I binged on fantasy all November long. I flew through two YA fantasies–Avielle of Rhia by Dia Calhoun and Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow by Jessica Day George.
Avielle (of Rhia, of course!) is the despised younger daughter of the royal family. She closely resembles her Dredonian great-grandmother, reviled for the magic she used to curse the land. All her life, Avielle has lived in this shadow, lonely, unmarriageable, gossiped about. Then a Dredonian attack on her family’s palace, leaves her alone, the only survivor of the royals. Avielle goes into hiding among the common folk of the city, and apprentices to a weaver who helps her discover her magical gift.
What I liked best about this book was how Avielle did not have to go far (geographically) in order to enter a whole new world. The step from palace to ordinary city neighborhood was a big one, and I enjoyed Avielle’s interactions with her new neighbors, and the camaraderie they developed in the trying, uncertain times after the Dredonian attack. Unfortunately, I found the ending to be confusing and Avielle’s actions out of character.
I enjoyed Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow much more, but then I am sucker for fairy tale retellings! Based on the Norwegian East of the Sun, West of the Moon fairy tale, this book was reminiscent of Edith Pattou’s East (also one I enjoyed). I loved seeing the characters and the plot fleshed out, and the details of life in Norway in times past.
I got through Robin Hobb’s Mad Ship–whew! I was so immersed in the book that I fell immediately into Ship of Destiny, which is waiting for me on my nightstand. Notice this is yet another fantasy on the high seas (*grin*), complete with pirates. The one thing I don’t like about this series is that just as I get into one POV and want to know what happens to that character, I’m pulled into yet another character’s head and another plot thread. I know, I know, there is no helping that when you write a novel from so many POVs, but it is jarring for me personally (which is why I don’t do it too much in my own work).
Alright, Grimspace (Ann Aguire) is space opera, not fantasy, but occasionally I like wandering over to the science fiction side of spec fic. Sirantha Jax is a jumper, one of the few people with the genetic ability to navigate grimspace (think of it like hyperspace- a shortcut so ships don’t have to travel a gizzilion million light years to get anywhere). When the book opens, she’s being investigated by her company (which has a monopoly on jumpers) for causing the crash of a passenger ship. Jax has few memories of the incident, and while she’s ruminating over this, she’s busted out by a telepathic merc (no, really!). He’s been hired by an outer-world family who want Jax to help find and train other jumpers, breaking the company’s monopoly. This book was an enjoyable read, but the pacing was off. Lots of pages are devoted to events that I felt were tangential (maybe they become more important in later books?), and the ending was rushed. A fairly major plot twist toward the end came out of thin air (*blink*). Jax’s romance with March, the merc, moved too fast–and there’s this element of dependency on his part that makes me nervous. I liked Jax, but she doesn’t stand out from the crowd of spunky yet flawed heroines from other books.
Any recent good reads?
I have to be honest, I’ve been stuck in my reading. I’ve got half the analysis for “Ararat” (Zenna Henderson) done and it just makes me want to go back to “Semley’s Necklace” and cull for more short story writing gold. The conundrum has my brain in a tailspin.
So reading is a little…focused right now, but hopefully soon I’ll see some light.
Did see a lovely Christmas movie last night: The Christmas Choir. Spending time with family is a good excuse for giving the writing brain a break.
I’ll have to check out that movie!
Christmas is my favorite holiday, but I do have to pace myself and not overindulge in all the traditions around it. We’re Christian, so we like to keep our focus on the story and the message. Reflecting on that quiets my heart and keeps me from going off in a tailspin!
I’m Christian too, so very similar focus there.