Hello again! We’ve had quite a bit of variety in our reviews this month, which is good to see!
Two fantasy books were reviewed this month. Sean the Bookonaunt read the newly released start of a new series: The Falcon Throne by Karen Miller. He opens his gushing review with this:
What I really enjoy in a good book is total immersion; the kind that makes you forget your concerns, that actually leaves you feeling relaxed. Karen Miller’s The Falcon Throne did this while flaying me emotionally. I dear reader, may even have required tissues at some point. I enjoy being emotionally manipulated when it’s done well and I felt that Miller was masterful in getting me to love and hate the various characters, to break me by breaking my favourites.
If that doesn’t make you want to read it, I’m not sure what will.
Meanwhile, Mark Webb delved into Winter Be My Shield by Jo Spurrier, much loved by many other challenge participants. He writes:
Spurrier has constructed a cohesive political and social system that sits on top of an interesting and imaginative form of magic. … It is not for the faint of heart though – the story is definitely on the grimdark end of the fantasy spectrum. There are some very cranky people that express their crankiness in some very direct ways. However the violence and grit never seem gratuitous, rather they add texture to the world.
Leonie Rogers was holding down the fort on the science fiction front this past month. She read and reviewed Marianne de Pierres’ Dark Space, the first book of the Sentients of Orion quartet. She writes:
The book is written from several perspectives, and slowly and steadily the separate story lines converge. The major characters are all quite complex, and not necessarily completely human, or at least as human as we’d like them to be which adds to the detail within the story.
She also reviewed Ambassador: Seeing Red by Patty Jansen, another first book in a series. Of that book, she writes:
I loved this book. Patty Jansen has done a remarkable world building job, building a complex interplanetary society structured around ‘gamra,’ with earth and humanity as we mostly know it, sitting on the periphery. … The politics, cultural differences and language differences are complex, but well developed and understandable, and I was easily drawn into the world that she created.
Horror was the most reviewed genre this month, which is a nice change. We had Stephanie Gunn review Perfections by Kirstyn McDermott, winner of the Aurealis and Australian Shadows Awards in 2012. She writes:
Perfections is, at its heart, a book about sisters, about daughters, about mothers. It is a book about the way families can twist around secrets (and oh, the secrets that this family has). The reader moves back and forth between the viewpoints of two sisters, Antoinette and Jacqueline. Both are skilfully drawn, and it is very easy to feel empathy for both of them and the situations that they are in; especially well done is the juxtaposition between how they see themselves and how they are seen by their sister.
Maree Kimberley reviewed Slights by Kaaron Warren, another standalone horror novel. Maree Kimberley writes:
Kaaron Warren’s Slights is an intriguing horror novel, with a main character who repels and fascinates with equal measure. It’s a measure of the strength of Warren’s writing that I empathised with a protagonist who is a psychopathic serial killer. … Steve (Stephanie) kills people so she can see the horror in their eyes as they enter their “dark room”, a place she has been several times when she’s hovered close to death. The “dark room” is filled with people Steve has slighted during her life; there is no white light leading her to an afterlife. In its place is torture and horror as a parade of people inflict pain on her in retaliation for her slights.
And our last horror review was of Daylight by Elizabeth Knox, written by Jane Rawson. She enjoyed the read, writing:
The pacing and structure of this book is strange and – for me – utterly absorbing. It’s slow and wanders back and forth and in and out in a way that struck me as very adult: Knox trusts us to pay attention, to notice small asides that prove integral to the story, to stick with the unusually large cast of major characters. I liked being treated that way. I like a horror novel that abjures sensation and shock and creates subtle questions of identity and morality.
Finally, last month I mentioned the then in-progress Snapshot of Australian Speculative Fiction. It’s now finished and you can read a large number of interviews spread across several blogs and involving many, many interviewees, both male and female. There’s an index post of all the interviews over at SF Signal.
I’m Tsana Dolichva and I’ve been reading and enjoying Australian speculative fiction since I first started reading “grown up” books (back before YA was its own genre). More recently, I’ve been blogging my reviews over at the creatively titled Tsana’s Reads. I very irregularly blog about science in science fiction over at the Science Fiction Writers’ Guide to Space. When not reading or writing, I’m probably working towards my PhD in astrophysics.