Serpentine is a young adult fantasy novel with a historically-inspired Chinese setting that revolves around two major themes. The first is the domestic story of the protagonist Skybright, a foundling who is handmaiden and companion to the well-born Zhen Ni, as both of them stand at the edge of womanhood. The external peril is an invasion of supernatural creatures who have found an opening into the mortal world and are being fought off by a martial order of monks.
This is a hard movie to review without diving much too deeply into social and political issues that for the most part aren't mine to comment on. Even in the barest summary, alarm bells start ringing: medieval European travelers to China arrive at a critical point in a cyclic invasion of ravening monster hordes to help win a decisive victory.
There have been several times in conversations on facebook groups where people threw out the question "what do you look for in a LesFic book?" My answer has often been "beautiful writing," but it can be hard to explain what I mean by that. So now I have something I can point to and say, "That's what I mean by beautiful writing in LesFic."
If I had to sum up Lundoff’s collection Out of This World: Queer Speculative Fiction Stories in a single word (which would be a totally unfair thing to require me to do) it would be “versatile.” This volume touches base on a broad variety of genres and subgenres yet succeeds in being a unified stylistic whole. There is everything from steampunk horror to hard-boiled alien invasion to magical police procedural, each story both drawing lovingly from its literary inspirations and turning them upside down.
Yesterday I thought I didn't have a review to post this week. But then, yesterday I didn't have one--not until I finished listening to the final episode of Serial Box's Season 2 of Tremontaine, based on Ellen Kushner's Riverside setting. The serial is released weekly in 13 episodes, both in print and semi-dramatized audio format. I consume it via the latter because that fits into my schedule better. As I noted in my review of season 1, this may have unknowable consequences for how I receive it.
It might be easy to understand why I enjoy reading Stephanie Burgis's combination of real 18-19th century history, romantic adventure, and touches of magic. She has an impressively solid familiarity with the history and manners of the era she draws from (which, if you check out the topics of her graduate education, is no surprise). The Congress of Vienna, sorting out the political consequences of Napoleon's defeat, is a natural setting for intrigues of all sorts.
So, I don't DNF (did not finish) books very often. If a book gets my attention enough to move up the list to having me start it, I generally want to give it the chance to show me what it's got. But I read one treadmill-session worth of Musketeer Space and then closed it and chose a new book. And I'd like to explain why, even if just to myself.
I'd meant to read this quite some time ago but iBooks had some glitch and claimed the file wouldn't open and it took entirely too long for me to remember that I needed to follow up on the problem in a place and time I could track down the glitch (in iBooks, not the file). I finished the main River of Souls trilogy a year ago and in an odd way, having that much of a gap before reading "Nocturnall" worked very well, because we return to Ilse and Raul a considerable time after the end of Allegiance.
I was dithering between a fairly cursory review and an in-depth analysis, but fortunately Emily Asher-Perrin at Tor.com has covered almost everything I would have said in the latter. So I'll just mention a few things in addition. (Uh...go read Emily's review. Because otherwise this is going to sound really random.)