Archive for fantasy

Guest Post: Rowena Cory Daniells on The Writer’s Temptation to do a ‘Director’s Cut’

rowenacorydaniells-thefalloffairisleI am a little behind on Rowena Cory Daniells’ books. Her last release, 2013’s King Breaker the last book in the King Rolen’s Kin sequence is still waiting to be read and with her latest publication, another 1200+ pages have been added to the Rowena to be read pile. Because her latest book is an omnibus edition of the first trilogy she ever published, The Fall of Fair Isle. So we get three books for the price of one. The re-release of a previous series gives an author the opportunity to make revisions to the text, but is it one they should take advantage of? I mean we all know George Lucas went overboard with Star Wars, but I rather liked the Lord of the Rings Extended editions. I asked Rowena whether she was tempted to tinker with the original texts of the books and whether she was able to resist if she was. Her answer was the following.  Continue reading »

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Joshua Winning – Sentinel

joshuawinning-sentinel“What is a Sentinel? A guard. A detective. A killer…”

They are the world’s best-kept secret – an underground society whose eternal cause is to protect the world against the dark creatures and evil forces that inhabit the night.

Now Sentinels are being targeted, murdered and turned as the fury of an ancient evil is unleashed once more. And when 15-year-old Nicholas Hallow’s parents are killed in a train crash, the teenager is drawn into a desperate struggle against malevolent powers.

Sentinel is the first book in Joshua Winning’s YA fantasy trilogy and it was the cover combined with the blurb that persuaded me to accept this one for review. I’m glad I did as I really enjoyed Sentinel, reading it in two sittings. Nicholas makes for a sympathetic character and his story, while certainly filled with familiar tropes – orphan boy, check; grand destiny, check; magical companions, check – is enjoyable and interesting. The book isn’t flawless, but the good definitely outweighed the flaws.  Continue reading »

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Daniel Polansky – Those Above

danielpolansky-thoseaboveThey enslaved humanity three thousand years ago. Tall, strong, perfect, superhuman and near immortal they rule from their glittering palaces in the eternal city in the centre of the world. They are called Those Above by their subjects. They enforce their will with fire and sword.

Twenty five years ago mankind mustered an army and rose up against them, only to be slaughtered in a terrible battle. Hope died that day, but hatred survived. Whispers of another revolt are beginning to stir in the hearts of the oppressed: a woman, widowed in the war, who has dedicated her life to revenge; the general, the only man to ever defeat one of Those Above in single combat, summoned forth to raise a new legion; and a boy killer who rises from the gutter to lead an uprising in the capital.

Those Above had to have been one of my most anticipated reads for not just the first six months of 2015, but for the entire year. Daniel Polansky’s previous trilogy, Low Town, was just amazingly good and its ending just floored me, and I mean flat-out, ugly-crying floored me. So to see where he would go next was very exciting. It also made it hard for Polansky to live up to my expectations, because the bar was set high. But he delivered the goods and he did so in style. Those Above was amazing.  Continue reading »

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Neil Gaiman – Trigger Warning

neilgaiman-triggerwarningIn this new volume, Neil Gaiman pierces the veil of reality to reveal the enigmatic, shadowy world that lies beneath. Trigger Warning includes previously published pieces of short fiction-stories, verse, and a very special Doctor Who story that was written for the fiftieth anniversary of the beloved series in 2013-as well as BLACK DOG, a new tale that revisits the world of American Gods.

Trigger Warning is a rich cornucopia of horror and ghosts stories, science fiction and fairy tales, fabulism and poetry that explores the realm of experience and emotion. In Adventure Story-a thematic companion to The Ocean at the End of the Lane-Gaiman ponders death and the way people take their stories with them when they die. His social media experience A Calendar of Tales are short takes inspired by replies to fan tweets about the months of the year-stories of pirates and the March winds, an igloo made of books, and a Mother’s Day card that portends disturbances in the universe. Gaiman offers his own ingenious spin on Sherlock Holmes in his award-nominated mystery tale The Case of Death and Honey. And Click-Clack the Rattlebag explains the creaks and clatter we hear when we’re all alone in the darkness.

A new Neil Gaiman book or collection is usually greeted by lots of cheers of readers all over the world. When his third short story collection was announced, this was readily apparent all over the internet. And then the title was announced and things got a little less cheery. Gaiman decided to title his collection Trigger Warning: short fiction and disturbances. For various reasons people were unhappy about this. The announcement came at a time when mainstream discussion on trigger warnings and whether to include them on prescribed reading lists at universities and colleges  was turning heated and the discussion was quickly co-opted by the ‘feminism is ruining everything’-crowd. In his introduction to his collection Gaiman explains that he was fascinated by the phenomenon of trigger warnings in an academic environment and his thoughts on the subject led him to decide to slap some trigger warnings on his own fiction before someone else did.  Continue reading »

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Silvia Moreno-Garcia – Signal to Noise

silviamorenogarcia-signaltonoiseMexico City, 1988: Long before iTunes or MP3s, you said “I love you” with a mixtape.

Meche, awkward and fifteen, has two equally unhip friends – Sebastian and Daniela – and a whole lot of vinyl records to keep her company. When she discovers how to cast spells using music, the future looks brighter for the trio. The three friends will piece together their broken families, change their status as nonentities,and maybe even find love…

Mexico City, 2009: Two decades after abandoning the metropolis, Meche returns alone for her estranged father’s funeral.

