Reading journal 3: fantasy fiction – urban, urbane and otherwise

Ah, fantasy fiction.
If it’s not your thing you might like to skip this post because I am about to commence wallowing in tales of the supernatural, the fabulous, the enchanted and the arcane.

These reviews are for some of the fantasy novels I’ve read so far this year. The longer I delay posting it the more fantasy books I read and would have to add in and unless I get a move on, we could go on in an infinite loop. I’m drawing a line and here it is___________

Let’s go:

#13The Grave Witch cover The Grave Witch by Kalayna Price (Read 26/01/2015) I’m always on the look out for a fresh, new urban fantasy – especially if it’s a series I haven’t tried yet. I will start at number one and, if I’m lucky, I will get to enthusiastically read through the rest of the series. Also, paranormal romance is often urban enough and fantasy enough for me. But not this time. How is it that this smart-mouthed but stupid heroine is so compelling that even Death falls in love with her? It is inexplicable. And don’t go telling me that love is inexplicable. I’m not buying it! I’m blaming Anita Blake, who seems to be the prototype for these characters. She never had a random encounter with a paranormal entity that didn’t want to bonk her.

#14Ashes of Honor cover Ashes of Honor by Seanan McGuire (Read 27/01/2015) Oh, I love the October Daye series. It’s smart. It’s beautifully told. It draws on fairy mythology and reimagines it in modern day San Francisco. It has a wonderful sense of place. The characters show depth and emotional range and humour and pathos. They develop – by Oberon’s beard! – they grow and change and learn and come to trust and all those wonderful things. It is one of my favourite urban fantasy series.

#15Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy cover Ophelia and the Marvellous Boy by Karen Foxlee (Read 7/02/2015) This is a fairy story that intersects with the real world. A sort of junior version of urban fantasy, set in a museum in a cold, unnamed European city. There were moments in it where I felt the mechanics of the story intruded a little, where I became conscious that the author had maybe thought ‘no, this is a book for younger readers, I’d better do this‘. But, I loved the language and the storytelling style, and there were other moments which made me sigh with how perfect it was.

#16Traitor's Blade cover Traitor’s Blade by Sebastien de Castell (Read 9/02/2015) This is the first in a fantasy series and a lot of swash is buckled herein. There are intricately choreographed fight scenes and manly banter between the main character and his pals as they chop, hack and slash their way around the countryside. Quite fun, if you are in that sort of mood.

#17The Replacement cover The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff (Read 9/02/2015) I completely and utterly judged this book by it’s cover. How could I resist it? I love changeling stories and this is a good one. I really liked that the changeling knew he was a changeling, and his family knew it, and they all try to cover it up. A great bit of world building with the sense of wrongness in this town where kids go missing and die and weird things happen.

#18The Future Falls cover The Future Falls by Tanya Huff (Read 11/02/2015) I love it when an author figures that her readers are big enough to run with a story and not need spoon-feeding. This is the third book in the series about the Gale women, that started with The Enchantment Emporium and I do not know exactly what the characters are talking about sometimes, but I get the general gist of it. And I like it. Plus, I love when characters with power/magic are forced to make it up as they go along, rather than wriggle their noses and everything is fine. Loved it.

#19Midnight Crossroad cover Midnight Crossroad by Charlaine Harris (Read 18/02/2015) Is this an urban fantasy? Well, kinda sorta. Harris writes mysteries, whether they’re about a librarian called Aurora Teagarden, or a rape survivor called Lily Bard, or a psychic waitress called Sookie Stackhouse who dates vampires, or ‘psychic’ Harper Connelly who got struck by lightning and can see the dead. And this is also a mystery. A really, really thin mystery where you don’t even get to know that there really is a mystery until halfway through the book. Mostly it’s about the folk who live around a crossroads of a couple of streets in the middle of nowhere, Texas, which collected a few buildings and the unlikely name of Midnight. You could pretty much start a joke the way this book starts: a psychic, a vampire, a werewolf, and a witch walk into a diner…. But you’d need a punchline, right? Unfortunately, this book seems to rely on readers being fans of all of the author’s previous series, because the main characters are (allegedly) “fan favourites” from those series. I’ve read those series. I remember the characters having a lot more…. character in them. I didn’t love it and the denouement really disappointed me. Still… it does have Grumpy Cat as a character and that… no? Oh, OK.

#20Dirty Magic cover Dirty Magic by Jaye Wells (Read 20/02/2015) This is down and dirty urban fantasy with extra added grit. It’s super hard-boiled police procedural, done really well, so if that’s your thing you will love it. It’s not my thing. The author does a fantastic job of making the ‘dirty magic’ the equivalent of drugs – so much so that it didn’t feel anything like magic until more than three quarters of the book was done. Mind you, great writing, convincing characters with interesting stories and awesome world building. Just…. you know, very special agent D.E.A. whatevs, which is not so much for me.

#21Chimes at Midnight cover Chimes at Midnight by Seanan McGuire (Read 28/02/2015) Oh, look! Another October Daye book! So good, so very, very good. Just read this series, damn it. Go on, go and get hold of a copy of Rosemary and Rue, read it, read them all and then we can talk some more. I’m waiting…

#22Nightbird cover Nightbird by Alice Hoffman(Read 1/03/2015) I love Hoffman’s small town magical realism style of storytelling. This is a YA story about a family whose ancestor was cursed by the local witch and all their boys ever since have been born with wings. I enjoyed it, although I love her adult fiction more.

I have so many more fantasy books to talk about, but let’s remember the line.

More reviews soon (I promise).