The Series Series: Throne Of Glass By Sarah J. Maas

You know how like, when you’re at a house party and it’s late and someone says “let’s order pizza!” and you say, “YEAH!” And then you’re psyched because you’re going to get pizza but then they ordered Dominos, and you eat a slice and think, “Dominos is better than I remembered,” because you’ve really been craving pizza, but then you get a second slice and remember that Dominos is a pale imitation of pizza?

That’s sort of what happened with me while I was reading Throne Of Glass. 

I miss Westeros so much you guys, that I was overlooking the uh, less than great-ness, of parts of this series, because it shares some, well, stuff in common with A Song Of Ice And Fire and Game Of Thrones.

Namely, an exiled fire queen with a prophecy on her head and a tendency to burn her enemies.

That said, there’s a lot to like about Throne Of Glass on it’s own and I did like it. Let’s dig in.

The Books

Throne Of Glass

Crown Of Midnight

Heir Of Fire

Queen Of Shadows

Empire Of Storms

Tower Of Dawn

Kingdom Of Ash

The Author

Sarah J. Maas began writing Throne Of Glass as a teenager on Fictionpress before the series was picked up to be published conventionally, which is pretty damn cool. She was inspired by epic fantasy and apparently by Disney princesses which means I bet we’d get along pretty well. (Hey Sarah! Call me!) Since Throne Of Glass she’s written two more series, which I haven’t decided if I have the bandwith to pick up.

Series Structure

Seven books which tell the story of assassin Celaena Sardothien, who is really Queen Aelin Galythenius and her quest to regain her throne and destroy a great evil that is threatening her world. What I thought was most interesting about this series is the way it develops. It clearly started in a world where Harry Potter and The Hunger Games ruled in genre stories. There’s an oddly biased love triangle, a rigged contest, a magical castle with mysteries to solve, but by book three, the wind had changed in what fantasy held sway, and suddenly, a fire queen, sexy sex, beheadings galore and more characters you could really keep track of if you have a normal person brain ruled the day, and the series moved in a completely different direction.

It’s frankly, completely fascinating to behold the shift, and Maas pulls it off for the most part.

Themes

Legacy, I guess? Also letting go of the past to build the future. There’s a lot of both of those things, which are fun themes to explore. There’s also some shades of choosing light and life rather than giving into despair, but that’s pretty boilerplate for this sort of thing.

Favorite Book

My god, I loved Heir Of Fire, which shows Celaena/Aelin off in a Faerie realm with the Male who would become her mate, Rowan, (it is complicated) while her dueling would be lovers from the first two books, Prince Dorian and Captain Chaol Westfall realize they are in over their heads in their homeland, and that something is definitely up with Dorian’s father. It has a third act twist that gut punched me in a way I haven’t felt since The Red Wedding (though it is not as good, but it’s as brutal and out of nowhere)

Least Favorite Book

I do not like Throne Of Glass, which means, if it weren’t for this project of finishing what I start, I probably would not have continued. I’m glad that I did, because the series is pretty rewarding if a bit much in places. Maas’s sex writing in particular is very repetitive. At one point she’s got Dorian fucking a witch with ACTUAL IRON where humans have Keratin and the most she can do is put her on top? Come on lady! Show some creativity.

Favorite Character

Manon Blackbeak is a 500 year old witch of two royal lines who gets Spiked like YOU WOULDN’T BELIEVE (To “Spike” a character is to have them begin as a very fun secondary antagonist and eventually become the best of the good guys and the problematic lover of one of the heroes. Origin – Buffy The Vampire Slayer) She’s also a military genius, and executes two of my favorite tropes ever, a character who rejected connection learning that love is not weakness, and calling the cavalry when all seems lost.

Also, she just rules.

Reread Possibilities

I really enjoyed the series, but part of what I enjoyed were the twists and turns and “WTF?” moments. I don’t think it would hold up on a reread, and frankly, it’s too long to reread without love, which, I liked and admired it a lot, but I didn’t love it.

