Book cover: The Masked CityIrene is a Librarian with a capital L – a secret agent who recovers books of note for the Library, hopping from one alternate reality to another. Irene settled down in a Victorian steampunk alternate when her apprentice is kidnapped by local Fae. But Kai is actually a dragon prince. If Irene can’t get him back, this will be the opening move in a multiverse-wide war between order and chaos.

I’m looking forward to joining a read-along of Joyce Chng’s The Tale of Yin duology (Of Oysters, Pearls and Magic and The Path of Kindness) starting later this month. If you fancy a set of linked short stories exploring women, magic, privilege, and compassion in a fantasy setting, you might like to join us.

reaperofstoneIf the goal of a short story is to leave you wanting more, A Reaper of Stone is a stunning success.

Elinor is the King’s Reaper, duty-bound to demolish the ancient keeps of the marches to prevent them falling into hostile hands. When the Lady of Timberline dies, Elinor is sucked into the vicious politics of Resa’s grasping nobility. Will she confirm the new Lord who seeks the title, or investigate the Lady’s unexpected death?

The Dark is Rising SequenceWill Stanton is sent to North Wales to recuperate from a serious illness.

Certain that he has forgotten something important, he finds himself in the thick of conflicts both ancient and modern as the power of the Grey King stirs against him. Can the Light steer its forgetful servant in the right direction, or will the Dark claim the Thing of Power buried under the mountain?

The Dark is Rising SequenceIt’s nearly Christmas, and Will Stanton is turning 11. As if puberty and buying presents for 9 siblings weren’t hazard enough, he awakens on his birthday to discover he is the last of the Old Ones, fated to seek the Signs of the Light and stop the Dark from rising.

It’s easy to be snarky, but this festive classic is guaranteed to send shivers down your spine.

UK Book Cover: Sorcerer to the Crown - Zen ChoSorcerer to the Crown is a frothy fantasy farce with serious ideas under its lacy skirts; comparing it to Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell (as many people do) feels inappropriate to me as I found that novel dour and slow. Sorcerer to the Crown may also be set in a Regency England with a well-established magical tradition, but it has a gleeful exuberance that makes it a joy from start to finish.

Book cover: Lifelode - Jo WaltonI honestly don’t know quite how much I like Lifelode, or indeed what to say about it. I think I just have to go with ‘it’s delightful’, in the end. It embraces the mundane, mostly describing a very small and very human drama (a complicated 4-way marriage being unsettled by the arrival of a handsome young man and an acerbic and unexpectedly alive great-grandmother) that just happens to be punctuated by little acts of magic that people take entirely for granted. Then at the end events get a bit out of hand and feel more like any other fantasy novel.

Book cover: The Time of the Dark - Barbara HamblyThis is traditional portal fantasy: two outsiders from our world are sucked into a conflict with an ancient, (literally) nebulous enemy in a parallel fantasy world. Darwath is losing the war, its King is dead, his heir a baby, and the political powers are at one another’s throats as they vie for control in spite of ongoing assaults. This first installment sets the scene and embeds the offworlders for (presumably) future glory.