August was a quieter month on the reviewing front. In part this is due to the contrast with the double round-up I did for June and July, and in part because of an event the Australian speculative fiction community held during August. The Snapshot of Australian Speculative Fiction is an epic interview series in which a group of us interviewed a large number of people involved in the speculative fiction scene, including many Australian Women Writers. You can browse through the interviews on the dedicated Snapshot website. There are somewhere around 200 interviews in total, so I won’t be linking them all here. However, there’s a good chance that your favourite Australian author has been interviewed, so do go have a look.
Emily at A Keyboard and an Open Mind reviewed Tallow by Karen Brooks, a YA historical fantasy and the start of a series. She wrote:
The world-building is definitely the highlight of this book, and the books that follow. It is rich and sensual and makes the reader feel like they are really there, too. The descriptions of the various regions of Serenissima, the canals, Carnivale, etc, were all vivid. Italian language is peppered throughout the story, which also served to remind us where we were.
To follow that up, Emily also reviewed the second book in the series, Votive, which she also enjoyed but found a bit darker.
On a bit of a roll, Emily also reviewed the completely unrelated The Interrogation Of Ashala Wolf by Ambelin Kwaymulilna. She enjoyed it, but also didn’t think it quite lived up to the hype she had heard. She also highlighted the following:
First of all, there is no love triangle in this book! I know! And on top of that, the dysoptia is not constructed around a regression to bygone sexist and racist ages. Anyone can be born with an Ability (Ashala’s is sleepwalking, and being able to do whatever she wants in her dreamstate; others can cause fires or earthquakes, heal others or alter memories), and there are people of all races and genders in Ashala’s Tribe. The same is true of Enforcers, Adminstrators and Citizens. So this book gets major props for that, because goodness me, I tired of those awful tropes.
The Island Will Sink by Briohny Doyle is a near-future dystopian novel, which was reviewed by Folly Gleeson. Folly goes into some detail about various aspects of the novel, which she’s quite enthusiastic about, finishing with:
Briohny Doyle’s excellent writing style is impressive. The environmental issues, philosophical ideas and visual descriptions, as well as the emotional relationships with the children, are put together with almost sculptural elegance and the novel builds to a very exciting and irresistible finish.
Carolyn reviewed the final instalment in the Frontier trilogy by Leonie Rogers, Frontier Defiant. She enjoyed the conclusion, writing:
I loved the brilliant world building in this series of books and can picture in my mind the settlements on the plateau and the more exotic wilderness down below with its often weird and dangerous plants and animals. It’s been wonderful too, watching Shanna and the other new cadets grow through the series to become more confident and to see them develop their own individual skills.
The Blood in the Beginning by Kim Falconer is an urban fantasy with vampires set in a future LA after half the city has sunk. An interesting twist on the standard vampire narrative, writes Nalini of Dark Matter Zine, who enjoyed the “fun fantasy romp”.
The Wizardry of Jewish Women by Gillan Polack strikes me as magical realism, although I haven’t read it yet. Better to ask Jennifer Cameron-smith, who reviewed it for us and had this to say about it:
I enjoyed this novel, with its gentle reminders of the complexities of life. I was reminded too, and less happily, of the horrors of the Canberra bushfires in 2003 and of the impact of violence on people and communities. Ms Polack has written a novel in which well-developed characters grapple (sometimes successfully) with the kinds of issues many of us are familiar with. Either through our own direct experience, or the experiences of friends and family members.
So we didn’t have a huge number of reviews this month, but there was a reasonable spread of genres. Keep reading, people, and don’t forget to link us your reviews!
Tsana Dolichva is a Ditmar Award-nominated book blogger who has been reading and enjoying Australian speculative fiction for as long as she can remember. She blogs her book reviews over at the creatively titled Tsana’s Reads. Along with Holly Kench, she edited Defying Doomsday, an anthology showing that people with disabilities and chronic illnesses also have stories to tell, even when the world is ending. In her spare time she is an astrophysicist.