Wild Fell by Michael Rowe
Wild Fell begins in the small town of Alvina, Ontario, in 1960, when Sean Schwartz asks his high school sweetheart, Brenda Egan, if she believes in ghosts. Whether he’s trying to scare her into cuddling closer, looking for some excitement to end the summer before school begins again, or is entirely sincere in his question, his question is a prelude to asking Brenda if she’ll cross a mile of Devil’s Lake to Blackmore Island to explore the remains of a mansion called Wild Fell. It takes some persuading, but Brenda reluctantly agrees, only to change her mind when they’re halfway there, suddenly frightened. Sean is disappointed, maybe angry, but the evening is saved by an illicit bottle of wine and a bonfire. But Wild Fell isn’t done with them, and the curtain of the prologue falls as a legend begins.
Michael Rowe sets his hook firmly with this prologue, but then he lets the line ou... Read More
Terry WeynaOn FanLit’s staff since December 2010
TERRY WEYNA is spending the second half of her life as a reviewer, critic, scholar and writer, after having spent the first half practicing law in a variety of states and settings. (She is still a lawyer, telecommuting to an Orange County, California, law firm, where she mostly does legal research and writing. This work financially supports her addiction to books.) Since Terry was six years old, she has nearly always had a book in her hand. She favors fantasy, and especially New Weird, slipstream and highly literary works, but also reads science fiction, horror, mystery, science, biography and history. She greatly prefers the look, feel and smell of physical books to ebooks.
Terry lives in Northern California with her husband, professor and writer Fred White, the imperious Cordelia Louise Cat Weyna-White, and a personal library that exceeds 12,000 volumes. Her favorite writers include Tim Powers, Tanith Lee, Daniel Abraham, Steph Swainston, China Mieville and Catherynne Valente. Terry keeps a blog at Reading the Leaves.
Wild Fell by Michael Rowe
Not Less Than Gods by Kage Baker
Fans of THE COMPANY novels of Kage Baker — the series that began with In the Garden of Iden and features the redoubtable Mendoza, along with other immortals and secret societies — need to know no more than that this novel comprises the back story of Edward Alton Fairfax-Bell.
Edward Alton Fairfax-Bell is a foundling, the bastard son of noble parents who had a tryst in 1924. He was adopted as an infant by a family suffering from the loss of their own infant son, but rejected by his adoptive mother, and therefore essentially raised by servants. At the age of 11, he is taken under the care of Dr. Nennys, the headmaster of a boarding school to which he is quickly ushered. He does well, grows to a very tall manhood (just shy of seven feet, in fact), and joins the Navy. Unfortunately, the Navy doesn’t quite meet his ideals, but is full of bounders and scoundrels — one of wh... Read More
The Night Boat by Robert R. McCammon
The Night Boat was Robert R. McCammon’s third published novel, first appearing in 1980. Now Subterranean Press has brought it back as a (sold out) limited edition, and also made it available in e-book format for the first time. It betrays some of the faults of a then-new writer, but also has considerable power in its portrayal of Nazi submariners, as terrifying 35 years after the end of World War II as they were in the days when they lurked in the deep waters of the Atlantic Ocean — if not more so.
David Moore, the principal protagonist of the novel, lives on Coquina Island in the Carribbean Sea, where he owns a small hotel on the largely undeveloped island. He is a scuba diver as well, and, as the book opens, he is diving alone on the edge of a shelf, in an area known as th... Read More
The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
You know what you’ve got the moment you catch sight of Patrick Rothfuss’s debut novel, The Name of the Wind. There it is, your standard, big, fat, epic fantasy. If you’re an experienced fantasy reader, you can tell from the cover of the guy with the lute (one of two dust jackets with which the book was published) that it’s heroic fantasy in a world with magic, Faery, fighting and words of power. And, in fact, upon reading the novel you will find that all the tropes are here, from the university where magic is taught to mysterious beasts to the power of cold iron.
