I read these books in September but didn’t have a chance to post any reviews, so now here we are at Halloween and these are three perfect Halloween-time reads.
Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire
This series has been around for a while (since 2009), and most urban fantasy readers already know of Seanan McGuire. McGuire just won a Hugo for her novella Every Heart a Doorway, which I read and haven’t reviewed. Something about it didn’t click for me, but then the fairy world isn’t my favorite fantasy setting. This book focused less on the world of the fairies and more on what happens in our world.
I always had the idea that Rosemary and Rue would be about two characters with those names, but it’s not. It’s about October Daye, a half-human, half-fairy (or changeling) private investigator in San Francisco. This book begins in a haunting way: Daye is on a job when the guy she’s tailing, a powerful magician, lures her into Golden Gate Park, turns her into a fish and imprisons her for 14 years, during which time her husband gives her up for lost or dead and her daughter grows up without a mother. It may sound cheesy but the way McGuire writes completely sucked me into this story. I won’t tell you the rest but I am hooked and hope the rest of the series is as good.
Monstress by Marjorie M. Liu and illustrated by Sana Takeda:
I know nothing about graphic novels. I’ve only read one, and that was completely different (no science fiction or fantasy, for one thing). I picked up Monstress based on the fantastic reviews and the fact that the covers for each volume are absolutely gorgeous. Also there was a sale on Volume 1, which contains issues 1-6. The book is based on Japan in the 20’s, and while I know nothing about Japan, I love the Art Nouveau of the 10’s and 20’s, which is why this book grabbed me. The story is really complex, and I have to admit there was a lot I didn’t understand. I suspect that a second read would be really, really helpful.
A warning that this book is dark. I know, so is most science fiction and fantasy, but this book begins with the sale of a naked teenager who has one arm cut off. That’s page 1. Our heroine is fighting for her freedom and to help her friends, but she’s also trying to find out what happened to her mother, as well as to control the growing power within her. It’s an eerie and disturbing read, but an interesting one. Oh, and there’s cats, which is always a good thing.
Since I feel really unqualified to review a graphic novel, I’d love to hear from others who have read it. I’m eyeing Saga and Paper Girls for my next foray into graphic novels. Thoughts?
The Atrocity Archives by Charles Stross:
My husband describes this series as The Office meets Cthulhu (it’s also described as James Bond meets Lovecraftian horror, if that helps). Our hero, Bob, works for a secret British agency that deals with supernatural threats – so long as they complete the required paperwork, of course. I don’t know of another supernatural series that pokes this much fun at government and office work, and I enjoyed that about it. I also liked the fact that the hero isn’t this all-powerful detective; rather he’s a newbie who has to learn the ropes and work as part of a team.
The downside to this first book in the series was that, for me at least, the technology and science went over my head, and I just didn’t feel like the author’s target reader. Where a book like The Martian made the science 1) really accessible and 2) critical to the story, this book felt more like it was written by a guy who really likes to talk about computers and quantum physics and hopes you do, too. I found myself skimming over a lot of it and hoping it wasn’t too necessary to the story. There’s also a love interest that wasn’t well-developed (but maybe it will be in later stories).
This is one of those books I hesitate to categorize as fantasy OR science fiction. Regardless, if you like snark, this series is worth checking out. As a government employee I appreciated it for the jokes about memos and time-keeping. The book also contains a short story called “The Concrete Jungle” which made a bit more sense and had a stronger female character. Stross also writes a great blog, also worth checking out.