Sunday, October 21, 2007

St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves by Karen Russell

Collection of short stories, mostly some variant of our-world fantasy (or slightly skewed our-world), very avant-guard. I wanted to like it, I really did, I liked many of the concepts. But the stories themselves didn't work for me, quite. They were more ideas, sketches... the characters weren't people.

The two that worked the best were the ones about the boy whose father was a minotaur, and the title story. They had people.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Spirits that Walk in Shadow by Nina Kiriki Hoffman

Eh. Pretty good read, but didn't quite grab me, don't know why. Well. I liked Kim (one of the two narrators) better than Jamie. I like the world (basically the same as in her other urban fantasies), the concepts of magic, the way power plays itself out among families.

The ending didn't quite work for me.

Monday, October 01, 2007

The Mirador by Sarah Monette

The third in the planned four-book sequence that started with Melusine. (My spell-checker just suggested "Limousine" as a possible correction for that.)

I've delayed posting about this because I'm not sure what to say. I very much love this series - it's dark with a deliciously decadent setting, the characters are warped and human, tormenting themselves and others, and the relationships are central and painfully well-drawn. The world has geography and history, complex politics, architecture and aesthetics, a sense that the world goes on and on beyond the fragments we're shown. Like the others, this was compulsively readable, and pushed just about all of my "most desired in a fantasy novel" buttons. And yet...

Mildmay, for one. At the beginning of the book other characters are greatly concerned about him, by how much he's changed since the incidents in the last book. But they never mention how changed, exactly, or give examples, and the inside of his head, in his POV sections, looks much the same as ever.

And Mehitabel, the new, female narrator. Early in the book, she seemed to be setting up for the same sorts of internal and external conflicts and complexities that make Felix and Mildmay so compelling. But that faded - she guarded her secrets intensely one minute, then gave them up the next. I had the feeling she was being phased out, as unnecessary for the next novel.

It's occurred to me that I have very little idea what magic is actually used for, in the Mirador. Most of the spells we see are for clearing up the effects of other spells, except for the apparently minor witchlights. And spells are cast on people, to harm or control, but those are forbidden by the branch of magic most of the characters subscribe to. So what do they do? Felix and the others read books on magic, talk about magic, attend meetings on magic and teach magic, but there doesn't seem to be any real point to it.