handknitted jumpers though) and it was baffling and hard. Then there are the stories that Redworld tells about Greenworld, and that was very interesting indeed.

A lot of the narrative is about Melz grieving, and it was an amazing narrative because Melz is a powerful kickarse witch who is nevertheless in pain. And she’s a bit lost, trying to figure out who to trust out here: Bran Crowley, the enigmatic charmer living in the White Well in Glastonbury? His bodyguard? Ceri, Catie and Demi, who are playing at magic? Herself? But this is a narrative where she is allowed to be in pain and angry and vindictive and powerful without being punished by the narrative. She’s allowed to go on a journey which does not diminish any of her power – her goddess is the Morrigan which really tells you a lot. I loved that Anna McKerrow did this.

I also love that Anna McKerrow does such interesting things with plot and worldbuilding; the story never quite went where I thought it would, insignificant characters from Crow Moon become suddenly important and then I thought back and realised it had been foreshadowed, and similarly small plotpoints were expanded on in really pleasing ways. Goddesses intervene. People make mistakes. There are curses. The land fights back. It’s bloody brilliant.

Rating: read this book. Be wary of the crows…


Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Book Review: Weaver’s Lament by Emma Newman

Weaver's Lament by Emma Newman Industrial Magic book two

Charlotte was certain she was going to die.

Book two of the Industrial Magic series

review of Brother’s RuinBook one of the Industrial Magic Series.

The further adventures of Charlotte ‘Charlie’ Gunn, secret mage, secret illustrator, and possibly a burgeoning socialist. Charlotte finds herself working undercover at a cotton mill in this book, at first to assist her brother who believes his apprenticeship is being sabotaged, but increasingly with her own agenda. I enjoy Emma Newman’s writing. There are hints dropped throughout this book about directions the series might take, all of which are very exciting (I have so many theories about the process that the mage organisation puts mages through to stop them going “wild”).

I love that Emma Newman has taken this Victorian world, powered it with magic, and is using it not only to tell fantastic stories but also to comment on social injustice. There are some revelations about work at the mill which were nothing short of genius. Charlie Gunn remains a wonderful main character, by turns naive and stubborn. My only complaint is that there is not enough book at all!

Rating: read this book, be kind to the ghosts.


Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Book Review: Crow Moon by Anna McKerrow

Crow moon by anna mckerrow cover shows silhouette of a face with crow in white wuperimposed

And then he said, ‘No-one should distract an ordained knight from his thoughts in a discourteous way, for perhaps he has either suffered a loss or he is thinking about the woman he loves best.’ From the Mabinogion.

The fire in the middle of the circle casts flickering shadows over our faces: we stand obediently in its fierce warmth, following the words of the monthly full-moon ritual.

At this point, it is relevant to mention that I went to a Steiner school because that hugely influenced the way I read this book. Crow Moon is set in a fascinating world sometime in the future, where Cornwall and Devon have cut themselves off and become an eco-pagan haven known as the Greenworld. As far as the people inside know, the rest of the world (the Redworld) is engaged in fuel wars. The Greenworld is completely self-sustained, with loads of gardening and recycling and agriculture, and also magic. Everyone wears knitted and homemade clothes and talks about the weather a lot. Steiner education puts a lot of emphasis on practical and integrated skills, so a lot of my school time was spent doing what was referred to as handwork (knitting, crocheting, weaving, sewing, gardening, woodwork, pottery, basketry, metalwork…), and the attitude to education overall was really different. And there were a lot of homemade jumpers, and theoretically I can build a compost loo (probably not well), and there was singing and music and a lot of effort put into making a community, which was nice, but it was a small community, which can be hard (something that’s explored very well in this book).

I say all this because what that meant was that I spent a lot of time reading this book recognising things, and going “Oh yeah, compost loos are really annoying” and “huh, yep, that journalling thing, I remember doing that” and also chuckling whenever characters particularly reminded me of people I knew (I remember a lot of people who kept crystals attached to their phones to offset the negative energy). Anyway, what all this means is that, much as I loved the world of Crow Moon, to me it felt familiar rather than like a strange potential future. The main character is Danny Prentice, an endearing idiot. I applaud Anna McKerrow’s skill in writing a first person character who was convincingly a 16-year-old boy, with behaviour daft enough to be believable for a boy of his age with no role-models but not so daft that the reader comes to resent him. He did stupid things, and I yelled at him a lot, but I wanted him to come through the book safely.

The story is about Danny Prentice figuring out who he is and where he wants to fit into the Greenworld, and as he is doing this there are far larger things stirring. Things that may threaten the entire Greenworld. His mother, Zia, is a witch. I enjoyed the delicate way that Crow Moon explored what her calling costs her, and how that ties into Danny’s reluctance to accept his own powers. I also loved the magic in Crow Moon. There was a sense of mystery to it, as well as a layer of mundanity. A lot of people were clearly just going through the motions because it was required of them. There were rituals and spells, and you had to have a gift to do it in the first place. But there were also goddesses and gods, who were vast and great and inscrutable. Even when they appeared fully on the page they retained a sense of mystery and might – they might help the characters, and they might not, and no-one human would be able to say why.

