Sir Blunder: A Bedtime Story for Big People by Walter Kerr

Sir Blunder: A Bedtime Story for Big PeopleSir Blunder: A Bedtime Story for Big People

by William Kerr

Kindle Edition, 268 pg.
2017
Read: April 9 – 10, 2018

Where to start . . . where to start . . .

Let’s start with all the disclaimers and warnings on this book — just because something says it’s a fairy tale, that doesn’t mean it’s for kids. I don’t know why people don’t know this. See also: animation, comic books, and Not Your Father’s Root Beer. Throw in Hans Christian Andersen’s writing and the original Grimm’s Tales, while we’re at it. But, I’ve gotta say, on the whole, this novel doesn’t need all the warnings. Anyone old enough for Suzanne Collins is quite old enough for this.

So, you’ve got your basics: a couple cursed by evil magic, doomed to appear as other than they are until the curse is broken; an evil dragon; a kind and wise princess; stupid and evil royalty (okay, that’s more Shrek than Cinderella); a poor, orphan destined for greatness; noble warriors; corrupt churchmen; wicked/incredibly selfish stepmothers, and so on. Throw in a strange sense of humor, some probably satiric elements, an author who is clearly trying very hard to be whimsical and amusing — maybe trying too hard — and you’ve got yourself a recipe for an amusing read.

Kerr clearly wants to be S. Morgenstern (or maybe William Goldman), and doesn’t quite make it. But he’s not the first to try, nor the first to fail. But he’s good enough to justify reading this, and many people would have a good time doing so.

That’s what I was going to say for the first 60% of the book. But at that point, the curse is broken (minor spoiler…but c’mon, it had to happen), people are happy, the kingdoms are prosperous . . . and I figured we had just a couple of chapters of epilogue and resolution. But, no. From there Kerr goes on to fill this with some sort of pseudo-Christian nonsense (very strange morality, no redemption). I honestly have no clue what he was trying to do in the last chapters — it was a mess.

Remember that scene in Tommy Boy where Tommy tells the waitress, Helen, “why I suck as a salesperson”? He goes on to stroke and pet a roll like a pet and then gets excited and destroys the roll? That’s pretty much what Kerr did here — he has a nice little book and then kills it, reducing it to mangled crumbs.

Save yourself some time and avoid this one. Or, read the first 60% and stop, adding a mental “…and they lived happily ever after.”

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

—–

2 Stars

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Book Blitz: Blood and Roses by Jordan Petrarca

 

Organized Crime Fantasy
Date Published:  June 2017
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Seven organized crime Families, known as the Seven Blessed Families, rule the World of Exodus and its people with the use of their mysterious magical artifacts, called Relics. Relics give powers to the Blessed members of the Families, and they use those powers for corruption and control of everything in Exodus.
Maretto Rose, the patriarch of the Rose Family, celebrates his 50th birthday by attending a performance at the Grand Theater with three of his four sons. The theater is attacked by the heir of the Cicello Family, Zasso Cicello. His mission is to abduct Maretto, but it fails when Maretto’s son, Georgiano, fights Zasso to protect his father and family. Georgiano is ultimately slain and Zasso flees and goes into hiding. Now, the Rose Family must find where Zasso is hiding. They want answers. Who gave him the order for the attack, and what do they want with Maretto Rose? And most of all, they want revenge…But who could it be? A leader of a rival Family? Or someone or something else more powerful than they could imagine?
Meanwhile, Maretto’s youngest son, Ric, must battle his demons and addictions in order to become a Blessed member of the Family and become the man he was destined to be, before he ends up being another dead junky on the street.
So, sit back and enjoy the ride, because in Exodus, gangsters make the world go round.
Praise for Blood and Roses:
“When I first started reading I thought this was going to be a typical gangster story, and in a lot of ways it was. However, the addition of magical relics, giving the family members magical powers, gives a wonderful twist to the story. The use of modern day technology, including flying cars, adds even more to the unexpected quality of the story. I especially love the scenes where they use magic for a variety of attacks and defences.
 
