Monthly Archives: September 2017

The Jewel and Her Lapidary by Fran Wilde

The Jewel and her Lapidary

The Jewel and Her Lapidary by Fran Wilde

Published by: Tor on May 3, 2016
Rating: 3 stars (★★★☆☆)

Lin is a young princess, never destined to rule over the kingdom. Sima, her lapidary, was never trained on how to use the powerful gems and their magic for anything beyond what a princess may need. So when a massacre of the royal family leaves Lin as the only hope for her kingdom, both find themselves running into new territory with high-stakes consequences–not just for the two of them, but for an entire people.

There is a lot to the concept and the world that Fran Wilde has created here. The traditions, the history, the people–it hearkens to an epic fantasy story, though this is delivered in a single, novella-length installment. The story is fast-moving, with little time to stop for intentional character development and backstory, with everything coming through via the characters’ actions. And that can be a good thing at times, though there are moments in this story where things move so quickly that I felt a few things may have been lost. The story is well-written, and I would say my only complaint is that I would have like to see this developed over the course of more pages (or even multiple books) to really immerse myself as a reader.

The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValle

The Ballad of Black Tom

The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor Lavalle

Published by: Tor on February 16, 2016
Rating: 3 stars (★★★☆☆)

Charles Thomas “Tommy” Hester is a hustler, doing what he needs to do to survive and support his father. Life is what it is, after all. And as someone who lives in the underbelly of New York City, he’s met his share of shady, sinister, and mysterious types. He’s even benefitted a bit from those encounters at times too. But some forces should not be messed with. And we should also be careful about being too quick to judge or jump to our own conclusions.

I will admit that I have not read much Lovecraft. And that which I have read I have not found to be particularly enjoyable. It has never really grabbed me, and I have never connected with the work. So I am skeptical when I approach a work that is adapted/derived/etc. from a Lovecraft story. But there is absolutely no reason to hesitate here. Victor LaValle has taken inspiration from the original story to create something that reads as original itself, is rich with character development and world-building, and serves as a strong example of good storytelling. Well worth a read.

Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire

Every Heart a Doorway

Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire

Series: Wayward Children, Book 1
Published by:
 Tor on April 5, 2016
Rating: 3 stars (★★★☆☆)

We have all read and enjoyed the epic adventures of children who manage to stumble into fantastic, strange new worlds. But what comes of them when they return back to the mundane world of their origin. No one believes them. And they cannot find their way back. But their lives will never be the same. Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children can provide a place where these children are understood, but Miss West knows they may have to find a way to learn to live with a longing that will never be fulfilled. But can the Home truly provide protection for the resident children…

A creative and original take on the notion of what comes after. McGuire manages, in a novella-length story, to develop and present a rich world that draws readers in quickly and hooks them into the fate of Nancy and her fellow residents. And at the same time, issues of how we perceive and treat each other–but also how we treat ourselves–are tackled head on in a way that may leave readers coming out of the book seeing things differently than they did before, much like the children in the story.