Tag Archives: portal fantasy

Recommended Short Fiction: ADVANCED WORD PROBLEMS IN PORTAL MATH by Aimee Picchi & DO NOT LOOK BACK, MY LION by Alix E Harrow


Both of these stories feature women dissatisfied with their life and the culture surrounding and influencing them.

ADVANCED WORD PROBLEMS IN PORTAL MATH by Aimee Picchi is a sweet flash piece told in word problems. It’s about a girl who longs for a chance at a different life, one not foisted upon her, one that allows her to escape from the cultural pressures that hold her down. Published in Daily Science Fiction.

DO NOT LOOK BACK, MY LION by Alix E. Harrow is a tale about a woman, husband to a female war chief. She has spent her life helping to raise her wife’s children, each of them promised to the war god and path of her people. But this constant uplifting of their leader’s wars grinds the main character down, and thus she runs. But running is only the beginning. Published in Beneath Ceaseless Skies.


Recommended Book: THE KINGDOM OF BACK by Marie Lu


THE KINGDOM OF BACK
Marie Lu

This is the story of the other Mozart, the sister of the famed musician who was a talented and impressive musician herself.

Nannerl Mozart, desiring to be remembered and not to fall into the heavy shadow of her younger brother, seeks out that chance within a parallel fantasy world that the two of them call the Kingdom of Back, a fairy-tale-like place of dreams and music with a young man there who needs their help to take back his world. And who, in return, would grant Nannerl’s wish.

The story spans Nannerl and Wolfgang’s childhood, their tour across the European landscape in order to perform for the higher classes, and Nannerl’s realization of both her father and the public’s disinterest in her over her brother. This is contrasted with her being the focal within the Kingdom of Back, where she must perform tasks in order to achieve her dreams.

But those dreams will come at a cost, and the further Nannerl goes along this path, the more she questions what she sees and what she’s been told and even what she truly desires above all else.

This story has a clear feminist bent, shedding some attention and light on the amazing and talented historical women who are often forgotten, shadowed by their male counterparts. I recommend this book to anyone, especially young women, who have questioned their own dreams at some point, weighing the costs, but also, to those who feel as if they are the ones who have stood in the shadows behind someone else, despite being just as talented or skilled. And, of course, for those who adore music in their fiction and all the ways that music can stir the soul.


 

Recommended Book: THE STARLESS SEA by Erin Morgenstern


THE STARLESS SEA
Erin Morgenstern

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.


February 2020 Recommended Books

This month has been more spring than winter where I live. Can’t complain about that XD Yet, I worry there won’t be that final frost to kill all the bugs and we’ll be beset with a gnat and mosquito swarmed, spider-cloud explosion in a month or two.

You know those days where the air is filled with delightful floating cotton balls reminiscent of Charlotte’s Web? We might have a difficult time dodging them this year. Ah, well.

I’ve recently joined SWFA (yay!). Now I’m officially a member!

Also just hosted a sixth book club meeting at my house, which means that it’s been successful for an entire year and looking strong. Going to have to come up with something fun for our anniversary meeting in two months. We shall see…


THE TEN THOUSAND DOORS OF JANUARY

by Alix E. Harrow

The meta portal fantasy I never knew I wanted.

This epistolary novel is told from the perspective of a girl who has always felt in between. About the many doors to other worlds we, as readers, have always experienced, so there’s an instant ability to empathize. There are slow revelations and deeply insidious dangers that mimic the realities of most dangers of our world better than the average novel.

Thematically, the novel is about change. About clinging to, or running from change. About choosing the change we want, rejecting the change that doesn’t suit us. Even more, it’s about the fear of change that exists in every one of us and all the different ways we face it.

As much as Ten Thousand Doors is a portal fantasy, it’s less about the worlds themselves and more about the possibility of worlds and all they might contain.


STARLESS

by Jacqueline Carey

Starless is divided into three main parts, with these parts being so uniquely different from one another that it’s necessary to mention. The first section centers on Khai’s training, the second his introduction to court life, and the third an oceanic adventure. Part one is by far my favorite of the three, delving into a setting where the gods are physical beings that grant their blessings specifically and with an eternal reason behind it. While each of the sections is divided by tone and purpose and even cast to some extent, I greatly enjoyed the entire process, from child-in-training, to the dangers of court and city, and the travels beyond.

There are larger aspects dealt with in the novel, especially that of knowing and accepting oneself, though it’s done primarily through the scope of Khai and one other who is introduced in the second part of the novel. However, though there might be a few interesting questions and a couple of characters that add to the great diversity in the fantasy and science-fiction realm these days, Starless is much more an adventure fantasy from start to finish, which I happened to love.


SPINNING SILVER

by Naomi Novik

I picked up Spinning Silver in response to having read Uprooted and though I admit to loving Uprooted just a little more than Spinning Silver, that’s not in any way a complaint against this novel. For Spinning Silver is a beautiful fairy tale-esque story revolving around a moneylender and the people in her life as she strives to not just overcome the struggles of her family, but to best those conflicts entirely.

There’s an entire parallel world, one filled with a cold fae people and their own unique culture, that is brought to the forefront during this journey, as well as an enemy far closer to home. All the pieces of this novel expand across numerous characters and settings and yet, every single thread is interwoven tightly and meaningfully.

One of those books that starts slow by necessity because of all the introduced characters, but builds and builds into a rush of a climax. A really fun book.