Comedy, Tragedy, Horror and Drama. And I also like reading.
Books Read in 2019: Four-Star Fantasy, Science Fiction, Horror
January, man. Not The January Man, (fun movie, I love Kevin Kline, what's he doing these days? Oh right, Ricky and the Flash, and Beauty and the Beast. And whatever The Good House is, I'll have to check it out). January. I don't think it's self-fulfilling prophecy that January is difficult for me. I almost always start out optimistic. Last week was great. I felt so calm and in control. I would work my shifts with kindness and intention. I would refuse to be thrown off by small irritations (teachers who send small children to the library to make incomprehensible requests while I have another class. It's okay. Teachers, chronically overworked, big fan, I will roll with it). I would cook nutritious meals for my family (first pot roast in months. MONTHS. Rosemary and garlic and kosher salt, which I now want to adorn everything with because it smells heavenly). I would read my two books - one escapist, one topical. And it all went swimmingly. Until I finished the two books. Suddenly it was like when you're on a dark road in a provincial park at night and you have your flashlight on and the path seems so clear and easy that you're confident that if the flashlight goes out you will have no trouble staying on the path. But then the flashlight goes out and everything is dark and you realize that you're an idiot and your memory is shit and and there's poison ivy everywhere and everything is horrible. I tweaked my hip doing something stupidly ordinary. I had a bit of a stomach virus. We had twenty-four hours of rain that turned to freezing rain. I feel betrayed by this body and this weather, although it's entirely probable that I would have taken a nosedive even if I'd stayed pain-free. I don't know about the weather. Sometimes I really wonder if my mental health would be better if we lived somewhere different. It becomes hard to talk to anybody while stuck in this state because if people don't get it, even if they're sympathetic, you feel like you're just whining and they'll get tired of you, and if they do get it you're afraid of dragging them down further. So I'm just going to leave it here and get on with the book reviewing. And Suz, geez, I would never judge anyone for listening to Flea's memoir. The Red Hot Chili Peppers was one of the best concerts I ever saw at Bluesfest (also the only time I ever seriously wondered if I was going to die at Bluesfest, I may have mentioned that once or twice) and one of my memories from that night was my friend's son asking solemnly if Flea was insane. I also think it's not much of a mystery why busy mothers start to find it difficult to sit still and focus on one thing - we're hardly ever allowed to.
Fantasy/Sci-Fi/Horror The Impossible Lives of Greta Wellsby Andrew Sean Greer. Synopsis from Goodreads: 1985. After the death of her beloved twin brother, Felix, and the break up with her long-time lover, Nathan, Greta Wells embarks on a radical psychiatric treatment to alleviate her suffocating depression. But the treatment has unexpected effects, and Greta finds herself transported to the lives she might have had if she'd been born in a different era. During the course of her treatment, Greta cycles between her own time and her alternate lives in 1918, as a bohemian adulteress, and 1941, as a devoted mother and wife. Separated by time and social mores, Greta's three lives are achingly similar, fraught with familiar tensions and difficult choices. Each reality has its own losses, its own rewards, and each extracts a different price. And the modern Greta learns that her alternate selves are unpredictable, driven by their own desires and needs. As her final treatment looms, questions arise. What will happen once each Greta learns how to stay in one of the other worlds? Who will choose to remain in which life? Magically atmospheric, achingly romantic, The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells beautifully imagines "what if" and wondrously wrestles with the impossibility of what could be. This would be a bit of a guilty pleasure if I believed in being guilty about 'guilty' pleasures, which I don't. It's pretty goofy even for a time-travel book - the way Greta is shuffled in an orderly fashion through three time periods at every electroconvulsive therapy session. I just liked seeing the different time periods and how her life played out in each one, and the implications of deciding if it was better to have a cherished person be dead or be alive but living a terribly unhappy life. It was just a really fun read.
