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Posts Tagged ‘Emily Croy Barker’

realmagicIf you want to be a fairy princess when you grow up, or are considering clairvoyancy as a career path, two new books likely will change your mind. They may, however, encourage you to try your hand at fantasy writing. Warning: the field is quite crowded, and these two first-timers set the bar quite high.
The cover and title of Emily Croy Barker’s The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Real Magic (Viking/Pamela Dorman, digital galley) made me think it was going to be some light paranormal fantasy, but happily I was proved wrong. Barker’s debut is a well-thought-out epic referencing literature and fairy tales and reminds me of works by Deborah Harkness and Robin McKinley.
Grad student Nora Fischer, disappointed in love and academia, goes AWOL from a friend’s mountain wedding and wanders through a portal into an alternate world, although it takes her awhile to realize the Gatsbyesque land with all the beautiful people is an illusion created by the Faitoren, a fairy people.
Thoroughly bewitched by dashing Prince Raclan and his manipulative mother Ilissa, Nora’s finally rescued by powerful, enigmatic magician Arundiel and must adapt to a strange medieval world in which neither educated women nor good hygiene are particularly valued. Stuck in Arundiel’s isolated castle, Nora eventually convinces her grim host to teach her magic, hoping that this skill will get her farther in the divided kingdom, or at least closer to home, than peeling potatoes and milking cows. But she’s still a mere beginner when war breaks out, and Nora’s well-meaning actions could cost lives.
After a sluggish beginning, Barker imagines a convincing world that’s familiar from fairy tales but different enough to surprise. There be dragons. And ice demons. It’s 500-plus plus pages of magic and intrigue, with a hint of romance and an ending sufficient to the day. I’m hoping for a sequel.
boneseasonWe already know there’s going to be a sequel to Samantha Shannon’s enthralling The Bone Season (Bloomsbury USA, digital galley), which she began writing as a 19-year-old student at Oxford (all of two years ago) and is the first in a projected seven-book series. That may sound daunting, but Shannon’s world-building is phenomenal and seductive.
In 2059, Great Britain is ruled by the totalitarian corporate body known as Scion, which has it all over Big Brother in the enforcement department, hunting down clairvoyants of all stripes. Paige, a rare dreamwalker, has allied herself with the criminal underworld and when she is captured by Scion after killing an underguard, she expects torture and execution in the Tower. Instead, she awakens after five days of hellish hallucinations in the Lost City of Oxford and discovers that she is a prisoner of the Rephaim, otherworldly humanoids who need Scion’s voyants to fight off flesh-eating creatures who rampage through the aether. The stern blood-consort Warden Arcturus becomes Paige’s “keeper,” but her existence is precarious at best as she tries to contact old friends in London and make new ones among her fellow prisoners.
Intricate, provocative and richly imagined, The Bone Season is meaty dystopian fiction. More, please.

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