I enjoyed all the characters – even viewed through Danny’s eyes, the reader could get a sense that there was more going on for them than what Danny knew. Roach was a fantastic villain; he was genuinely scary, probably because he had a deranged kind of charisma. Saba, Danny’s love interest, did not feel real to me. I think this was because we were seeing her as Danny did, which was not necessarily as a whole person. And Melz, Saba’s sister, was a fascinating spiky enigma. The next book in this series is from her point-of-view, and I am extremely excited about that! And there was always a sense of things happening at the corner of one’s vision: there would be little snippets of information and story that, if properly paid attention to, hinted at contradictions of the accepted dogma of the world, of bigger things happening and a larger world beyond the Greenworld. Of secrets.

Overall, I recommend Crow Moon: it’s subtle and interesting, and the ending was genuinely surprising. A unique piece of fantasy.

Rating: read this. Remember that real post-apocalypse gear will probably all be knitted.


Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Book Review: The Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

the invasion of the tearling erika johansen

The second Mort invasion had all the makings of a slaughter.

BEWARE SPOILERS!

This, you may have guessed, is the sequel to The Queen of the Tearling. And it is amazing! One of the main points about the fantasy world that has been created here is that, although it looks pretty typical human high fantasy at first glance, it is revealed throughout the first book that actually, these people are descended from fugitives from our world. Or our world some years forward with horribly believable dystopian trappings. A revolutionary called William Tear led the Crossing (what they were crossing is a reveal in this book, so I’m not telling).

This means that the Tearling (and presumably other kingdoms and queendoms) has this interesting juxtaposition of technologically being about able to make a basic cannon, but having historical records of x-ray machines. I love it. This book really deals with that part of the story, as Kelsea starts having visions of a woman who is somehow connected to the Crossing. At first, I was a little impatient with these flashbacks as I just wanted to know what was going to happen: Mortmesne is invading! We’re getting clues about who the Red Queen is! Please just tell me what’s happening! However, after a slightly awkward section I quickly became hooked, and it started becoming clear that the flashbacks were important and also forwarding the plot.

Kelsea herself I found challenging in this instalment, but nowhere near as challenging as a lot of teenage sovereigns in fantasy can be. And I think I was meant to find her challenging, and to question her judgement and her decisions. Other characters certainly did. I loved the intrigue, the back and forth between church and crown intensifying, the preparations for this totally hopeless invasion, Kelsea’s weird magical powers starting to make more sense…

The end was, well, I had a hunch about the ending. And I was half-right. And it was a massive cliffhanger (Kelsea you redeemed yourself bigtime) and I have been waiting on tenterhooks for the final book to come into the library (which it finally has). So, if you are interested in some slightly brutal, fast-paced, interestingly-built fantasy with WOMEN, I recommend this series.

And if you have read it, I would love to chat about it with you! I have so many feelings about this series!

Rating: read this book – do not make deals with the demon in the fire.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Book Review: A Tyranny of Queens by Foz Meadows

A Tyranny of Queens by Foz Meadows

“It’s all right,” said Ruby, squeezing Saffron’s hand.

This is the sequel to An Accident of Stars, which you definitely need to read before reading this one. You can read my (very)short review of that book here.

A Tyranny of Queens is breathtaking. It takes everything that was built and set up in An Accident of Stars, and runs away with it in unexpected directions. I could probably write a great deal of essays about the world that Foz Meadows has created, about what has been done with gender and sex and religion and race, how they relate to where we are now. About polyamorous marriages and matriarchy and family. About how we treat victims.

And the wonderful thing is that all of those things above are in the book without making one feel as though one is reading a book that wants you to think certain things. They just exist, in the world, and the plot roars along like a steam engine on the boil, veering sharply enough that I thought, several times, it had gone off the rails and there was no possible way that this new development could make sense and then it did! The cast is, as in An Accident of Stars, fantastic. Primarily women, and primarily not white women, and with a big mix of ages and origins and wellness – how often do we get main characters with chronic illnesses? Facial scarring? Partial paralysis? Neurodiversity? The answer is not often enough – it’s hard to find even one, and in this book we get all of those things in a fantasy setting, as well as most of the fantasy settings (this is a portal fantasy, so we get more than one world) being extremely queer-friendly.

It is, of course, not perfect. But it’s damn good, and having only finished it a few hours ago I am still emotionally entangled with it all, and more than a bit breathless from the way it ended. I realise I’ve barely mentioned the characters or the plot; in this instance it’s really hard to do without MAHOUSIVE spoilers… So, yanno, go read it 🙂

Rating: Read this book, phone all your friends and make them read it…

 Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Previous Older Entries