My brain is sufficiently scrambled (headache is back and biting this week) that the best I can muster is very nearly ‘that was interesting’ (in a good way).
Blood and Iron is a slow ride that is quietly demanding. Elizabeth Bear makes no allowances for her reader’s familiarity with faerie tales or Irish pronunciation, weaving the implicit weight of her chosen myths into her own sharp tale of the war between Faerie and Man. If you don’t know what you’re missing, it may feel both surprising and sketchy; if you have long loved Irish myth and the Matter of Britain, you will probably get a good deal more out of it.
Cat Valente has a gift for myth. She is inspired by it, she works with it, she weaves into new and strange configurations and leaves the reader to work out where they’ve got to and how they feel about it.
John Sandall the blackamoor’s son is born in 17th century Somerset, with a gift for recognising all the ingredients in a dish by taste or scent. As the country is gripped by religious fervour, he and his mother are driven out as witches. But John’s demon tastebuds make him the perfect cook. Taken in at the local Manor and trained in their kitchens, he must face down old enemies and new challenges as the country slides into Civil War.
When Myfanwy Thomas wakes up surrounded by dead bodies in a London park and no memory, she’s ever so grateful for the note in her pocket with instructions. Now she just has to fake she knows what she’s doing as a very senior member of a very secret government agency, save Britain from supernatural threats and figure out who stole her memory… without anyone noticing.
The second of my reviews for Diversiverse 2014, this SF classic deserves every mention it gets (and a few more that it doesn’t. It should get all the mentions). Anyanwu discovers she isn’t the only immortal in the world – but her potential partner through the ages is ruthlessly pursuing a program of eugenics. Is his companionship worth the cost?
On the surface of it, this is exactly the sort of book I hate: chick lit, in which smart, independent girls define themselves almost entirely through their (much-imagined) love lives. But I didn’t hate it. It was a fascinating, tempestuous peek into a world I may never understand: Saudi Arabia.
Alanna doesn’t want to be a Lady. She wants to be a Knight. Her twin brother Thom would rather study sorcery than swordsmanship. When her father packs them off to school, they swap places. With the help of grumpy retainer Coram and charming George the thief, can Alanna keep her secret long enough to win her place?
I admit it. I bought this because the cover is SO DAMN PRETTY, and I make no apologies for it. It’s also mysterious, weird and several shades of interesting. Nobody can enter Area X unless the Southern Reach sends them in; expeditions are carefully controlled – and results aren’t published. The twelfth expedition has no idea what really awaits them…
When evidence is uncovered suggesting humanity was seeded on Earth by extraterrestrials, a tiny crew of specialists is sent on a one-way mission into deep space to find our makers. Pulled out of stasis ahead of schedule, the team find that first contact is no easier when you’re the advanced, space-faring aliens.
In a shockingly prescient nearly-now, books have been banned, considered damaging to public happiness. Montag, a fireman, torches them for a living. But when a woman commits suicide rather than give up her books, he becomes tempted to try and understand their dangerous appeal.
Anderson Lake is a Calorie Man, hunting Bangkok’s markets for foodstuffs long thought to be extinct. There he meets the windup girl Emiko – one of the New People, engineered to satisfy a rich man’s whims, then abandoned to the slums. Welcome to a near-future where oil has run out, seas are rising, and food safety is in the hands of a ruthless few.
The Red Wolf Conspiracy is Robert V S Redick’s debut and if it doesn’t achieve the runaway exuberance of Scott Lynch’s recent appearance on the scene, it is still good enough to knock the socks off many series/authors who have been around for some time.