Tag Archives: fantasy

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

Dazzling Diverse Fantasy: Fevered Star and The Gilded Ones

27 Apr

Myth, legends, and traditions have always worked their way into fantasy, but for years much of what was written in English drew from European history or if it looked elsewhere it was through an “exotic” outsider lens. It is exciting to see so many People of Color, especially women, writing and getting published fantasy works inspired by their own cultures. Here are two powerful works I enjoyed recently.

Fevered Star
Fevered Star is alive with strong willed characters that kept me turning the page. I was especially drawn to Xiala a Teek whose voice has power and Serapio who though literally now a powerful god still manages to have the complexity of a lesser man. This is a second book so the various strands of each main character are interwoven together, but they are distanced from one another. The series is set in a Fantasy American Continent drawing from native myths and legends. I would recommend to other readers starting with Black Sun and then reading Fevered Star to better understand the underlying political dynamics at work. The end of Fevered Star definitely left me hungry for the third book in the series. Rebecca Roanhorse is an African American and Indigenous author. I was provided an advanced copy of Fevered Star by Net Galley/SAGA Press.

The Gilded Ones
The Gilded Ones is the first in a series by Namina Forna. The next book, The Merciless Ones, will be coming out at the end of this month. Forna immigrated from West Africa as a child and her experiences there helped to inspire some of the novel’s story. In The Gilded Ones, women are considered impure if they bleed gold when cut. They must choose between death and becoming warriors whose service to the emperor will purify them. But all is not what it seems, in this inspiring work of feminist fantasy. Although it is listed as a Young Adult work, adults will also enjoy this book. We read it as part of our monthly HPL Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Discussion Group.

Both series are available from elibraryNJ and in print from BCCLS Libraries.

Written by:
Aimee Harris
Information and Digital Service Manager

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