Wednesday, September 11, 2013
The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas
This is one of those books that I already love so much, I'm deliberately reading it slowly. Iolanthe is an elemental mage living in an area called the Domain. It's ruled by Atlantis, which is in turn ruled by the Bane. Iolanthe thinks she has pretty pedestrian talents, but when experimenting with lightning one day, she's spotted by Prince Titus, and he recognizes her for what she is: the mage prophesied to bring down the Bane.
I generally dislike books that center on prophecies. Usually, the prophecy is a cheat, a shortcut for a plot point. Here, I don't mind it so much (though I'm still not sold on it). And part of the reason I don't mind is because this book has so many other amazing things: a unique magical system, an interesting political situation that I'm eager to learn more about, instantly dynamic characters in the two leads, a girl passing as a boy in a boys' school...I could go on. Love high fantasy? Pick this up.
The Waking Dark by Robin Wasserman
This is my next audiobook read, after the merely OK Strands of Bronze and Gold. The town of Oleander, Kansas experiences a horrific event they later term the Killing Day. Five people murder a dozen people around them, for no apparent reason. Then four them kill themselves. The fifth, Cass, doesn't - and she has no explanation for why she and the others killed that day.
It's a very dark but intriguing concept. Wasserman's previous novel, The Book of Blood and Shadow, was also quite dark, although not as overtly violent (at least initially). Narrator Mark Deakins sets a nicely grim tone right off the bat. I'm not too far in yet, but I'm certainly interested enough to keep going.
Stardust by Neil Gaiman
Out of all the Gaiman novels I've tried, I think this is by far the most broadly appealing. I actually first saw the movie several years ago (and loved it) and finally gave the book a try this year. It's close in tone to the movie, I think, though it has adult elements that would have pushed the movie beyond its PG rating (mainly fairly detailed descriptions of sex).
Gaiman's writing style is very well suited to a fairy tale-type story, great at communicating whimsy as well as darkness. It's funny and interesting and I enjoy picking out the parts that were changed for the movie. I gave up on all other Gaiman novels I've tried, but this one is a winner for me.