holyschist: Image of a medieval crocodile from Herodotus, eating a person, with the caption "om nom nom" (Default)
[personal profile] holyschist posting in [community profile] fantasy
I've been trying to review every book I read since January 2009 (am still behind on the end of 2009 and this February), so here are reviews of some of the fantasy books I've read so far this year. Links go to ful reviews.

Urban Fantasy

Rosemary and Rue, by Seanan McGuire (contains spoilers)

Faerie-based San Francisco urban fantasy. Great sense of place, moderately interesting take on faeries, but I was a bit annoyed by the kitsune-in-name-only shoved into the European framework. Overall, I liked it and look forward to the sequels, which I hope will somewhat better reflect the multicultural nature of San Francisco.
Recommended? Yes.

Bone Crossed, by Patricia Briggs (contains spoilers for book 3)

Urban fantasy about Mercy Thompson, a coyote shifter and VW mechanic. This is the fourth book in the series and it goes a long way towards fixing some of the things that bugged many readers about the ending of book 3. It's a good story, and the characters continued to be well-developed and interesting.
Recommended? Yes, but read 1-3 first.

Discworld

Jingo, by Terry Pratchett

Terry Pratchett takes on pointless wars. Not really one of my favorite Discworld books, although it has some amusing bits.
Recommended? Only for completist Discworld fans; not a good book to start Disc with.

Wyrd Sisters, by Terry Pratchett

Macbeth/Hamlet mashup, mostly. A solid Discword novel, especially if you like theatre (especially Shakespeare), and I always love the witches, but Granny Weatherwax doesn't seem quite fully Granny yet.
Recommended? Yes.

A Hat Full of Sky, by Terry Pratchett

The second Tiffany Aching book. I think these may be my favorite Discword novels, and I love this one even more than Wee Free Men. Tiffany is a young witch-in-training with some small, blue pictsie friends who love booze and stealing sheep. In A Hat Full of Sky, she is pursued by a strange, terrifying entity.
Recommended? Yes!

Fairytales

Ash, by Malinda Lo

Most reviews describe it as a "lesbian Cinderella story," but it's not really either. It doesn't follow closely to the original Cinderella story at all (for which I am glad), and the romance plot really only comes into play in the second half of the book. Lo's writing is really beautiful, and her characters are interesting, but the world so far seems to be generic Eurofantasy (apparently her next book will flesh out the world more and it's not as European as it seems here, but in Ash there just wasn't much about it that stood out from the hundreds of other generic Eurofantasy novels out there). Overall, I enjoyed it, but didn't love it as much as I wanted to.
Recommended? Yes!

Kissing the Witch, by Emma Donoghue

A collection of nested fairytales about women, many with queer themes. Lyrical and highly recommended.
Recommended? Yes.

Date: 2010-03-03 04:14 am (UTC)
starlady: a circular well of books (well of books)
From: [personal profile] starlady
I'm looking forward to the next Toby Day book. What about the kitsune character (whose name I'm forgetting) makes you call her in-name-only? Given that McGuire transformed all of the folkloric elements she worked with, as far as I could tell.

Date: 2010-03-04 02:16 am (UTC)
starlady: the cover from Shaun Tan's The Arrival, showing an aquanaut in suburbia (i'm a stranger here myself)
From: [personal profile] starlady
I suppose I was peripherally aware that there was nothing intrinsically Japanese about her, but to be honest it's a short book and I didn't give it (or the undine) a great deal of thought.

Date: 2010-03-04 03:10 am (UTC)
starlady: a circular well of books (well of books)
From: [personal profile] starlady
Oh, I'm definitely with you on the thinking about everything boat. I just don't think about everything in everything...yet.

And I'd agree that urban fantasy is indeed pretty homogeneous (have you noticed that most protagonists' names end with Y, even?). In some ways my favorite urban fantasy is the least stereotypical (namely Michelle Sagara's Chronicles of Elantra. also in third person. coincidence?).

Date: 2010-03-05 12:20 am (UTC)
starlady: Kazuhiko & Suu landing (fly)
From: [personal profile] starlady
I can't say enough in praise of Michelle West/Michelle Sagara. I'd definitely argue that the Elantra books are urban fantasy, but part of the reason I argue that is that they are right at the edge of the envelope in many ways.

I don't mind first person as a reader, but it does seem to have become a nearly iron-clad convention of uf in a very short time, and I'm not sure there's any valid reason for it.

Date: 2010-03-05 03:08 am (UTC)
starlady: a circular well of books (well of books)
From: [personal profile] starlady
I never thought of Michelle West's books as epic fantasy until I wrote a really long post extolling them.

Reading your thoughts on uf, it amuses me how many of those tropes are subverted in the Elantra books.

Date: 2010-03-05 08:53 pm (UTC)
starlady: A girl bent over a sailboat on a lake (build your own ship)
From: [personal profile] starlady
I read the first George R.R. Martin and was unimpressed (though people whose taste I trust like them). I too don't really care for epic fantasy.

I'm not sure why I never thought of West as epic fantasy; I think partly in some ways her books are both more and less serial than Jordan or Elliott or Goodkind or Martin. They are pretty damn awesome, though, in my book. *g*

Date: 2011-05-25 03:11 am (UTC)
krait: a sea snake (krait) swimming (Default)
From: [personal profile] krait
I think I would be getting tired of it if I actually liked it in the first place.

THIS. So much this!

Someone should do a rec post for Third Person Urban Fantasy! (Wish that I knew enough titles that I could do that rec post!) :D

Date: 2010-03-03 02:43 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] pippin
I'm interested in what you (will?) think of Wintersmith, because I liked the first two Tiffany books and then in that one went "whaaaaaaaaat :| :| :|".

Oh, have you read The Good Fairies of New York? It's a fairy NY-based UF with African and Asian and European and British fairies. It is quite a silly story, but a fun ride. (I wrote a bit about it here.)
Edited Date: 2010-03-03 02:52 pm (UTC)

Date: 2010-03-03 06:07 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] pippin
Well you know how there's a bit of "Tiffany is totally going to be the next Granny"? In Wintersmith that sort of gets to "Tiffany is totally the next Granny right now, aged 14 or whatever" and I was just sitting there going "...but... but Agnes never got a chance... :(".

Date: 2010-03-04 01:24 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] pippin
...I just went "man I wish I could see a battle between the Nac Mac Feegle and the vampires, that would be..... oh".

Date: 2010-03-04 02:22 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] pippin
Well I started thinking about Tiffany vs Agnes and their most badass moments, which got me to thinking about the Feegles and the vampires, and then forgot one of CJ's subplots for a moment.

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