Posts filed under 'Fantasy'
When last we encountered haughty necromancer Johannes Cabal, he was running a diabolical carnival in an attempt to win his soul back from Lucifer. (“Johannes Cabal the Necromancer,” 2008.) That task accomplished, he sets his sights on acquiring a particular rare book of the necromantic arts. Unfortunately, things do not go to plan, and he finds himself captured and pressed into service reviving the corpse of a small militant country’s dictator for one last rousing speech. Unfortunately, the revived dictator’s prodigious appetites now lean toward human flesh. Managing to flee the scene of the debacle, Johannes dons the persona of a self-important bureaucrat and embarks upon the first aeroship out of town. Again, unfortunately, Johannes has managed to end up not only sharing passenger space with a young woman who knows him for who and what he is, but with a murderer. His investigations of the murder, at first undertaken from idle curiosity, begin to take a more personal turn—Johannes’s own life is threatened!—and he begins to discover the downside of a returned soul—that pesky conscience!—as he finds himself embroiled in a nest of political espionage.
Wickedly humorous, with touches of steampunk, mystery, and the supernatural, Johannes Cabal the Detective is a rollicking good time.
Find Johannes Cabal the Detective in our catalog.
April 15th, 2011
Onyesonwu—whose name means “Who fears death?”—was born Ewu; that is, she is a child of mixed racial heritage, born of rape. Her mother’s people, the Okeke, hate and fear Ewu because they believe that all Ewu children, whose features are uniformly paler than their own, are destined for violence because of the violence that engendered them. But Onyesonwu is determined to prove her village differently, even going so far as to undergo a brutal traditional Okeke ritual to prove herself Okeke at heart. But when she begins manifesting signs of latent sorcerous ability, she finds herself outcast again. Surrounded by a small group of those loyal to her, Onyesonwu sets out for the home of her greatest enemy—her own father, leader of the rival Nuru tribe—hoping to fulfill a prophecy and change her world for the better.
Set in a post-apocalyptic version of Africa in which what technology is left is in the hands of the dominant, lighter-skinned tribe and the subservient, dark-skinned people are blamed for the destruction of the old world, Who Fears Death is not a light-weight book. At times, it is extremely violent and graphic, especially when dealing with the systematic rape of Okeke women by Nuru men. But Onyesonwu is a winning heroine whose struggle for acceptance and whose fight to change the racist, repressive attitudes of those around her are vital and almost painfully realistic. This is an important book for our times.
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March 16th, 2011
Thoroughly American New Yorker Jenny Gluckstein is a typical teenager: she hates her mother, except when she doesn’t; she hates her father, except that she loves him; she smokes pot with her friends; and she’s convinced she’s ugly. So when her musician mother Sally remarries, this time to a British agronomist, and the whole family—including two new step-brothers for Jenny—is relocated to a rundown old estate farm in Dorset, England, Jenny is anything but happy about it—especially not when she realizes her beloved cat, Mister Cat, will be quarantined for six months. But once Mister Cat is returned to her, the adventure of Jenny’s life begins. Mister Cat takes off running one night, chasing another animal. It turns out to be the 300-year-old ghost of another cat who has stayed around to keep her own mistress company: the ghost of Tamsin Willoughby, who once lived on the farm. Unhappy and uneasy, her spirit has never left the farm, though she only remembers her past in bits and flashes. The two girls, one living and one dead, soon become fast friends, and ghostly Tamsin introduces Jenny to the other supernatural beasties inhabiting the farm, including a mischievous boggart, the silent Black Dog, and the unpredictable Pooka. But when Judge Jeffries—another restless spirit from the past, this one not nearly so benign as Tamsin—begins manifesting, Jenny has to grow up fast and save her friend from utter destruction.
Enchanting and masterful, dealing equally gracefully with the violent history of the Dorset region and the concerns and complaints of contemporary teenagers, Tamsin is that rare book equally suited to teen readers and adults. Highly recommended.
Find Tamsin in our catalog.
March 6th, 2011
Fat Charlie Nancy…who was only fat between the ages of 10 and 14 but has never been able to shake the nickname…has always been embarrassed of his suave, story-spinning, flirtatious and tricky father, Mister Nancy and the two haven’t spoken in years. So when Fat Charlie reluctantly calls to invite his father to his impending nuptials, he is surprised to learn that Mister Nancy has actually just died. When Fat Charlie flies from London to Florida for the funeral, he learns one more surprising fact: he has a brother he’s never known existed. One of the other mourners at the funeral tells him that if he wants to contact his brother, ask a spider. And one drunken night back in London, that’s exactly what he does. And who should appear, but the tall, handsome Spider, who is everything that Fat Charlie isn’t: tall, handsome, in shape, suave, well-spoken…and, incidentally, in possession of some hefty magical powers inherited from their father, who happened to actually be the West African spider god, Anansi. Spider, a mischievous sort just like their father, proceeds to take over and ruin Fat Charlie’s life by seducing his fiancee, getting him fired, getting him arrested for a white collar crime he didn’t commit, and introducing Fat Charlie to the magical world of the other African animal deities. It’s up to Fat Charlie to prove that he, too, is his father’s son and take his life back from Spider’s meddling hands.