Here and Now and Then by Mike Chen. Synopsis from Goodreads:To save his daughter, he'll go anywhere—and any-when… Kin Stewart is an everyday family man: working in I.T., trying to keep the spark in his marriage, and struggling to connect with his teenage daughter, Miranda. But his current life is a far cry from his previous career as a time-traveling secret agent from 2142. Stranded in suburban San Francisco since the 1990s after a botched mission, Kin has kept his past hidden from everyone around him, despite the increasing blackouts and memory loss affecting his time-traveler's brain. Until one afternoon, his “rescue” team arrives—eighteen years too late. Their mission: return Kin to 2142 where he's only been gone weeks, not years, and where another family is waiting for him. A family he can’t remember. Torn between two lives, Kin is desperate for a way to stay connected to both. But when his best efforts threaten to destroy the agency and even history itself, his daughter’s very existence is at risk. It'll take one final trip across time to save Miranda—even if it means breaking all the rules of time travel in the process. A uniquely emotional genre-bending debut, Here and Now and Then captures the perfect balance of heart, playfulness, and imagination, offering an intimate glimpse into the crevices of a father’s heart, and its capacity to stretch across both space and time to protect the people that mean the most. More time travel, but also some family drama, some evil corporation intrigue, a focus on relationships and difficult choices, some entertaining world-building for the future setting (Kin is short for 'Quinoa' because when he was born everyone was naming babies after food), and another all-around fun read.
A People's Future of the United States: Speculative Fiction from 25 Extraordinary Writers, edited by Victor Lavalle. Synopsis from Goodreads:What if America's founding ideals finally became reality? A future of peace, justice, and love comes to life in original speculative stories that challenge oppression and embrace inclusiveness--from N. K. Jemisin, Charles Yu, Jamie Ford, and more. For many Americans, imagining a bright future has always been an act of resistance. A People's Future of the United States presents twenty-five never-before-published stories by a diverse group of writers, featuring voices both new and well-established. These stories imagine their characters fighting everything from government surveillance, to corporate cities, to climate change disasters, to nuclear wars. But fear not: A People's Future also invites readers into visionary futures in which the country is shaped by justice, equity, and joy. Edited by Victor LaValle and John Joseph Adams, this collection features a glittering landscape of moving, visionary stories written from the perspective of people of color, indigenous writers, women, queer & trans people, Muslims and other people whose lives are often at risk.
I love the thought of imagining a bright future being an act of resistance. There's a lot of darkness here, but also some agreeably audacious hopefulness. A lot of my favourite sci-fi and fantasy writers were included also. The Bookstore at the end of American is sweet and familial and involves a bookstore, so I loved it. Our Aim is Not to Die is terrifying. Calendar Girls is a stunningly satisfying sort of wish-fulfillment about the men who want to decide what women should do with their bodies and how the tables might be turned. Esperanto was wonderful. Harmony is by Seanan McGuire and she is in her inclusive element. Now Wait for This Week is horrible and also brilliant and wonderful - a twisted Groundhog Day. This is a very strong anthology.
Wicked Wonders by Ellen Klages. Synopsis from Goodreads: The award-winning author of The Green Glass Sea returns with smart and subversive new tales A rebellious child identifies with Maleficent instead of Sleeping Beauty. Best friends Anna and Corry share one last morning on Earth. A solitary woman inherits a penny arcade haunted by a beautiful stranger. A prep-school student requires more than luck when playing dice with a faerie. Ladies who lunch—dividing one last bite of dessert—delve into new dimensions of quantum politeness. At summer camp, a young girl discovers the heartbreak of forbidden love. Whether on a habitat on Mars or in a boardinghouse in London, discover Ellen Klages’ wicked, wondrous adventures full of cheeky wit, empathy, and courage.
I'm still generally willing to follow Ellen Klages anywhere. I didn't love this quite as much as Portable Childhoods (probably because nothing is ever going to live up to In the House of the Seven Librarians). She writes beautifully, and I love the casual representation of LGBTQ stuff and the empowered women. I'm not sure why she has such a fixation on the fifties - maybe she sees it as the peak time for repressive attitudes towards what little girls should be like, which is understandable. For me it was getting the tiniest bit stale, or rather I'd just like to see what she does with something more contemporary. There was one story that was an incredibly lovely coming-of-age tale and then there was a twist that seemed unnecessary and kind of mean. The story about her father's Scary Ham was hilarious. I liked the variety and the stories that were good were very very good. I would give this five stars if I hadn't read Portable Childhoods, which just illustrates the weirdness of the five-star scale. So four-and-a-half, I guess.
