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
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Tagged book, fantasy, fiction, historical, historical fiction, katherine arden, mythology, novel, reading, russia, slavic, trilogy
Both stories this week are related to the past returning. The characters are wildly different: one a very young girl, reaching for a past she’s never had, and the other a woman who has tried to leave her past behind her.
GRAY SKIES, RED WINGS, BLUE LIPS, BLACK HEARTS by Merc Fenn Wolfmoor is a tale set in a society where souls can be eaten or lost, becoming unattached to the person who once owned them, creating soulless. The lead character, Redcap Kestrel, takes up a request to find a missing girl’s soul, but that request leads her through her own history and the people within. Published in Apex.
THE TASTE OF CENTURIES, THE TASTE OF HOME by Jennifer Hudak is a tale about a young girl living in a quiet world where the only humans are her mother and grandmother. Until one day, she sees someone else come through a portal. This leads her to question her grandmother while the two of them bake the bread of her family, wanting to discover all about the world left behind, a world she’s never been to, yet to which she feels connected. Published in khōréō.
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.
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Tagged a g slatter, books, dark fantasy, fantasy, fiction, gothic, gothic fantasy, merfolk, novel, prose, reading, sea stories