Review of Six-Gun Snow White by Catherynne M. Valente

Six-Gun Snow White by Catherynne M. Valente. ★★★ Trigger warning for sexual assault, suicide, and abuse. Six-Gun Snow White is a dark, adult fairy tale novella from the masterful Catherynne M. Valente. While I enjoyed Valente’s prose, I ultimately found the book too strange for my taste. Snow White is the daughter of a Nevada silver baron and…

Review of The Thief by Claire North

The Thief by Claire North. ★★★★ The Thief is the second book in North’s Gameshouse series, a trilogy of novellas. I would recommending reading the prior story, The Serpent, before picking up The Thief.  The Gameshouse contains two levels, one where ordinary games are played and a more exclusive one with games of a much more extraordinary sort…

Review of The Serpent by Claire North

The Serpent by Claire North. ★★★★ The Serpent is a lovely novella set among 17th century Venice and filled with an underlying mysticism. Thene is a young woman married to a drunken gambler. She mainly exists from one day to the next, trying to get by, until her husband drags her with him to the Gameshouse. The Gameshouse is…

Reveiw of A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab. ★★★1/2 Trigger warning for attempted rape A Darker Shade of Magic has fantastic world building and prose, but for some reason it just didn’t do it for me. The most likely reason is that I never connected well to any of the characters. Kell is one of two people who…

Review of Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho

Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho. ★★★★ Sorcerer to the Crown is an alternate history fantasy novel set in Regency England. Magic is running low in England, and many pin the blame on an easy target – Zacharias Wythe, the first ever Royal Sorcerer to be an African. Zacharias has to navigate political difficulties, a situation involving Malaysian…

Review of River of Stars by Guy Gavriel Kay

River of Stars by Guy Gavriel Kay. ★★★ River of Stars is a historical fantasy novel based on Song era China. This book would probably appeal to historical fiction readers more than those looking for fantasy. Magic is limited to a few ghosts and spirits as well as an overall sense of destiny. According to the back cover…

Review of A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan

A Natural History of Dragons: A Memoir by Lady Trent by Marie Brennan. ★★1/2 In short, there were not enough dragons. The basic premise of this book is that it is the memoir of an early adventure of a naturalist famed for her study of dragons, Lady Isabella Trent. Thus it includes asides by Isabella and references…

Review of the Ladies of Grace Adieu and Other Stories by Susanna Clarke

The Ladies of Grace Adieu and Other Stories by Susanna Clarke. ★★★1/2 Like all short story collections, The Ladies of Grace Adieu is a mixed bag. While it does not have any truly horrible stories, there are some that are mediocre (along with some rather wonderful ones.) These stories are set in the same world of Jonathan Strange and Mr…

Review of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke. ★★★★ In 1806 magic is believed to be dead in England until a society of theoretical magicians uncovers Mr. Norrell, the first practicing magician of hundreds of years. Mr. Norrell is firmly in the public eye when another magician, Mr. Strange, emerges to become his student. Together, these very…

Review of The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker

The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker. ★★★★ The Golem and the Jinni sits at the crossroads of historical fiction and fantasy. Through the two titular characters, it explores the immigrant experience in 1899 New York City. I think the strength of the book is the characters. Chava, the Golem, and Ahmad, the Jinni, are…

Review of The Lions of Al-Rassan by Guy Gavriel Kay

The Lions of Al-Rassan by Guy Gavriel Kay. ★★★★ The Lions of Al-Rassan is hard to describe. It’s usually classed as a fantasy, sometimes an epic fantasy more often as a historical fantasy, which is probably the best name for it. I.e. there’s no magic or dragons or unusual world building. Instead, it’s an alternate version…

Review of Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier

Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier. ★★★★★ (Trigger Warning) Daughter of the Forest, a retelling of The Swan Brothers, is both wondrous and heartbreaking. Of all the fairy tale retelling’s I’ve read, it’s among the very best. Sorcha’s the only daughter of Lord Colum, a lord in dark ages Ireland. She and her six older brothers…