Passing Strange by Ellen Klages. Synopsis from Goodreads: San Francisco in 1940 is a haven for the unconventional. Tourists flock to the cities within the city: the Magic City of the World’s Fair on an island created of artifice and illusion; the forbidden city of Chinatown, a separate, alien world of exotic food and nightclubs that offer “authentic” experiences, straight from the pages of the pulps; and the twilight world of forbidden love, where outcasts from conventional society can meet. Six women find their lives as tangled with each other’s as they are with the city they call home. They discover love and danger on the borders where mystery, science, and art intersect.
This was absolutely beautiful. The descriptions of San Francisco are exquisite all on their own, and the little world she creates between her characters is an absolute gem. She weaves a tale of feminine secrecy and power and also a story of a very precise and exquisite sort of magic. I'm not usually drawn to historical fiction, but this kind is very much my thing.
As She Climbed Across the Table by Jonathan Lethem. Synopsis from Goodreads: Anna Karenina left her husband for a dashing officer. Lady Chatterley left hers for the gamekeeper. Now Alice Coombs has her boyfriend for nothing … nothing at all. Just how that should have come to pass and what Philip Engstrand, Alice’s spurned boyfriend, can do about it is the premise for this vertiginous speculative romance by the acclaimed author of Gun, with Occasional Music. Alice Coombs is a particle physicist, and she and her colleagues have created a void, a hole in the universe, that they have taken to calling Lack. But Lack is a nullity with taste—tastes; it absorbs a pomegranate, light bulbs, an argyle sock; it disdains a bow tie, an ice ax, and a scrambled duck egg. To Alice, this selectivity translates as an irresistible personality. To Philip, it makes Lack an unbeatable rival, for how can he win Alice back from something that has no flaws—because it has no qualities? Ingenious, hilarious, and genuinely mind-expanding, As She Climbed Across the Table is the best boy-meets-girl-meets-void story ever written.
I think I remember (but don't hold me to it, the memory these days, she is unsteady and prone to immense wrongnesses) hearing about this book waaaaaay back when I worked at my first bookstore. Let me see if the dates line up. They do, score! I thought it sounded really cool and thought I would read it. I then somehow managed NOT to for some twentyish years. I hadn't read anything by Lethem, in fact, although he was on my list. I finally sought this out when I realized it would fill a Book Bingo square and it did pretty much hold up to my hopes even two decades later. Having spent a few years in the ivory tower, I enjoy books that skewer academia gently, without being too mean about it, which this does. I also like how this uses quantum physics (a fascinating concept on its own) to render an all-too-common scenario - sometimes the person you love falls in love with someone(thing) else, someone(thing) wholly wrong for them, for incomprehensible reasons, and there is just nothing you can do about it. There are two really endearing blind men too, although I'm wary of using people with disabilities as devices of comic relief or mysticism. This was a smart, interesting read that put a different, scientific spin on human relationships and I'm glad I finally tracked it down.
The Book of M by Peng Shepherd. Synopsis from Goodreads: Set in a dangerous near future world, The Book of M tells the captivating story of a group of ordinary people caught in an extraordinary catastrophe who risk everything to save the ones they love. It is a sweeping debut that illuminates the power that memories have not only on the heart, but on the world itself. One afternoon at an outdoor market in India, a man’s shadow disappears—an occurrence science cannot explain. He is only the first. The phenomenon spreads like a plague, and while those afflicted gain a strange new power, it comes at a horrible price: the loss of all their memories. Ory and his wife Max have escaped the Forgetting so far by hiding in an abandoned hotel deep in the woods. Their new life feels almost normal, until one day Max’s shadow disappears too. Knowing that the more she forgets, the more dangerous she will become to Ory, Max runs away. But Ory refuses to give up the time they have left together. Desperate to find Max before her memory disappears completely, he follows her trail across a perilous, unrecognizable world, braving the threat of roaming bandits, the call to a new war being waged on the ruins of the capital, and the rise of a sinister cult that worships the shadowless. As they journey, each searches for answers: for Ory, about love, about survival, about hope; and for Max, about a new force growing in the south that may hold the cure.