 
 
The plot, which at first, seemed to be very straight forward, was twisted out of shape by the inclusion of not just one, but several different players. This kept me guessing to the very end of the story about what was happening. Even at the end there are questions left unanswered, leading nicely to the next novel in the series, which I’m dying to read.” -Emie Cuevas, OnlineBookClub.com
Excerpt
So far, it had been the perfect birthday for Don Maretto Rose.  Well, maybe not perfect.  His youngest son was not present for the celebration, and it hurt the powerful man very much on the inside.  But it was still as close as it was going to get to being perfect.
But sometimes, when you least expect it, the unexpected happens…And everything goes to hell.
Outside the Grand Theater, two black extended SUVs came flying from around a nearby skyscraper and hovered towards the ground.  They landed on the street directly in front of the red-carpeted entranceway.  As soon as they were grounded, the doors on each SUV flew open, and gangsters came pouring out like water from a spout.  One of the Rose Family guards and two theater security went into immediate action to stop the unwanted guests from entering the theater.  An array of other guards and security lined the stairs and main entrance.
            Now, a lot of the gangsters spilling out of the cars looked pretty much the same, dressed in regular black suits and fedoras, but there were two in particular that were dressed a little nicer and a little weirder.  They both took their good ole time striding towards the main guard as the other gangsters filed behind them.  The one in front was tall and lanky, wearing a royal blue suit with a matching necktie and white dress shirt.  He bore a blue fedora over his silvery black hair that hung down to his cheeks.  His eyes matched his hair, and his face was thin like his body.  He was draped in gold jewelry around his neck and had gemmed rings on almost every finger.  The pride in his walk signified that he was a man of importance.  And he was.  The man was none other than Zasso Cicello, son of Don Xanose Cicello.
            Walking closely behind, was a shorter man dressed in a shiny silver suit and black dress shirt.  His face was round but came to a point at his chin, and he bore a pair of sunglasses that could be mistaken for a couple of round mirrors.  His long and thin hair was shoulder length and was black with a bluish tint.  He, also, had a certain pride to his walk.  And that’s because he was Zasso’s personal protector and assassin, Razo Malvagio.
            As Zasso and Razo approached the main guard, he put up a hand to signal them to stop and said, “I’m sorry gentlemen, but this is a private viewing and you need to show credentials to enter the theater.”
            In the blink of an eye, Razo came whirling around Zasso, holding a pistol-gripped sawed-off shotgun.  It was pointed directly at the guard, and Razo didn’t hesitate to pull the trigger.  There was a loud burst, and then the guard’s hand exploded clean off his arm, along with half of his face.  His limp body collapsed on the red carpet.  A puddle of blood formed underneath the other half of his face.
            “There are my credentials,” Zasso said to the corpse.
            The two theater security guards reached for their firearms, but Zasso was too quick for them.  Like a gunslinger, he drew a small pistol from his waist and fired multiple shots.  Blood burst out of their chests, and they perished before they even touched their guns.  Zasso and Razo continued on, with their entourage following behind.
            The Rose Family guards and theater security wasted no time opening fire at the oncoming murderers.  They fired numerous times whether it was with a handgun or semiautomatic rifle.  But it was to no success.  Upon the masquerade of bullet-fire, Zasso raised a hand and magically constructed a transparent yellow force field that deflected the bullets.  Then, all hell broke loose.
            Zasso’s gangsters came storming around him and returned fire upon the guards and security.  Zasso and Razo went on the offensive as well with their short-arm weapons.  Blood started spilling, and bodies were falling everywhere.  When Zasso reached the bottom of the stairs, he extended his left hand and bolts of electricity spewed from his fingertips in the direction of his targets.  And at the same time, he kept on firing shots out of his pistol with his right hand.  His targets were electrocuted and blown away by bullets at the same time.  Zasso was Blessedwith magical powers by his Family’s Relic, which made him a very dangerous killer.
            While a few of his men were taken down, Zasso and Razo came away from the chaotic scene unscathed.  The Rose Family guards and theater security were all dead.  It was now time for them to enter the premises of the theater and accomplish what they came here to do.

 

About the Author

Jordan Petrarca lives in Erie, Pennsylvania with his wife and twin girls. “Blood and Roses” was inspired by his love for fantasy and organized crime stories.

 

 
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An Ill-Fated Sky by Darrell Drake

This book releases this weekend, go pre-order now (well, not now … wait until you read this).

An Ill-Fated SkyAn Ill-Fated Sky

by Darrell Drake
Series: A Star-Reckoner’s Legacy, #2

eARC, 327 pg.
2018

Read: March 28 – 29. 2018

Honour, at all costs.

So steadfast in its pursuit, Tirdad had never stopped to consider that anything that had to be done at all costs, shouldn’t be done at all. For all his talk of moderation, he had never thought to apply that to honour.

Only now did it dawn on him.