Next up will be The Great Libary series by Rachel Caine, although it might be a bit though because there’s a scene in Kingdom Of Ash where Aelin is falling through multiple world that made my heart call out for yet another world.

“The man in black fled across the desert, and The Gunslinger followed…”

I half expected her to have to have a conversation with That Fucking Turtle. 

The Series Series: The Bone Witch Trilogy by Rin Chupeco

We aren’t supposed to judge books by their covers but the cover of The Bone Witch looks like THIS:

The Bone Witch

So…yeah. That’s that.

The Books

The Bone Witch

The Heart Forger

The Shadowglass

The Author

Rin Chupeco began her career as a technical writer who was obsessed with horror and fairytales and now blends them together.

I will be reading everything she’s every written, because I loved this series. Did I give away the end of this blog? Seriously though, this was a delight.

Series Structure

This is a trilogy, three books that tell the story of Tea Pahlahvi, a Bone Witch or Dark Asha, magic users who’s role in society feels like something in between university professors and geisha, in the society of 8 kingdoms in the book. Tea’s power allows her to raise the dead as well as commune and subdue legendary creatures known as daeva that often threaten her world.

The story alternates between Tea’s telling her own story and a bard (who is more than he seems) who she has engaged to tell it for you. Tea has done terrible things and she is ready to reshape the world, if she has the strength to do it.

Themes

Oh there’s a lot at work here, responsibility, accountability, civil inequality, the redeeming properties of true love (and all true love, not just romantic.)

Favorite Book

It’s probably The Heartforger although The Shadow Glass grew on me as it went along. But I devoured The Heartforger which answered a lot of questions and mysteries from the first book and did actually have me thinking that we were watching the birth of a supervillain. (We weren’t, but in the interest of spoilers, I won’t elaborate)

Least Favorite Book

The Bone Witch was lovely and sucked me into the world, but Chupeco has a lot of world building and character introduction to do. This is where the two timelines and narrators came into play as important. I wanted to know how Tea got to where she was in the flash forward sections, so I was willing to get through, “This is how I found out about my powers, this was my training” even when I wasn’t overly invested

Favorite Character

There are, alas, not direct pop culture paralells this time around for me to default into love, but I was deeply fond of Tea’s great True Love, Kalen. He’s a stalwart captain of the guard type…he uh, reminds me of someone…a little…can’t put my finger on it…anyway.

Reread Possibilities

I don’t know that I’ll reread this, but I’m not opposed to it. I very much enjoyed it, and I’m looking forward to Chupeco’s other work, but I don’t know that I’d pick up this series again.

Our next series will be Throne Of Glass by Sarah J. Maas, I’m already halfway through it. Waiting on Book 5.

Fangirl Loves Star Wars: Resistance Reborn by Rebecca Roanhorse

Remember a few weeks ago when I said I might never love a Star Wars novel because of the mandated third person present tense driving me bonkers?

Such is the power of Poe Dameron my friends because I have found a Star Wars novel I love. Resistance Reborn is fabulous, silly, interested in its characters, tells a rollicking adventure story and even brings back some old favorites. 

Oh, right and it’s basically got three chapters that are just Poe and Finn flirting including a scene where POE TEACHES FINN HOW TO TIE A TIE BECAUSE THEY ARE GOING UNDERCOVER AT A FANCY FIRST ORDER PARTY AND FINN CHOOSES ALIAS’S FOR THEM THAT ARE ACTUALLY THE STAR WARS VERSIONS OF SUPERHEROS AND OMG WHY WASN’T THIS THE OPENING ACT OF THE RISE OF SKYWALKER? (Also they’re in love and Abrams, Kennedy and Iger are cowards. Roanhouse is clearly a Stormpilot shipper because she goes OUT OF HER WAY to have Poe flirt with Finn, Finn grin about it, Finn assure Poe that Rey and Rose are “just his friends” and have Poe be super happy about that.) 

