Why You Should Read Comics: A Manifesto!


Why do I talk about comics so much? First, I love comics and want to spread the word. Second, I edit and write comic book reviews here at the Fantasy Literature Review Site, so...

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Warhost of Vastmark: Quickly becoming one of my favorites


Readers’ average rating: Warhost of Vastmark by Janny Wurts Warhost of Vastmark by Janny Wurts takes up directly where The Ships of Merior left off. The two books are...

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Myth & Fantasy


Welcome to another Expanded Universe column where I feature essays from authors and editors of fiction, poetry, and non-fiction, as well as from established readers and reviewers....

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Recent Posts

WWWednesday; December 7, 2016

Today’s word for Wednesday is the noun flummadiddle, which means something worthless or foolish, a bauble. It used to be the name of a bread-and-pork-fat based pudding with sweet spices like cinnamon and allspice (that doesn’t sound worthless). It might come from the word “flummery,” also a kind of dessert, which is believed to be of Welsh origin.

You will see this word again later in the column. 

Dreamer of Dreams by Edmund DuLac



Gift Recommendations and Giveaway:

I’m always amazed and impressed by the knowledge base of our readers, so I’m turning part of the column over to you today. Since it’s that time of year, please go to the comments and tell us all your best gift-book recommendation. If you are a writer, it might be your own book (if indie published, please provide the purchase details.) It does not have to have come out ... Read More

Dark Shadows: Heiress of Collinwood: Perfect for fans of the cult TV series

Readers’ average rating:

Heiress of Collinwood by Lara Parker

Heiress of Collinwood (2016) is the fourth DARK SHADOWS novel written by Lara Parker, who happens to have been an original cast member on the gothic horror soap opera Dark Shadows, which ran on American television from 1966 – 1971 and has inspired a large number of tie-in novels. (Ms. Parker starred in the role of Angélique Bouchard Collins, in addition to a few other characters.) Contrary to the comedic tone of Tim Burton’s 2012 film based on the show, the original soap opera was quite serious and melodramatic, and Heiress of Collinwood follows that same vein.

Book 1



Our tale begins in Collinsport, Maine, in the distant year of 1797. The Collins family’s young governess, Victoria Winters, previously became... Read More

Spellbreaker: An imaginative and challengingly complex fantasy

Readers’ average rating: 

Spellbreaker by Blake Charlton

If someone is offering to sell you a spell that predicts one hour into the future, one excellent way to test whether the spell really works is to try to murder the man selling it to you. If you succeed in killing him, clearly it wasn’t a valid prophetic spell. In any case, that’s Leandra Weal’s rationale for poisoning the blackrice liqueur she offers to the smuggler selling her the spell. Luckily for both Leandra and the smuggler, the spell warns the smuggler not to drink the puffer fish liver-infused drink. Unfortunately, once Leandra tries the spell, making a small spelling adjustment to allow her to see twenty-four hours into the future, she sees that she will either have to murder someone she loves or die herself. If she tries to run or avoid the prophecy, everyone she loves will suddenly die.

With this compelling start, Spellbreaker Read More

Stephanie Burgis chats CONGRESS OF SECRETS and gives away a book!

Stephanie Burgis established herself as a middle grade fantasy writer with her KAT, INCORRIGIBLE series. In 2015, she expanded her repertoire with the romantic fantasy novel Masks and Shadows, set in an alternate 18th century Austria. She followed that up with Congress of Secrets, which is set in Vienna in the early 19th century and includes hidden identities, political secrets and elemental alchemy. Burgis lives in Wales. She took some time out of her busy schedule to chat with Marion about her work, living in Wales, and how history can repeat itself if we’re not careful.

One random commenter with a USA or Canada address will get a copy of Congress of Secrets. Read More

Last Year: Time travel tourism

Readers’ average rating:

Last Year by Robert Charles Wilson

Jesse Cullum works security at the City of Futurity – in fact, he just saved President Ulysses S. Grant from an assassination attempt, though he lost his Oakleys in the process.

