Book Reviews

The Angel of Losses

angel of lossesA new review of Stephanie Feldman’s Crawford-prize-winning theological fantasy, The Angel of Losses, over at Strange Horizons!

Once (in New York City) upon a time (about now), there were two sisters named Marjorie and Holly. Their unexceptional middle-class childhoods were shadowed only by their grandfather’s eerie, haunting bedtime stories—about the White Rebbe, about ghostly young boys haunting Old World villages, about the Sabbath Light and the Angel of Losses.

Stephanie Feldman’s debut novel The Angel of Losses is like that: A delicate mix of mysticism and modernity, folktale and history. It’s a book made of opposites. Half the narrative is a present-day family drama about a woman renegotiating her relationships with her sister and her grandfather—light, mundane, modern. But the other half is a dark, mystical examination of sacrifice, and the cost of love. It’s this grimmer, eerier side that makes the book so worth reading…….More over at Strange Horizons!

The Best Stuff I Read, Saw, or Stumbled Across in 2014

Read that title again. It’s an awful title—vague, colloquial, jumping awkwardly onto the bandwagon of best-of-the-year posts and award nominations. Except that it actually won’t be useful for award-list types, because I’ve failed to confine myself to new releases and have organized it with the same care and skill I apply to my grocery shopping (“Screw it, just throw it in the cart.”). However, here they are: A few of my favorite things. (more…)

Administrating Imaginary Empires: Ancillary Sword and The Goblin Emperor

Ancillary_Sword_Orbit_coverThis is not a ploy to review two books at once because I’m like a thousand books in review-debt. I swear.[1]

Instead, this is what happens when you read a super-sci-fi-y story about spaceships, aliens, and AI, then switch to a classically fantasy story with goblins and elves, and find out they’re actually fascinatingly similar books with a lot to say about power, empire, and administration.

Both of them delighted me. Both of them disappointed me. Both of them are worth reading. (more…)

A Tale for the Time Being

tale for the time being 1Continuing my mission to read more recent “literary” fiction—that suspiciously nebulous genre, united only by the absence of spaceships and wizards, as far as I can tell—I recently read Ruth Ozeki’s Booker Prize-nominated A Tale for the Time Being. My feelings for this book are split very precisely down the middle. You know that creepy character in A Nightmare Before Christmas who spins his face from happy to sad? Yeah. That’s what reading this book was like. (more…)

Four Stories for the Weary Traveler

In keeping with my recent reading habits, here are four more stories I’ve read in the last month or so that made my heart do that flip-flopping thing it does when a good story waltzes by. Maybe it’s a mood I’m in, but all these stories seem to be relatively unadorned, heartfelt, and life-affirming. And very, very worth your time.

midwayMidway Relics and Dying Breeds, Seanan McGuire, Tor.com

This has been one of my recent favorites. It’s a winding, world-building story about a gypsy-carnival-caravan meandering up and down the future West Coast, and the young woman who cares for their Indricothere. Because they have one of those. Named Billie. (more…)