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Rolling in the Deep by Mira Grant

“The official record says all hands were lost at sea. We believe that something far worse occurred. We believe they were found.” -Mira Grant, Rolling in the Deep.

It started as an expedition from the Imagine Network, a ‘documentary’ set to find proof of the existence of mermaids. The liner was populated with its crew, scientists who signed on for the research opportunities, representatives from the Imagine Network, and a troupe of mermaid performance artists. In the event no mermaids were found, some would be provided to tease the cameras every now and then.

No one anticipated there would actually be mermaids in the deepest part of the ocean, or that somewhere while telling tales of mermaids through the ages we got some very important details wrong.

Rolling in the Deep is a beautiful, lethal story about human dreams and desires. It is a short, but very careful book- characters are all thought out and breathe life into the story, and ultimately contribute to pull of the final horror and while bread crumbs of foreshadowing are laid out well for the readers, the end still hits with stunning impact. It is science all twisted up in a fairy tale, and that fairy tale takes its cues from the old cautionary stories we have mellowed over time and tellings. It is for people who look at the ocean with equal parts captivation and distrust, for those who like their fairy tales with a twist, an edge. Highly recommended. Just not, perhaps, before a trip to the beach.

Diary of a Dragon by Tad Williams

“Dear Diary, Went out shopping today. Picked up half a dozen sheep, two pigs, and a princess.” –Diary of a Dragon, Tad Williams pg 7.

Thus began the most enjoyable jaunt with a chapbook I have ever had. It’s a short, fun treasure for fans of Tad Williams, or anyone who grew up loving the rather skewed relationship between Dragons and Princesses that is woven through the fantasy genre. I was raised on Patricia C. Wrede, so I have a certain fond spot for Princesses who don’t end up being quite what a dragon would expect. The voice of his Dragon perfect, and Williams uses the diary format to really sell the reader on the grumpy shut-in personality.  A dragon who is comfortable in his cave, with his Diary, and all the livestock he can be bothered to snatch (though, his wings aren’t as young as they used to be).

He really should have eaten the Princess when he had the chance. Nothing quite as disruptive as a feisty princess.

Recommended for a bit of good fun. For veterans of the epic fantasy genre, it is laugh out loud funny more often than not. For casual fans of either Dragons or Princesses, or the things that happen when the two cross paths, it is definitely worth the read.

Available as a limited chapbook and eBook from Subterranean Press

The Willful Princess and the Piebald Prince by Robin Hobb

Felicity is the daughter of Princess Caution’s wetnurse, elevated beyond normal expectations to be a constant companion to Caution, a foil for her temper and a balm for her temperament. For Caution is anything but. She is a wild and willful princess, interested in intent only in the things that bring her pleasure and joy.

Like the witted Stable Master and his piebald stallion.

The Willful Princess and the Piebald Prince is a fascinating account of where things went sour for Witted ones in the history of the Duchies. It is the story of a princesses love for a freed slave and the bastard son she got off him. It is the story of that son and the Wit he inherited from his father and the ability to love instantly and intently he inherited from his mother.

The long novella is told exclusively from Felicity’s point of view, but is by no means dry. We are granted a personal accounting of sometimes beautiful, often tragic events, and Felicity feels a reliable narrator throughout- she does not attempt to sway the reader, or win their sympathy. She is merely recounting what happened so that others may know and hopefully understand.

For fans of the Farseer novels, this is a must read. It sets the scene perfectly for the events of FitzChivalry’s life, and puts a lot of what happens, the attitudes and little abuses, into perspective. 

Available from Subterranean Press