October Reading

In October I had a birthday, wrote a few thousand words, spent a lot of time on the beach. I didn’t read very much–though in addition to the books here, I’ve also been (slowly) reading Amitav Ghosh’s The Great Derangement, the new Alice Oswald collection, and several short stories on (shameless plug alert) the beautiful new Strange Horizons site.

 

Malorie Blackman, Chasing The Stars: I’ll be reviewing this properly elsewhere. For now, I’m a bit underwhelmed. For much of the book I thought perhaps conceptually its Shakespeare-in-Space plot wasn’t working for me; having finished it I feel that the Shakespearean core worked fine, whereas the space setting was where it fell down–sometimes in the ways that much classic space-y SF fails, and sometimes in … other ways. Still interesting and ambitious, and I did get tear-y, but I’d have liked this book to be so much more.

Joyce Chng and Kim Miranda, Sundragon’s Song Vol.1 No. 1: A mini review identical to almost every other mini review I’ve ever written about the first volume of a comic series; i.e. I have no idea what’s happening yet, and can’t judge till there’s considerably more of this to work with. At the moment, the art is rather nice, there are dragons, and a small child whose arc I suspect will involve Proving Oneself in some capacity. I like it enough to continue, which is good enough for now.

Evelyn Smith, Nicky of the Lower Fourth: I really like the few Evelyn Smith books I’ve read–more than many of the school stories I’m familiar with, these are interior, good on character and enjoy their own prose. This particular book feels a bit lightweight, and I was a bit disappointed, but it was an enjoying afternoon.

Robin Stevens, Mistletoe and Murder: At the time of writing (this is always liable to change) I think this and Arsenic for Tea may be my favourite Wells and Wong mysteries (see comment below re. emotional narrative). A Christmas murder set in Cambridge, it’s already deliciously trope-y, and then you get: twins, unrequited love, spinster aunts possibly named after Chalet School characters, teenage feelings in several directions, surprise(!) Bengalis (about whom I’m tempted to write much more, but perhaps that can wait). Of these, it’s the teenage feelings I’m particularly into (the emotional narrative that this series manages to present and not talk about is really quite special), but there was also one particular murder that a (detective fiction-loving) friend and I have jokingly wished for in our literature in the past, and there it was.

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