Review: Novice Dragoneer by E.E. Knight (Dragoneer Academy #1)

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ARC provided by the publisher (Ace Books) in exchange for an honest review.

Back in the summer, I had a mighty need for something light and above all, nostalgia-inspiring. Something that would give off the same general vibe as the books that first got me into fantasy. Then I saw this. It seemed absolutely perfect – dragons, magic schools, plucky underdog orphan girls, fuck yes, give me all of it. And it delivered on that. If I read this book when I was a kid aroung the time I read Eragon, I’d be singing it nostalgic praises to this day.

There is only one problem that keeps me from enthusiastically recommending it to everyone in sight. A rather large one. It’s simply not that well-written.

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Review: In Other Lands by Sarah Rees Brennan

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This magic land was all wrong. In the books, you had to destroy an evil piece of jewelry or defeat an evil-though-sexy witch or wizard. In the books, people did not hide documents and steal land and try to cheat dwarves and dryads.

I don’t even know how to begin reviewing this book. It can be best summed up as “I shouldn’t have liked it, but I did.” I’m not usually a fan of satire (which In Other Lands edges into at times) or unsubtle books, and asshole protagonists can be hit or miss, but man, this one pushed all the right buttons for me. I picked it up because Sharade of The Fantasy Inn recommended it for its humour and quotability, and I was not prepared for the assault on my feelings it launched in the process.

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Reread: Vita Nostra by Sergey & Marina Dyachenko

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There were plenty of people loved by someone, the ones who carried a seashell, a button, or a black and white photograph in their pockets; no one had been saved by memories, no one had been protected by words and pledges, and those loved greatly by others died too.

I have a bit of a history with Vita Nostra. I don’t know if I first heard of it in a rec thread or found it myself after reading The Scar, but I first read it in 2015, when the translation was ebook-only and more or less self-published. I picked it for during a long car ride…and devoured it in one sitting. And nobody has seemed to have heard of it. I continued wanting to yell about it when it became unavailable, and when it was finally rereleased, of course I went for the hardcover. Then finally, in September, I got the chance to lead a bookclub and the circle was complete.

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Review: Binti: The Complete Trilogy by Nnedi Okorafor (Binti #1-3)

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ARC received from the publisher (DAW) on Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I enjoyed this series of novellas immensely. I’ve had Binti on my TBR since 2016 and in a way, I’m glad I waited until now – even though this is my first read, they work far, far better as one book.

“I have to try and make it better,” I said. “I can’t just leave here.”

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Review: One of Us by Craig DiLouie

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Wow. I don’t even know how to approach reviewing this. It’s an exploration of “us vs. them” mentality through a SFF lens and, while well-written, in no way a pleasant read. I could only read it a few pages at a time before I had to put it down again. The petty, everyday evil, the worst aspects of humanity laid bare. It was almost too much. But. It felt powerful and important and viscerally realistic in its own brutally unflinching way. Necessary.

He learned what he was, what they were, and that monsters and men were not meant to exist in the same world. If your own mother hates you and drives you away, why should total strangers love you? From the beginning, the masters understood this fundamental truth. They created separate worlds, one for themselves, another for monsters. The system would not end when the mutagenic reached adulthood. The children would grow up to become free folk living in an invisible cage, with no rights or opportunities. Which meant no real freedom at all.

The basic premise is that a sexually-transmitted disease caused a generation of children to be born with pretty significant mutations. Abortion, safe sex education, discussions on rape, medical testing have become a necessity. The plague children have mostly been taken away at birth and shut into Homes, institutions where the employees are mostly ex-cons and other sorts of desperate people that shouldn’t be let near children. They are used for slave labour on farms. As the children become teenagers, they start developing superpowers and tensions are rising.

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Review: The Gray House by Mariam Petrosyan

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As a rule, I prefer reviewing books that are brilliant but flawed, since usually they are the only ones that can’t be reduced to a couple of sentences. This is not one of those. Since I finished it, I’ve been gushing about it to everyone who’d listen. Seeking out fanart. Taking pauses and breaks, because just like its inhabitants I didn’t want to leave. It’s brilliant, it’s criminally underrated, and while I realise that it’s not for everyone, it’s probably the best book I’ve ever read.

The House demands a reverent attitude. A sense of mystery. Respect and awe. It can accept you or not, shower you with gifts or rob you of everything you have, immerse you in a fairy tale or a nightmare. Kill you, make you old, give you wings … It’s a powerful and fickle deity, and if there’s one thing it can’t stand, it’s being reduced to mere words.

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