Fast-paced, clever, and inventive, “Anansi Boys” is a treat. Dealing closely with African folklore, but also firmly ensconced in the real world, the novel is both funny and heart-warming by turns. Highly recommended.
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February 14th, 2011
Celia Graves, a security expert has just been attacked by vampires, leaving her part human and part vampire. The story becomes tangled very quickly with different law enforcement groups trying to unravel the crime and locate a minor demon on the loose, along with various groups of paranormal beings trying to kill Celia.
Ever pick up a book to read and get the feeling that you’ve started in the middle of the story or the second book in the series? That’s the feeling I got from Blood Song. Although it is the first in a new series, there’s an awful lot of explaining of the paranormal world inhabited by various types of monsters and magic. This might have been handled more gracefully by veteran paranormal authors C.T. Adams and Cathy Clamp who use the pseudonym Cat Adams for this series. Still, die-hard paranormal fans may enjoy this new world of magic and mayhem.
Find Blood Song in our catalog.
February 6th, 2011
Aziraphale, an angel, and Crowley, a demon, have been around since the beginning. Crowley tempted Eve and Aziraphale used to have a flaming sword…before he, uh, misplaced it. But that was 6000 years ago. Now, Aziraphale owns a used bookshop and enjoys a nice sushi dinner once in a while, while Crowley drives a mint Bentley, always wears shades, and also enjoys a nice sushi dinner once in a while…often in the company of Aziraphale. Unfortunately for this odd couple, the end is nigh and the world they so enjoy is headed for destruction. The Antichrist has been born, and it’s Crowley’s job to make sure he grows up evil and Aziraphale’s job to make sure he grows up good. The only problem is, the babies were accidentally switched at birth and the child they’ve been influencing is just a human. The REAL Antichrist has been growing up, uninfluenced by good OR evil, in a small village in England. Now the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are gathering, Aziraphale and Crowley are desperately playing catch-up trying to locate the Antichrist, the good witch Anathema Device is right on top of things (though she doesn’t quite know it) and the last two members of England’s Witchfinder Army are mucking about and generally getting in the way of everyone else. And in the end, the fate of Heaven, Hell, and Earth lies in the hands and heart of one rambunctious eleven-year-old boy.
Humorous, fast-paced, and quite clever, “Good Omens” is a good-natured romp that not only plays with theology, but quite sharply skewers it. Highly recommended.
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January 17th, 2011
When Queen Elizabeth’s personal playwright and spy, Christopher (Kit) Marlowe is murdered by a rival faction, the relatively unknown young playwright William Shakespeare is recruited to take his place. Will is tasked with writing plays whose enthralling magic will help bolster the strength of Queen and country, while at the same time he is forced to play at politics and espionage and must attempt to avoid the knives that murdered his friend Kit. Kit Marlowe, however, is not truly dead. He was spirited away to the land of Faerie, his wounds healed, and a magic construct left behind in place of his body. Awakening in Faerie in the rooms of Morgan le Fay, Kit, an old hand at playing politics, finds himself embroiled in the dangerous yet familiar politics of the Faerie Court. Magically bound to Morgan, Kit must also renounce his loyalty to Queen Elizabeth and swear oaths to Queen Mebd, the ruler of the Faeries of the Seelie Court. The strength of Faerie and the strength of the “iron world” of humans are linked, and if Queen Elizabeth were to fall, Queen Mebd would as well, and vice verse. So both Kit and Will are fighting the same battles in both worlds, weaving magic with their words to preserve the linked realms and the sister Queens.
Intelligently weaving together the literature of the Elizabethan playwrights, the history and language of the era, and British folklore, the two books of the Stratford Man duology are masterful. Highly recommended.
Find the Stratford Man duology in our catalog:
Ink and Steel
Hell and Earth
December 26th, 2010
The story opens 500 years after the close of Brooks’ 2008 novel The Gypsy Morph. The rag-tag band of survivors lead by Hawk into an isolated valley to shelter against the end of the Old World has blossomed into a thriving, though small, civilization. Safely protected by Hawk’s magic—magic that did not allow anyone or anything into or out of the valley—the small enclaves of humans, elves, and the once-human mutant Lizards and Spiders have grown content and comfortable in their routines, assured of their continued safely. The powerful human religious cult of the Children of the Hawk preaches that their isolation will only end when Hawk returns to lead them out of the valley to a new, and perhaps better, home. However, these complacent people are about to receive a rude awakening: the mists that once sheltered their valley have dissipated, and the outside world is already finding its way in. First come a pair of mutant carnivores, then a dragon is spotted, and soon, an entire army of bloodthirsty Trolls is camped outside the valley, searching for the few passes inside to the fat, peaceful, and vulnerable land within.
The only ones willing to fight the invasion force—or, in truth, willing to shake off complacency enough believe it’s even there—are the last Knight of the Word, Sider Ament; two young human Trackers; two of their elven counterparts; and the headstrong Princess of the Elves. But they must fight more than the Troll army; a more insidious and subtle, though no less dangerous, foe threatens them from within.