I initially gave this three stars, but upon reflection I'm upping it to four. I personally feel more like I liked it than that I really liked it, but when I think back on it, I'm pretty sure that's on me and the timing and last year's interminable goddamned winter and not on the book. The writing is good, the story is imaginative and heartfelt, and I can still remember quite a few scenes quite clearly. Just today I was on the Tor website and saw this included on a list of books classified as "hopepunk", where the world effectively ends but humanity doesn't devolve into a welter of violence and despair. I have a feeling this will be a good reread, maybe this year.
Famous Men Who Never Lived by K. Chess. Synopsis from Goodreads: Wherever Hel looks, New York City is both reassuringly familiar and terribly wrong. As one of the thousands who fled the outbreak of nuclear war in an alternate United States—an alternate timeline—she finds herself living as a refugee in our own not-so-parallel New York. The slang and technology are foreign to her, the politics and art unrecognizable. While others, like her partner Vikram, attempt to assimilate, Hel refuses to reclaim her former career or create a new life. Instead, she obsessively rereads Vikram’s copy of The Pyronauts—a science fiction masterwork in her world that now only exists as a single flimsy paperback—and becomes determined to create a museum dedicated to preserving the remaining artifacts and memories of her vanished culture. But the refugees are unwelcome and Hel’s efforts are met with either indifference or hostility. And when the only copy of The Pyronauts goes missing, Hel must decide how far she is willing to go to recover it and finally face her own anger, guilt, and grief over what she has truly lost.
One of the most fascinating thing to me about time travel stories (although this is alternate world, not time travel) and also one of my recurring nightmares, is the fact of a character being torn out of their proper time and place and having to adjust to a new on. It's why I loved An Ocean of Minutes, where time travelers were basically immigrants, with all the baggage and disadvantages implied by the term. This was extremely bittersweet, mournful and elegaic, again with a strong theme of asylum seeking and refugee status. It reads so realistically that it's easy to forget that it is fantastic literature. Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero. Synopsis from Goodreads: 1990. The teen detectives once known as the Blyton Summer Detective Club (of Blyton Hills, a small mining town in the Zoinx River Valley in Oregon) are all grown up and haven't seen each other since their fateful, final case in 1977. Andy, the tomboy, is twenty-five and on the run, wanted in at least two states. Kerri, one-time kid genius and budding biologist, is bartending in New York, working on a serious drinking problem. At least she's got Tim, an excitable Weimaraner descended from the original canine member of the team. Nate, the horror nerd, has spent the last thirteen years in and out of mental health institutions, and currently resides in an asylum in Arhkam, Massachusetts. The only friend he still sees is Peter, the handsome jock turned movie star. The problem is, Peter's been dead for years. The time has come to uncover the source of their nightmares and return to where it all began in 1977. This time, it better not be a man in a mask. The real monsters are waiting. I watched Scooby Doo as a child, I watched it again with my children, and I just recently saw the Supernatural episode Scoobynatural, so obviously I was eager to take a crack at this. Similar to The Light Between Worlds focusing on what would happen if the kids had to come home from Narnia and never go back, this posits what might happen once The Scooby Gang grew up (and their last case wasn't actually solved and actually involved otherworldly creatures and alchemy and sorcery rather than just unscrupulous real estate developers, and if Daphne was gay and Shaggy ended up in an institution for the mentally unstable and Fred was a ghost). I mostly really liked it - the relationships between the members of the gang, the getting-the-band-back-together, the Lovecraftian eldritch horrors. The only thing that bothered me were the parts where Cantero tried to write out fight scenes step by step, which gets really tedious and confusing. Overall, great fun. The Need by Helen Phillips. Synopsis from Goodreads: When Molly, home alone with her two young children, hears footsteps in the living room, she tries to convince herself it’s the sleep deprivation. She’s been hearing things these days. Startling at loud noises. Imagining the worst-case scenario. It’s what mothers do, she knows. But then the footsteps come again, and she catches a glimpse of movement. Suddenly Molly finds herself face-to-face with an intruder who knows far too much about her and her family. As she attempts to protect those she loves most, Molly must also acknowledge her own frailty. Molly slips down an existential rabbit hole where she must confront the dualities of motherhood: the ecstasy and the dread; the languor and the ferocity; the banality and the transcendence as the book hurtles toward a mind-bending conclusion. In The Need, Helen Phillips has created a subversive, speculative thriller that comes to life through blazing, arresting prose and gorgeous, haunting imagery. Anointed as one of the most exciting fiction writers working today, The Need is a glorious celebration of the bizarre and beautiful nature of our everyday lives.
