I’m no stranger to reading a ton of books a month. I can get pretty obsessive, so I’ll get a craving for a certain author, and the next thing I know, I’m mainlining their backlist. This can lead to reading several different books a day, foot twitching all the while. It was even worse during the dark days of my fan fiction addiction – I could read 100,000 words a day of stories derived not from the massive pool of accumulated culture, but from a single author’s vision.
This September was very much like that time in my life. I inhaled books. Truly, stronger and headier a high than fanfiction.
Sniegoski has done something powerful with this latest installment of his angel’s adventures. Within the first twenty pages, Remy is so close to death that he’s seeing visions of his dead wife, and a certain someone finds out his secret. The first twenty pages! The pace does not let up from there, merely shifts into an alternate world in which something truly terrible has happened, Marlowe shows little of his love for Remy, and Heaven has been sullied. I can’t help but think that Sniegoski has been layering in these alternate world possibilities for a while; despite the jarring dimension-shift, the narrative is entirely coherent. As with all installments in the series, Remy is the heart and soul of it. He is at once vulnerable and strong, sweet and sad, and he carries those traits far from home.
This novel deserves a full review. The reason it is not getting one is not because of time (I would make time), but because I need to reread the entire series. There is so much I’ve forgotten (I’d forgotten all about Francis’s new job, for example) that I simply can’t have a discussion that compares two different timelines when I can’t even remember the main story arc. I can say this: the alternate reality is masterfully done. This, the final novel in the Remy Chandler series (for the present, at least), is a glorious finale to a series I really, really need to reread.
This is a novella that is part of Tor.com Publishing’s elite line-up, and it deserves to be there. Sunset Mantle is a story of honor and war (there are two large battles in 107 pages), and the main character Cete embraces a sort of stoicism that you’d expect from a warrior-priest: he loves the law, he loves his God, and he is willing to sacrifice all not just for his honor, but for his employer’s. The story moves marches from an uncertain beginning to a shocking end, and never slows down for more than a paragraph or two. Alter S. Reiss has a talent for creating and maintaining tension, writing characters who are more than what they seem, and for writing a complete story that makes people beg for more. The world-building he’s done requires a sequel.
Molly Harper is one of the cleverest and funniest writers of paranormal romance. Her stories are always just a little bit off the beaten track; she is unafraid to put her characters into unusual situations and extrapolate a fun plot from there. “Fangs for the Memories” is no different. She’s gone back in time within her series to when two of her most endearing side characters, Andrea and Dick Cheney, fall in love.
The best part about the novella is seeing the world through Andrea’s eyes. Harper has real talent for painstakingly creating characters that are so real it’s hard to believe they don’t breathe. But there is so much of Andrea that we didn’t know, and it was revealed slowly and thoughtfully as she fell in love with Dick Cheney, who is not a traditionally romantic hero (but so funny, so very funny).
The series this story belongs to is representative of the best writing coming out of paranormal romance these days: emotional, funny, affecting, and heavy on plot. Even if this is not a genre in which you traditionally read, I think you should give it a try.
A couple of weeks ago, Tamora Pierce took part in one of Reddit’s infamous AMAs. A lot of good information was shared: Alanna and George had a fourth child later in their lives, Numair’s book has become so gigantic that it is now a trilogy (the first volume will come out Spring 2017), and after that is over she will be going back in four hundred years in time to the shattering of the Empire of which Tortall, Galla, Tusaine, Scanra, and others were a part.
I’ve been a fan of the Alanna books since before I even hit double digits. Before Robin Hobb, before JK Rowling, before Jim Butcher, I was hooked on any and every Tortallan adventure. The AMA inspired me to pick up Alanna and read the series all over again. My finding is this: Alanna: The First Adventure holds up after all these years. It’s engaging, intense, thoughtfully crafted, and every other compliment I could give it. I know a lot of people for whom these books were the gateway to a lifelong love of fantasy. If you haven’t read them, buy them immediately. Buy them for your children, your nieces and nephews, and your friends’s kids.
Thanks for reading!