Skye Walker

SKYE WALKER, on FanLit’s staff since September 2014 (but hanging around since 2007), is from Canada, where she is currently a University student studying Anthropology and Communications. When she isn’t reading or doing school work (or reading for school work) she can be found in one of three places: in a tent in the woods, amid a sea of craft supplies on a floor somewhere, or completing the task of finishing her ‘Must Watch’ movie list. Skye was practically born with a love of fantasy and science fiction (as her name might suggest). These days her favourite authors include Ursula Le Guin, Guy Gavriel Kay, and Chris Wooding. Skye is in fact a Jedi (we know you were waiting for it).

The Graveyard Book: Even the dead characters seem alive

Readers’ average rating:

Reposting to include Skye's new review:

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

Ignore the YA label slapped on this one if that gives you pause. Though that won’t be hard to do because The Graveyard Book opens with a hand in the darkness holding a knife wet with the blood of almost an entire family: father, mother, and older child. The knife lacks only the blood of the toddler son to finish its job. Luckily for the reader (and the boy) he escapes into a nearby cemetery where a mothering ghost convinces the cemetery community to protect him. Another reason to ignore the YA label, or better yet, to revel in it, is that Neil Gaiman’s YA-listed material is stronger than his adult work: tighter, more focused, more intense all around. All that holds true here and The Graveyard Book’s clarity and brevity, often seen as constraints in ... Read More

SFM: Slatter, Tolbert, Pratt, Pinkser

Short Fiction Monday: There is so much free or inexpensive short fiction available on the internet these days. Here are a few stories we read this week that we wanted you to know about. 
Finnegan’s Field by Angela Slatter (Jan. 2016, free at Tor.com, 99c Kindle version)

This grim story of a mother’s love for her child taps into a rare feeling of collective folklore from a shared history. Finnegan’s Field is a dark fantasy tale about a missing girl returning home after having disappeared three years prior. As it unfolds, the mother, Anne, has either uncovered some... Read More

Kingfisher: A Camelot-type court in the modern era

Readers’ average rating:

Reposting to include Rebecca's new review:

Kingfisher by Patricia A. McKillip

Knights dress in black and ride motorcycles, sorcerers and sorceresses run restaurants, and maybe your grandpa isn’t actually crazy. Such is the world in which Patricia A. McKillip’s Kingfisher takes place. Though it may begin with a deceivingly simple quest of a young man looking for his long-lost father, Kingfisher becomes much more than that very quickly. It ends up following the stories of four young people as they navigate their changing worlds and values as well as deftly interweaving their lives in surprisingly satisfying ways. I was leery (and a bit confused) at first, but Kingfisher delivers an enchanting tale of anci... Read More

AVENGERS The Red Zone written by Geoff Johns

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AVENGERS The Red Zone written by Geoff Johns, art by Olivier Coipel and Andy Lanning



I ended up with this story arc (this is the term I’m going to use as it appears when I search for this story) through a Reddit gift exchange over a year ago in which I was also delighted to receive some original art by my gifter. This context lent itself well to the reading of the story as I was very happy to receive it and more likely to overlook flaws – it may or may not be the first physical set of comic books I have owned.

First published in fall 2003, The Red Zone came out just after the first X-Men movie (2000) and the first Spider-Man movie (200... Read More

SFM: Malik, Emrys, Swanwick

Short Fiction Monday: There is so much free or inexpensive short fiction available on the internet these days. Here are a few stories we read this week that we wanted you to know about. 


The Pauper Prince and the Eucalyptus Jinn by Usman Malik (2015, free at Tor.com, Kindle version). Nominated for 2015 Nebula award (novella).

When I began this story I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it wasn’t what unfolded. The title evoked images of a myth retold or a fairy tale, but this story was something altogether different than what I had in mind. The Pauper Prince and the Eucalyptus Jin... Read More

SFM: Howey, Yeh, Bolander, Ford, Sullivan, Smith

Short Fiction Monday: There is so much free or inexpensive short fiction available on the internet these days. Here are a few stories we've recently read that we wanted you to know about.



“Peace in Amber” by Hugh Howey (2014, $1.99 Kindle, $3.95 Audible)

“Peace in Amber” is Hugh Howey’s tribute to Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five, a surrealistic novel in which Vonnegut explores his personal memories of the bombing of Dresden. Like Slaughterhouse-Five, “Peace in Amber” is also a personal reflection: Hugh Howey’s experiences on September 11, 2001, when he witnessed the collapse of the Wor... Read More

SFM: Dickinson, Sanderson, Hill, Kelly, Valentine, Simak

Short Fiction Monday: There is so much free or inexpensive short fiction available on the internet these days. Here are a few stories we've recently read. 



