In Calabria by Peter S. Beagle
Claudio Bianchi lives alone on his farm in Southern Italy, a self-professed grump who just wants to enjoy his little bit of land, his animals, and write his poems when the mood strikes him. But an unexpected and impossible visitor changes everything.
For how can a person stay determinedly grumpy and insular when faced with the grace of a unicorn?
Bianchi’s world becomes much larger than he had ever intended or wanted with the addition of a unicorn, and he faces the reality that this is a secret that is going to resist being kept.
In Calabria is a gorgeous story shaped with elegant prose and stunning imagery. In Bianchi we have a very human protagonist who shifts and changes bit by bit as the story progresses. Once could say all the changes are a result of contact with the unicorn. It is this reader’s opinion that the unicorn might be the catalyst, but Bianchi grows through his own volition. Its an ancient story, humans changing after meeting a unicorn. Beagle has provided a modern incarnation of the tale, and it is a much needed bit of beauty and quiet joy.
It is a unicorn story. It is a coming of age story. It is a story of forgiveness and a story of love. In Calabria will speak to each and every reader that ventures through its pages.
The Babylon Eye by Masha du Toit
Elke Veraart used to be a gardag handler, working with modified canines. After losing her canine partner, an altercation led her to prison. And it is there her old bosses have pulled her from. They will free her, and keep her free, if she does this one thing for them:
Locate a gardag that has gone missing with her handler inside the Babylon Eye. There is just one catch- gardags are illegal within the Babylon Eye.
The Babylon Eye is a beautifully written story rich with a mix of people and cultures all set within a world where the Real has become intertwined with the Strange. du Toit does a magnificent job making the world of the Strange come vividly alive, luring readers to turn page after page so they can see more, learn more, meet more of the deeply human and effortlessly diverse cast of characters. The Babylon Eye will appeal to fans of the harder scientific edge of the science fiction genre, as well as those who crave the exploratory excitement that can make the genre so vivid and full of imagination.
And through it all is the love of a woman for the dogs she has raised, trained, worked and fought beside.
The Babylon Eye has a little of bit of something for everyone, and it all pulls together into a story that is absolutely enthralling and will keep you reading far longer than intended. Highly recommended.