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Books read, late June

Short post, due to reading friends’ manuscripts and reviews for elsewhere a lot this fortnight. Did not get posted due to personal stuff, so here you get it late.

Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling, Snow White, Blood Red. Reread. While this was a reread, it had been years since I’d picked it up again. Some of the stories now look much less fresh, as happens when a new thing becomes an established genre. Others were still really great. I think this must have been the first thing I ever read of Caroline Stevermer’s, given the timing of when I bought this book. I really liked Jack Dann’s “The Glass Casket,” and “The Snow Queen” might well be my favorite Patricia McKillip story–maybe I should seek out more of her short work. Or maybe I’m finally coming around? A lot of people I know and respect are huge McKillip fans, but she never really clicked for me. But this story did. I’m a huge sucker for Snow Queen stories, though.

Kate Elliott, Black Wolves. This book has a lot of things I would say I want. Layers of imperial politics. Different cultures under empire. The demon coils were a kind of magic I liked. There were cool things in this book. It took some time for me to get going with it, and I never really got very emotionally involved. I wanted to talk to a couple of friends at Readercon about this book, but I had to drag myself through caring on a purely intellectual level in several spots. Also, when I say that I am tired, tired, tired of reading fantasy novels where women get raped, it is not because I want more fantasy novels where men get raped. It is particularly not because I want more fantasy novels where men who are not major point of view characters get raped to motivate other men because God forbid we should have to deal with the fallout of a man in that kind of experience having to go on with his life and protag; it’s hard enough to get women that way. So that is a major content warning for you there I guess.

Kelly Link, Magic for Beginners. Sometimes when you’re in your early twenties, the wrong person gets associated with a movie or a singer or an author. They enthuse too much, they press the thing on you–maybe it’s a toxic friend, maybe it’s an ex-love, maybe it’s a relative who just wouldn’t let you be. And the art or the artist gets a bad association in your head, you think, ugh, that. And then gradually you’re not that age any more, and you’re not around that person any more, and for some reason you listen to a song by the singer, you read a story by the writer, whatever, and you think, hey, this is really good. This is actually a lot more my sort of thing than I thought. And that person and their associations aren’t important to me any more anyway. Well. Here we are in my mid-thirties reading the Kelly Link back catalog. And I’m glad I didn’t wait any longer, because there’s not only the title story, but there’s “The Faery Handbag.” There is an old Scrabble-playing lady with a large foreign vocabulary. I needed this story. I am so glad not to have done any longer without this story. I will need it again, and now I will have it. Yay.

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