the Little Red Reviewer

Posts Tagged ‘Fae

Bloodstone (Rebel Angels, book 2) by Gillian Philip

published November 2013

where I got it: received review copy from the publisher (thanks Tor!)

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Earlier this year the first book in the Rebel Angel series, Firebrand, really hit me hard. No, “hit me hard” isn’t quite right, “destroyed me where I stood” is closer to the mark.  Having survived that, I thought I had an idea of what to expect with Bloodstone, I knew to emotionally steel myself.

Seth’s MacGregor’s inner conflicts are tearing him apart, and one day it’s going to rip a hole in him so wide that another person could walk right through. What do you do when your family needs you to be someone you’re not? How do you tell someone a truth that might kill them?  How do you run from one, and face the other? Didn’t matter that I thought I was preparing myself. I was still completely floored from the first page to the last.

Seth  means to do the right thing. He wants to be as brave and mature as his older brother Conal, whom he idolizes. But Seth just isn’t that person, and he’s never going to be. He’s always going to prefer flirting to politics and fists to compromise.  Seth is no one’s hero, and he doesn’t want to be. Doesn’t matter, you’ll still love him.

The Rebel Angels series has everything I look for in a good story – compelling characters who act like real people, dialog that’s got some humor to it (when Jed finds out Seth is a fae, there is no end of Tinkerbell and other fairy jokes),  misunderstood promises and prophecies with unintentional and painful consequences. No “chosen ones” here, just people who were in the wrong place at the wrong time, people who couldn’t fathom the consequences of their actions. There is a long conversation in here somewhere about free will.

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Seanan McGuire has been all over Hugo nominations these last few years. I admit I’ve read very little of her work, so these two novelettes served as a good introduction to her urban fantasy. Both novelettes take place in the same universe as the October Daye series, but these aren’t stories about Toby Daye, but rather the supernatural fae and luidaeg creatures who also inhabit the world. It’s my personal opinion that Hugo nominated work should stand on its own, so don’t worry if you go into these having not read anything in the October Daye series, or anything else of McGuire’s.

This post finishes off my reviews of the Hugo nominated novelettes. Click back a couple of days to read my reviews of The Girl-Thing Who Went Out for Sushi by Pat Catigan, Fade to White by Catherynne M. Valente and The Boy Who Cast No Shadow by Thomas Olde Heuvelt.

sea salt tears

In Sea Salt Tears
(available to read for free, here)

I always like me a Selkie story, but the conceit that not all Selkies receive a skin is a refreshing twist. In a skinning ceremony, a young Selkie receives their skin because an elderly relative has finally decided to pass it on. Each family has a limited number of skins, and children know their chances at inheriting a skin are directly proportional to their status in their families. Put bluntly, black sheep don’t swim.

Liz and her friends are “celebrating” that their friend Daisy finally received her skin. And by celebrating I mean they all smile and hug Daisy and say how happy they are for her, and then retreat to the beach to drink and feel sorry for themselves. Liz is only sixteen, too young to be cynical, but too old to be as naive as the children who are still playing at the beach house. She’ll get her skin any year now, right?

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War for the OaksWar for the Oaks, by Emma Bull

published in 1987

where I got it: library

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I wish I’d read War For The Oaks years ago. I wish this had been the book that had introduced me to Urban Fantasy. People, this is what Urban Fantasy can be. This is what it should be. Lyrical and funny, shadowy and mysterious, War For The Oaks grabbed me on page one and never let go. I kept trying to read bits and pieces of it out-loud to my other half, who kept telling me to quit that, because he wanted to read it next.

The novel opens with last show of Eddi McCandry’s band. Her boyfriend Stuart is a mess, the band isn’t playing what the bar patrons want to hear, a both a band break-up and a romantic one follow in quick succession. Good thing on both fronts, or Eddi would never get the chance to start an even better band with her best friend Carla.

When a Phouka shows up in her life and announces he is her new bodyguard against the Unseelie, Eddi tells him to get lost and threatens to call the cops. She might be recently unemployed, but she’s not crazy. It’s funny, because we’ve all read urban fantasies, we’d all know a pooka or a Sidhe when we see one (or at least like to think we would), but Eddi doesn’t. She’s never read an urban fantasy novel before, and she doesn’t know how these stories go.

