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Fly Girl's Cabinet of Curiosities

curated by Thornton Rigg

Month

January 2016

The Maker of Swans : Paraic O’Donnell

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… magic and lost souls,  delicate jewels set in very fine writing.

O’Donnell’s book is a  delicately woven thriller of magic and lost souls; each character is bathed in their own eery pool of light as they walk through these languorous pages; and a clutch of images linger long after the book has closed.  It rather reminds me of Gormenghast though it’s not as baroque or whimsical as Peake’s work.  Perhaps slightly slow to start, the fine writing grows on you, like black ink slowly unfurling through clear water, you will want to savour every sentence and relish every twist of the plot. Excellent.

 

The Goblin Emperor : Katherine Addison

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….  absorbing and thoughtful with court intrigue

Fourth in line to the throne and teenage, Maia is suddenly pulled out of a bleak exile to become the new Emperor.  Naive, bewildered and embarrassed, Maia stubbornly and painfully carves out his new role surrounded by court intrigue and distant servants.   There is little action, magic or sword play.   Doesn’t sound much of a sell … and yet, the decency and loneliness of this half-goblin amidst a fabulously rich and self-assured Elven Court makes for an absorbing, thoughtful read.  The world building and naming, though dazzlingly imaginative and well built, can be slightly too rich but stick with it for the ear signals, the Court Rituals and the gradual development of Maia’s character from gauche teenager to young and outward looking Emperor.

It won the Locus Award for Best Fantasy novel in 2015.

The Invisible Library : Genevieve Cogman

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steampunk romp through an alternate Victorian London

Cogman has created a great adventure in a fabulous steampunk London with a vibrant heroine, Irene, and her distractingly handsome assistant, Kai.

She’s had great fun populating her London with delightfully fashioned baddies: mechanical centipedes,  robotically controlled alligators, a Fairy Ambassador of Liechtenstein, a ghoulishly fiendish villain, Alberich; and stolid Victorian allies including Inspector Singh and Mr Vale, the Earl of Leeds.  Her sheer exhilaration and imaginative force is a delight to read as these characters tumble across the pages.    Her overarching theme of an Invisible Library linking many alternate worlds adds to the pleasure and the possibilities for further stories.  She wraps it up nicely with a thrilling climax and, in doing so, lays down the springboard for the second in her series, The Masked City, which came out in the UK on 3rd December 2015.

 

Maresi : Maria Turtschaninoff

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a beguiling different story

Billed as a “Finnish feminist fantasy”, Maresi is a beguiling different story about a settlement on an island off an Northern continent.  Gathered here to worship the Maiden, the Mother and the Crone, the women are also come here to gain protection from the harsh, male dominated life on the mainland.   Written by Maresi,  “recording my memories so they are fresh and sharp in my mind”, the story starts slowly, describing daily life in the Red Abbey, and builds to a dramatic climax when outside forces threaten the Abbey and Maresi has to face her own personal fears.  A rich satisfying read.

 

RailHead : Philip Reeve

latestbookimagethe romance of the steam age with interplanetary travel : what’s not to like?

A really pleasurable action adventure story following Zen Starling, petty thief and marked man, helter-skelter through a series of dazzling different worlds with an intriguing array of characters.  Reeve translates the romance of train travel into interplanetary voyaging: refashioning the evocative noises of steam, rails, arrivals and departures into futuristic living machines, Station Angels, and the beautifully realised “un-bang”.  He balances the sheer exhilaration of dashing through a high tech universe with the 1930s vibe of plush double deckered carriages of a private, sentient train.  His satisfyingly solid and well thought world is populated with a dazzling collection of characters including a freckled Motorik called Nova; a very memorable Uncle Bugs; Flex, the graffiti artist; and the enigmatic, Raven.  Read it.

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