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Saturday, September 18, 2010

Recent Contemporary and Inventive Fantasy Reviewed on FBC (by Liviu)

All the novels presented below have several characteristics in common; they take place "today", by which I mean the contemporary post 1980's world. They have elements of the fantastic - sometimes very slight and implied only, but still there. And most crucially, the fantastic is localized and not embedded in the fabric of civilization as it is in traditional UF, so for example most of the rest of the world outside the respective novels' cast is not aware of it. Or in other words, there is no "psychic" detective agency or sorcerous academy of kick-bottom-leather-dressed-heroines and while magical creatures like elves, Father Christmas or ghosts may appear, they do not give interviews on TV or have blogs on the Web...

There are several more novels I liked and reviewed but I did not include, The Ninth Circle by Alex Bell, The Memorist by MJ Rose, Angelglass by David Barnett and In the Courts of the Sun by Brian D'Amato because they are closer to thrillers/sf than to fantasy and A Madness of Angels by Kate Griffin because it is traditional UF, the only one I read and enjoyed though I do not feel an urge to read more in the series for now.

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In alphabetical author order:



Bell, Alex, Jasmyn
"black swans falling from the sky"

Davidson, Andrew, The Gargoyle
"third degree burns and past lives"

Doubinsky, S├ębastien, The Babylonian Trilogy
"magical cities"

Elliot, Will, The Pilo Family Circus
"you won't look at clowns the same again"

Groff, Laureen, The Monsters of Templeton
"girl comes home for a break and she discovers secrets"

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Hall, Sarah, How to Paint a Dead Man
"intertwined stories of art and a bit of magic"

Heaney, William aka Joyce, Graham, Memoirs of a Master Forger or How to Make Friends with Demons
"the combination of the UK and US title says it all"

Lamplighter, L Jagi, Prospero Lost
"Prospero and Miranda balance magic and reality; Miranda visits Father Christmas"

Niffenegger, Audrey, Her Fearful Symmetry
"twins, ghosts, cemetery, secrets"

Oyeyemi, Helen, White is for Witching
"girl lives in haunted house, house loves girl"

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Shaw, Ali, The Girl with Glass Feet
"the title says it all"

Warrington, Freda, Elfland
"elf family saga in the British countryside"

Wolfe, Gene, The Sorcerer's House
"indeed!"

Zarioiu, Dorin Cristian, The Labyrinth
"a very unexpected meaning of labyrinth"


I am always interested and on the lookout for this kind of novels - of course I need to like the writing - and I am planning to read/review Prospero in Hell soon, while the sort-of-sequel to Elfland, Midsummer Night (Nov 2010, review in due course, elves, art and magic here though the family saga aspect is still present) has a bit unexpectedly become one of my top novels of the year .

4 comments:

Sarah said...

I really enjoyed Prospero Lost and Elfland. I plan on fully exploring more of these titles fairly soon. I have discovered through those books that not UF is about hunky vampires and hot women with unruly curls who fall in love in the midst of some investigative incident. Now I feel like I should explore the genre a bit more.

Liviu said...

There are definitely more titles like these that I did not like for a reason or another, but I am always looking for such.

Richard R. said...

Interesting to me, I don't like a single cover here. I know it's a matter of taste, but these are blah or worse.

Liviu said...

Richard: interesting observation; for myself, while I bought 9 of the books above and got 6 as arcs, I mostly knew of them from other sources, so covers did not enter my decision to get or read them, maybe except for the Doubsinky book which wowed me with the cover on the first page of the pdf-arc I got.

But I utterly love the Gargoyle cover and I like a lot the second Warrington cover and the ones for Jasmyn and Sorcerer's House.

Labyrinth, How to Paint a Dead Man and White is for Witching have covers that would make me pick up the books in store wherever they are shelved, while the PS covers (Doubinsky and Eliott) are distinctive too.

Then there are the "literary" covers - Niffenegger and Shaw - nothing that original but also covers I would check the book in store

I like much less the Prospero, the US cover of Joyce's book and the one of Monsters of Templeton, but the UK cover of Joyce's book is wonderful imho

I did a post with favorite covers a while ago and explained for many of the books how the cover participated in my decision to get/read the book, though usually it applies only to books I do not know anything about

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