I probably can’t get away with just telling you all to go buy and read this — and the first, too, if you haven’t. So I won’t try. But that’s the takeaway from this.

I’d imagine it’s quite a trick taking a very carefully plotted stand-alone novel and turning it into the first of a trilogy, and I’m often nervous about reading something like that — not so much that I wouldn’t enjoy the new book, but that it’ll take something away from my appreciation for/memory of the stand-alone. Drake has succeeded in making the book feel like something he’d planned all along and a natural outgrowth of the first novel. I can’t bring myself to talk about the events of A Star-Reckoner’s Lot in any more detail than I can the events of this book, which might make some of this awkward, but let’s give it a go…

Tirdad’s cousin has tried to resurrect herself, but the way she died prevented it, instead her memories, her abilities have attached themselves to Tirdad’s sword. He’s now a powerful planet-reckoner (who doesn’t really understand how to use his newfound power). Where some would use this as an opportunity for laughs, Drake keeps things grim and shows what happens when someone wields impossibly great power without the requisite knowledge — disaster ensues. After healing from his wounds, Tirdad sets out to understand just what happened to his cousin, what drove her to the extremes she took. Along the way, he helps and old friend and the King of Kings wage war, has some adventures, kills supernatural creatures that far outclass him, and tries to move on with his life.

A good chunk of this book is just about understanding the last novel — what really happened, what motivated the actions of all the major characters. But it’s not just a rehash, nor a revision of the book. It could probably even be read by someone who hadn’t read A Star-Reckoner’s Lot with little difficulty. But all that is in the midst of the adventuring — and the plot turns and twists enough to keep you guessing as much as Tirdad. This time, the turns weren’t quite as extreme as before, but they were still jarring — and honest, he doesn’t trick you here, everything is justified and supported by what came before.

There’s a sense in which this novel isn’t the fantasy adventure, but a profile of a hero. Or at least a good man. Not just any hero, but a particular one, Tirdad, the ways that his life, his choices, his family and friends shaped him into the person he is and what that looks like action. Particularly when it comes to the way he treats those he loves — and his enemies.

Tirdad, of course, isn’t the only character in the book. The half-div/half-human we met previously as Waray is back, too. When writing about the first book, I’d said: “The banter, the bickering, and friendship between Tirdad and Waray is one of those things that will attract you to this book” — that that’s the core relationship of this novel. What was strong before is now at the forefront — and the reader wins. I loved Waray going into this, and love her all the more now as I’ve got a much better understanding of her past and what makes her tick.

The ending features one of my favorite cliff-hangers in quite a while, to boot.

From start to finish, Drake immerses you in this wonderful world he’s created, with a magic system and mythology so foreign to most of us that it’s great to dive in and experience. The characters are rich and well-drawn, and you feel for them all.

Disclaimer: I received this eARC from the author in exchange for this post — I appreciate him saving me the money, but it didn’t alter what I said about this book.

—–

4 1/2 Stars

The Armored Saint by Myke Cole

The Armored SaintThe Armored Saint

by Myke Cole
Series: The Sacred Throne, #1

Hardcover, 203 pg.
Tor Books, 2018

Read: February 28, 2018

“My strength is the Emperor and His Holy Writ.”

“Aren’t you pious for one who is so green at the sight of the Order?”

“The Emperor is divine. The Order are just men. You don’t fault a whole faith just because some of its agents take to brigandage. My faith kept me through the war, and it hasn’t failed me after.”

I’ve tossed out a couple of drafts of a paragraph of synopsis, and am tired of trying, so I’m just going to cite the jacket copy:

In a world where any act of magic could open a portal to hell, the Order insures that no wizard will live to summon devils, and will kill as many innocent people as they must to prevent that greater horror. After witnessing a horrendous slaughter, the village girl Heloise opposes the Order, and risks bringing their wrath down on herself, her family, and her village.

Lord Acton famously wrote to Bishop Creighton, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” This idea drips from almost every page of this book. Not that there was a whole lot of absolute power funning around — one member of The Order was close, and one other liked to act like it. But there’s a lot of people with enough power (of various kinds) that their tendency to corruption is problematic for everyone around them. It’s not the prettiest of worlds, but it’s a good setting for a conflict-filled read.

In the midst of this is a nation(?) ruled by a religion — including a scripture that may or may not be correctly interpreted by the religious authorities (who have plenty of civic and martial authority), although there’s no doubt that their application could use some work. They rule (and protect, if you use the term generously) this region through fear and intimidation. But you have to admit, what they’re doing works. Which doesn’t excuse the terror they inflict, but it suggests that somewhere there is an orthodoxy at work.