I really very much enjoyed this book, where Poe, and the rest of Black Squadron take Leia’s words of hope and decide to do whatever they need to to rebuild the Resistance. Snap and Kare head to pull Wedge and Norra out of retirement. They are not difficult to sway on this one, although Wedge is allowed a moment of hopelessness when he learns of Luke’s death. Leia and Rey are around in the periphery both knowing something else is coming but unsure what that something else is. Meanwhile, Poe, Suralinda, Finn and a new friend from Ryloth all head to Corellia to get a list of First Order defectors and known critics. (This is where the fancy party and tie tying come in.)

And I love it, y’all, I love it so much. I love the capers and the banter and the Stormpilot of it all. Rebecca Roanhorse’s tone suits my taste almost perfectly and did I mention SO MUCH STORMPILOT, and also more time with Black Squadron.

Just in general it’s great. I liked it a lot. We’ll be touching base next week obviously, with Clone Wars and with Resistance Season 2, which is now on Disney+, and as for Star Wars reading goes, I have the Darth Vader comics from the library and since the library is closed, I’m going to be relying on Kindle & Comixology once I get through my reading pile. I’m not sure what I’m going to read but it will probably be Prequel era. I’ve been eyeing Master & Apprentice, I could use some Obi-Wan in my life right now. 

I also might do an “Anatomy Of A Favorite Post” for Poe. I’ve done these before for Dick Grayson and Ahsoka, started one for Obi-Wan that never got where I wanted and I think Poe has earned it. 

In The Shadow of Adaptation: Emma

Emma Woodhouse, clever, handsome, and rich, had lived nearly twenty one years with very little to vex her.

I went into this new adaptation of Emma curious but without much expectation. Emma is far and away my favorite of Jane Austen’s novels, not least because of it’s prickly sometimes silly heroine, who Austen described as, “no one but myself will like much.”

Of course many people love Emma Woodhouse, vexing and silly as she is, and I didn’t put too much pressure on this movie, since I have a lot of affection for 1996 adaptation starring Gwyneth Paltrow (an Emma if there ever was one) and the 2009 miniseries with Ramola Garai was not to my taste at all, and we have a perfect adaptation of Emma that exists and it’s called Clueless. 

With all of those caveats I was excited for a reason to pick up this book again, and happy to fall back into Emma’s world of matchmaking and new dresses and balls and a true and honest love built on the back of friendship and long held affection. (Mr. George Knightly would destroy that broody Fitzwilliam Darcy chap with one lecture and raised eyebrow and it would be glorious.) and Autumn De Wilde’s new film, with Anna Taylor-Joy in the lead is a delightful trifle of film.

De Wilde makes some choices that I absolutely love, one is that he’s very clear that he’s making a comedy, he leans into the absurdity of the manners and social dances that in a way that Austen’s books nearly always do, and adaptations tend to stay away from. His background as a music video director suits the tableaux that are necessary.

The other decision that De Wilde makes that sets the tone perfectly is cast the always wonderful Bill Nighy as Emma’s mercurial father. Mr. Woodhouse is an absurd character, always nervous about illness and wanting everything is own way. His daughter and her lover are of course happy to oblige him, but the silliness of the character is perfectly pitched here. Frankly, most of the cast is perfectly pitched to the arch and funny tone, and the ball scene is one of the sexiest ways of shooting those scenes (always the sexiest in the adaptations).

I’m odd in my Austen preferences, liking Emma more than Pride And Prejudice is the least of it. I hold Ang Lee & Emma Thompson’s Sense And Sensibility as the high watermark, not the BBC P&P starring Colin Firth (although it is very very good.) Overall, i consider a wonderful adaptation of one of my favorite books, that I will most likely be revisiting a time or two.