The science fiction premise of Robert Charles Wilson’s Last Year (2016), is outlined in its opening scene. Oakleys are sunglasses that come from our time, but Ulysses S. Grant was one of the most important generals in the American Civil War. How can both exist in the same place? Well, in this novel, a “mirror” allows people to travel back in time, but to a specific point in the past — and it will produce a different a future. The people who travel back are tourists, and the City of Futurity, run by August Kemp, makes money from the past’s weal... Read More

The Tengu’s Game of Go: The second generation rises to make things right

Readers’ average rating:

The Tengu’s Game of Go by Lian Hearn

At the beginning of THE TALE OF SHIKANOKO, Shikanoko’s father played a game with a tengu. He lost, and what he lost cast an entire kingdom into disaster. Shikanoko, whose birth name was Kazumaru, was tainted by sorcery and as much a victim as a wielder of it. Now, in The Tengu’s Game of Go, the second generation rises to try to set things right.

Lian Hearn’s four-book saga reads convincingly like a Japanese tale cycle, and in The Tengu’s Game of Go, elements which seemed to have left the story return, some in surprising ways. When the story opens, Shikanoko, who is trapped within the deer mask, is living a half-deer, half-man existence in the Darkwood, and Yoshi, the hidden emperor, is ... Read More

A Wrinkle in the Skin: A gritty, post-apocalyptic winner

Readers’ average rating:

A Wrinkle in the Skin by John Christopher

Although most of us probably deem earthquakes to be relatively infrequent phenomena, the truth is that, as of this writing in late November, almost 150 such seismic events, ranging from relatively minor to completely devastating, have transpired somewhere in the world in 2016 alone. That’s an average of one earthquake every two or three days! But although these events are not only, uh, earth-shattering for those in the areas directly affected, few would deem them a possible concern for long-term, apocalyptic scenarios, as might be the case with, say, an asteroid collision ... except, that is, British author John Christopher, in his 1965 novel A Wrinkle in the Skin. Christopher, who was born in Lancashire in 1922, had already pleased this rea... Read More

Last Song Before Night: A debut from an author with tremendous potential

Readers’ average rating: 

Reposting to include Kevin's new review.

Last Song Before Night by Ilana C. Myer

Last Song Before Night (2015) is the debut novel from Ilana C. Myer, and while many aspects of the work shine — detailed world-building combined with protagonist backstory and development — they come at the expense of antagonist development, prose ranging from lovely to overly ornate, and, most importantly, the plot of the novel itself.

The novel ranges far and wide, but at its crux, there is a woman named Lin who seeks to achieve the impossible by becoming a female poet, forbidden in the land of Eivar for reasons that are never satisfactorily explained. It comes across as nothing more than a deliberate authorial obstacle intended to make Lin’s against-the-odds journey that much more difficult and her successes that much sweeter. Acade... Read More

Sunday Status Update: December 4, 2016

This week, Batman again.

Batman: Field report for November. Joker has now crossed major milestone, as he is now statistically leading cause of death for Gotham residents. Beginning to feel serious job-related stress as a result. One of the Green Lanterns asked me last week if it would be helpful if he simply pitched Joker at the sun and we never spoke of it again, but had to reject his offer. I continue to believe in Gotham, in its ability to one day stand on its own two feet and prosecute criminals according to the legal system. Saying so does not help Gotham in mean time, however, as everyone in city seems intent on demonizing me for not finishing him off. Graffiti on bat signal a week ago read "just kill the clown already. God." Meanwhile, Harley Quinn is statistically the 12th leading cause of death for Gotham residents, but the entire city continues to believe her to be some kind of adorable, puckish rogue ... Read More

The Sentinel: Near-classic horror thriller

Readers’ average rating:

The Sentinel by Jeffrey Konvitz

I’d never heard of Jeffrey Konvitz’s superb horror/thriller, The Sentinel (1974), until I saw it promoted on a couple of discount ebook newsletters I receive. The cover, while lacking any subtlety, sold me on the whole horror-wrapped-up-with religion angle. And while the image may be a bit over the top, The Sentinel slow boils its simple premise and bubbles with persistent and pounding tension.

The Sentinel is reminiscent of Ira Levin’s Rosemary’s Baby, William Peter Blatty’s The Exorcist, and to a lesser extent Read More