I don’t usually like writing mini-reviews because I find it hard to sum up my feeling for a book in only a paragraph or two, but I’m going to try today!
Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Simon Snow is the worst Chosen One who’s ever been chosen.
That’s what his roommate, Baz, says. And Baz might be evil and a vampire and a complete git, but he’s probably right.
Half the time, Simon can’t even make his wand work, and the other half, he starts something on fire. His mentor’s avoiding him, his girlfriend broke up with him, and there’s a magic-eating monster running around, wearing Simon’s face. Baz would be having a field day with all this, if he were here — it’s their last year at the Watford School of Magicks, and Simon’s infuriating nemesis didn’t even bother to show up.
I don’t think I ever expected to like Harry Potter fanfiction this much. The relationship between Baz and Simon is SO CUTE! They’re honestly perfect for each other, even if they spend most of the book denying it. I did find the first 40-45% a little slow, because Baz’s POV hadn’t been introduced yet, and I could only stand to hear so much of Simon ‘complaining’ about Baz by bitching about the color of his eyes! Boy please. Once Baz gets properly introduced, however, the book got so much better! Baz is such an amazing character in every way. He’s angsty, more clever and level-headed than Simon, and overall just great. I also like the magic in this, based on everyday sayings and phrases, or even things like nursery rhymes. I thought making Dumbledore a kinda Marxist revolutionary of the wizarding world an interesting choice but he certainly was a character. Overall, I rate this book a 4/5.
/r/Fantasy Bingo 2018 Squares:
- Novel from the /r/Fantasy LGBTQ+ Database
Snowspelled by Stephanie Burgis
Publisher: Five Fathoms Press
In nineteenth-century Angland, magic is reserved for gentlemen while ladies attend to the more practical business of politics. But Cassandra Harwood has never followed the rules…
Four months ago, Cassandra Harwood was the first woman magician in Angland, and she was betrothed to the brilliant, intense love of her life.
Now Cassandra is trapped in a snowbound house party deep in the elven dales, surrounded by bickering gentleman magicians, manipulative lady politicians, her own interfering family members, and, worst of all, her infuriatingly stubborn ex-fiancé, who refuses to understand that she’s given him up for his own good.
But the greatest danger of all lies outside the manor in the falling snow, where a powerful and malevolent elf-lord lurks…and Cassandra lost all of her own magic four months ago.
To save herself, Cassandra will have to discover exactly what inner powers she still possesses – and risk everything to win a new kind of happiness.
This book would have been the perfect fantasy of manners book for last year’s /r/fantasy bingo, but unfortunately, I’d only heard about it on Twitter this month. Snowspelled was the perfect read for a weekend otherwise ruined by American politics and it was nice to see women successfully overcoming their oppressors for once. I liked Cassandra’s stubborn character, as the first woman to have made her way through the world of male magicians. Something’s happened to her to have made her lose her magic, and you feel really feel her distress and despair from losing such an important part of her life. I also adored Cassandra’s ex-fiance, Wrexham Harwood, and how sweet and patient he was with Cassandra. They have a lot of history together and some truly fantastic chemistry. I found the plot a little weak, especially the conclusion, but I think the focus of this story is really more in the characters than the plot itself. Overall, I rate this book a 4/5.
/r/fantasy Bingo 2018 Squares:
- Hopeful Spec Fic
- Novel With Fewer Than 2500 Goodreads Ratings
- Novel with a One Word Title
- Novel from the /r/fantasy LGBTQ+ Database
The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
Publisher: Del Ray Books
My expectations for this book were very different than the book I listened to. After reading the summary, I’d expected a book in the vein of the current YA trend of retelling old fairy tales, except with a Russian twist. Instead, I got a beautifully fleshed out setting where fairy tales may be truer than expected. I was certainly surprised by the number of POVs in this chapter. It felt like at least half the characters with a speaking role got POVs. and that worked really well for this book. We got a lot of different perspectives on the occurrences that happen, and while Vasilisa is still the character we see the most of, many of the supporting characters are still very well fleshed out. This book has a very slice-of-life style plotline, where there are tensions building in the background but for the most part we hear about day to day goings of these characters. Thankfully, the characters themselves are all incredibly interesting on their own that I think any one of them could have been the main character. I also have the say that the audiobook narrator did a very good job, and while the Russian accents took a bit of time to get used to, it certainly helped fulfill the immersion. Overall, I rate this book a 4/5.
/r/Fantasy Bingo 2018 Squares:
- Subgenre: Historical Fantasy
- Novel Featuring a God as a Character