Review: The Mist-Torn Witches

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The Mist-Torn Witches
by Barb Hendee

★★☆☆☆

2013 • 336 pages • Roc

Last year, buoyed by the runaway success of Frozen and Sleepy Hollow, I predicted that sisters were going to be the next big thing in media. Alas, it hasn’t dominated the cultural landscape as I’d hoped, but the realization that women can have meaningful relationships with other women has saturated mainstream media to a small but significant degree. (Fun fact: Maleficent fails the reverse Bechdel test. I have no idea how the live-action versions of Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast are meant to top that, but Cinderella features Cate Blanchett with a cat on a leash, so I’ve got hopes.) Case in point: The Mist-Torn Witches, a fantasy novel that caught my eye while I was working at the bookstore for featuring two young women. Lovely!, I thought, and faced it out, despite being a tiny mass market paperback. (I was fanatical about facing out diverse speculative fiction at the store. It helps to see a friendly face or two.)

The Mist-Torn Witches’ young ladies are the sisters Amelie and Céline Fawe. Having lost their father and then their seer mother at a young age, the two sisters scrape together a living, with the diplomatic Céline pretending to be a seer and the rough and tumble Amelie as her guardian. One day, Céline is approached by representatives of the tyrannical sub-prince Damek, who want her to assure the Lady Rhiannon that she should marry Damek. Céline agrees, but when the girl shows up, she has her first real vision—Rhiannon being murdered by her husband. Céline warns her against the match. In retaliation, Damek has their home burnt down, but they are rescued by Damek’s brother, Anton, who wants their help in solving a recent run of bizarre murders. Pretty, unmarried women are being found not only dead, but dried to a husk. Unused to their new powers and the politics of court, Céline and Amelie have to solve the murders if they want to ever find a home again.

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Review: Gossamer Axe

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Gossamer Axe
by Gael Baudino

★★★★½

1990 • 351 pages • Roc

Gossamer Axe found its way onto my reading list after several commenters recommended it on a lesbian-focused installment of Tor.com’s column Sleeps with Monsters, but, like a lot of older and more obscure speculative fiction on my list, it happens to be out of print. I despaired of getting my hands on a library copy. (In retrospect, I probably could have picked a copy online for quite cheap, but I have this allergy to paying for shipping.) But my despair was short-lived, because the universe immediately realized that a queer pagan feminist rock and roll fantasy novel from the eighties was practically my birthright. One of my friends found a copy at Dr. Bombay’s Underwater Tea Party in Atlanta (which I’ve still never been to!) and I immediately roared dibs.

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Review: Under Heaven

Under Heaven by Guy Gavriel Kay

I think I just experienced a reading slump. The blog hasn’t been affected, because my staggering control issues keep my posting buffer nice and clean, but I had a pretty good ten to twelve days where I just could not summon up the enthusiasm to pick Under Heaven pack up again. I meant to! I brought it to work, I left it on the kitchen table, but nothing could, until I realized that I had to get through it to get to anything else. So I forced myself to sit down one Friday and Saturday and finish it off in two shifts, and I feel much better now.

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