Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Identical twins Cath and Wren are off to college. They used to do everything together but now Wren is determined to be an individual. Reluctantly Cath finds herself pushed out of Wren’s life. But Cath is still smitten with the ‘Simon Snow’ fandom and the fanfic she writes for it. Wren used to be part of the fandom too, until she minimised its importance in her life. Cath is alone with only fandom for company, but new friends and love are close too.
This is excellent coming of age tale as Cath is hell-bent on writing the ultimate ‘Simon Snow’ fanfic, Wren hurls herself into deeply troubling situations, Cath meets a petty sleazeball and then a feisty ranch boy, their bipolar dad has torment and their mother who walked out years ago returns to antagonise the situation. This is a persistently astonishing, wonderful tale of a girl, her pontificating on the valid representation of fanfic and her unsullied love of ‘Simon Snow’ (a thinly veiled ‘Harry Potter’ expy). Cath learns life lessons, gets recognition as a writer and as a respected fanfic author and goes from having no sense of the future to unassaibly confident.
“I don’t think she knows how to be wrong.”
“It’s like The Shining in here.”
The Scent of Shadows: The First Sign Of The Zodiac by Vicki Pettersson
This 2007 novel began a sluggish Las Vegas set urban fantasy series. Disrespected Joanna Archer is disowned by her rich father, her mother walked out years ago and she has trauma from a terrible event in her past. But she still has Ben her lost love who has shown up in her life again and she has Olivia, her sister. Then on her 25th birthday, her circumstances change forever. She learns she part of Zodiac troop 175, division Las Vegas. Cue a daffy tae of pheromones, matriarchal lineage, cosmic balance, superheroes, shadow agents, astrological charts and the personification of the Archer. There are also paternity revelations, conduits, comic books and over-stated visceral grime.
This is a capacious, derisory tale with ridiculous world building. Nothing is convincingly done in this book. Joanna’s team-mates are staid, blatantly bewilderingly, loathing jerks. Joanna has to overcome her naivety and survive the maelstrom as she goes up against the big bad Tulpa. This has no cohesion and is desperate to be a dark, exhaustive tale of a damned world and a heroine tainted by darkness facing a formidable foe. But it isn’t, this tries way too hard and is just irrelevant and full of disproportionate reactions.
“Don’t play affronted bimbo with me.”
“Leave it to Cher to think a nice pick-me-up after a sister’s death would be a spray-on tan.”
The Repentant edited by Brian M. Thomson & Martin H. Greenberg
This 2003 horror anthology centres on reformed monsters.
A small town sheriff who is not what he seems stands guard against an ancient foe. Very good.
The Salem Trial
A lawyer learns she is a descendant of the victims of the Salem witch trials. Okay.
The Den Mother
The operator of a woman’s shelter protects a new arrival. Very good.
Brothers In The Flesh
Coll is the arch foe of the necromancers who appeared in tales in the ‘Children of Magic’ and ‘Villains Victorious’ anthologies. The fate of the evil necromancer who starred in those tales is revealed. This is very good, with a twist.
She Dwelleth In The Cold Of The Moon
A zombie learns unpleasant truths. Good.
By Tanya Huff. This is a tale of Henry Fitzroy avenging himself on the Inquisition after his mortal lover dies under the question. Good.
By Chelsea Quinn Yarbo. Told through letters this is a tale of the Count Saint-Germain and how he spent 15 years as a prisoner of the Inquisition in the New World. This was good.
“All charges against him - whatever they were - dismissed.”
The Devil You Know
A boy becomes a demon’s unwilling apprentice. Creepy.
A demon welcomes exorcism. Good.
Renaissance Faire edited by Andre Norton & Jean Rabe
This 2005 anthology centres on magic and mayhem at Renaissance faires.
Jewels Beyond Price
A jeweller meets a genie. Fun.
A musician is given a gift, sad.
Girolamo and Mistress Willdendorf
Two foes locked in unending battle encounter each other at a faire. Dark.
A Time For Steel
Arthurian goings on at a faire. Funny.
One Hot Day
A woman has unpleasant visions during the faire. Unsettling.
Tam Lin and the Fairy Queen clash. Nice.
Marriage A La Modred
An elf shows up a faire. Funny.
The faire’s star attraction has a sad back-story. Good.
An idiotic young couple end up in a real Renaissance village. They come to a bad end. Dark.
The Land Of Awful Shades
A knight’s challenge. Good.
Something rotten is afoot at the faire. Okay
Nightmare Express by Linda Hoy
This 1996 novel is the unwanted sequel to the excellent ‘Nightmare Park’ and sadly it does not rekindle the success of the first novel. The nuisances Marie and Theresa bunk off school to journey from Sheffield to the York Dungeon. Meanwhile an escaped nutter lumbers around in this non-compelling mess. The humour of the first book is missing, I unlaughed emphatically. Plus the friendship isn’t that well done and the whole structure of the book derails any interest. This is a real blot and it took resilience to keep reading. Repudiate this slipshod haranguing error. A book this bad is morally unjust and infuriating.
“And even more lucky to have found a train that’s moving.”
“Snow? Oh, I am surprised.”
“I wouldn’t trust anybody from Wath-On-Dearne.”