The Series Series: The Old Kingdom Series By Garth Nix

“Does the walker choose the path?” Well, I chose this one and I’m pretty sure that I regret it. This is the first time I’ve pushed through a series I really didn’t care for except in fits and starts. I’m bad about putting down books I don’t particularly care for, but I usually don’t go for the sequels of something that I had to push through. Anyway, let’s dig deeper.

The Books

Sabriel

Lirael

Abhorsen

Clariel

Goldenhand

Author

Garth Nix is an Australian author. He studied literature at University and then worked in the publishing industry before writing Sabriel. He claims inspiration from classical fantasy as well as Middle Eastern and Asian mysticism. And despite my overall dislike of this series it is a nice blend of those traditions as I understand them. He lives in Sydney with his wife and two sons.

Series Structure

This is five books, the first three a pretty solid trilogy, with a prequel and then a sequel following. The initial trilogy actually reminds me a lot of Dune, telling the story of Sabriel and Prince Touchstone, an epic story in it’s own right, that leads to a huge shift in status quo for the world, the restoration of a great royal house, and a return to magic, (in Dune the restoration of an imperial house and a return to tech.) followed by two stories of what that means for their children and the next generation, which is what Lirael and Abhorsen deal with, Sabriel finding her new true apprentice and reaching a detante with the forces of “Free Magic.” Then we get Clariel which tells a largely free standing story about The Old Kingdom before the fall of the royal house, until we learn who it’s lead becomes. Goldenhand wraps a few things up but does end on a cliff hanger and apparently a sixth book is coming next year.

I will not be reading it.

Themes

I think legacy is a big theme here, it’s what I seize on the most. Which, again, it’s so weird that I didn’t like this series much. I love legacy as a theme, the curses and mistakes and triumphs of the past irepparably damaging the future. But it’s all in the execution, Nix’s characters don’t feel like they’re moving in the tides of destiny as so many heroes in these types of stories are, they feel bound by them and not in a fun, I’m gonna subvert that expectation way, just in a resigned shrug their shoulders way. It makes for dull reading.

Also the magic system is practically impenetrable and I was bored every time something got explained. I think I just don’t care for Nix’s writing.

Favorite Book

I liked Lirael best because I liked Lirael best. She seemed do be the only character who was active, who wanted something different than what life was giving her. She eventually swam with the tide, but she at least fought it and swam, didn’t let herself be carried.

Least Favorite Book

Clariel is a real slog. I don’t care how important Chlorr Of The Mask is to Lirael’s development, this book was not fun. Even though it has a DRAGON and a MAGIC SCHOOL and COURT POLITICS all tings that I usually love.

Favorite Character

You’d like Lirael after what I said above, but it’s actually Mogget, a free magic creature bound in the form of a cat who serves the Abhorsens. He rules, he’s surly, sarcastic, annoyed and bent on revenge on the family that bound him, even though he likes them well enough individually. I like cat guides, which is odd, since in life I’m much more of a dog person. But I liked Mogget, he felt in tradition with Faithful from The Song Of The Lioness and Luna and Artemis from Sailor Moon.

Reread Possibilities

I’m not rereading this, I had so much trouble getting into it.

The next Series Series will be on The Space Trilogy by C.S. Lewis, but there’s some stuff in between. (I’m rereading PS I Still Love You and doing an “In The Shadow Of Adaptation” as well as one for Jane Austen’s Emma.) 

The Series Series: The Vampire Chronicles, The New Vampires & The Lives Of The Mayfair Witches By Anne Rice

Hello! Happy New Year and welcome to the 2020 reading project! (And beyond probably!)The Series Series, where I read book series, at the moment of the speculative fiction variety, and talk about plots, themes, author details, whatever it is about the series that gripped me. We’re starting a little idiosyncratically, with a finishing of a series I’ve been reading in bits and pieces over the past year or so. Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles (And related The New Vampires and The Lives Of The Mayfair Witches.) Hooray!

