Hunger by Jackie Morse Kessler
I had been looking forward to reading this one for ages. The premise interested me, and I had read enough other reviews stating the book was hard to read, in all the right ways, to make me anticipate seeing for myself.
All the things that seem to have bothered other reviewers didn’t phase me in the least. I think I came at the book from a different angle- I was not looking, precisely, for a supernatural YA novel, I was looking for a new and interesting approach to a serious health condition. Hunger provided a beautifully soul-wrenching view of eating disorders from the POV of a girl who just happens to be Famine. And that is the important thing- the role/power of Famine, while very important to the crisis point and resolution of the novel, is not the novel in of itself. This is less a book about a Horseman (woman?) of the Apocalypse, and more an accounting of a girl’s struggle.
This is also not a book for the squeamish or easily squicked. No punches are pulled. There are some patches that are very rough to read. At the same time, it is handled with a calm, straightforward attention to detail that not only makes the material believable, but really makes an impression on the reader. At the same time, it isn’t preachy, as some books with a Message can get. And it is rare that a book can get me grinning and tearing up at the same time. Kessler took some real hard material and presented it perfectly and accessibly.
That and Kessler’s incarnation of Death? Fantasic.
The supernatural elements were well done and fun as all hell to read. But it is the day to day struggles that were the most compelling to me. I sat down and read the entire book cover to cover. The writing and the story flow well, the plot is sound and well contained, and I am looking forward to reading Rage when it is released.
I Shall Wear Midnight by Terry Pratchett
Terry Pratchett continues to amaze. ‘I Shall Wear Midnight’ contains everything I have loved about the Tiffany Aching books, and Discworld in general, and managed to mature everything in such a wonderful, sneaky way I didn’t realize it until I was so caught up in the end I could do nothing but smile with the sheer pleasure of reading.
It was brilliant to watch Tiffany go from self assured girl to confident young woman, a proper witch in her own right. It didn’t happen all at once- in unfolded slowly, perfectly, as each page was turned. The Cunning Man was a frightening opponent, and a perfect match for Tiffany’s wit, second, and third thoughts. Most importantly, it was an opponent she had to face alone- to Feegle trick or band of witches could help her through this one. The Cunning Man rang relevant and true to me, as a reader, as well. He is the quiet, dangerous voice that whispers poison in people’s ears and urges them towards intolerance, distrust and hatred.
It really was the quiet sense of maturity that impressed me the most about the book, and about Tiffany. I love that it pulled thoughts from the previous books together into a wonderful whole. I have always loved the Tiffany books for the fun and the Feegles. ‘I Shall Wear Midnight’ took that winning base and made it into something that is more than amusement- something that even the oldest ‘kids’ could get something lasting out of.
I admit to tearing up a bit at the end. I caught myself reading with open mouth and wide eyes. Smiles wriggled their way across my face, and I only noticed them when someone else passed through the room and caught me reading.
Simply, it is a stunning book. I cannot recommend it highly enough.
An Artificial Night by Seanan McGuire
This is the most solid book to come out of this series yet.
And the creepiest. And topping “A Local Habitation” for chill factor was quite the feat in of itself.
I am attracted to the grotesque, the twisted and tainted, in books. I like antagonists who walk a fine line between evil and skewed, bits of humanity showing here and there, making the reader think. Blind Michael is an amazing example of this. Here is a creature so Old and so terrifying, who warps children into monsters, who plays by the rules of children’s games and rhymes…and every now and then there is a nuance that slips through, giving away bits and pieces of something deeper than just the monster.
And that, to me, is scarier than a mere bogeyman.
An Artificial Night had solid pacing, an enthralling storyline, and enough sarcasm to keep me happy for ages. For those who love a story of the Old fashioned Halloween, give this one a try. It is heavy with twisted woods, twisted children, and the Hunt that runs wild every now and then…
Toby continues to grow as a character, which I am enjoying. As always, I want more Tybalt (who wouldn’t?!) but the part he plays is well done as always. Connor I am still undecided on. He has a rotten marriage, but he seems to me to be a bit of a weak guy, and my opinion of him remains unchanged. Good looking, obviously, and a good friend to Toby, but he…copes poorly, and that coping puts Toby in a bad position.
What we find out about Raysel is chilling and perfect, and even Luna and Lily have gooseflesh-inspiring parts to play in this one.
The Luidaeg and Spike remain my favorites. The Luidaeg is everything I want in an Old Fae, and the idea of a rose goblin makes me adore Spike. Both of them have a LOT of stage time in this book, so all in all, An Artificial night was custom made to make me a happy reader.
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