the Little Red Reviewer

Posts Tagged ‘monsters

Railsea, by China Mieville

published May 2012

where I got it: purchased new

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

this is the story of a bloodstained boy.

A delightfully strange retelling of Moby Dick, Railsea has a number of literary nods on order – the asides that don’t have anything to do with our main characters but instead speak of the moler industry at large, the narrator breaking the fourth wall and teasing the reader, even a nice reference to Scylla and Carybdis.

Although Railsea is technically YA (no swearing, no sex, and no overt violence), Mieville never talks down to the reader. I suspect some fourteen year olds will put this book down after 50 pages, frustrated with coming across words they don’t know, whilst other fourteen year olds will simply find a dictionary or ask their parents what a certain word means. Sometimes the joy of reading is about the journey of the words, not the book you are reading.

We first meet our main character Sham ap Soorap when his moler train captures a giant moldywarpe and is chopping it up. The worst medical student ever, Sham is more generic helper on the train that useful physician’s assistant.  Young and unsure of where his life will take him, Sham seems to be going through the motions, hoping something will stand out as a sign of where his destiny lies.  The train travels its usual haunts, the captain constantly seeking information on the giant bone colored moldywarpe that took her arm.

Read the rest of this entry »

Servant of a Dark God by John Brown

published in 2009

Where I got it: Library

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.
In this traditional yet edgy fantasy world, Talen lives with his father and his brother and sister, and all they want is to live their lives in peace.  It’s an endearing opening scene in which we meet Talen’s family. They are kind people and interesting characters, it’s too bad they are Koramites.  Treated as second class citizens by the majority Mokaddians,  Talen and his family learn to keep their heads down and silently take the insults and beatings.  Although the racism gets pretty heavy handed, not every Mokaddian is an ignorant racist fool.

I wish Brown had explained the magic system a little better. There is a short glossary in the back, and I wish it had been longer, or that it had been in the beginning of the book. When it comes to priests and magical items, there is quite a bit of infodumping at the beginning of the book regarding who these people are and how these magical items work.  So many opportunities to show me, and instead, Brown just tells me in a almost technical writing type of way.

The most common magical items are something called weaves.  Often, but not always, woven of gold or silver or vines or even hair, weaves can only be bestowed by priests, known as Divines.  Weaves allow the wearer incredible strength, or the power to control elementals, sometimes even the power to multiply themselves. But it costs fire (the years of your life) and sometimes soul to use the magical weaves. To be caught with a weave that was not given to you by a Divine is to invite Death. The Divines know their hold on power over the people is tenuous, so they will do anything to keep that power. Including scapegoating an entire race. The monsters known as Sleth eat human souls, yet can pass for one of us.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Orphans Tales: In the Night Garden by Catherynne M. Valente

published in 2006

where I got it: library

why I read it: have really, really enjoyed other novels by this author

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

A cross between a book of Grimm’s fairy tales and 1001 Arabian Nights, The Orphans Tales: In the Night Garden, winner of the 2006 Tiptree Award, is unlike anything you have ever read.

At the very beginning, a unnamed girl who lives in a garden tells a boy she must tell her stories backwards, and that was always in the back of my mind as I read.  Not only did everything come together at the end, but so did the magical sentence “Stories are like prayers. It does not matter when you begin, or when you end. . . “   Have truer words every been spoken? Does it matter where you crack open your book of fairy tales? the witch  always shows up eventually, right?

And this book does have a witch, and a wizard, and pirates and monsters and griffins and eggs and firebirds and a tree-woman and a ship-tree and Stars that are Gods. Nested tale by nested tale, the mythology of the world grows and breathes to the point where you don’t know where reality ends, nor does it matter. This is a book that should be hoarded, should be meted out slowly, like Chocolate during a time of rationing.  I read this as fast as I could (which wasn’t very), treating it like a plot based story. Too much chocolate on an empty stomach makes anyone feel yucky.  Learn from my mistake: don’t read this book fast. Savor it.

Read the rest of this entry »


Follow me on Twitter!

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 2,608 other followers

Follow the Little Red Reviewer on WordPress.com

Archives

Categories

FTC Stuff

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.