THE STARLESS SEA
This is a story about a young man named Zachary. But it’s not just a story about a young man named Zachary. This is truly a story about dreams, about hopes, and passions, and places that don’t exist except in our hearts. This is a story about finding that missing piece that puts all the rest together.
There are books within this book and stories within its stories, each of them coming back to the idea of this starless sea that exists and calls to certain people. Zachary Ezra Rawlins is one such person who discovers a book that has him inside of it, for once there had been a door he hadn’t walked through. And in that book, he finds hint to this sea, to this place he’d had a chance to discover and yet hadn’t taken. So he goes searching for another way in, determined not to squander a second chance, with only frail clues to symbolize his way.
I went into this book thinking that there was a puzzle to unravel, but there is no such puzzle. This isn’t a book that answers every question or completes every idea. Instead, it’s about possibilities, about being lost or found or cold or unsatisfied; it’s about endings and beginnings and how sometimes they are indistinguishable.
This novel is a beautiful journey, meant for those who want that journey more than the place they expect to end up. I recommend this book for those who enjoy finding their own meaning between lyrical words and metaphorical stories.
ALL THE MURMURING BONES
A. G. Slatter
Macabre sea deals, crumbling manors, and haunting magic that infiltrates all the nooks and crannies of this world make this a novel worth falling in love with.
We follow Miren, the last of the O’Malley line, who have, through the centuries, been blessed with bounty from the sea, with riches that made them powerful and influential in their seaside town. But now, that magic is disintegrating; the O’Malley family is crumbling, with Miren being the youngest, the sole first-born daughter who might be able to change the family’s fates. But with everyone around her wanting to use her, she must combat her birth-right and seek answers to the disturbing questions about her family’s history and the truth about how they had gained their prosperity.
Between the narrative are short fairy tales of a dark variety. Each one is an engaging fable of the O’Malley history, steeped in layers of wonder and danger, each one adding another clue to the mystery that echoes back centuries, concerning children being sacrificed to the mer.
Miren is an engaging character, a young woman who is both feminine and powerful, using all her knowledge and ability to seek out the secrets that had been hidden from her. I highly recommend this tale to anyone who loves gothic strangeness, who loves the darker edges of merfolk, who wants engaging mystery and all their fantastical creatures to be haunting rather than bright.
Content warning: there is child death discussed within this book.
Thank you to Titan Books for an eARC of this title.
Posted in Recommendation
Tagged a g slatter, books, dark fantasy, fantasy, fiction, gothic, gothic fantasy, merfolk, novel, prose, reading, sea stories
Where the beginning of Odyssey began slowly and ramped up, the end of Odyssey came abruptly. One day we were at lecture and critiques, had a graduation party that evening. The next day…nothing.
I wandered around, feeling lost, confused, pacing because my mind and body felt as if it was supposed to be doing something specific.
This was my life for six long weeks. I lived and breathed on Odyssey time. If I wasn’t attending lecture, I was reading a story to critique. If I wasn’t at a critique session, I was writing a story. If I wasn’t doing any of those things, I was working on a journal entry.
It got to the point where my daughter no longer asked me for tuck-ins at night. Six weeks of dad giving her nightly kisses. Six weeks of mom being locked in her office or buried in her computer or taking a walk with printed-out critique story and pencil took its toll. [I’m please to say that it only took another six-eight weeks for me to become the nightly requested tuck-in-er once more :)]
In terms of my writing, and all the things associated, my first week off Odyssey I did really well. Got back into the swing of things, went into writing-mode immediately M-F. Only, then I went on vacation, had the vacation cut short because of a hurricane and felt…morose. Partly because that vacation had been something I’d considered my reward and partly because suddenly I was smacked with all the things I’d let slide for two months.
I work on two pen names at once, so the list I compiled of projects to finish suddenly felt astronomical. Both blogs needed attention and posts; a novella needed finishing; promo work for a novel needed to be done; my submission number had dropped to a measly 1-2 out and stories desperately needed to be sent out; I had a stack of stories from Odyssey and before that needed editing; another novel to start preparing to write; my house was a complete wreck; my book club needed to meet; I was behind on reading I’d wanted to do; school was starting and would be at home; family felt partially abandoned by me and needed time and attention; and I’d agreed to do small extra things, like critiques & practice sessions that were now on the calendar; …I began to get that frozen feeling ones does when they feel like nothing you do will get you closer to finishing that goddamned elephant. Continue reading
Posted in Odyssey Workshop
Tagged fantasy, fiction, flash, graduate, novel, reading, sci-fi, science-fiction, short story, workshop, writing
And here we are! Brand new graduates! Survivalists! Word-Wizards!
I wanted to say a few things/memories about everyone, maybe show you how they’re people and not just faces :)
TOP ROW (Lf-Rt):
Jeanne – our fearless, ingenious leader. Ever insisting that a character’s uppance is coming. Always giving us one-on-one encouragement. Never allowing us to wallow in despair. A taskmaster. But a kind one, who sees and acknowledges our development and progress.
Adam – Out of all of us, he was the one who liked to move around, his background changing to another part of his house now and then. He had a huge amount of energy during a Conan reading! That could not be forgotten for the rest of the workshop as people would tap him to read passages of passion. I’m pretty sure he’s a borderlands fan and he’s been giving us all marketing tips as that’s part of his background.
Ola – My virtual roommate! We got to talk before the workshop started and would chat in private messages (but only during casual conversation time, of course). She lives in New York City, is incredibly organized and super driven. She commemorates aspects of her experiences in script tattoos on her wrist (that I thought were bracelets at first) and I find that to be an amazing way to keep those experiences alive. [She has also started a brand-new pro-paying magazine called khōréō magazine that has a focus on elevating stories of immigrants and those affected by diaspora, so be sure to give it a check!] Continue reading
Posted in Odyssey Workshop
Tagged critique, fantasy, fiction, flash, mentor, novel, reading, sci-fi, science-fiction, short story, story, students, teacher, workshop, writing
A DEADLY EDUCATION
This novel is what you get when you mix Hunger Games and Harry Potter together. In fact, I could easily imagine that as the actual pitch for A Deadly Education. So if that combination sounds fascinating to you, you will likely enjoy this one!
The protagonist of this book, Galadriel (or El for short), is a student in a deadly, underground school where all the lessons are taught without teachers and monsters literally crawl up from cracks and lower floors in an attempt to eat the students who radiate power and magic. The students band together in alliance groups resembling raiding guilds or fellowships in order to have the power needed to survive their graduation day—when they’ll be forced to fight their way free from the school.
The writing style is a little more YA than Novik’s previous books, a style more in-line with recent series that have been incredibly popular. This comes from the easy, chatty first person point-of-view, her limited scope, and occasional unreliability as she views herself as a loner in the beginning and has to learn to truly understand the other students around her. There’s a lot of coming to terms with reaching out socially, seeking help when needed, as well as being willing to give of oneself in order to help the group as a whole in order to see wider success.
Please Note: there was some controversy over the use of the word dreadlocks in relation to being dirty and this is most definitely a line that is unsightly in the novel, however, the author has come out with an apology and future runs will not have the comment.