“Please Undo this Hurt” by Seth Dickinson (2015, free at Tor.com, Kindle version)

This is a really beautiful story about compassion, pain, and what it means to burn out. “Please Undo This Hurt” seems very realistic and not so much fantasy for a little while. I spent some time at the beginning waiting for the other shoe to drop. This “waiting” feeling didn’t last long, though, as the story... Read More

YOU: For the nostalgia of the burgeoning game industry only

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YOU by Austin Grossman

Russell was a nerd in high school, running with a crowd of computer geeks before anyone knew what computers could do. Unlike his childhood friends, he didn’t stay a computer geek. He went on to try to have a ‘normal’ life. His friends went on to release a hugely popular video game, and founded a game label in its own right. Years later and after many changes in plans Russell comes back and applies to work for the people he left behind. Austin Grossman’s YOU is the story of a guy who isn’t quite anything but finds a place where maybe he can create something.

Characters are a huge part of any story for me. I can forgive most trope-filled plots if I can really dig into the characters. I had no such luck with Y... Read More

Ultimate Spider-Man Vol. 1 by Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley

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Ultimate Spider-Man Vol. 1 by Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley

Note: if you’ve never stumbled your way into a Spiderman/Spider-Man movie, or even past the poster, there will be spoilers in this review. If you’re somewhat familiar with the Spider-Man story and/or the Marvel universe (particularly in New York) then nothing in here should surprise you.

Ultimate Spider-Man Vol. 1 covers a huge amount of Spidey: from his humble beginnings as a simple high-school student in New York through a seemingly never-ending parade of villains. Ultimate packs in romance, intrigue, S.H.I.E.L.D., loss, abandonment, sports, a... Read More

The Weavers of Saramyr: Creepy, rich, layered, and ultimately satisfying

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The Weavers of Saramyr by Chris Wooding

Chris Wooding has once again branched out and attacked another flavour of fantasy. This time the story brings the reader a sophisticated beginning to what promises to be a mysterious, cutthroat, and complex trilogy: THE BRAIDED PATH. Both the physical and social settings are richly described and beautifully rendered throughout. The Weavers of Saramyr introduces us to a nation torn apart by sickness, an empress who is all out of options, survival against the odds, and unlikely freedom fighters. The Weavers of Saramyr is no less than gripping from the first page through to the last.

There is a sickness in the lands of Saramyr. It manifests in deformed animal and plant life across the nation.... Read More

SFM: Robson, Shoemaker, Levine, Emrys, Maberry, Kritzer

Short Fiction Monday: Here are some of the stories we read this week that we wanted you to know about. For the next few weeks we'll be focusing on 2015 Nebula-nominated short fiction.

Waters of Versailles by Kelly Robson (2015, free at Tor.com, $0.99 for Kindle). Nominated for the 2015 Nebula Award (Novella).

Waters of Versailles centres on an unorthodox protagonist in Sylvain de Guilherand. Sylvain is the mastermind behind the water system in Vers... Read More

The Walking Dead, Vol. 1: Days Gone Bye

Readers’ average rating:

Reposting to include Skye's new review:

The Walking Dead, Volume 1: Days Gone Bye by Robert Kirkman & Tony Moore

In his introduction to The Walking Dead, Robert Kirkman explains that the best zombie stories feature waves of blood but also come with strong undercurrents of social commentary. If the back of this graphic novel is to be believed, Kirkman will explore how “in a world ruled by the dead, we are forced to finally start living.”

Kirkman mentions George Romero’s zombie movies in his introduction, but his take on the zombie is more than homage to Romero’s movies. While Romero’s zombies often satirize our consumer culture, Kirkman’s undead are presented in contrast to our complacent “lifestyles.” The walking dead literally hunger for life, while most of Kirkman’s readers, it seems, merely endur... Read More

Retribution Falls: Everything I wanted from a tale about sky pirates

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Retribution Falls by Chris Wooding

Confession: I love pirates. Stories with pirates in them have captivated me for as long as I can remember (and I’ll blame my family for sitting me in front of such movies as Muppets Treasure Island and The Princess Bride) and continue to bring me great joy. With this in mind, you can imagine how excited I was when I found a pirate story by one of my favourite authors, Chris Wooding. Retribution Falls is everything I could have asked for from a swashbuckling tale: there are old foes, daring escapes, dirty jobs, betrayal, heartbreak, and breathtaking battles. Also, in a fashion I have grown to love, Wooding delivers a myriad of things that I didn’t ask for but absolutely wanted. If it wasn’t already apparent, I loved this story a... Read More

