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New and Unique Fantasies: The Dawnhounds and Book of Night

15 Jun

The Dawnhounds
by Sacha Stronach

Sascha Stronach is a Maori author from Wellington, New Zealand, but has also spent time in Malaysia, Indonesia, and Singapore, which are reflected some in the immensely creative The DawnhoundsThe Dawnhounds is set in a post-apocalyptic world with previous technology that seems to mirror our own, but their modern technology revolves around biomechanical plant and fungus.  The story focuses on a former thief turned police officer, Yat, who has been banished to night shift due to her “delicate condition” of being bisexual.  One evening she is murdered under some shady circumstances but is brought back to life by a monkey god and aided by a pirate crew; it is then her adventures truly begin.  This might seem a lot going on, but I did not find the story difficult to follow and I still found Yat a sympathetic character despite the complex world building.  This is Stronach’s debut novel and if you are like me you will be glad to know this is the first in a series.

Book of Night
by Holly Black

Holly Black’s Book of Night features a world much like our own, save one significant detail magic, specifically shadow magic is real.  In her alternate reality people may have their shadows slightly augmented by adding horns, wings, and taking the shape of animals or shadows may be used for more devious purposes such as spying or controlling others.  The story focuses on Charlie Hall, nicknamed The Charlatan who was sucked into a life of thievery at an early age and is trying unsuccessfully to staying on the straight and narrow to help her younger sister have a better life.  Although I thought a central twist was fairly obvious, over all I enjoyed the creativity of Black’s dark fantasy world.  Black previously has been known for writing YA and Middle grade novels like the Folk of the Air Trilogy; hopefully we will see more innovative adult works from her in the future.

Written by:
Aimee Harris
Information and Digital Services Manager

Three Quirky Modern Love Stories: Spoiler Alert by Olivia Dade, Murder Most Actual by Alexis Hall, and Improbable Magic for Cynical Witches by Kate Scelsa

1 Jun

Romance novels often don’t get the respect they deserve. Just because there is a happily ever after doesn’t mean the stories are all the same. Here are three charmingly unique books which use fan fiction, true crime podcasts, and tarot cards to give unique spins to their couples’ romantic journeys.

Spoiler Alert
by Olivia Dade
Spoiler Alert feels a bit of wish fulfilment for anyone out there who has ever written fanfiction and dreamed that the actor or actress of their favorite TV show or movie might fall in love with them.  April Whittier is a successful geologist who likes to write fanfiction about a popular fantasy series.  When a picture of her cosplaying gets a negative comment on social media, the star of the show not only comes to her defense but asks her out on a date.  Complicating the situation is that Marcus Caster-Rupp isn’t just an actor, he is also a fellow fanfiction writer who has developed a secret online friendship with April.  I appreciate that Olivia Dade’s heroines aren’t the cookie cutter skinny girl on most romance books covers; April is beautiful, yes, but she also has lots of curves as does Robin who is written about in the next in the series All the Feels.

Murder Most Actual
by Alexis Hall

Murder Most Actual is a funny mystery novel that parodies Clue and will win over fans of the podcasters turned detective series Only Murders in the Building, but at its heart is the relationship between Hanna a corporate financier and her wife Liza, a true crime podcaster.  The two are near their breaking point, Liza’s new found success has led to them having less time together and their relationship has become strained.  A weekend at an exclusive Scottish hotel is Hanna’s attempt to try and patch up their relationship.  There is always something a little hard about watching a couple who was once head over heels in love hit a rough patch, but there is also something to me immensely satisfying to see them be able to work through their issues; happily ever after can happen, but sometimes it takes some work.  You can read another previous post I’ve done about Hall’s sweet romance Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake.

Improbable Magic for Cynical Witches
by Kate Scelsa

I had previously written a blog post about magical romances, but this book is less fantasy than about modern practitioners of witchcraft/neopaganism; perhaps the witches in the book have real powers, perhaps they just believe they do. Vividly set in Salem, Improbable Magic for Cynical Witches centers around Seventeen-year-old Eleanor who is coping with her mother’s chronic illness as well as the feeling of being an outcast. She works at a store that cashes in on the city’s historic ties to witchcraft, but isn’t a believer herself so doesn’t think much about a guide to tarot that arrives one day, until a beautiful girl named Pix and her friends show up at the store claiming to be real witches. I had made several visits to Salem when I lived in Boston for two years and the book felt very authentic to me from what I remember. I also liked the sweet way that Pix and Eleanor, both hurt from past relationships learned to trust each other. The interweaving of the tarot cards with the story was done in a fun and clever way. This book came out on May 31 and teens as well as adults will want to add it to there to be read lists. I received an advance copy of the book from NetGalley.

Written by:
Aimee Harris
Information and Digital Services

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