There are no really likeable characters here, everyone is flawed, but you cannot help but hope for the best for some of them — because they are unlikable, flawed people. Most of them are just trying to make it the best that they can for themselves and their family — and their neighbors, if possible. There are plenty of characters that you never want the best for (aside from repentance), and a couple of characters who jump from “hope for the best” to “hope they die horribly” column. This includes the protagonist — honestly, the more time we spent with her, the less I was that interested in her survival. Really, I liked her about as much as you can like Anakin in Attack of the Clones — thankfully, I like her friends and family.

Whether the Military Fantasy that we’re used to from him or this traditional Fantasy, Myke Cole knows how to write fight scenes (and other scenes of violence). This is seen particularly in the final climactic battle — it was so exciting that I found myself racing through it and having to pause and go back to make sure I understood what happened and hadn’t missed any details. Visceral is really the only word to use there.

I don’t understand how in the middle of this pretty generic Middle-Ages Europe-y fantasy we get war machines. They’re like what Tony Stark would’ve come up with a couple hundred years ago. They absolutely don’t belong to the setting — but neither does magic, so if the reader can buy one, you might as well buy both. Especially when the exosuits are so cool.

Still, at the end of the day, I was underwhelmed. It’s a rich world with characters that a reader can really sink their teeth into. But you just don’t get enough. Two hundred pages isn’t enough — The Armored Saint almost seems more like a 200 page set-up and/or advertisement for the sequel. Am I planning on reading The Queen of Crows and (most likely) The Killing Light? Yeah, I think I’ve even ordered the second one. But I’m not as excited for them as I should’ve been.

I expect my opinion to be in the minority here, so fill up that comment section with all the ways I’m wrong about Cole’s latest (or at least some of the ways).

—–

3 Stars

Blood Binds the Pack by Alex Wells

Blood Binds the PackBlood Binds the Pack

by Alex Wells
Series: Hob Ravani, #2

Kindle Edition, 496 pg.
Angry Robot, 2018

Read: February 20 – 23, 2018


How do you follow-up a book like Hunger Makes the Wolf? Which took the elements of a biker-gang, oppressed miners (and other blue-collar types), magic, space travel, and corporate greed to create an action-packed, fun, suspenseful and surprising read. Well, you take that foundation, and build on it to create a book that takes those elements and does a better job with them.

The pressure on TransRift Corporation is mounting (even when they don’t realize it), especially on their operations base on Tanegawa’s World. There’s a growing level of unrest with the miners — which they respond to in a way that hasn’t worked for anyone since the opening of Exodus. There’s the constant need for more resources, if possible, resulting in stronger and more efficient product. The government is sniffing around, wondering about what they’re up to and how they’re treating people. Meanwhile, the loose organization of miners in each city is getting stronger as are the ties between them. All in all — it’s a powder keg ready to blow.

Not having to create a world, Wells is able to spend more time on characters this time (at least that’s my impression — it’s not like I was dissatisfied with the characters in Hunger). We see depths and shadings of character in people I wasn’t sure where capable of depths and shadings — and if we get that from beings like that, imagine what we get from the more fully-formed people.

When writing about the last book, I said that I wanted more with the Ghost Wolves as a whole, to get a better feel for them. I got that this time — but not quite enough. I’m not sure what it would’ve taken, however. They seem more cohesive as a unit — Hob taking to leadership, and the Wolves taking to Hob. It’s a fascinating group — and one I clearly can’t get enough of.

There were plenty of mysteries, questions, enigmas wrapped in each other about the nature of the Weathermen, the Bone Collector, Hob’s abilities (and those of others, too) and what TransRift Corporation has found in the mines left over from Hunger — and Wells doesn’t answer them all. Are some things clarified? Are some things better understood? Yup. Does everything get spelled out for the reader? Nope. I love the fact that there’s a whole lot that we don’t get to wrap our brains around, but that we just have to accept — just like the characters. But it’s done not in a way that you feel unsatisfied with what you’re given.

There’s even a little bit of sweetness to be found in friendship, family, and romance. Not so much that it becomes a “kissing book” or anything, it’s just an added touch.

