We’ve had a bumper month on the review font; twentey-four new speculative fiction reviews have been sent to us, including all age groups. And finally, we’ve got some horror reviews after a couple of dry months, so that’s nice.
Kaaron Warren’s recent collection, The Gate Theory, was reviewed by Dave Versace. He calls the stories extraordinary and writes
The stories often seem to be about one thing before wandering off in an unexpected direction like an easily distracted burglar going through linen closets instead of a safe. And stories that feel safe if a little strange at the outset take weird and usually unpleasant turns, leading away from examinations of the lives (or post-lives) of characters somewhere near the fringes of society and pushing into genuine darkness. Outright gore is not often more than hinted at, but the horror is always there, coming into sharp focus as the characters stray out beyond their depths.
Ishtar is a collection of three novellas by Kaaron Warren, Deborah Biancotti and Cat Sparks which trace the past, present and future of the Assyrian/Babylonian goddess Ishtar. David Golding enjoyed the collection and reviews it here, with a few words on each novella. Finally, we had Jane Rawson wrote a short review of In-human by Anna Dusk, which she called “genuinely horrifying”.
We had a nice batch of fantasy reviews this month, mostly of BFF (big fat fantasy) but with a few other thrown into the mix. On the BFF front, Helen Petrovic has had a bumper review month. She reviewed Tansy Rayner Robert’s Power and Majesty, the first book in her Roman-flavoured Creature Court Trilogy. She writes
The Creature Court blends the best of Roman history and culture. It combines the strength and majesty of the unseen and often warring Gods of Olympus, with the decadence and viciousness of Rome in the time of the early Caesars. The result is a dangerous, exotic, sensual world, and Velody, a female protagonist up to the challenge (just the way I like them!), must face enemies at every turn.
Going back a decade (in terms of publication date), Helen also reviewed Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier, which I believe was the author’s very first novel. Set in a magical Ireland it’s a retelling of the Grimms’ fairytale Six Swans, which Helen found hard to put down and calls a delight to read.
Less BFF and more fairytale-based, Helen also (I said she had a bumper month) reviewed Sea Hearts, the multi-award-winning novel by Margo Lanagan. She writes
Sea Hearts has a lot to say beneath the tale of sorrow. Lanagan gives voice to the witch herself, and through her eyes we see a world that values women only for their beauty, and leaves no place for those who do not conform.
Back on the BFF front, I reviewed Glenda Larke’s new book, The Lascar’s Dagger, the first in a new series. It was an excellent read, with an original setting and characters I could really care about. I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a complex fantasy series which takes a look at east-west-type relations during a time of vigorous spice trade.
Andrea K Höst’s Champion of the Rose was reviewed by Dave Versace. He describes it thusly
Andrea Höst’s Champion of the Rose is a political-mystery-romance set in a high fantasy realm with great mages, ancient magical constructs and some very daunting Fae.
And finally, on a much more contemporary note, I reviewed Bespelled by Dani Kristoff. It’s a paranormal romance set mainly in Sydney with a solid plot and compelling writing. I enjoyed it more than I expected and I also interviewed the author over on my blog.
The first Australian to win a Tiptree award was Nike Sulway for her novel Rupetta, which Jessica White reviewed this month. She writes of it
I loved the ambition of this work, the scope of its telling over so long a period, and the clever twining of strands at the end. Sulway, assuming the reader’s intelligence and trusting us to remember details throughout the text, only resolves questions such as as those about the Oikos only just before the end.
On a similarly literary note, Marisa Wikramanayake interviewed Jane Rawson, author of A Wrong Turn at the Office of Unmake Lists. As well as writing a narrative interview (as opposed to a direct question-answer transcription), Marisa talks a bit about the book, saying
In the book, maps have power and the folds and creases over time mean something and connect you to places in time-space. This sends Ray and Caddy from dystopian Melbourne tumbling straight into Simon and Sarah in San Francisco in the 1990s.
Finally, adding to the pre-release popularity of Marianne de Pierres’s upcoming (in May) book, Peacemaker, I have thrown my review into the mix. It’s a sci-fi Western set in a themed nature park and future Perth. An enjoyable read for fans of any of the things I mentioned in the previous sentence.
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.