The Tempering of Men by Sarah Monette and Elizabeth Bear
I really loved A Companion to Wolves, which sets out to deconstruct the trope of spirit animals and ends up exploring what it is to be female or female-coded in a patriarchy. Deep dark truths in speculative fiction: kind of my whole deal. It made my top ten list of last year, so when Memory told me there was a sequel, I was over the moon. Of course, my excitement was tempered (oh, come on, I get one pun, surely?) by the fact the only library copy I had access to was at my hometown library, so I couldn’t immediately capitalize on my delight. And hey, the last installment is expected this year, so perhaps the wait was more luck than delay…
It’s the last Sunday of the year, so you know what that means. Either I’m getting stingier or this year hasn’t been the best reading year for me—while last year’s year in review post was agonizing to curate, I did this year’s in a few hours. Hopefully, 2013 will ring in a higher batting average for my reading. But it’s not that I haven’t enjoyed my reading this year; I definitely have, especially my nonfiction reading—I mean, I discovered Tom Wolfe this year, so that is a definite plus. As ever, this list is culled from what I read in 2012, not what was released in 2012 (although I read more recent titles this year than in past years).
Mélusine by Sarah Monette
To quote Memory’s Twitter feed from the end of January, “Favourite books + favourite bloggers = nervous-making”. You see, Memory at Stella Matutina is one of my favorite book bloggers—we’ve similar tastes in books, her reviews are always interesting, and she introduced me to Tigana. Mélusine is one of her favorite books. I’d actually rented it once before, but hadn’t managed to get to it in time. But when I returned a little worse for wear from Ireland, it was the first thing I picked up. And… I didn’t love it beyond all reasoning.
A Companion to Wolves by Sarah Monette and Elizabeth Bear
While I don’t care for N. K. Jemisen’s fiction, her musings on speculative fiction as a genre are usually worth a look. So when she mentioned A Companion to Wolves in passing in a post on the possible feminization of epic fantasy, I investigated further. While the “companion animal” idea smacks too much of supermarket paranormal romance to me, the fact that Monette and Bear were brutally deconstructing it grabbed me. I love deconstruction, especially in speculative fiction. I was expecting something along the lines of The Magicians (but with spirit wolves!)—what I got was something much more.
I love it when that happens!
What are you reading now?
Would you recommend it?
And what’s next?
At the moment I’m reading my first piece of Dragon*Con swag, John Lenahan’s Shadowmagic, which I would not recommend—there’s zero set-up and it desperately tries to be funny without ever hitting the mark. Next up is Amy Kathleen Ryan’s Glow, which will be released next Tuesday, so I need my review up by Monday, even though it’s Book Blogger Appreciation Week next week. (Blindsides me every year. I should probably put it on my calendar.) It’s young adult science fiction, so I don’t foresee any problems with that. After that, probably Lavinia or Mélusine to cleanse the palette before A Fire Upon the Deep, then Blood Rights, then The Children of the Sky… my queue is so orderly at the moment, but I’m working with some advance reviews at the moment. Usually, it’s a lot more free and easy.
Despite my love of doomed princesses, dark fantasy has never really grabbed me—at the end of the day, I do want hope. (In my favorite doomed princess scenario, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, she only thinks she killed her hero or erased him from existence entirely by accident! She remains doomed nonetheless.) But that’s no reason to ignore the genre (subgenre?), so here are the two main dark fantasy entries on my reading list.