Hidden Warrior by Lynn Flewelling. ★★★1/2
I’ve finally gotten around to reading Hidden Warrior, the sequel to the coming of age fantasy novel, The Bone Doll’s Twin. In my review of the first book, I noted that I was reserving judgement on how well gender is handled until I’d read the second book. And wow am I judgmental about how Hidden Warrior handled the themes it set out to explore.
To recap, in The Bone Doll’s Twin a king has taken the throne from his sister, the rightful heir. A long ago prophecy says the country will never be defeated as long as a woman of the proper lineage sits on the throne. Since prophecies are serious business in fantasy novels, the king starts killing off all female relatives who could be a potential threat. When his sister gives birth to twins, a boy and a girl, a wizard takes matters into her own hands to preserve the girl, the “true heir,” by using dark magic to give her the shape of her brother. Oh, yes, this also involves the death of her brother.
A Tyranny of Queens by Foz Meadows. ★★★★
A Tyranny of Queens is the sequel to the portal fantasy novel, An Accident of Stars, and I’m happy to report that I liked it even more than the first book! If queer feminist fantasy sounds at all your thing, I suggest you start reading this series. This is a series that should really be read in order – A Tyranny of Queens picks up almost directly from where An Accident of Stars left off. If you haven’t read the first book, I doubt you’d be able to make sense of this one. Forewarning, this review may contain spoilers for the first book.
I am thrilled to bring you an interview with Sarah Gailey, the author of numerous short stories and the soon to be released novella River of Teeth! Join us as we talk about alternate history, SFF costumes, and, of course, hippos.
A Shadow in Summer by Daniel Abraham. ★★★1/2
The city-state of Saraykeht has grown wealthy off of the cotton trade. Their court poet, Heshai, has put into words and bound an idea and spirit, Seedless, who can remove seeds from cotton with a wave of his hand. Thanks to Heshai and Seedless, no other nation can snatch away Saraykeht’s trade or dare attack for fear of what Seedless might be ordered to do.
But the merchants of Galt have developed a plan. Saraykeht can not be conquered by force as long as Heshai has control over Seedless. But what if they can make him loose control?
Central to their plans is the merchant Marchat Wilsin, head of the Galt trading house in Saraykeht. In his reluctance, he inadvertently gives a hint of what is to come to Amat, his business manager. Amat, her assistant Liat, Liat’s lover, and the poet’s apprentice become the sole hope of saving Saraykeht.
I’m so excited to host an interview with Dianna Gunn, the debut author of the YA fantasy novella Keeper of the Dawn. Join us to hear about world building, writing an asexual protagonist, and the process of writing Keeper of the Dawn.
Keeper of the Dawn by Dianna Gunn. ★★★★
I loved this fantasy novella! I picked it up mainly because I heard the protagonist was asexual (true), and I ended up with a novella that was beautiful in so many ways and really resonated with me.
Lai’s mother and grandmother before her have been priestesses, and Lai can’t imagine any other life for herself. In order to become a priestess, she must win through the trials, for only one girl can be selected by the gods as the next priestess. But what about after the trials? What will happen to the friends she’s in competition with? And what if… she fails?
Final Girls by Mira Grant. ★★★
I’ve read some of this author’s work under the name Seanan McGuire, but I’d never read one of the stories she wrote as Mira Grant. I had very little idea of what to expect going into Final Girls. I knew that it involved a virtual reality program being used for therapy, that it focused on sisterly bond between two women, and that it may involve horror aspects. All of those were true, but it also turned out to be a novella. So I read this one a lot quicker than I expected!
Dr. Jennifer Webb has invented the method and technology for using virtual reality for therapy. To heal her clients of old wounds, she’ll send them through a virtual reality horror simulation, where they’ll feel completely immersed in the narrative. This therapy is usually used to rebuild strained family bonds, but she’s giving journalist Esther Hoffman an exclusive look at her techniques, which include Esther taking a trip via Dr. Webb’s proprietary VR tech. Esther has built her career debunking fraudulent therapy techniques, and she just can’t wait to disprove Dr. Webb. However, as she and Dr. Webb undertake a VR journey, events in the outside world influence them in ways they could never have expected.