We have relatively few speculative fiction book reviews submitted in the past month. Only fourteen, split down the middle with seven each for YA and adult titles. But on the other hand, we have much better genre representation than we had last month. You win some, you lose some. Of course, more reviews are always welcome, so don’t forget to add yours to our form.
The only horror book reviewed this past month was the award-winning Madigan Mine by Kirstyn McDermott, about a man and the childhood sweetheart who unexpected re-enters his life. In my review I said
Madigan Mine is eerie, haunting (and haunted) and intense. Alex’s journey is not an easy one for him nor for the people around him. Right up until the end I wasn’t sure if he was going to survive the book.
Four fantasy books were reviewed this month. All of them the sort of fantasy that might be called “traditional” or “epic”, although as readers of AWW fantasy will know, there is nothing mundane nor, indeed, stock-standard about it. I prefer the moniker “big fat fantasy” (or BFF for short) which makes no comment about the content and embraces the wide variety of stories being told.
Glenda Larke’s Stormlord Rising and Stormlord’s Exile complete the Watergivers trilogy, set in a parched land where water is life and power. Helen Venn, in her reviews, makes the following observations:
Larke does not make the mistake of giving us one dimensional villains either. They may be brutal, selfish or self serving but they always have more to them than that. We may not like them, even in one case be utterly repelled by them, but we can see what drives them and that they, like the SS guards who went home from the camps to be loving family men, have some human qualities.
Thought provoking as this is, there is no preaching and none of it detracts from a gripping story told by a master story teller. … With its complex, unpredictable plot, engaging protagonists and rich world building this is a satisfying climax to the trilogy.
At the other end of the environmental spectrum, Rochelle Sharpe reviewed Black Sun Light My Way by Jo Spurrier. Set in a snowy and brutal world, this is the second book in the Children of the Black Sun trilogy. Rochelle calls it “a compelling read with an intricately woven plot and thorough world building”. She also notes that this is not a book for the weak stomached.
Finally, Shaheen reviewed The Shadowed Throne by KJ Taylor, the second book in the Risen Sun trilogy, set in a world where griffins exist, are intelligent and are characters in their own rights. She says
This cunningly created world is enhanced by the sequences (and there are quite a few!) told from the eyes of griffins. These are my favourite, because of the vastly different way that griffins see the world and order their priorities, although it’s always somewhat of a shock to me reminded how not-human they are.
We had two science fiction titles reviewed this month. One is a far-future novella set on Io, Jupiter’s violently volcanic moon, His Name in Lights by Patty Jansen. In her review, Brenda notes that Jansen writes with “diversity and alacrity” and recommends the novella.
The other science fiction book reviewed was near-future verse novel and Stella Award shortlistee, The Sunlit Zone by Lisa Jacobson. In her review Lauredhel says
It’s got slowpocalypse, Aussie sense of place, beautiful (and sometimes heart-wrenching) description, genepunk, family drama, terrorism, sexuality, humour, even echoes of future-tech almost-selkieness – and all in deft, delicious verse. Nothing wraps up neatly, yet it feels satisfying.
I hope that’s given you some inspiration for more wonderful AWW books to pick up. And for more speculative fiction reads, don’t forget to keep an eye out for Shaheen’s YA spec fic round up later in the month.
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.