Tag Archives: female protagonist

Book Review: Of Sand and Malice Made by Bradley Beaulieu

10 May

 

Before she started her quest for vengeance against the Twelve Kings of Sharakhai, Ceda had a different encounter with the supernatural otherness that infuses the world of the Shattered Sands. Early in her career as a pit fighter, her exploits, and a chance encounter, brought her to the attention of Rümayesh. Rümayesh is an ehrekh, a creature of fire and chaos living in Sharakhai under the guise of humanity. Her interest and fascination with Ceda, however, as with all who attracted her attention, is a corrosive, sadistic and destructive one, as befits her nature. Ceda found herself having to protect much more than just herself in order to ward against the creature’s manipulations.

This is the story told in Of Sand and Malice Made, by Bradley Beaulieu. Continue reading

Retro Childhood Review: Fog Magic

28 Apr

“It’s the things you were born to that give you satisfaction in this world, Greta. Leastwise, that’s what I think. And maybe the fog’s one of them. Not happiness, mind! Satisfaction isn’t always happiness by a long sight; then again, it isn’t sorrow either. But the rocks and the spruces and the fogs or your own land are things that nourish you. You can always have them, no matter what else you find or what else you lose.”

Portal fantasy is a popular genre for middle children’s fiction, as evidenced by the fact that 3 out of my 4 Retro Childhood Reviews are about children finding their way to new worlds. In The Neverending Story, Bastian is escaping a grief-filled reality; in Firebrat, Molly is learning to appreciate her Grandmother; the reasons for traveling through portals are as varied as the stories themselves. But portal fantasy, at its core, allows a child reader to travel to new worlds along with the protagonists. Fog Magic, by Julia L. Sauer, a Newberry Honor Book, is an absolutely charming addition to the genre. Though this is not a book that captures my heart to the level of some of the others on my shelves, it is nonetheless one that I turn to from time to time, to escape to the simplicity of an earlier age. Continue reading

Book Review: CONGRESS OF SECRETS by Stephanie Burgis

5 Apr

Known for her Regency-era fantasy series for middle-grade readers that began with A Most Improper Magick (published as Kat, Incorrigible in the US), Stephanie Burgis’ debut novel for adults, Masks and Shadows, similarly combined romanticism with the fantastic. Her sophomore novel, released at the end of 2016 by Pyr, continues this formula. Well paced and passionately infused with historical details and characters, Congress of Secrets will appeal to readers who enjoy a touch of magical darkness balancing Austenesque romance and historical intrigue. Continue reading

Book Review: Brother’s Ruin by Emma Newman

30 Mar

 

In an alternate 1850s era, the British Empire is flourishing as vitally as it did in our timeline, but from different base causes. Instead of the power of the Industrial Revolution providing the motive power for Monarch and country, the Royal Society of Esoteric Arts provides the competitive advantage for Great Britain to stand astride the world. But this society of magicians is a merciless one, taking every person with magical talent, whether they like it or not. Charlotte Gunn seeks to aid her family from financial disaster that her father is in by making sure that her brother’s talents are seen and compensated for. Oh, and in so doing, hiding her own deep, dark secret from the Royal Society: Charlotte, you see, is a mage too.

Charlotte, and her world, come to life in the Tor.com novella Brother’s Ruin by Emma Newman. Continue reading

Retro Childhood Review: Firebrat

22 Mar

“It will only be for a month, Molly.”

“Why me?” she wailed, forgetting her vow of silence. “Why not Betty? She’s older.”

“Because I think you’ll do a better job than Betty. You’re the reader in this family. The storyteller… Your grandma’s getting awfully forgetful, Molly. Ever since Grandpa died, she’s been living in the past — she tells the same stories over and over. She needs someone who’ll talk to her and help her organize the shop. You know — keep her in touch with the present.”

Silence.

“Molly, you’re the one who doesn’t mind a little mess.” He waved his hand at her room. “You’re the lover of mysteries.”

“What’s the big mystery about taking care of Grandma?”

“Making people well is always a mystery,” said her father sadly.

I will forever be indebted to a family that both placed an importance on reading and not only understood how much I loved science fiction and fantasy, but encouraged it with gifts. For my eleventh birthday, my aunt and uncle sent me Firebrat, by Nancy Willard, with illustrations by David Wiesner. I don’t know how they decided on this particular book, but the whimsical cover of fish flying through a forest, showing a young girl and a young boy, with the girl in the lead probably had something to do with it. And where I have read and discarded a hundred other fantastical children’s books, Firebrat has kept its place firmly ensconced on every bookshelf that I have ever owned. Continue reading

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