I find the politics a little hard to swallow and simplistic — but I can’t think of the politics of any SF book/world that don’t strike me this way, honestly. At least not once they get beyond the most vague notions. I’m only mentioning it because it seems that important to the novel. Which is not to say that it detracts from things too much — if I can suspend disbelief enough to buy the capabilities of the Weathermen, or a fire-throwing, one-eyed, space-biker; I can buy whatever the workers on Tanegawa’s World try to replace the corruption they’ve suffered under.

I get the feeling that this is going to be a duology — there might be more stories to tell with the Ravani, or Tanegawa’s World, but they probably won’t be as closely tied to these two. I’m satisfied with a duology — we got a complete story and a very satisfying one. Wells started strong and ended stronger — can’t ask for more than that.

I’m excited to talk about this book and I want to say a whole lot more — and feel like I should. But I’m not sure what else to say without giving anything away. Hunger Makes the Wolf was one of my favorites last year, and this is better. Ultimately, there’s not much more to say than that.

—–

4 1/2 Stars

The Meifod Claw by JW Bowe

The Meifod ClawThe Meifod Claw

by JW Bowe

Kindle Edition, 384 pg.
Serious Biscuits, 2017

Read: February 14 – 16, 2018


I’m going to keep the synopsis-y part of this vague because the blurbs for this book are pretty vague, and to a great extent, so is the book. This takes place in Wales, it involves a former sailor now confined to a wheelchair and a mostly abandoned farm-house (it fills up after a chapter or so), his niece, his nephew (who pretty much owns the house and funds everything in the book) and his nephew’s friend — who dropped out of a master’s level physics program to take part in the hi-jinks that occur. Oh, at some point a dog is introduced — he doesn’t seem to add much to anything, only serves to derail the progress of the plot for a bit, but he seems like a cool dog, and I’m a sucker for cool dogs.

The guys have assembled at this abandoned farm to work on a project and the niece/sister drops in every now and then to “tsk” at them and examine the books. When they’re not working on the project — and frequently as an aid to working on the project — the uncle, nephew and friend get high, drunk, stoned, and wasted, at the same time. There are probably a few other nearly synonymous terms I could throw in there, too.

I’m honestly not sure if the project is supernatural in nature (there’s a salt circle involved, but it doesn’t seem to do anything, and I’m not sure anyone believes it ought to), based in some sort of physics/”fringe” science (there’s a lot of talk that indicated that), or some sort of combination thereof. Frankly, I’m not convinced that the novel is all that certain of the nature of the project. I know a whole lot more of the drinking and drug habits of the characters than of the reason they’re together. The nephew is the Visionary, the friend is the brains behind things (although there’s very little time that I can tell you that he’s doing anything), and the uncle is the guy who lives in the house.

I do know that one of the side effects of this project is that it is some sort of miracle-grow product for plants — which means that the marijuana they use and sell to finance this project is larger, higher quality, etc. than one should expect. There is some contact with supernatural/spiritual entities, some with alien life (or they’re all three), a government agency and someone who’d done the same kind of work as these three earlier (and hints that they’re not alone).

I got frustrated with this novel quickly, but stuck with it hoping it’d change my mind (or that I’d at least figure it out), but the way that the story was told got in my way. Every time someone makes a decision, or gets a new piece of information, relaying that information/acting on the decision is put off for a day and a half (at least) for alcohol and recreation pharmaceutical use. During that day and a half any number of things can be said/happen that delays the relaying/acting. It is so infuriating. Maybe it’d have been better if the results of the binge-drinking, acid use, cocaine snorting, etc. were amusing or interesting, but I doubt it.

There was every reason in the world for me to get into this book, and I just couldn’t. Maybe it was my mood (I don’t think so, I wanted a book just like this at the time), maybe it was something else outside the book, so that I should recommend this to you all. But I’m pretty sure it was the book this time — if you’ve read this and disagree with me? I’d love to hear why. I wouldn’t mind changing my mind.

Disclaimer: I was given a copy of this book by the author in exchange for my honest opinion.

—–

2 Stars

Beneath the Sugar Sky by Seanan McGuire

Beneath the Sugar SkyBeneath the Sugar Sky

by Seanan McGuire
Series: Wayward Children, #3

Hardcover, 174 pg.
Tor Books, 2018

Read: January 11, 2018

Children have always tumbled down rabbit holes, fallen through mirrors, been swept away by unseasonal floods or carried off by tornadoes. Children have always traveled, and because they are young and bright and full of contradictions, they haven’t always restricted their travel to the possible. Adulthood brings limitations like gravity and linear space and the idea that bedtime is a real thing, and not an artificially imposed curfew. Adults can still tumble down rabbit holes and into enchanted wardrobes, but it happens less and less with every year they live. Maybe this is a natural consequence of living in a world where being careful is a necessary survival trait, where logic wears away the potential for something bigger and better than the obvious. Childhood melts, and flights of fancy are replaced by rules. Tornados kill people: they don’t carry them off to magical worlds. Talking foxes are a sign of fever, not guides sent to start some grand adventure.

