THE WINTERNIGHT TRILOGY
The Winternight Trilogy, which includes The Bear and the Nightingale, The Girl in the Tower, and The Winter of the Witch, is one of those rare beasts where each installment is as glorious as the last.
The story revolves around Vasilisa, or Vasya, who is born as the youngest child of a lord in Russia during a time when the old traditions of honoring the spirits have begun to fade in favor of Christianity. Yet, she is one who can still see the spirits, who understands the need to continue offerings to them in order to retain their protection and support in times of strife.
The Bear and the Nightingale is told in a beautiful, sedate style, traveling through Vasya’s youth, her encounters with the spirits and her struggles with a newly-come priest who begins to hear a voice that he thinks of as the voice of God. She is also introduced to Morozko, the demon of Frost and Death, who has unknown goals of his own for interacting with her, and threatened by the coming of the Bear, another of the great demon spirits who thrives in chaos and life. Continue reading
Posted in Recommendation
Tagged book, fantasy, fiction, historical, historical fiction, katherine arden, mythology, novel, reading, russia, slavic, trilogy
by Sarah Beth Durst
Set in a world where bone magic is prevalent, The Bonemaker is the tale of a group of retired heroes who are once again called to save their homes. When the evil they once vanquished, or thought they’d vanquished, seems to have risen again, they start to gather, feeling responsible for saving their people as they’d done in their youth.
But they’re not at all the heroes they once were. One has started a family. Another has gone insane. One isn’t even alive anymore. And this time around, they don’t seem to be wanted to save the world, their very attempts to convince others of the danger failing in the shadow of this new threat.
This is a novel about being a hero at any age. It’s about second chances, about being true to ourselves, and about the power people have when they trust one another and appreciate their own differences.
The Bonemaker, despite its bone magic and necromancy and skeletons, is not written in a dark fantasy fashion. It has an upbeat sense to it that soothes over the deathly consequences of the rising evil. The action scenes are exciting without feeling grimdark, the conflicts and setting are wondrous and worrisome without being dire.
Durst creates an amazing world here, one with different layers of bone magic–constructs and talismans, prophecy and power–and monstrous creatures with giant bones. It’s a world you’ll enjoy traveling inside, with a great deal of potential within to imagine just how wide and intricate a place with this kind of magic can be.
I recommend The Bonemaker for anyone who likes action adventure fantasy with inventive worlds and satisfying endings. Anyone who likes found families who reconnect. This novel is like being hugged warmly with the reminder that evil can be vanquished, regardless the shape or size of that evil.
THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN
Some middle grade stories are the sort that just grab you and turn you inside out, all the feelings layered deeply within every page. The One and Only Ivan is one such story, with a depth of emotion that catches you, yet mitigated with a humor in the very words that inspire those heart-felt responses.
Ivan is a gorilla on display at a small carnival off a main route. He lives there in his domain alongside an older elephant named Stella, a scrappy dog dubbed Bob and a ton of other small animals. He has also made friends with the little girl who comes and sits by his enclosure each night while her father cleans. He is content, or at least numb, to his life. But all that changes when baby elephant Ruby is brought in to replace Stella.
Armed with a promise to Stella that he will change Ruby’s lot in life, Ivan sets about putting his artistic talents to use in order to communicate with his human friends. But he’s just a gorilla. A gorilla who has been in this cage for so long, his memories of a time before shuttered away, leaving him wondering if he’ll ever be capable of fulfilling his promise, of ever seeing anything but the inside of the cage that has been his domain for so long.
This one is easy to read, with laugh-out-loud commentary from Ivan (and Bob!) that breaks up the serious issues of captivity and animal abuse, leaving this book sweet and wonderful rather than heavy. Highly recommend for all ages, but in particular for artists, because there are many touchstones for young artists (and old!) that will bolster anyone creative.
Posted in Recommendation
Tagged book, contemporary, contemporary fantasy, fantasy, fiction, furry, furry fiction, katherine applegate, MG, middle grade, novel
THE STONE ROAD
The Stone Road is a gothic fantasy set on a future Earth where much of our modern technology has been lost. On the day Jean was born, a distant Furnace burned to life. That Furnace calls to the people of her town, seducing them away with an irresistible call. An irresistible call that Jean, herself, has never felt. Since that first day, awful occurrences always happen on Jean’s birthday. The day becomes an ill omen and she blamed for all that befalls the people of her town.
Born to a family with the power to hear the dead, Jean has always known them as presences under the ground. They grab at her toes as she walks in the dirt, their voices filled with hate and fury. But they are stuck, unable to move on down the stone road, for something closed the road off. So the dead simply gather beneath the surface while outside of the town the monsters linger.
Jean is raised by her grandmother, who slowly reveals all that Jean will be responsible for, from the monsters without, to the dead within. And forever unmentioned, but always looming, is the day when Jean must face her Trouble–that ever-burning Furnace.
This is a tale for those who love reading of slow unveilings of mysteries and powers. We follow Jean’s struggles throughout her childhood, learn along with her of all the horrible beauty and monstrous friends that stand beside her in her town. The characters are distinct and memorable—from a tree that carries their story on its bark, a not-quite man who is always an artist, a bird called Bird, and a man who boasts all the grace of the leaves dancing in autumn.
However, be aware, there are questions that remain unanswered and answers that never truly had questions by the end of this novel. This story will leave you with a wild taste of a world that feels more removed from our own than many fantasy novels.
Thank you to Erewhon Books for the eARC of The Stone Road by Trent Jamieson!
In a not-so-distant future on a Mars begun to be colonized, two girls get into and out of trouble time and again. Nanoannie is desperate to escape her hab (habitation) and experience life away from her parents, who she sees as domineering and overbearing. While Kapera is struggling to say goodbye to the home she knows because her parents want to take her to Earth in order to get treatment for her leukemia.
Neither of them have met in the flesh, but given that options are limited when on Mars, friendships formed can be strange company. When Kapera rolls up alone in her family’s rover to Nanoannie’s hab, Nanoannie jumps at the chance to investigate whatever might be going down at Kapera’s family pharm.
And when they find out that Kapera’s parents are missing, the girls are off! Stumbling into coups-in-progress, uncovering frozen corpses, being kidnapped, escaping, kidnapped again, and even married off, by friends and enemies and sects within friends and enemies. Confused and, in Kapera’s case, sick, the girls uncover a plot that involves Kapera’s own parents and the research they’d been knee-deep within. A plot that might just take them and most people on Mars on a one-way trip to no man’s land. Continue reading