This past month’s submitted spec fic reviews have been heavily weighted towards “adult” titles, instead of the usual roughly even split with YA and children’s. In the past month, we’ve had 17 spec fic reviews, of which 13 were for “adult” titles.
Both the science fiction books reviewed this month were very much on the literary end of the spectrum. The Swan Book by Alexis Wright garnered two reviews, by David Golding and Marilyn. I have to admit, without having read the book I was torn as to which genre to classify it as, but I get the impression that it’s set in the future, so science fiction it is. Marilyn (who for context is American) says of this indigenous novel:
Wright’s skillful writing constantly interweaves the beautiful and the ugliness of life. Her prose is sophisticated, unique, and fast-paced enough to carry readers along with the narrative. When I re-read the first chapter, however, I discovered an additional layer of richness that I had missed the first time through. Probably Australians will pick up more of her allusions to the place and its politics.
David says something similar, and adds that it was “one of those books that teach you how to read them.”
The other rather literary science fiction book reviewed this month was The Sunlit Zone by Lisa Jacobson, a verse novel. It was reviewed by David Golding, who read it through a science fictional gaze. (I must interject that his conclusions and questions about the ending are very similar to my own, when I read it earlier in the year.) David found it readable, noting that Jaconbson has a gift for imagery.
Two horror books were reviewed in the past month. Kirstyn McDermott’s collection of short stories, Caution: Contains Small Parts was reviewed by Stephanie Gunn and Mark Webb. Stephanie writes
McDermott’s collection is knife sharp, filled with beautiful prose and unsettling worlds and characters who provide much insight and reflection on the darknesses in humanity. Even if you don’t tend to read horror, I recommend this collection highly (as well as all of McDermott’s work).
Mark says that “These are generally speaking not high action pieces, rather they twist horror tropes to find interesting ways of exploring characters and merging together the grotesque and the beautiful.”
The other horror book reviewed was Mistification by Kaaron Warren, a strange novel which follows a real magician as he seeks out stories to learn about the world. It’s not a fast read, instead one I enjoyed dipping in and out of over several weeks. Ultimately a story about stories, it was not a difficult book to come back to.
As per usual, we had more fantasy reviews than the other subgenres. Almost all of them fit into the BFF (big fat fantasy) category that I like to use as a more neutral term than “high fantasy” or “epic fantasy”. That said, I will start with the non-BFF book, Enamoured by Shannon Curtis. Jess reviewed Enamoured, a modern day fairytale retelling, saying
Enamoured is the perfect little novella for any fairytale lover, or simply someone looking for a bit of fun in the form of a short, sweet and romantic read with a tad bit of suspense thrown in for good fun.
Sean the Bookonaut reviewed Rowena Cory Daniells’s King Breaker, the conclusion to the King Rolen’s Kin series. He says
I felt more keenly than ever, the tension in the interpersonal relationships in this novel. Indeed much of the fighting, much of what would usually be set battles is glossed over fairly quickly. … One of Daniells’ strengths though, is making you care about the characters and she is equally well versed in placing them in physical or emotional danger, so don’t think a lack of gutsy battles is going to give you an easy ride.
Jennifer Fallon garnered two reviews this past month, for The Dark Divide and Reunion, the second and third books in her Rift Runners trilogy. Of The Dark Divide, Shaheen writes
The Dark Divide is, dare I say it, a more fulfilling read than The Undivided, which is incredibly rare in a sequel. It builds upon the world admirably, and lets readers explore new characters, new realities, while at the same time giving a deeper look at the characters we know and love. This series … would especially appeal to readers familiar with urban fantasy who are looking for a different kind of novel, but is perfect for any reader to pick up.
I found Reunion to be an excellent read, writing in my review:
One of the things I’ve always thought Fallon did quite well is write complexly motivated characters. Not only that, but the way she weaves their story lines together to form an intricate web is masterful. At every turn each character does the thing that absolutely seems most right to them in the situation but that has ramifications they could not have predicted.
Finally, Devin Madson’s début novel, The Blood of Whisperers, garnered two reviews, from myself and Sean the Bookonaut, both of us enjoying the feudal Japanese-flavoured fantasy read. Sean writes that, “The Blood of Whisperers is a tale feudal infighting and political manoeuvring with some interesting psionic magic thrown in for good measure.” I would add that “The Blood of Whisperers is primarily a story about vengeance. Almost everyone wants revenge, and will stop at nothing to get it.” It’s a good read for fans of political fantasy.
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.