For much of the first part of this book I didn't know what the hell was going on, but in a good way. There was a delicious sense of mounting strangeness, and the eventual payoff was not disappointing in the least. The writing was beautiful, and completely relatable for anyone who has or has had small children and knows the wonderful, terrible, joyful, depleted insanity this can plunge a woman into. "A glorious celebration of the bizarre and beautiful nature of our everyday lives" pretty much nails it. I loved how this was basically reality but a quarter-turn to the strange. I didn't love the ending, but I loved the rest of it enough to overlook that, and I'm not sure what kind of ending would have been better anyway.
The Light Between Worlds by Laura E. Weymouth. Synopsis from Goodreads: Five years ago, Evelyn and Philippa Hapwell cowered from air strikes in a London bomb shelter. But that night took a turn when the sisters were transported to another realm called the Woodlands. In a forest kingdom populated by creatures out of myth and legend, they found temporary refuge. When they finally returned to London, nothing had changed at all—nothing, except themselves. Now, Ev spends her days sneaking into the woods outside her boarding school, wishing for the Woodlands. Overcome with longing, she is desperate to return no matter what it takes. Philippa, on the other hand, is determined to find a place in this world. She shields herself behind a flawless exterior and countless friends, and moves to America to escape the memory of what was. But when Evelyn goes missing, Philippa must confront the depth of her sister’s despair and the painful truths they’ve been running from. As the weeks unfold, Philippa wonders if Ev truly did find a way home, or if the weight of their worlds pulled her under. (Content Warnings The Light Between Worlds portrays characters dealing with depression, self-harm, post-traumatic stress disorder, suicidal ideation, illness and disordered eating, and the loss of a loved one. It refers to possible suicide, contains scenes of violence and war, and brief mentions may be unsettling to readers with emetophobia. If you have any questions about these warnings, or require more details, please don’t hesitate to get in touch via the contact page on the author's website.) This was so beautiful and so, so sad. I'm a little fed up with all the reviews deeming it merely "Narnia fan-fiction". First of all, Narnia is probably the best-known but not the only portal fantasy ever. Second, the focus of the book is on what happens when you visit "Narnia" and then have to come back to our world, so if anything it's an homage or a play on Narnia, but that certainly doesn't make it merely derivative or fan-fiction. Evelyn's struggle is vividly, painfully rendered, and I wasn't ready to switch to Philippa's point of view, but then that completely swept me in too (people also complained about the "confusing" point-of-view switch. Geez, maybe these people just haven't read much). Either read straight or as a metaphor for depression, this is a beautiful, sensitive, luminous book, but it is very sad and should probably not be read by anyone living in Canada (or possibly anywhere that isn't Hawaii) in January.
