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Set in the same magical-Regency world as Cho’s earlier Sorcerer to the Crown, but overlapping only slightly in characters, this book tells the story of two sisters in Malaysia, struck by a curse that sends one on a quest to England and fairyland to find a cure for her sister’s fading. Along the way, she must conceal her own lack of magic, enlist the aid of the sorceress royal and a dragon, and untangle the mystery of her own identity.

This is a psychological study of the confined lives and expectations of women in post-WWII England. Using flashbacks, it traces the lives of a mother and daughter as every turn seems to snatch away what they felt they were promised, constantly requiring them to have less, to do less, and to be less (manifested as anorexia by the daughter).

On a whim, I picked this up in audio because I wasn't sure when I'd get to it on the page. Given how late I am to the party, I'm aware that there's now an entire series of the "wayward children" stories, involving those who have gone through portals to another realm...and now can't find their way back. But this first story is less a classic portal fantasy than it is a classic murder mystery. And when all the inhabitants of the mysterious spooky mansion are more than a little odd, sorting out the suspects can be a problem.

I don't quite know why, but this book just didn't grab me and I ended up not finishing it. Maybe it's because I'm enough outside the online culture being depicted that it felt both alien and over-explained. Maybe I had too hard a time trying to get inside the protagonist's head.

There are times in your life when you really need a deeply engrossing story that will take you away from the here and now for the space of a couple hours. One of those times is when you’re sitting in an emergency room waiting for them to confirm your pulmonary embolism. One of those stories in Nghi Vo’s novella The Empress of Salt and Fortune. I don’t recommend the former, but I do recommend the later.

This sapphic, Vietnamese-inspired historic fantasy is warm and cozy, like sipping tea in front of a blazing fire, with a cat sitting on your lap, where the cat might turn into a tiger and the fire might burn your palace down. Aliette has the knack of compressing enormous amounts of world-building into a very few pages. You can easily read this story in a single bite, but it immediately plunges you into the deep back-story of a princess-hostage, the fraught politics of maintaining an unequal power balance, and the personal hazards of re-igniting an old love affair.

A relatively short Regency novella, with a f/f match that’s a spin-off from an existing m/f series. It’s lovely to see more entries into the f/f Regency field. (Pro tip: there are other ways to make your Regency heroine stand out as non-conforming than to give her scientific interests.

Considering what it takes for a book to make it from my TBR list to actually being read, it’s fairly rare for me to choose not to finish a book. Here are two that I closed unfinished.

(I'm going to try to get caught up on reviews, which means the reviews may be briefer than I usually prefer to do.)

Not only did my reading get thrown for a loop this year, but I still have a bunch of reviews to write for things I finished in the past. This one is jumping the review queue because I just finished it and figured it was best to write something while fresh in my mind. I know, I know, I'm the one who made the rule about reviewing everything I read. But I know how important community reviews can be to a book, so I do my best.

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