WWWednesday: October 21, 2015

Ursula K LeGuin was born on this date in 1929. Her father was an anthropologist and her mother was a writer. LeGuin got her bachelor’s degree from Radcliffe and a Master’s from Columbia, and received a Fulbright grant to study in France. She began writing science fiction stories when she was nine, to keep up with her brothers, she has side. She sent her first story out when she was eleven years old, to Astounding Science Fiction, but it was rejected. After that, though, things turned around, and she has won four Nebulas, two Hugos, five Locus awards, one World Fantasy Award and was awarded the Medal for Distinguished Contribution in American Letters by the National Book Foundation in 2014. A brilliant writer, a poet, a sharp scholar, LeGuin is also a vocal and passionate champion of the speculative fiction genre. Happy Birthday!

And, today is the date Marty McFly went... Read More

Thoughtful Thursday: Happy Birthday to us!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO US!

This week marks our EIGHTH birthday! Yep, we've been hanging out together (well, some of us) since June 2007!

To celebrate, we'd like to invite some characters from speculative fiction to our virtual birthday party. We'd like YOU to choose the guests. Who should we invite, and why? What do you think might happen? Oh, and of course, you're invited, too!

EIGHT commenters from the US or Canada will receive a gift from us: some festive FanLit BOOKMARKS and a delicious FANLIT T-SHIRT (or, if you prefer, a book from our stacks). Make sure to click the little box so you'll get the notification, or check back in about 10 days. Read More

Hollow City: I wanted to love it, but ended up only liking it

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Hollow City by Ransom Riggs

Hollow City picks up almost immediately after the events of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, the first book in the MISS PEREGRINE’S PECULIAR CHILDREN series. From the very beginning Hollow City is an action-packed adventure in all the places that the first book was a thoughtful, eerie mystery. I enjoyed the change of pace Ransom Riggs set in this sequel, though this new territory brought with it its own problems. (Please note: this review will contain spoilers throughout due to the mysterious nature of the first book. Some points I will be discussing were not known until most of the way through Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children but I have found them integ... Read More

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown: I was expecting her to be a little bit colder

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The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is a novel of the same name as a short story in Holly Black’s The Poison Eaters, and anthology of delightfully dark YA stories, all with particular flavours and drawing on different myths from around the world. The Coldest Girl in Coldtown finds the reader in a post-vampiricism-infected United States. The cities in which the largest outbreaks occurred were swiftly enclosed (earning the name ‘Coldtowns’), trapping vampires, humans, and infected alike in a backwards world where day is night and predators look like the people you once loved.

The way one turns into a vampire in Holly Black’s world is unique. It’s a disease that has particular stages from bitten to full vampire, and there’s a way to beat it. Of course sweating out ... Read More

The Lies of Locke Lamora: A scintillating debut novel

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The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch

Trained from childhood as a thief and con-artist par excellence, Locke Lamora employs a silver tongue and quicksilver mind to divest the rich of Camorr of their excessive wealth. No sooner do Locke and his associates initiate their latest scheme, however, than they find themselves at the mercy of the mysterious Gray King, who intends to use them as pawns in his bid to take over the city-state’s underworld. As the Gray King’s diabolical plan unfolds, Locke finds his skills tested as never before as he struggles not only for his own survival, but also for the survival of his friends and Camorr itself.

In this scintillating debut novel, Scott Lynch establishes himself as a rising star of fantasy fiction. Like Read More

Sailing to Sarantium: Historical fantasy

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Sailing to Sarantium by Guy Gavriel Kay

The new emperor in Sarantium has a lot to atone for, so he’s building a grand chapel to his god and calling the most famous artisans in the surrounding regions to come work for him. Crispin, a mosaicist from a neighboring country, is one of these. Unhappy since his wife and children died, Crispin doesn’t think he has much to live for anymore, and he doesn’t want to go to Sarantium. But when his young queen, who sits her throne precariously, asks Crispin to carry a secret proposal to the already-married emperor of Sarantium, Crispin is duty-bound. Now he is “sailing to Sarantium,” which means that he’s leaving everything behind to start a promising new life. Along the way, he befriends an alchemist with strange powers, a young woman who’s about to be sacrificed to a god, and a foul-mouthed army officer who loves to watch the chariot races. When Crisp... Read More

The Castle in the Attic: A cozy, heartwarming medieval tale

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The Castle in the Attic by Elizabeth Winthrop

The Castle in the Attic is a warm story about a boy, an old toy castle, and a much-loved housekeeper. William does not want his babysitter, Mrs. Phillips, to leave him and return to England. William swears he will do anything to keep her with him (absolutely anything). But when she gives him her old miniature stone castle and its lone knight, William fears there will be no way to keep her around. Until the knight comes to life.