The Books (Books That I’ve Reviewed Individually Are Linked):

Interview With The Vampire

The Vampire Lestat

The Queen Of The Damned

The Witching Hour

The Tale of The Body Thief

Lasher

Taltos

Memnoch The Devil

Pandora

The Vampire Armand

Vittorio The Vampire

Merrick

Blood And Gold

Blackwood Farm

Blood Canticle

Prince Lestat

Prince Lestat And The Realms Of Atlantis

Blood Communion: A Tale of Prince Lestat

Author

Anne Rice wrote these books. My opinion of Mrs. Rice as a person is that she is a mixed bag. She was raised in New Orleans, and lived there for years with her husband, the poet Stan Rice. After his death in 2002 she moved to California. In the late 90’s she found Jesus, then lost him again. There’s kind of a lot going on with her there. In her older age now she seems to have mellowed on a few things. (Criticism, fan fiction, people talking about how her characters are super gay) But I also know she used to dox fans? Which is among the worst things that you can do. Alas, she’s a fine writer and I gave her $0 in this project as I took each book out of the library. I think I’d be comfortable buying her books though. Also, I want to go to New Orleans and do one of the tours based around her work REAL BAD.

Series Structure

This is three ongoing series. Kind of. It’s really one series, and two spin offs, that all get braided together. But when thinking about it, it can be broken down into a few different series

The Original:

Interview With A Vampire

The Vampire Lestat

The Queen of the Damned

Lestat Does Adventures And Other People Get To Talk

Tale Of The Body Thief

Memnoch The Devil

The Vampire Armand

Blood And Gold

The Lives Of The Mayfair Witches

The Witching Hour

Lasher

Taltos

The New Vampires

Pandora

Vittorio The Vampire

Witches And Vampires

Merrick

Blackwood Farm

Blood Canticle

Prince Lestat

Prince Lestat

Prince Lestat And The Realms Of Atlantis

Blood Communion

Rice continues to insists she’s done and then ten years later, out pops a vampire book. We shall see moving forward if we get more. (I kind of hope so, because Blood Communion is quite good.)

Themes

The Vampire Chronicles might be unique in the way a book series operates in that it encompasses most of it’s writer’s life and shift in perspective. Because of it’s subject matter it’s grouped with Sci-Fi and Fantasy, but in reality and structure it’s closer to the pulp “dad fiction” of guys like James Patterson and Tom Clancy. Lestat, much like Jack Ryan or Alex Cross is whatever Rice needs him to be book to book. He’s a villain in Interview, an incorrigible anti hero in Lestat and Queen Of The Damned, a pulp searcher in Body Theif, a prophet in Memnoch, Merrick and Blackwood, a great uniter in the Prince Lestat trilogy and always a doomed Byronic Lover mixed with that.

Which means I think metamorphosis is the word of the day. Lestat changes from book to book, he grows and evolves and becomes something different. Which isn’t to ignore some of the other major themes at work here. Queerness and Catholicism being paramount. Rice doubles down on her vampires as doomed guilty Catholic kids who make blood consumption a literal part of their practice. It’s a natural fit for the way vampires work, but I’ve never seen any writer adopt fiction to explore their pet obsessions the way Rice does, or to such stunning effect.

But the main thing here is change, no one, not even the ancient vampires are unchanging, the morph to the times around them, to the people around them. It’s a stunning message for twenty or so books.

Favorite Book

From purely literary standpoints, Interview With A Vampire and The Witching Hour are head and shoulders above the others. They’re original and creepy and well developed and their stories are solid, individual and their prose is top notch. It’s hard to argue with either of them. The Witching Hour is also probably my favorite of the books.

From a fun standpoint, any of the books where Lestat is the narrator is the way to go. Lestat is a delight of a protagonist. I’m particularly fond of The Vampire Lestat and The Tale Of The Body Thief. I also liked Merrick quite a bit, but mostly because it scared me and I’m hard to scare in print. The stuff in between gets a little rough but Blood Communion is an excellent return to form, so I really hope that Rice decides to continue. We shall see.

