Since my last round-up, we’ve had 25 new speculative fiction reviews posted to the challenge. Most of them, however, were YA so be sure to keep an eye out for Shaheen’s YA spec fic round-up next week as well. This month, all the posted reviews were fantasy (rather than horror or science fiction), so for this round-up I shall dispose of my customary genre headings.
Mark Webb reviewed Suited by Jo Anderton, the second book of the Veiled Worlds (Debris being the first). He comments on the way it builds on the world- and character-building of the first book and says:
Some excellent action scenes are interspersed with the more character driven scenes (in fact the scenes where Tanyana cuts loose are quite something to be seen).
Continuing on the not-entirely-conventional fantasy front, Jason Nahrung reviewed Black Spring by Alison Croggan, which is a fantasy retelling of Wuthering Heights.
Croggon takes the structure — a narrator arrives, meets some of the players and receives the story in a monologue from someone in the know — the mood and the cornerstones of the plot about thwarted desire, class and revenge, but does some elegant re-imagining.
A different kind of unconventional is Small Shen written by Kylie Chan and illustrated by Queenie Chan, a graphic novel reviewed by Nalini Haynes. It’s a prequel to Chan’s series which began with White Tiger, but Nalini read and enjoyed it without having read the novels.
Small Shen isn’t just aspirational writing inspired by Chinese mythology, it’s a truly cross-cultural product.
What sets Small Shen apart from your average novel or graphic novel is the combination of traditional prose written by Kylie Chan and manga drawn by Queenie Chan.
Helen Venn was prolific with her fantasy reviews this past month, reviewing the first two books in Joanna Fay’s Siaris Quartet, Daughter of Hope and Reunion. She describes it as a rich fantasy and appreciates the author’s eye for realistic detail, eagerly awaiting next book in the series.
Helen also reviewed The Last Stormlord by Glenda Larke, the first book in the Watergivers Trilogy. The series is about a parched world in which water is a valuable commodity and magic is relied upon to make sure there is enough rain to go around. Helen couldn’t put the book down and says
This is a wide-reaching story, multi-layered with complex politics ranging from self interest to selfless service and with a whole raft of other major characters, all drawn with the same attention to detail. No-one is stereotypically good or bad here. They are all rounded and believable – even if you might want to shake some sense into one in particular at some points.
Along similar lines, Shaheen and I both reviewed Black Sun Light My Way by Jo Spurrier, the second book in her Children of the Black Sun Trilogy. Shaheen puts it well when she says “This book should be entitled ‘The Impossible Choices Plaguing my Favourite Characters, and the Heartache that Ensues.'” I personally quite liked the moral ambiguity Spurrier has written into some of her characters and which she explores in greater depth in the second volume.
Finally, Shelleyrae @ Book’d Out reviewed Dancing With the Devil by Keri Arthur, the author’s first paranormal romance/urban fantasy novel, being reprinted this year. It’s about a psychic detective who teams up with broody old vampire on a case. Shelleyrae enjoyed the book but not as much as Arthur’s later works. She does plan to continue reading the series, however.
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 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.