ARC Review: PROSPER’S DEMON by K.J. Parker (2020)

Rating: 4/5 stars
Genre: Adult Fantasy
Year Release: 2020
Source: NetGalley

Read my NetGalley eARC

Content warning: possession, gore, violence

I love me a good sarcastic narrator. Our nameless narrator in this very short demon possession story clearly knows better, but choose the more uncouth option every option. I really enjoyed the use of pronouns here, especially because Parker establishes early on that you can see the effects of demons, but never the demons themselves. The two primary demons, He and She, have such different energies, especially Her. She is the titular Prosper’s demon and, wow, is there a symbiotic relationship. It looks rad on page and I can’t say anymore, given the brevity of the read.

A quick read for those who enjoy demons and asshats.

Review: KUSHIEL’S DART by Jacqueline Carey (2003)

Rating: 5/5 stars
Series: Phèdre’s Trilogy #1
Genre: Adult Fantasy
Year Release: 2003
Source: Library eBook

Trigger warnings: Murder, self-harm, dubious consent, gore, sexual assault, suicide mentions
Content warnings: I cannot speak to the depiction of the Tsingani (who are clearly inspired by Romani/Travellers), but approach with caution
I had come into this book on a massive hype train once the option had been announced. It’s always been lurking in my TBR as something people greatly enjoyed and its small bit of notoriety for being “that one 900-page BDSM fantasy novel taking place in not-Europe.” Then someone had mentioned to me that this book does cool things with translations and characters talking across different languages.And there was so much more.

Kushiel’s Dart follows the tale of Phèdre no Delaunay and her land of Terra D’Ange in a totally-not-Europe featuring Viking, Picts, Romani, and an off-shoot of angelic totally-not-Jesus descendants with different gifts. She’d been blessed by Kushiel and served Naamah, which basically means she gets a lot of pleasure from pain. But there is so much more as she discovers a conspiracy, several people are murdered, she’s captured, and then suddenly there’s a war.

I arrived for the language, visited for the sexual content, stuck around for the intricately woven political intrigue and delightful characters. My lordy, did all of this stick so many landings. What I also enjoyed most, I think, was how badass a character Phèdre was, but in ways that don’t hinge on violence. She’s adept at language, appealing to emotions, sympathetic and empathetic, and other soft skills that are very important in a world where anyone might betray you.

But there are so many other things to like. For example, the battles, are super good! New character and cultural introductions, also well-executed. The world feels so thoroughly lived in, a bit dangerous, but there are enough small folk encountered to buffer the terribleness of most of the nobility.

The page count, I will admit, is rather intimidating. It’s about twice as long as books I would peg as massive, but it goes so quickly. Kushiel’s Dart is exactly the kind of road map and case study I needed to get into my own epic fantasy that’s in progress. I will, however, take a small break from door-stoppers, but I really want to know what else happens.

Review: COME TUMBLING DOWN by Seanan McGuire (2020)

Rating: 5/5 stars
Series:  Wayward Children (1 through 5 published so far)
Genre: Adult Fantasy
Year Release: 2020
Source: Library Audiobook

Listened to the audiobook.

The Wayward Children series is always such a treat. Concise quests brought to life in these rich worlds wrapped in a rainbow-colored bow of casual queerness.

The Moors are my favorite location in this series, hands down. So eerie, but so structured. The portal fantasy presented here is one of vampires, lightning, and medical experiments. Jack and Jill have swapped bodies. There was something special with the author reading her own representation of OCD through Jack. It was so effectively done.

As always with these series, so much characterization takes place in such a small set of pages. McGuire pulls it off with deft use of omniscient third. Each character feels fleshed out, even though I desperately hope we get to see Christoper’s skeleton world or the ocean. But none of those things needed to happen in this book.

The Wayward Children series also proves to be another example of a queer norm world, where the fact that Jack and Alexis are girlfriends hold no weight either in-world or hangs as a plot point. Kade is trans because Kade is trans and there’s not much to it aside from an aside to remind the reader of these facts.

Another eerie, disturbing, but captivating entry into my favorite series of portal fantasies.

Review: MORTAL HEART by Robin Lafevers (2014)

Rating: 5/5 stars
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Year Released: 2014
Source: Library Audiobook

Going into the His Fair Assassin, I didn’t know that this series will follow three different heroines. Coming out of Dark Triumph, specifically, it was such a great way to develop the world. Grave Mercy follows Isme, who is the reader who is completely new to the world of the convent of Mortaine and to this version of medieval Britain and France specifically. Sybella, on the other hand, is a little bit more ingrained to the noble courts. In this third book, we meet Annith, who was a central friend to Isme and Sybella and a bit of a mystery. Everything is spoilers, but wow she has such a compelling arc.

I really liked the presentation of her intimate knowledge of the convent and the tension between her serving her lord and her own wants and needs played out. Of the three books, this one features the most supernatural elements. The Hellaquin were terrifying, a French version of the Wild Hunt. In addition, we get to see more of the other orders worshiping different gods, and the different idealogical tensions there made for some fantastic world-building.

Characters from previous books really make this series cohesive, despite not following the same character’s point of view from start to finish. The romance, much like in the other two, was compelling and swoony. Plus, it absolutely blew my mind once the third act twist comes.

If you want court intrigue, murder, loose pagan mythology, and a whole lot of female characters who are strong in a variety of ways, do not miss His Fair Assassin.

January 2020 TBR

I am going to start announcing the books I intend to read per month, starting with January 2020.

Hard Copies

  • Descendant of the Crane by Joan He
  • The Fortress by S.A. Jones (ARC)
  • The Never-Tilting World by Rin Chupeco
  • Scavenge the Stars by Tara Sim (ARC)

Kindle

  • Fire & Heist by Sarah Beth Durst
  • Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer (Library Borrow)
  • Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey (Library Borrow)
  • Seven Deadly Shadows by Courtney Alameda and Valynne E. Maetani (ARC)

Audiobooks

  • Mortal Heart by Robin LaFevers (Library Borrow)
  • Blackfish City by Sam J. Miller (Library Borrow)

2020 Bookish Hype Train

2020 Bookish Hype Train

I did a lot of good reading in 2018 and was introduced to new favorite people, authors, and series. Here is a list of 19 books I’m really excited to read or see out in the world.

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My 2019 in Reading

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I read 118 books this year, mostly thanks to an aggressive ARC schedule and audiobooks. The list here are 19 books which I read this year that I loved, but weren’t necessarily published in 2019.

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