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review 2018-10-20 09:45
Rivers of London
Rivers of London - Ben Aaronovitch

What happens when a former Doctor Who writer decides to try his hand at a Dresden-Files-esque urban fantasy series? I DON’T EVEN KNOW BUT IT’S AMAZING. AMAZING STUFF HAPPENS, OKAY? OKAY.

 

Basically, it’s a sort of ghost hunter/police procedural/buddy comedy with magic and a wicked sense of very British humor and, in my opinion, it blows the Dresden Files out of the water.* I was hoping I’d be able to write a more coherent review, but apparently I’m stuck in the unhelpful squeeing phase and I’m also busy mentally rejigging my fun budget so I can get the rest of the series. Sorry.

 

Only one thing really ticked me off. It’s spoilery, so under a spoiler tag it goes:

 

Speaking of Dresden Files, Rivers of London falls in the same trap as Grave Peril and damsels a perfectly good strong female character and REALLY screws her over and I’ll be angry about this for a while, amazingness notwithstanding.

(spoiler show)

 

*Opinion formed after reading three Dresden Files books and one Rivers of London book.

 

I read this for the Halloween Bingo 2018 Darkest London square.

 

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text 2018-10-20 00:38
Reading progress update: I've read 18 out of 400 pages.
The Sixth Watch - Sergei Lukyanenko

Vampires are trying to attract the attention of our hero in a rather brutal manner.

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review 2018-10-19 15:46
The Bird King - G. Willow Wilson
The Bird King - G. Willow Wilson

I'd really enjoyed this author's previous book, Alif the Unseen, so was delighted to see she was back to writing novel-length work again, though I have to say I've also been loving her work with Ms Marvel... All of which meant I was more than delighted when my Netgalley request for an ARC of The Bird King was accepted and happily settled down this week to reading it. 

 

The basic premise of The Bird King is that it's set in the time when the Moors were losing their grip on Spain, initially taking place in the court of the emperor in Granada. Our main character, Fatima, is one of the emperor's concubines - she was born within the palace's confines and has never known the outside world, her best friend being Hassan the cartographer who she visits illicitly. Hassan has a special gift, in that he is able to use the maps he makes to connect places together and Fatima uses this to obtain a little insight into the world outside the one she knows. 

 

When the would-be Spanish monarchy come calling, with the Inquisition in tow, Hassan's life is threatened and Fatima decides that the best thing to do is for both of them to run away. Aided by a djinn that they discover has been living in the palace, they decide to head for the island occupied by the eponymous king of the birds, the subject of a story they had both grown up with. Neither Fatima or Hassan are particularly equipped for such a journey, in more ways than one, but they head out anyway since they have very few other options that don't involve Hassan being burnt alive for sorcery. 

 

This is such a beautifully-written book, striking just the right balance between getting the details precise and making a drama of how much research must have been required. Fatima, in particular, is a great character and stands out from the page - she doesn't always make the right decision but you believe the ones she does make. Hassan and the other characters are strong too, including the main antagonist and that's not always something writers manage to do well. Moustache-twirling evil is much easier than banal belief that you're doing the right thing and everyone else ought to fall in line. 

 

Anyway, in short: I hope The Bird King is the first of many more novels from this author and I can't wait to get my hands on a paper copy when it goes on sale next year. 

 

I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. 

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review 2018-10-19 14:10
Relics and Curiosities
The Midnight Eye Files: The Skin Game - William Meikle

 

A manky old belt made of fur can change a person into a werewolf.

 

We never really find out how or why except the belt was made in the 1400's? by a magician or alchemist.

 

The story takes us from Glasgow, Scotland to a remote ranch in Novia Scotia.

 

Not too heavy, though the main character tries too hard to sound like one the famous detectives from the old black and white movies and dime store stories, like from the Maltese Falcon.  He doesn't quite pull it off.

 

 

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review 2018-10-18 18:47
Review: Everless
Everless - Sara Holland

I received a copy from Netgalley.

 

This is one of the most original fantasies I have come across in a while. While I can’t say I was that invested in any of the characters, I found the actual story itself and the world building totally captivating and the combination of the two made it book impossible to put down. In this fantasy time is a commodity that can be bought and sold.

 

The world building was               quite complicated, or at least for me, the combination of magic and science and the whole buying and selling time. The setting was a small, town on the edge of a huge estate where the wealthiest family in the district ruled over everything.

 

The heroine Jules used to live at the estate where her father was a revered blacksmith, but a secret caused them to flee in the middle of the night and now they are barely eeking out a living in a tiny cottage on the edge of the forest. Her father is in debt and sick. So Jules hatches a plan to sell her own time and repay his debts

 

Yet she finds herself presented with an opportunity for employment at the estate, Everless, where she once lived. Seizing the moment, Jules makes herself a plan to save her father. She worms her way into employment at Everless.

 

Jules is one of the brighter YA heroines, she’s smart and thinks things through. She plans and doesn’t seem to act recklessly when things don’t go according to plan. She was a little bit two dimensional but likeable enough. Back at Everless while in a different capacity than she was previously, she’s of course flooded with memories of her time back then, and the mystery of why she and her father fled in the first place. And she has to deal with the two sons of the Lord of Everless. One of whom was a great friend and played with her when they were children, who has grown up to be devastatingly handsome and quite the ladies man. He’s engaged to the Queen’s daughter. And his brother – who was a mean bully.

 

The plot gets quite twisty, there’s a legend on how time came to be used as a commodity, a vicious queen who everyone’s terrified of visiting Everless, Jules discovers she has time letting abilities that are beyond normal, a hidden vault where Jules believes she will get some of the answers she seeks, there are plenty of secrets – including a mystery to solve about Jules’s deceased mother, and some things her father neglected to tell her. And people who turn out to be nothing like you thought they were.

 

I read this quite some time ago so I can’t remember all the details. Just that it was a really good one, quite different and I liked it. I’ve already pre ordered the next one.

 

Thank you Netgalley and Hatchette Children’s Group for the review copy.

 

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