Since there hasn’t been a book review in actual years, you probably already suspected this blog was dead. It was murdered by the madcap pace of the last two years of my life–since 2016, I’ve had two kids, found a full-time job, sold my first book, quit my full-time job, and am now under contract for the second book.
(Just all my dearest dreams coming true at once. That’s all.)
If you ever read and liked the reviews here: Thank you. Seriously. Reading and talking about books was the keyhole that lead me through the door into actual writing, and it’s taken me further than I ever could have hoped. I’m well past the second star on the right, soaring straight on till morning.
If you’re interested in following my fiction-writing, I’m most active on Twitter (@AlixEHarrow), and I’ve got a static author-y site here: https://alixeharrow.wixsite.com/author
(Yes, I know real authors buy actual domain names. I’ll get to it. Eventually).
If you haven’t already seen my undignified squealing on social media: I have a story up at Tor.com. It’ll also be available as part of Some of the Best of Tor.com, the free ebook. It’s an anticolonial fantasy about American empire-building and indigenous knowledge and landscapes that fight back.
It also has a whole fictional bibliography of nineteenth-century travel narratives, partially based on genuine imperial travel narratives. Since so many people have been clamoring for more information on this (read: since I spent a long time researching it), I thought I’d publish an annotated bibliography to accompany the story. Here’s the full list of everything I cited and why: (more…)
I like many kinds of books, as most readers do. I like time-traveling love stories and Man Booker prize winners, space operas and fairytale retellings, Steinbeck and Rowling and Morrison and Ondaatje, cheap paperbacks and classic reprints. I like many kinds of books because they do many different things (they do despair and hijinks and truth and love and magic), and I need all of them at different times. The thing E. Catherine Tobler’s Rings of Anubis does is simple but often undervalued: it does fun.
After a lifetime of disappointment—from Jurassic Park 2 to the second season of Heroes—I should be prepared for sequels that don’t live up to the original. But instead I choose to inflate my hopes impossibly high and have all my dreams crushed under the brutal boot of reality later on. Example: The new Star Wars is going to be amazing and finally live up to the legacy of the original and bring the magic of the Millennium Falcon to the next generation.
Which brings me to Tower of Thorns, the second book in Juliet Marillier’s Blackthorn & Grim series. I didn’t have Star-Wars-level expectations for it; I was just hoping it would mimic the first book, Dreamer’s Pool, and give me a well-stuck-together medieval fantasy featuring myths and magic and women doing cool stuff (read my review here). Although Tower of Thorns had some of the same basic ingredients—and some really lovely retold fairytales—it was ultimately weighed down by clunky pacing and predictable plotting. (more…)