Tag Archives: fantasy

It’s Complicated: Fantasy Novellas with Complex Relationships

16 Nov

Often with fantasy fiction and movies there is the “good” guy and the “bad” guy, but in two fantasy novellas I enjoyed recently, Tread of Angels and Nothing But Blackened Teeth, things are more complicated than that as are the relationships depicted between the characters.

Tread of Angels
by Rebecca Roanhorse

I had written previously about Rebecca Roanhorse’s Between Earth and Sky series so was curious when I was offered an ARC copy of Tread of Angels from the publisher. This story takes place in an entirely different setting from her previous works, in an Old West where the descendants of Angels and Demons reside. For a short work, it brings up a lot of complex issues about race, family, friendship, romantic relationships and what makes someone “good” or “evil.” Celeste, the main protagonist, can pass in appearance for one of the Elect, though she is of mixed descent and also part Fallen. When her sister is accused of murder she must try to find the truth, forcing her to seek the help of her former demon love for whom she still has feelings. The conclusion surprised me but felt satisfying to the story that was being told, which to me is always the signs of a talented storyteller.

Nothing But Blackened Teeth
by Cassandra Khaw

Nothing But Blackened Teeth was suggested by one of our Science Fiction and Fantasy book club members for our Halloween read this year, when we pick things that veer into the horror genre. It is set in an old Japanese mansion where a group of childhood friends go for a wedding, where the ghost stories they tell awaken the yokai, Japanese spirits, living there including the Ohaguro Bettari, a faceless bride whose only feature is her black teeth, a style that was popular with wealthy women in the Edo period to show they were married. This isn’t your typical haunted house story and like with Tread of Angels, I and the other book discussion group members were surprised by the ending. Again it is another work that will have you question who the “evil” ones really are. While some of the group members would have preferred the story be a bit longer, we had a interesting discussion about toxic friendships. I enjoyed the lush language throughout, which managed to bring beauty to the horror.

Written by:
Aimee Harris
Information and Digital Services Manager

New Fantasies for Adults: The Splendid City and What Moves the Dead

13 Jul

The Splendid City
by Karen Heuler

This was my first time reading a novel by Heuler, but I was intrigued by the recommendation that The Splendid City would appeal to fans of Alice Hoffman, always a favorite of mine. This dystopian novel revolves around a young witch named Eleanor. After turning her irritating coworker Stan into a cat, the two of them have been banished to Liberty, part of the United States that has broken away from the rest of the country after a recent contemptuous election. The current president is represented by talking mechanical heads and crowds of people are distracted from the latest disasters by tasty nougats. The Splendid City is clever, thought provoking and filled with dark whimsy that provides plenty to chew on. Can Eleanor solve the case of the missing witch that might also be the solution to the water shortage? Will Stan find the mysterious treasure? This novel is a quirky political satire written as surreal fairytale/fable for adults.

What Moves The Dead
by T. Kingfisher

The House of Usher, which was first published in 1839 in Burton’s Gentlemen’s Magazine, has always been one of my favorite Poe short stories so I couldn’t resist checking out T. Kingfisher’s retelling, What Moves the Dead. Kingfisher fleshes out the Poe’s short story with more fully developed characters, but keeps the haunting gothic quality of the original. In this version the narrator is Alex Easton a retired Gallacian soldier, who was assigned female at birth but began using a gender neutral pronoun, ka, specifically used by the military for soldiers in the Gallacia’s language, comes to visit kan friends the Ushers when ka hears kan friend Madeline is ill. Also in the mix are an American doctor and British Mycologist, but time is running out to uncover the mysteries of the House of Usher. Besides her other adult novels, Kingfisher also writes books for children under her name Ursula Vernon.

Written by:
Aimee Harris
Information and Digital Services Manager

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