Least Favorite Book

Mother fucking Lasher you guys, I mean, Taltos too, they’re both pretty bad. Memnoch The Devil is a good book made ridiculous by it’s context, and I was disappointed by Blood And Gold because I’d enjoyed Marius’s appearances in both Lestat and Armand and even Pandora but his own story was pretty dull.

But it doesn’t get worse than Lasher, which is such a terrific letdown form how wonderful The Witching Hour is.

Of course I wrote that before I got to Prince Lestat And The Realms Of Atlantis where we learned that Amel, the evil spirit who inhabited Queen Akasha and created vampire kind, is an alien ghost. So that sucks. It sucks even more than the explanation of the Taltos. (Who come back in Blood Canticle in a much more effective fashion)

Favorite Character

I love Armand. I’ve always loved Armand and I think I always will. I’m fond of Michael Curry as well, and I love my little fledglings. David Talbot and Quinn Blackwood are the best examples of that, but it’s always going to be Armand. I love his paintings and his clear decision to be the bad guy. He hates himself so much (and so much of that is Marius and Santino’s fault, but a lot of it is just who he is) and he’s so damn dramatic. (Even more so than Lestat) He can’t help himself. (Also, I’m looking forward to the upcoming TV show, because the ship wars are going to be epic. Personally I am deeply Lestat/David and Louis/Armand. Think of the ADVENTURES, and the ENNUI!)

But it’s impossible to like this series at all and come away anything but totally in love with Lestat. Rice is enamored of him, and so we have to be too. He is wonderful, the “other people talk” books are great, but when Lestat takes things over again in Blood Canticle I audibly whooped. And, last week, when discussing fandom with friends, I mentioned that when/if the rumored TV series ever hits, the Loki/Snape girls are going to be nigh unbearable. Lestat will consume them completely. It’s going to be glorious.

Reread Possibilities

I think I’d revisit my favorites, Interview, Body Thief, Witching Hour, Armand, Blood Communion, but I’d never touch the lows  of the series again and don’t feel particularly compelled to even revisit it’s more middling chapters. This was a big commitment and I’m glad I broke it up as I did, but also, oh boy, this series has some serious lows.

My other reading project is non fiction, so the next thing I’m reading is The Race  To Save The Romanovs by Helen Rappaport but the next series is going to be The Chronicles Of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander.

Fangirl Loves Star Wars: Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker

All creators have preoccupations, certain themes that most of their work circles back to. In reading reviews and thoughts on The Rise Of Skywalker people kept talking about nostalgia as JJ Abrams’s particular niche.

As I watched it for a third time on Saturday, I tried to see that, and I understand why people think of that for Abrams, if you look only at his film work.

But that would be ignoring a pretty big and important piece of his creative output, and frankly one that I think informs what he was going for with The Rise of Skywalker and Rey’s story in particular much more than anything he’s done on the big screen.

It’s ignoring Alias.

Sidney Bristow’s story, as convoluted as it got, was always thematically about having to untangle herself from the web of lies and violence left as a legacy from her parents and mentors, and standing on her own two feet as her own person at the end of that.

I don’t like the decision to make Rey a Palpatine. I think it’s hugely unnecessary, and creates more questions than it answers. But I get it, as a story decision, especially, when I had the realization about Abrams, Alias and the theme of building your own identity both within and without a legacy.

Rey’s moment of triumph comes when she embraces the Jedi way, the “thousand generations” that live in her, and the voices of the Jedi come to her. It is my favorite moment in the film, not just because it’s movie acknowledgement of Ahsoka, but because it’s the moment that to me provides the most context for Rey’s journey. She’s already rejected her Grandfather’s path for her, she’s already provided Ben Solo his path to redemption, she is choosing in that moment which legacy she wants to continue, the path of the light.