However comfortable the tropes are, though, this book offers something new within a familiar framework. For one thing, The Name of the Wind is so well-written that you will reach page 662 wishing this weren’t the first of an unfinished trilogy (though you’ll be happy that Volume Two, The ... Read More
Parasite by Mira Grant
Mira Grant is the science fiction side of Seanan McGuire, the fantasy writer responsible for the OCTOBER DAYE and INCRYPTID fantasy series. Her last outing was the NEWSFLESH trilogy, which I loved (especially the first book, Feed). Now she’s published the first novel in the PARASITOLOGY duology, Parasite. And it’s a doozy.
Parasitology opens with the transcription of a video recordin... Read More
Tell My Sorrows to the Stones by Christopher Golden
Christopher Golden says in his introduction to Tell My Sorrows to the Stones (a quotation from Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus, perhaps Shakespeare’s cruelest play), “A collection of short stories is like the strange history of a period in a writer’s life[.]” This crystallized my thinking about short story collections, as I become more and more of a reader of short science fiction, fantasy and horror: a collection gives you a picture of a writer, and that writer’s concerns, at a particular time in his or her life. Not that there is anything autobiographical in the themes and variations; a writer's imagination is his or her imagination, not his or her life. But the attentive reader will note that in a collection the same situations arise (such as... Read More
Purple and Black by K.J. Parker
Purple and Black is one of Subterranean Press’s novella-length books, and a very fine one, too. It is an epistolary novel, containing letters between an emperor — one whose empire seems very Roman in character — and the former schoolmate he has appointed as the governor of Upper Tremissis, a province that is the focus of an insurgency. Official communications between the two are written in flowerly language in purple ink: “Phormio begs to inform his His Majesty that he has safely arrived at Tremissis City, and has assumed control of the civil and military administration.” The less formal and much lengthier portion of any message is written in the vernacular, in black:
You are, of course, an unmitigated bastard. Not content with dragging me away from my chair at Anassus, which I worked bloody hard to earn and which will not go to that pinhead Atho, you made me waste three months of my... Read More
Evil Jester Digest, Volume 2, edited by Peter Giglio
Editor Peter Giglio explains in his introduction to Evil Jester Digest, Volume 2, that there are two ways to assemble an anthology: send out a call for submissions and read through the piles and piles of stories you’ll get as a result; or seek out exactly those authors you’d like to have in your anthology. In Volume I of Evil Jester Digest, Giglio took the first course, but in this volume he asked the writers he wanted to sell him stories. The result is a clean, tight anthology filled with good stories.
Evil Jester Digest opens with “No More Shadows” by Tim Waggoner. Dan is slowly driving around the parking lot of an electronics store, talking on his cellphone to his ex-wife, practically begging to... Read More
Lamentation by Ken Scholes
It’s been some time since I read any epic fantasy; I stopped because it was all starting to sound the same to me. Lately, though, I’ve been on a quest for the quirky, the original, the off-beat. I’m tired of clichés and predictability, comfortable as they sometimes are to read.
Fortunately for me, Ken Scholes seems to be of the same mind. Lamentation, the first book of THE PSALMS OF ISAAK, while partaking of the spirit of traditional epic fantasy, gives the old tropes a new spin. Perhaps it is because his book partakes as much of science fiction as of fantasy (his book could as easily be a far future version of our own Earth as it could be a totally invented world); perhaps it is simply because he has a terrific imagination and a writing style to match. In any event, Lamentation was a pleasure to read.
The book begins with the destruction of Wind... Read More
The God Engines by John Scalzi
John Scalzi has written that he intended The God Engines to be his attempt at a fantasy. If that was truly his aim, he missed; The God Engines is a very fine short space opera.
