So, er, I must’ve spent all month watching Battlestar Galactica or goofing off or something, because I only have two books in my reading roundup for July: In Darkness Hid by Jill Williamson and Teatime for the Traditionally Built by Alexander McCall Smith.
The McCall Smith books fill a need in me for a place where life is slower, more thoughtful, more rooted in the things of nature, in the waiting for rain, in cattle, in gardens eked out in a dry land. Even though there are evil-doers in the books (they are shelved with the mysteries, after all), a sense of honesty and simplicity and innocence pervades the series.
In Darkness Hid is one of the offerings by shiny new micropublisher, Marcher Lord Press, devoted exclusively to Christian speculative fiction. This is a genre dear to my heart, and I’m thrilled to see it getting such attention. I was pleased with the quality of the book, both in the cover design and production (it didn’t fall apart on me like I’ve heard horror stories of other POD books). It started off like your typical medieval fantasy, but Williamson did a good job bringing the setting alive with details, even the messy ones–the moths flickering around the torches, the dyer’s daughter trampling cloth in a tub of dye and urine, peasant boys who haven’t had baths in ages (*grin*). In a world where half the country has been shrouded in darkness for many years, Achan Cham, an orphan with no knowledge of his origins, and Vrell Sparrow, a duchess disguised as a boy, are linked through a magical gift known as bloodvoicing. The story is competently told, with some usual and some unusual fantasy fare, and enjoyable. The Christian elements were present, but not heavyhanded. I love the idea of ever-present darkness and I hope to explore those parts of the country in the sequels.
I’ve had a hard time getting into fiction much these days. I’m craving nonfiction–how-tos and manuals, books that have a more direct application to all the stuff in my life. Educational resources top the list, with art idea and creativity books not far behind. But I’m being good and started Elizabeth Bear’s Blood and Iron today, just a couple days before it’s due back at the library. I think I’m going to have to renew!