It’s hard enough to cope with her family, but then she runs into Sebastian, reviving memories from a childhood she thought she buried a long time ago. What really happened back then? What precipitated the bitter falling out with her father? Is there any magic left?

Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s Signal to Noise was one of my anticipated reads for the first half of 2015. The concept of the speculative elements in the form of magic fuelled by music was cool and the setting, both temporal and physical, were intriguing. The Eighties was an interesting time in history and though we often mock the stylistic choices of Eighties music stars, it’s undeniable that they also produced some fantastic classics. I was completely unfamiliar with Mexico City and true Mexican culture only having seen the Hollywood representations of both on TV and I doubt these are completely accurate. So I was interested to learn more about both through Moreno-Garcia’s debut novel. And while I really enjoyed the atmosphere of the novel and much of the story after finishing it I was largely left with a bit of a meh feeling. I wanted to love this novel so much more than I did and it’s hard to pinpoint why I didn’t. I just didn’t connect to it very strongly and I spent just as much time being annoyed with Meche, the main character, as I did rooting for her.  Continue reading »

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Author Query Redux – Carrie Patel

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carriepatel-theburiedlifeLast year I reviewed Carrie Patel’s debut novel The Buried Life, which I really enjoyed. I also interviewed her in the run up to the book’s publication. And then life threw a spanner in the works. Angry Robot Books was put up for sale and most of the remaining 2014 titles that were still to be published were pushed back until 2015. This March sees the Angry Robot Reboot and Carrie’s debut is finally available to everyone. From March 3 everyone will be able to purchase this wonderful book. To celebrate this fact, I’ve asked Carrie back for another Author Query to talk about the past year and more. Enjoy and please check out The Buried Life next week!

***  Continue reading »

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Sue Tingey – Marked

basuetingey-markedWith no family and very few friends, Lucky’s psychic ability has always made her an outcast. The only person she can rely on is Kayla, the ghost girl who has been with her since she was born.

But Kayla is not all that she appears.

And when Lucky is visited by a demonic assassin with a message for her friend, she finds herself dragged into the Underlands – and the political fight for the daemon king’s throne.

Lucky, trapped in the daemon world, is determined to find her way home… until she finds herself caught between the charms of the Guardian Jamie, the charismatic Daemon of Death Jinx – and the lure of finding out who she really is.

I love hidden worlds parallel to our own, as witnessed by my love for Emma Newman’s The Split Worlds and Lou Morgan’s Blood and Feathers books. So when I read the synopsis for Sue Tingey’s debut Marked when Jo Fletcher Books announced their acquisition of the story, my interest was immediately piqued. I was very lucky to have the chance to get an extra early look at Marked and I’m really glad for the chance, because Marked is a wonderful story.  Continue reading »

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Author Query – Adrian Tchaikovsky

adriantchaikovsky-gunsofthedawnOne author that I’ve heard loads and loads of great things about is Adrian Tchaikovsky. This first series was the massive Shadows of the Apt series, which was comprised of ten books and which was peopled by insect-kinden, people who took on various insect characteristics. Being a wuss when it comes to anything with more than four legs and since the series was already on book four by the time I heard about it, I never got into it. I did however read some of Tchaikovsky’s work as he had a short story in Two Hundred and Twenty One Baker Streets, last year’s speculative Sherlock Holmes anthology from Solaris. I really enjoyed his story The Final Conjuration and it made me curious to read more of his work. Enter Guns of the Dawn. A standalone book unconnected to his previous series and set in a regency-esque secondary world. I was sold and I have the book waiting on my to be read pile to be consumed soon. In the meantime, I present you with the following Author Query.  Continue reading »

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Author Query – Silvia Moreno-Garcia

silviamorenogarcia-signaltonoiseToday sees the publication of Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s hotly anticipated Signal to Noise. I’ve been looking forward to this one immensely, even including it in my anticipated reads for the first half of the year. Set in Mexico City, partly in 1988 and partly in 2009, the story mixes music and magic, creating a tale of love and identity. I’ll be reading and reviewing the book in the coming week, but for now I present you with an Author Query with Silvia Morena-Garcia. Enjoy and don’t forget to check out Signal to Noise!

*** Continue reading »

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Henry Herz – Monster Goose Nursery Rhymes [Blog Tour]

henryherz-monstergoosenurseryrhymesEnter an enchanted land of mythical creatures where manticores reign and ogres roar—a land of mystery and fright. A unique twist on traditional rhymes of everyone’s youth, Monster Goose Nursery Rhymes presents a more sinister approach to these childhood classics, and yet the sing-song nature of the poems renders them playful and jovial at the same time. […]If you enjoy mischief and have a penchant for the morbidly hilarious, the Herzs’ rhymes will satisfy your mythological curiosities.

Larson’s illustrations give new life to these ancient figures, and her artistic style employs the bold lines and colorful movement of an action-packed comic book. The author also includes a “bestiary” with information about the book’s legendary creatures, which hail from Scotland, Germany, Italy, Persia, Haiti, and Scandinavia.

This is a first on A Fantastical Librarian: a picture book review. Henry Herz’s Monster Goose Nursery Rhymes contains fourteen rhymes all playing off well-known nursery rhymes. Since we’ve been reading lots of picture books with the girls, I thought this one would be fun to review as it is not just a children’s picture book but also heavily indebted to D&D’s monster manual for its monsters. This means that all geeky parents who at one time or another have slung the dice, be they tangible or virtual, will be entertained by Herz’s reimagined children’s ditties.  Continue reading »

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