True, many of the fripperies of fantasy are attached to this story: a hierarchical religion that controls the universe of the characters; a protagonist who is a military man of skill, but who is also as religious as he needs to be to advance in this society; and gods, both the beings who, as slaves, power spaceships through mental effort (that is, the “god engines”), and the supreme being whom the protagonist and his species worship. One might especially be forgiven for thinking of the gods as being the stuff of fantasy. But it is at least as easy to think of these gods as aliens who have developed far beyond the species that has managed to enslave them. In fact, looking at the “gods” t... Read More
The Magicians by Lev Grossman
Quentin Coldwater is a moody and depressed seventeen-year-old on his way to an interview with a Princeton alumnus, hoping that his real life will begin when he finally starts college. These days, as a high schooler, he spends most of his time living in Fillory, a magical land that is the subject of five novels published in England in the 1930s. Fillory is altogether much more interesting than the Brooklyn he actually lives in, even if he is “ridiculously brilliant” and bound for a splendid college career.
But the interview never takes place. Instead, Quentin is handed an envelope that seems to contain the transcript of a sixth Fillory novel. When the wind snatches a note attached to it from his hands, he chases after it and find himself on the grounds of Brakebills College in upstate New York. He is invited to take an entrance exam to this extraordinary institution of learning, which teaches only one... Read More
Black Ships by Jo Graham
Virgil’s Aeneid has had new life breathed into it by a number of authors and translators of late. First, Robert Fagles offered his new translation in 2006, to much acclaim. Then, Ursula K. LeGuin and Jo Graham offered their fictional renderings of different portions of Aeneas’s life almost simultaneously. In Black Ships, Jo Graham writes of the hero Aeneas’s search for a new home for his people, the survivors of the fall of Troy; and Ursula K. LeGuin takes up almost exactly where Graham leaves off in Lavinia, written from the perspective of Aeneas’s new wife in his new home.
Black Ships is told from the perspective of someone we first meet as a girl named Gull, the daughter of a woman stolen from Troy when it fell and made a slave by the Achaians. She is born from a rape, but her ... Read More
Joyland by Stephen King
Devin Jones is nearing the end of his sophomore year of college when he signs on for a summer job at Joyland in Heaven’s Bay, North Carolina in 1973. Joyland is an old-fashioned amusement park, not anything near as big as a Six Flags and definitely not anything like a Disney park. It’s staffed by a changing cast of college kids every summer, but has a backbone of old carnie folk, including Lane Hardy, who runs the Carolina Spin, that is, the ferris wheel, and Rosalind Gold, who acts the part of Madame Fortuna and thinks she might have the gift of the sight in real life. The park’s mascot is Howie the Happy Hound, modeled after a dog the owner of the park had as a boy, and his visage graces everyone’s sun visor and the bags in which visitors receive the trinkets they buy. And “the wearing of the fur” is a tradition for the college kids. You probably know what that means if you’ve ever been to an amusement par... Read More
The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
I’m not much for rereading books. There are just too many new books, and there will never be enough hours to read them all. I understand the arguments in favor of rereading, but I just do not wish to take the time.
So it was with some surprise that I found myself rereading The Lies of Locke Lamora, the first in Scott Lynch’s GENTLEMEN BASTARDS trilogy, as a sort of early celebration that the third book in the series will be out this autumn. After all, it’s been seven years since The Lies of Locke Lamora was first published; my memory needed to be refreshed, I figured. I had no idea that I would so thoroughly enjoy myself with this picaresque novel of a thief who has enough honor, arrogance and talent to power an empire.
We first meet Lamora when he is a child being sold by the Thiefmaker to the Eyeless Priest of Perelandro. He wound up in the lovin... Read More
Failure by John Everson
It’s been decades since horror was really hot, with whole sections of bookstores devoted to novels with black and red covers. But the genre never really died, and not just because of Stephen King’s ongoing popularity. Horror went underground, in a sense; small presses picked up where the standard publishers left off, and a great deal of fiction was published in extremely small press runs, often in gorgeous editions with full illustrations. Novellas and novelettes were (and are) published as chapbooks, demanding the same price that complete novels do in other genres. Most people didn’t even know these books existed, and those who did often couldn’t afford the high prices these limited editions demanded.
Enter the ebook revolution. With each passing week, it seems, a work that had previously only... Read More