Work-life-writing balance was thrown a giant wrench this month, but that didn’t stop me from diving into some excellent reads.
What I Learned: Second Person that Works
The use of second person in this book enhanced the romance. There was something so intimate in that voice. Not only was the whole thing positioned as an epic love letter, it told the story with the necessary attention to help it straddle both fantasy and romance. It’s also a great way to establish multiple layers of stakes and give depth to characters whose perspectives we don’t get to see often within the work.
What I Learned: World-building
Received the first book in an Owlcrate and read the second as an eARC from NetGalley. Came out February 2018.
In these books, the world-building was really something to pay attention to. Details were missing at almost every level. It undermined its own protagonist’s strengths. There could have been a strong personal story there if the structure of the world itself didn’t diminish it. This duology is a great case study for that sort of thing. But also in telling over showing, but that’s covered more in the reviews themselves.
What I Learned: Developing Details
The stakes had been solidified since page one in this work and then you read the rest of it thinking that’s all there is to the story. But holy no, there is way more than meets the eye. Deathspell balances slow reveals as Christian embraces uncertainty around him. The reader learns of the magical machinations in place and it does escalate the stakes while only adding some cosmetic differences.
What I Learned: Past & Present Coming Together
Comes out in March 2018. The story of The Broken Girls is split between 1950 and 2014. These two time periods overlap somewhat between characters, but their ages are different and their situations have barely any similarity (girls at a haunted boarding school vs. a journalist haunted by her sister’s murder, respectably). The overlaps become more apparent as time goes on, but the way St. James uses tone and atmosphere to keep the narrative a coherent whole really worked.
What I Learned: Concentrated Emotions
At 96 pages, The Only Harmless Great Thing accomplishes so much across a variety of styles. Angry and pain had such weight, meandering well among the myriad language structures. Each fit their tone and time frame so well, packing a gut-punch that sticks with you after reading. (I read it twice because hot damn, that prose).
What I Learned: Novellas That Build
Read as an eARC from NetGalley. Came out February 2018. Four novellas came together in one cohesive narrative that drove a powerful metaphor for the environmentalism. Each one focused on a different facet of life in The Blue City, with their own stakes and emotional resonance. My personal favorites were those about characters who wanted to reverse a loss and go back to a status quo, knowing that things can’t go back to the way they were because of others’ actions. Really great imagery at play here and I highlighted so many turns of phrase in my eARC.
There are so many hype books coming out in March that I doubt I’ll be able to read anything that comes out pre-2018.