While the social commentary, especially that directed at the flaws of organized religion, is heavy-handed at times, the fast-moving plot and mixed bag of characters are vintage Shannara. Should appeal most to old fans of the series, but will hold the interest of any new to the Shannara mythos.
Find Bearers of the Black Staff in our catalog.
November 14th, 2010
When Ash’s beloved mother died, Ash felt like her world was falling apart. She soon discovered that her grief was just the beginning, however, when he father remarried after only a little time had passed. Her stepmother, a rich and overbearing woman, moved the family away from the comfortable country home in which Ash grew up to her family estate in the capital city. When Ash’s father, too, died not long after the family moved, Ash finds herself a virtual slave to the whims of her stepmother and two stepsisters while dreaming always of escape.
Sound like a familiar plot? Well, you’d be right, up to a point. Ash, like the traditional Cinderella, does in fact call upon fairy magic to grant her wish of visiting the ball. But her fairy is not a friendly godmother but an ancient and dangerously charismatic man bound to her by a mother’s curse. And Ash does not visit the ball with the intention of snaring the eligible prince’s attentions—though she does manage that, as well—but with the intention of spending more time with the Kaisa, the King’s Huntress, a strong and lovely woman with whom she has built a relationship based upon much more than one glittering night of fairy magic and glamor.
This lyrical, well-written GLBTQ coming-of-age story should appeal not only to teens, but to those seeking well-crafted fairy tale re-tellings with a feminist or modern twist.
Find Ash in our catalog.
November 11th, 2010
Journalist and former poet Marguerita Black—Maggie to her friends—has inherited the estate of eccentric, drunken, and irascible poet Davis Cooper. She had corresponded with Cooper for many years after he rejected her request to write his biography, but the two never met in person before Cooper’s mysterious death by drowning—in the desert. She heads from her home in cosmpolitan, glittering LA to Cooper’s remote rural home outside of Tucson, intending both to put his things to rights and to do research for her long-delayed biography of the famed poet. What she finds in the arid land, so different from either LA or her childhood home in the Appalachian mountains, is far from what she could have expected. Magic and creatures out of myth and folklore haunt the desert around her, playing with the lives of the other artists and writers living on or near Cooper’s land. Somehow, a true artist—like Cooper, or his long-dead wife, the mad painter Anna Naverra—can influence and shape those spirits. But nothing can control them, and, though many of them are picturesque and even lovely, none of them share anything resembling a human sense of morality. Maggie herself must find her own long-denied creative side and learn to walk the spiral path in order to save herself and her new friends from the spirits’ games and machinations.
Poetic, rich, and evocative, Windling’s award-winning first novel is insightful and captivating. A delightful blend of magic, nature, and art.
Find The Wood Wife in our catalog.
November 8th, 2010
Kiernan, who has been described as “H.P. Lovecraft’s spiritual granddaughter,” here presents a collection of 20 short stories displaying her characteristic dark, tightly crafted genre stories that range from horror through dark fantasy through ghost story and the just plain unexplainable. Kiernan’s prose is visceral and throbbing, and her imagery is taut, often using abstruse scientific terminology when describing the utterly unreal and nightmarish. Sexuality and obsession pulse through many of the stories and the narrators often find themselves in the thrall of hypnotically powerful and not-quite-sane lovers. Stand-outs in the collection include the title story, in which a serial killer and a violinist both achieve the pinnacle of their craft; “The Madam of the Narrow Houses,” featuring a woman born to minister to ghosts; and “The Lovesong of Lady Ratteanrufer,” in which a troubled young woman falls in love with the king of the rats and brings her own sort of doom to his enemies.
Find The Ammonite Violin and Others in our catalog.
October 12th, 2010
Pinkerton Agent Ed Morrow is dispatched to go undercover and infiltrate the gang of the notorious preacher-turned-sorcerous outlaw Asher Rook in this genre-bending Western fantasy. Rook, once an Army chaplain, was hanged for his supposed murder of a commanding officer. Somehow, he survived his own hanging and the trauma awakened his latent magical powers, making him into what his society colloquially terms a “hex.” However, it also opened the door for a powerful Aztec goddess, the patroness of the hanged, to influence the world through him. She’s plotting to use his powers; and those of his second-in-command and lover, the charismatic but entirely amoral and ruthless Chess Pargeter; to throw wide the gates of her underworld and return to the human world and begin her bloody reign anew. And Asher Rook is not inclined to stop her, having been promised godhood of his own. Morrow, who has discovered both the plot and, in the arms of Chess, a side of himself he never suspected, is ill-equipped to stop Rook and his bloody-minded goddess. But he throws himself into the task all the same, even though it means a trip to Hell and, if he’s lucky, back.
Fast-paced and original, File’s genre-bender is only the first in a projected series. Having ended on a cliff-hanger, we can only hope the second comes out quickly!
Find A Book of Tongues in our catalog.
October 10th, 2010