There are plenty of things wrong with The Rise Of Skywalker. I mentioned not loving Rey’s heritage reveal, the retcon of Poe Dameron’s past to make him a smuggler, no real role for Rose Tico and no confirmation of Finn’s force sensitivity (Plus, all those ships in the Hidden Regions and no Ezra riding in on a Space Whale? What gives?) are all writing choices I’m not crazy about.

But Rey’s story is good at the core, the fight against a destiny chosen for her by others to carve her own way is great and fits with a pattern of JJ Abrams’s work. Felicity though a very different genre is also about young people figuring out who they are, rather than who everyone expects them to be. It’s even a little bit there in Star Trek, where he basically says, “this is not the story you know, these characters are making their own way,” Lost was always more Lindeloff’s than his, but it still has themes of identity over destiny deeply embedded in it.

And I think this is the part that got to me. I like stories about family and legacy and finding your place in the world, so I liked this story for Rey and for Kylo Ren, they both carved out a place on a path that had been trod before, but it wasn’t the place prepared for them. I think that’s good.

Next week is the finale of The Mandolorian, and as I said a few weeks ago, Fangirl Loves Star Wars isn’t going anywhere. Next year we’ll have season 2 of Resistance the return of Clone Wars and I’m going to do some EU reading. I love our Galaxy Far Far Away, and I don’t ever want to leave it.

 

60 Books In 2019 #57: The Book Of Dust: La Belle Sauvage By Phillip Pullman

Last week, we discussed how my reread of His Dark Materials inspired by the HBO/BBC adaptations resparked my interest in this world, and how I was looking forward to The Book Of Dust.

La Belle Sauvage takes place during the first year of Lyra Belaqua’s life, and while she’s important, (chosen one) the people who become important on her journey later only flit around the edges here. (I squealed when Farder Coram showed up!)  The story is mainly about a boy from Oxford named Malcolm who spends time at the convent where she was first surrendered by her parents, and develops a brotherly protective feeling for the baby girl.

Of course, as he gets caught up with Lyra, Malcolm finds himself in danger of The Magesterium, who are even scarier here than they are is His Dark Materials. The sinister child army of The Order Of St. Alexander really freaked me out. But Malcolm and his friend Alice also battle a terrifying Magistereum opperative with a hyena daemon, who has lost a front leg.

Which leads to my favorite part of this book, which is the use of daemons. You really see them as a manifestation of the character’s souls here, and the way we grow and the mystery of them. Malcolm fascination with how baby Lyra and Pantalaimon interact was shared by me! What a fun detail that babies in this world chatter to their daemon who chatters back! That daemons can’t talk until their humans can. That baby daemons are even more flighty and changing than child daemons!

The book was delightful, a bit thicker and deeper than it’s predecessors, so I’m going to hold off on The Secret Commonwealth for a bit, because there’s a lot digest here.

Up next is Soy Sauce For Beginners by Kirsten Chen.

60 Books in 2019 #56: Underworld: An Abandon Novel By Meg Cabot

I blame this one on the completely brilliant Lore Olympus by Rachel Smythe. If you’re not reading Lore Olympus get on it, it’s completely brilliant and lovely, retelling the story of Persephone and Hades in a hilarious romantic and beautifully illustrated way. (Psyche and Eros are also there.) Anyway, while I was searching for books to finish out the year, I remembered that hey! Didn’t Meg Cabot take on Persephone and Hades too? I love Meg Cabot!

I’d read the first book a while back, and I think it’s important to note that while I really like Abandon, I was disappointed in Cabot and her publisher’s choice to extend the story and the similarly timed Airhead over Jinx. All three books came out within around a year and were clearly cashing in on the new pop culture environment where genre stories about teen girls were a hot commodity. Of the three Jinx (about the most powerful witch born to a line in 100 years) was my favorite, I didn’t care for Airhead at all and while I like Abandon, I just never picked up the sequels.

