Category Archives: fantasy

tell it slant

In the Forest of Forgetting by Theodora Goss 2007 (284 pgs)

Magical realism at it’s best: witches, flying cities, talking bears and all of it oh-so-real-seeming. Enjoyable author, with an old-world flavor updated by modern fantasy sensibilites.

surely you must be mythtaken

The Ant King and Other Storiesby Benjamin Rosenbaum 2008 (228 pgs)

Wonderful magical stories ranging from the title story featuring a modern day Orpheus and Eurydice wandering through ant tunnels that are possibly hidden in a video game, to the strangest Austen story you’ve ever seen set in a cottage on a precancerous mole, a manor carved into a rotten molar, and the perilous journey in between. My favorite was Start the Clock, where a gang of 9 year olds (who’ve been 9 for 25 years after a virus freezes everyone at the age they were) shop for real estate in Pirateland. But every one of the stories was fun.

possession is nine tenths of the law

The Host by Stephenie Meyer 2008 (619 pgs)

When the world’s population gets body-snatched by invading aliens, a few rebel humans are forced into hiding, struggling to remain whole. A newly installed alien named Wanderer finds herself in a body whose former owner hasn’t quite vacated. What should be an effortless takeover instead becomes a battle of wills as Melanie refuses to disappear. At first biding her time, waiting for Melanie to surrender, Wanderer instead finds herself coming to an understanding and eventual affection for the human trapped in her mind. As they share memories and experiences, Wanderer even comes to love those who Melanie loves. Together they break away from the alien occupied civilization to track down Melanie’s loved ones.

I was pleasantly impressed with Meyer’s much more refined and challenging writing. This in no Twilight novel; it surpasses that series in character realism and evolution, its exploration of humankind’s capacity for cruelty and kindness, and the nature of selfhood and emotion. Billed as “the first love triangle involving only two bodies,” what could easily have become a cheesy sci-fi or sappy romance is instead a surprisingly deft exploration of identity and humanity.

do you believe in magic

The Magician’s Nephew  by C.S. Lewis (The Chronicles of Narnia #1) c.1955 (202 pgs)

 What does this make, re-read number 28? At least. I devoured the Narnia books repeatedly as a kid and still love to pick them up again every once in a while. The adventures are always fun, and grounded enough that you could imagine yourself in them. The religious overtones (which I don’t remember noticing as a kid) are light and never overpower the story itself. This volume (although written after the rest) is where it all began- with an attic room, an evil uncle, and a pair of magical rings.

horse of a different color

Jaran  by Kate Elliott (The Jaran#1) 1992 (494 pgs)

Tess is full of doubts and intent on evading the heavy expectations that result from her position as sister and heir to the only human duke in an alien empire. When she heads for a vacation on a backwater planet in her brother’s domain, she instead stumbles upon a group of aliens violating territorial agreements by setting out on an expedition across the forbidden zone. On instinct she follows them, determined to aid her brother and his planned human rebellion.

She finds herself alone among the Jaran, a warlike equestrian nomadic society that rules the plains. There she works to earn the acceptance and respect of the tribe while trying to discover the aliens’ true purpose.

Great fantasy series I like to re-read every once in a while. The world is richly developed with fascinating characters and plot.

let sleeping girls lie

Madeleine Is Sleeping  by Sarah Shun-Lien Bynum 2004 (259 pgs)

A tale made up of hallucinatory dream-like fragments that blend together until you can’t tell which is dream, which is flashback, and which is reality. In a narrative a bit like Anais Nin via Lewis Carroll, a young girl lies in constant sleep, dreaming. She’s suffered a trauma (or has she? or does that lie in the future?) and her mind lifts off on a journey- or possibly she’s remembering a past journey. Around her, circles her family as semi-miraculous curses-in-disguise seem to appear. In the end, the threads combine to form a journey of self-discovery or at least self-exploration that culminates in the girl converging with at least one of her alter-selves, to blistering results.

 

 

it ain’t easy being a wizard

Small Favor  by Jim Butcher The Dresden Files # 10  (423 pgs) 2008

Dresden owes the Queen of Fairy a favor, and she’s calling in her marker. The deed appears simple enough- return a kidnapped man safely. But little in Harry’s world is ever as easy as it seems.

Cue the murderous hobgoblins, evil fallen angels, and increasingly deadly creatures who inspired the “billy goats gruff” fable. And they’re all out to get Harry.