Someone Like Me by M.R. Carey. Synopsis from Goodreads: She looks like me. She sounds like me. Now she's trying to take my place. Liz Kendall wouldn't hurt a fly. She's a gentle woman devoted to bringing up her kids in the right way, no matter how hard times get. But there's another side to Liz - one which is dark and malicious. A version of her who will do anything to get her way, no matter how extreme or violent. And when this other side of her takes control, the consequences are devastating. The only way Liz can save herself and her family is if she can find out where this new alter-ego has come from, and how she can stop it. Oh lord, I have a multitude of conflicting feelings and ideas about this book. I freely admit that several of them are almost certainly due to the current political climate and my mood at the time of reading. There is also the fact that it's going to be almost impossible for Carey to write a book that I love as much as The Girl With All the Gifts - this must be the blessing and the curse that is writing a near-perfect novel. The first couple chapters of this left me underwhelmed. I kept reading and became more engaged. Then for a few chapters I was all in - it had that Stephen King deliciousness of a bewildering set of conditions that hinted at an imaginative and startling revelation. It wasn't that this failed to materialize, exactly, but the last quarter or so of the book devolved into something that I seem to remember from Fellside as well - a lot of disembodied consciousnesses floating around in a void, trying to figure out how to move or fight or do anything other than be floating around in a void. A key point in the struggle hinged on a fairly ridiculous "hunch". This wasn't a total deal-breaker, I was okay with some of the imaginary-friend type stuff, but it went a little derivative and needed a little tightening, in my opinion.
On the whole, I liked this more than Fellside but (obviously) less than The Girl With All the Gifts. I did suddenly wonder at one point why the author - a man - seems to have a marked preference for writing female characters. Melanie and Dr. Caldwell in GWAtG, Jess Moulson in Fellside, and now Liz Kendall. It's not that I'm on the "absolutely no voice-appropriation ever" team. But why a woman every time? And why is she usually a drug addict or a victim of domestic violence? And why is the only way Liz can get free of her husband to let a psycho bitch take over her body? Like I said, outside events are almost absolutely colouring my opinion here. I'd still be interested to know.
I just upped my review to four stars from three because I went back to my review of Fellside and saw that I gave it three stars. And there was a lot here that I liked - the growing relationship between Zac and Fran, that Fran's dad is such a good guy, that the cops aren't evil or incompetent. It was a good book. Needed less existential void and more zombies.
A Good Marriage by Stephen King. Synopsis from Goodreads: What happens when, on a perfectly ordinary evening, all the things you believed in and took for granted are turned upside down? When her husband of more than 20 years is away on one of his business trips, Darcy Anderson looks for batteries in the garage. Her toe knocks up against a box under a worktable and she discovers the stranger inside her husband. It's a horrifying discovery, rendered with bristling intensity, and it definitively ends a good marriage. This was written in 2014, and I just discovered it this year - wtf? I could swear that I read another King story about a woman who starts to suspect her husband is a serial killer years ago, but I can't find evidence of it anywhere. Maybe it was by someone else, or maybe I made it up out of whole cloth. This was very well done - the couple settling into comfortable middle age, the accidental discovery, the dawning horror, the anatomy of the relationship, the fallout. It's been made into a movie, which I thought I didn't want to see, but it stars Joan Allen and Anthony LaPaglia, so maybe I do.
The House Next Door by Anne Rivers Siddons. Synopsis from Goodreads:Thirty-something Colquitt and Walter Kennedy live in a charming, peaceful suburb of the newly bustling Atlanta. Life is made up of enjoyable work, long, lazy weekends, and the company of good neighbors. Then, to their shock, construction starts on the vacant lot next door, a wooded hillside they'd believed would always remain undeveloped. Soon, though, they come to realize that more is wrong than their diminished privacy. Surely the house can't be "haunted," yet something about it seems to destroy the goodness of every person who comes to live in it, until the entire heart of this friendly neighborhood threatens to be torn apart. I heard someone - maybe Hannah? describe this as the essential classic haunted house story, so I read it - reread it, as it turns out, since I recognized a couple of scenes and realized that I read it when I was quite a bit too young to really understand it. Some reviewers thought it was too dated to still be effective, but I don't agree. I thought it was masterfully pieced together, the mounting tension was delicious, it was nice to see a strongly united couple set against the nefarious force instead of one isolated person, and I thoroughly enjoyed the reading experience.