The story of William and the Silver Knight is nothing if not heartwarming. William is a very kind boy and loves his housekeeper very much. She has been there his whole life, and he does not want to let her go. In the castle in his attic, he meets the Silver Knight: not a metallic toy but a very real (very tiny) knight. The spell that was cast on him had been broken, and the Silver Knight (Sir ... Read More

Mockingjay: Our mixed opinions

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Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

OK, HUNGER GAMES fans, you’ve been waiting a year for this book, and the last thing you want is some @#$% reviewer spoiling the plot. So, I will do my best to give my impressions of Mockingjay with as few spoilers as possible.

When a series becomes this popular and sparks this much speculation among readers, the author’s task is extremely difficult. How to surprise a fanbase, when that fanbase has spent many months trying to guess what will happen in the final installment (and almost certainly guessed right on a few counts)? Yet Suzanne Collins succeeds admirably. There are plenty of twists in Mockingjay that I simply never saw coming, and there are other aspects of the plot that I partially guessed but that didn’t play out quite the way I thought they would.... Read More

Bones of Faerie: Faults and sparks of brilliance

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Bones of Faerie by Janni Lee Simner

The human world has been rendered almost unlivable, victim of the wild magic unleashed by the faeries in their war with the humans twenty years earlier. Liza, a teenage girl, tries to survive in a small community in the Midwestern United States that has been savaged by the remnants of the war. The corn fights back against the humans harvesting it, and the blackberry vines seek flesh. Everyone who survived the war knows that magic is dangerous and cannot be tolerated, so when Liza’s sister is born with the clear hair that marks her as magically tainted, Liza’s father leaves the infant on a hillside to die.

This is where Bones of Faerie starts, with a horrified young woman finding the remains of her baby sister’s body scattered on a hillside. In this dark, post-apocalyptic YA novel, Janni Lee Simner sets u... Read More

Storm Thief: Not for the full of stomach

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Storm Thief by Chris Wooding

From the get go, Storm Thief has you on the edge of your seat. Chris Wooding once again creates a very vivid and realistic world full of danger and suspense, and the characters to go along with it. We meet stone-hearted villains, a frightened and bewildered half-machine-half-man creation, a day-dreaming thief, and many more. This is not for the faint of heart, or the full of stomach.

Orokos is an isolated city on an island in the middle of a vast ocean. It's immensely over-populated, so the poor, the weak, and the sick find themselves living in the slums. If you find yourself inhabiting this cut-throat environment, there is no way out. Many come to live in the slums after being affected by one of the probability storms that plague the city. These unpredictable storms are caused by the chaos engine and they can change your eye colour,... Read More

Curse of the Spider King: Reviewed by our YA

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Curse of the Spider King by Wayne Thomas Batson

Curse of the Spider King begins by introducing the reader, one at a time, to seven completely unrelated teens from around the world. Left to live out mortal lives on earth as humans, these seven teens are actually far from human. They are in fact the only living heirs to the thrones of a forgotten realm inhabited by elves and the Spider King. Once these seven turn thirteen, they are no longer protected by an ancient curse, and they become prey.

Curse of the Spider King starts out slowly — there are seven different settings, sets of characters, and situations to explain. Some of their names were easily confusable (e.g., Timmy, Tommy, and Johnny), but Wayne Thomas Batson manages to make each teen realistic, deep, and unique. There are no holes in character development nor ... Read More

Raider’s Ransom: A good little book with an edge of adventure

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Raider's Ransom by Emily Diamand

Raider’s Ransom is set in and around the British Isles, where the survivors of a major global disaster (caused by technology) live much more primitively than their predecessors did. After major weather phenomena and amazing flooding, those who lived were left to clean up and move on with what was left.

Now war is stirring between the crumbling government and the families. The daughter of the Prime Minister is kidnapped, wreaking havoc on the fishing village where she was taken from. From there a girl and her sea cat, armed with a secret, dare to seek out the families who took her and offer a trade.

Raider’s Ransom is brimming with adventure, unlikely friendships, huge mysteries, and crazy “‘puters.” The plot moves along well, not dwelling anywhere too long, getting the story goin... Read More

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