I mention the moment it came out because it’s very hard to remove Abandon and thus Underworld from the behemoth shadow it came out under. I’m talking of course about Twilight. Like Twilight, the Abandon series features a teenage girl clearly destined to a great love in a supernatural context. The male half is vaguely stalkery but totally sexy in a broody Byronian mode. Cabot, of course, can write circles around Stephanie Meyer, and Pierce Oliviera is way more active than Bella Swann, but the paralells are hard to ignore.

At the end of Abandon Pierce finds herself transported by sexy underworld demi-god John Hayden (who she is very in love with and who has been watching over her since she was a child. See, kinda weird.) Pierce is none too thrilled about this, but John insists it’s for her own good. They have breakfast and they realize that means Pierce has repeated Persophone’s mistake. She can never leave the Underworld now. Of course they leave anyway, when they need to save Pierce’s cousin Alex from himself.

Underworld is a middle chapter and so I guess I’m just going to have pick up Awaken soon and see how this all shakes out. It’s a fun take on the myth and I’ve always loved Cabot’s voice. Up next is The Book Of Dust: La Belle Sauvage by Phillip Pullman. I’m excited to return to Lyra’s world and see her grown up. (Which I think is the deal here?? Dunno, we’ll see.)

60 Books in 2019 #55: Doctor Sleep By Stephen King

Like just about every Stephen King book I’ve read. (I think we’re up to 11 now? 5 Dark Towers plus The Wind In The Keyhole, The Stand, Different Seasons, On Writing, The Shining, It, Needful Things, and Doctor Sleep, so yes, 11!) Doctor Sleep has a lot going on.

In addition to being a sequel to The Shining (Danny Torrance is all grown up!) it’s a love letter to Alcoholics Anonymous, and about psychic kids and the things in this world and others. (GUYS! REMEMBER THAT TIME THAT I READ THE SHINING  AND I COMPARED DANNY TO JAKE CHAMBERS? IN DOCTOR SLEEP HE TURNS TO SOMEONE AND SAYS “THERE ARE OTHER WORLDS THAN THESE” AND I LITERALLY BURST INTO TEARS BECAUSE I LOVE JAKE SO MUCH. Danny, or Dan as he’s known as a grownup is cool too.)

Dan Torrance inherited a lot of things from his Dad, his temper and alcoholism paramount, but also the ghosts. The metaphorical ghosts of that most traumatic winter at The Overlook, but also the literal ghosts of The Overlook which followed Danny and Wendy around for a few years until Dick Halloran taught Danny to lock them away in a Shining constructed lock box.

The True Knot are a nomadic band of energy vampires who drive around the US in RV’s hunting kids who shine, though they call it “the steam.” They’re immortal and nasty and great. I’m sure on a different level of the Tower they’d have found good work with The Sombra Corporation. Their leader, Rose The Hat is ancient, powerful and terrible.

Abra Stone is the most powerful Shining kid ever, and The True want her. When Dan crosses her path by coincidence (or is it?) they become entwined on an adventure. Danny and Abra’s parallells are obvious. Her father is also a writer attempting to finish a book. (He’s not a violent drunk, however…so that’s different) They’re both gifted, affable, kind and empathetic.

In his adulthood, Danny finds a talent for helping people cross over from life to death, which is where the name Doctor Sleep comes from.

Anyway, Dan and Abra fight Rose and The True Knot, and also, Dan goes to a lot of AA meetings. Also Danny releases all his ghosts. Both the metaphorical trauma of his past, and also you know the literal ghosts that tried to kill him when he was five.

Like I said, there’s a lot going on. There’s stuff about 9/11 (which again, in The Song Of Susannah I think? There are advertisements letting the Tahine know that they should be in New York that day. I’m sure The True are related, like It and The Dandelo.) (LOOK, I JUST WANT TO TALK ABOUT THE DARK TOWER ALL THE TIME OK?)

Book’s good. Looking forward to the movie.

Up next is Sorcerer To The Crown by Zen Cho, which was actually recommended to be way back last year when I was asking friends for non white, non male writers who’s work I might like.