But children, ah, children. Children follow the foxes, and open the wardrobes, and peek beneath the bridge. Children climb the walls and fall down the wells and run the razor’s edge of possibility until sometimes, just sometimes, the possible surrenders and shows them the way to go home.

So begins Beneath the Sugar Sky, the third installment of McGuire’s Wayward Children series. If you’d asked me why I was excited about this book before reading it, I could’ve given you a list of reasons — but I’d forgotten just how magical the books are. By the time I got to “ah, children” not only did I remember the magic, I was under its spell.

Sometime after the events of Every Heart a Doorway, two residents of Eleanor West’s Home are down at the pond (they returned from water-worlds, and this is the best they can get), when a naked girl lands in the pond (falling from apparently nowhere), demanding to see her mother, or at the very least, someone in charge. It turns out that this girl is Sumi’s daughter — the problem there is that Sumi died during Every Heart, so she didn’t get to mature a bit, go back to her world, defeat the evil Queen, get married and have Rini. Now, the Timeline is catching up to her, and faster than you can say Marty McFly, Rini is starting to disappear, finger by finger, limb by limb. This doesn’t sit well with her, as you can imagine.

I like existing. I’m not ready to unexist just because of stupid causality. I didn’t invite stupid causality to my birthday party, it doesn’t get to give me any presents.

So, four of the residents set off on a quest to bring Sumi back to life. This takes them across the U. S., into one of the worlds of the dead, and all around Sumi/Rini’s nonsense world. There’s heroism, mystery, sacrifice, triumph and cleverness all around, without which none of this would work, but with it all — and a healthy dose of magic — it’s a plan so crazy that it just might work.

I don’t want to talk too much about the characters apart from what I’ve already said (which is essentially nothing). In addition to Rini — we have a nice mix of new to us and returning friends — with one character that’s new to the Home as well as to us. I absolutely enjoyed getting the bonus time with the returning characters, the new (to us) characters were exactly the kind of kids you hope to find in these books. Also, some of the revelations about some secondary characters serve to explain a lot about the way this particular multiverse came to be and it’s pretty cool. So, basically, the character material in this novella is almost perfect.

I wasn’t as taken with Down Among the Sticks and Bones as I was with Every HeartEvery Heart was a wonderful mix of tragedy and violence with a sense of play (especially in the ideas and words) — there was hope throughout the book, even when it was dark for everyone and there was little reason for it. Down Among was about dashed hope and tragedy in a world of tragedy, dashed hopes and violence; yes, there as a little play with the language, and some moments of triumph, but they were all overshadowed. Which was fine, it was the story that needed to be told, and I’m not complaining, but Beneath the Sugar Sky was more of a return to the tone of Every Heart, so I liked it more than Down Among — I think it was a better book, too, but I could be wrong about it. I just know it was easier to like. There’s definitely tragedy, there are hard choices to be made — and I did say something about sacrifice — but there’s a strand of hope throughout that makes it so much easier to carry on.

One thing that has been on display throughout this series is a sense of play, a sense of fair tale worlds and logic reflected in the language McGuire uses — you’ve seen bits of it already above, just one more and I’ll call it good:

There was a door there, tall and imposing, the sort of door that belonged on a cathedral or a palace; the sort of door that said “keep out” far more loudly than it would ever dream of saying “come in.”

You know exactly what that door looks like, and you have a great sense of the environment around it, too. Just from that one sentence. McGuire has a great sense of style on display in the Toby Daye and InCryptid books, which is turned up in the Indexed serials, but is probably best seen in these books — capturing the feel of preternatural worlds has pushed her to unleash all of her pent-up linguistic magic. Even if I disliked the characters and stories she’s telling in this series, I think the language would bring me back.

I’m obviously a pretty big Seanan McGuire fan — just a quick glance at the archives will tell you that. But I’m willing to bet that even if I wasn’t predisposed to like her work, this series would’ve made me one — Beneath the Sugar Sky is a slice of literary perfection and I can’t encourage you enough to try it.

—–

5 Stars