So this week is Book Day for a certain Seanan McGuire (Discount Armageddon), and last week was Book Day for a certain Amanda Downum (The Kingdoms of Dust), and a month ago was Book Day for one Jodi Meadows (Incarnate). And as it happens, I have some opinions on their books, and it seemed like a good time to talk about those things, since I have all this internets and nothing to fill it with.
I have a vested interest in each of these books, having read all of them before publication–some in multiple versions. So I am not exactly an unbiased reader. But then, at this point in my career, if I were to be reading books only by people I don’t know… I would not be reading a great many books.
Three novels, all fantasy, which do a decent job of being as absolutely disparate as three fantasy novels can be.
So there’s Discount Armageddon, which is one of the first fresh takes on urban fantasy I have seen in a long time–and remember I used to review the stuff professionally. I found this book to be kind of like a good summer dress–flirty, fun, and surprisingly well-made.
Discount Armageddon is about Verity, who wants to be a competition ballroom dancer, but who has been raised to go into the family business. The family business is cryptozoology, which in this case does not mean trying to convince people that standing wave patterns are really lake monsters. No, Verity sublets from a sasquatch. Her family’s calling is actually defending all of these weird and wonderful mythical beasts from the secret cabal of Watcher-like ghoul hunters who want to eradicate them.
So Verity is on the harpy’s side. More or less.
One thing that delighted me about this book was the absence of asshole werewolf boyfriends. Okay, there is a lycanthrope, but she’s a goth lolita and eats werewolves for a light snack. And there is a boyfriend, and he is kind of an asshole, but he does improve.
I had a few problems with it structurally (there’s a couple of saggy bits in the early middle, and a Big Reveal I can’t believe nobody saw coming) but overall, this book is Highly Approved.
Then there’s Jodi’s Incarnate. This is her first published novel, but probably more like her twenty-six-thousandth novel, and the time spent in practice shows. While it does have a few of the usual first-novel-problems (the motivations of most of the characters are a little too easy to parse, and there’s a bit of the bad-people-dislike-the-heroine-and-good-people-like-her issue… and a lot of Boyfriend for my taste, but I am generally very intolerant of Boyfriend, preferring Roller Derby in most things) it manages to dodge a lot more of them: there’s a large cast, the majority of whom are interesting characters drawn in broad, bright strokes; there’s a complex plot; and the worldbuilding is innovative and absolutely aces.
The premise of Incarnate is that Ana is the only person on the planet who has not been reincarnated hundreds of times, living a life of serial immortality. She’s new–she has no long associations, no past loves, no endless centuries of professional skills learned. And a lot of people are very angry about this–including her own mother–because her existence challenges their base assumptions about how the universe works… and because somebody else did not get reborn because Ana took her place. (Or perhaps Ana took her place because the other person did not get reborn. Dun dun dun!)
This is a charming book, full of Scary Danger and True Love and Shiny Princess Balls without, you know, any of that dratted lack of agency that plagues so many princesses these days.
Last on my list is The Kingdoms of Dust, latest installment in the Necromancer Chronicles. (I’ve already gotten to read a few chapters of #4. Neener neener. I love these books so much that I don’t even mind that Amanda keeps swiping my terminology.) In this book, Isyllt (the titular necromancer) has gotten herself fired and exiled from her old job, and with her apprentice and her recently-rescued not-a-boyfriend in tow she has taken one of those hard-boiled against-your-better judgment desperation jobs that never end well.
It… doesn’t end well.
I really rather don’t want to spoiler this book, but suffice it to say that a bunch of the cast of book one makes repeat appearances, and there are manticores (rather a bitchy manticore, actually: best dialogue ever) and entropy beasts and secret cults and djinn and assassins and did I mention the manticore?
Posted: Thursday, March 8th, 2012 @ 3:33 am
Categories: book reports.
Tags: amanda downum, jodi meadows, seanan mcguire.
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