Well this was a fun and not at all distracting month to read in. Some notes on the things I did manage to finish:
Martin Stewart, Riverkeep: I took a while to get into Riverkeep. The first chapter in particular is claustrophobic (deliberately so) and gross about bodies (deliberately so)–I felt the sort of nausea I felt at a particular section of Jesse Bullington’s Sad Tale of the Brother’s Grossbart (also concerned with sea creatures and flesh) and I considered not reading on at all. This is not a criticism, particularly–that first section is brilliant, and accomplished. But then the tone shifts to something less oppressive, and we’re in an easier (for me) children’s adventure, and it’s a bit The Wizard of Oz and a bit Terry Pratchett and a bit Moby Dick and a bit Gormenghast. The language is stunning, the world is weird, it’s very good. I’m told there’s going to be a sequel and I’m not sure how I feel about that–interesting characters were left in interesting places at the end of this book, but I’m not sure that the things I liked about it really reward longer narrative arcs. But I definitely want more of this sort of thing in the world.
Elinor M. Brent-Dyer, A Head Girl’s Difficulties, The Maids of La Rochelle, Seven Scamps: One of the reasons I avoid series fiction is that I’m a series completionist and it’s inconvenient and gets in the way of other things. I’ve read some of the La Rochelle series before, but to have never read three books in a seven book series feels like a huge gap; I’m never sure who anyone is or what their place in this ecosystem is. Having read the whole series now, I still find it scrappy and full of gaps. A Head Girl’s Difficulties is probably the oddest (I enjoyed how a diptheria epidemic that kills multiple students and an outbreak of sentimentality are treated as equally severe crises), but also everyone in Seven Scamps is weird and unlikeable. Having said all of which, I’m glad I at least know who the characters are now, vaguely.
Amandla Stenberg, Sebastian A. Jones, Ashley A. Woods, Darrell May Niobe: She Is Life #3: I am beginning to think I should just read these in one go when there are more of them (as I did with Monstress earlier this year)–I’m finding comics as a form rather unsatisfactory at the moment as chunks of narrative. This series is growing outwards though, and giving glimpses of a fuller world, and Woods’s art continues to be beautiful.
Kiran Millwood Hargrave, The Girl of Ink and Stars: I’ve written about this in more detail elsewhere. The prose is often lovely, the book contains maps and islands and fire underground, all things I have strong feelings about, and yet it did very little for me. It’s short, but I’m a little puzzled by how lightweight it feels.