The Invisible Library (The Invisible Library #1) by Genevieve Cogman. Synopsis from Goodreads: Irene must be at the top of her game or she'll be off the case - permanently... Irene is a professional spy for the mysterious Library, which harvests fiction from different realities. And along with her enigmatic assistant Kai, she's posted to an alternative London. Their mission - to retrieve a dangerous book. But when they arrive, it's already been stolen. London's underground factions seem prepared to fight to the very death to find her book. Adding to the jeopardy, this world is chaos-infested - the laws of nature bent to allow supernatural creatures and unpredictable magic. Irene's new assistant is also hiding secrets of his own. Soon, she's up to her eyebrows in a heady mix of danger, clues and secret societies. Yet failure is not an option - the nature of reality itself is at stake.
This was a nice change of pace after a string of basically fine but disappointing (for one reason or another) books. Great fun, great female characters, great writing, fun steampunk-ish setting and, duh, library. I don't think I'll marathon the whole series, but I will put it all in the queue. Or, it's January, maybe I WILL marathon them.
Middlegame by Seanan McGuire. Synopsis from Goodreads: Meet Roger. Skilled with words, languages come easily to him. He instinctively understands how the world works through the power of story. Meet Dodger, his twin. Numbers are her world, her obsession, her everything. All she understands, she does so through the power of math. Roger and Dodger aren’t exactly human, though they don’t realise it. They aren’t exactly gods, either. Not entirely. Not yet. Meet Reed, skilled in the alchemical arts like his progenitor before him. Reed created Dodger and her brother. He’s not their father. Not quite. But he has a plan: to raise the twins to the highest power, to ascend with them and claim their authority as his own. Godhood is attainable. Pray it isn’t attained.
I didn't love this as much as Into the Drowning Deep or the Wayward Children books. That's okay. I'll take three-quarters strength Seanan McGuire over many authors at top game. The writing was just as good, and I enjoyed the journey as much as ever. I'm always amazed that she can sustain so many different series and tones without repeating herself. The only quibble was that I couldn't quite get a handle on Reed's actual endgame (he wants Roger and Dodger to succeed? Wait, no, he doesn't? What, huh?), which in turn made the ending a bit less satisfying. There were still a bunch of exciting things that happened, and some people lived and some people died, and some phrases skewered me right through the heart, and some images will stick in my mind forever. McGuire is still five fantastic authors compressed into one.
I'm as susceptible to Christmas blues as anyone. I agree that expectations get out of hand, the stress level can be just stupid, and I often stop and wonder WHY am I doing this again? And yet, I composed a blog post in my head entitled "Bah Humbitch" upon reading a Leah McLaren column that told everyone not to send her Christmas cards, especially with stupid pictures of their children wearing Santa suits or antlers. And I left my first negative comment at a blog I generally really like today (not a 'you suck and you're stupid and I hate you' comment, just a 'this is a little unfair and I'm a little put out' comment -- I know, it must have really stung, in amongst all the comments telling her how fantastic and wise and one hundred and forty percent correct she is). And for the life of me, I can't really figure out why. Okay, maybe I can, in the case of the Leah McLaren piece (it's called 'I'm Not on Your Christmas Card List this Year?…
We hardly ever get to find Easter eggs beside Oligocene cats.
We almost never hike through badlands.
We almost never face the horror of...
An UNINTERPRETED TRAIL!!! (Just imagine! You see a squirrel or a tuft of grass - but WHAT DOES IT MEAN?!)
We almost never climb the inside of a T-Rex...
...and have a picture taken inside its mouth.
We hardly ever stand on a hoodoo.
We almost never pull up to a Buffalo Jump and find my sister-in-law nearly hanging off the snow ledge that sits many many metres above the valley below...
...in order to rescue her son's boot which was trapped in the deep snow on the ledge. (Eve's teacher emailed me the day after we got back and said Eve had been entertaining them all with stories about our trip. When she came home she said she had to yell to be heard over their laughter. I said, what did you tell them about, the airplane? She said, cheerfully, "that, and Timothy almost falling off the cliff!")