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The other day I got to interview Gillian Philip, author of one of my favorite new novels, Firebrand.   I got talking on twitter with Seth MacGregor (the main character of Firebrand), and managed to convince him to answer a few interview questions too. He claims Gillian doesn’t let him have any fun, but he has got a weakness for twitter, Joss Whedon TV shows, modern conveniences, and finding trouble.

If you’re already a fan of Firebrand, go harass Seth on twitter. If not, learn what all the fuss is about by reading my interview with Gillian Philip, or my reaction to the book.

firebrand UK

Gillian never lets you do anything fun? I find that hard to believe. I also find it hard to believe she could stop you, if you really wanted to do something. I’ve never interviewed someone like you before. be gentle with me. 😉

Hi Andrea! Oh, Gillian’s such a control freak. At least she’d like to be, and she thinks she has a say in anything I do. Ha. Given what she puts me through, I think I deserve a bit of fun. And thank you for interviewing me. She-Who-Would-Like-To-Be-Obeyed has tried to make me promise I won’t flirt, but hey, I have given no oath, and all that.

Unlike many other Sithe, you can actually physically feel the veil, you can pull it and pinch it, hold it between your fingers. What does it feel like? you wouldn’t um, do anything to harm it, would you?

I’m absolutely not supposed to be able to do that, so this is between you and me, okay? I mean, the Sithe don’t burn witches, and they have a healthy respect for them, but… they tend not to be all that fond of them. So anyway, yes, I can feel the veil. It’s kind of… elusive. Sometimes it feels like very, very fine silk; sometimes it’s so fragile it’s more like mist. Or like mist would be if you could touch it, if that makes sense. It isn’t visible.

And no, I wouldn’t harm it even if I could. It’s too valuable as a defense. I am tempted to tweak it a little, just occasionally; like, say, if a gorgeous full-mortal blogger is asking me questions and I want to hold her attention.

But I can’t damage it, or tear it. There’s no-one on earth who can do that, even if the blasted thing is dying all by itself.

Can you tell me more about your water-horse? the first time you met it (her? him?) was one of my favorite scenes in Firebrand.

Ah, thank you! That is one of my favourite memories, I’ve got to say. I think I fell in love with that kelpie before I’d even seen it. It’s pretty hard to master a water-horse; once you get on one you can’t get off, and they’ll only answer to the right bridle and the right mind, so I was kind of proud I didn’t get killed.

My blue roan isn’t exactly Champion the Wonder Horse; if he found a kid in trouble he’d probably eat it instead of going for help. He’s voracious and he’s violent – great in a fight – and he can be fickle. He’s not as obedient as Conal’s horse, and I wouldn’t trust him with puppies or small children. But he’s loyal to the death and I love him.

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Firebrand, by Gillian Philip

published February of 2013

where I got it: received review copy from the publisher (thanks Tor!)

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I wanted to write a formal review of Firebrand. I tried to. Really, I did. But nothing I typed was conveying anything I wanted to say. Thus,  this post is more emotional reaction than formal-ish review. Shit happens.

I’m having a tough time coming up with words to describe Firebrand. Words like wonderful and amazing and stunning just aren’t going to do it this time. What’s the word for the taste of a late summer heirloom tomato warmed by the sun? What’s the word for that feeling in your chest when listening to a beautiful piece of music, and the groundedness of the cello and tympani reverberates right through you and reminds you who you are? That word for wanting to trap perfect moments forever in amber, so you can watch the sunlight get caught in them?  Those. those are the words I need for Firebrand. The last book that made me feel this way was The Name of The Wind, by Patrick Rothfuss.  I felt like I was waking up.

Philip effortlessly reached into the recesses of my mind, found the story I most wanted to hear, and then she put it on paper. I was addicted in the first few pages, and the book only got better. Everything you think a fantasy about fae creatures is, everything you expect, throw all of that out the window, right now. Firebrand is something new.

Instead of prattling on and on about the plot, I’m going to tell you the most important thing, and the thing that bound me instantly to Firebrand: Seth MacGregor idolizes his older half-brother Conal.  The first time we meet Seth, he’s readying himself to murder his brother.

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some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.
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