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Books read, early November

Alix E. Harrow, A Spindle Splintered. This novella has all the Sleeping Beauty you never knew you wanted, and all the friendship, and it is so fierce. I gobbled it right up.

Patrick Radden Keefe, Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland. Oof, this was a hard book to read. Keefe does not make the mistake of thinking that there is some perfect side or person in the Troubles, but he also doesn’t make the mistake of thinking that that means that there aren’t some people who did some clearly very horrible things that hurt some people–including some children–very badly. This book centers on a family whose widowed mother was disappeared, and by whom and the fallout to them and the politics around it, and it is brutally hard reading. I’m not sorry I read it, but…brace yourself.

A.K. Larkwood, The Thousand Eyes. Discussed elsewhere.

Freya Marske, A Marvellous Light. I am really bad at preordering books, but I let myself preorder this one, and it came in the middle of a run of bad library books (since mended, don’t worry!), and it was just what I needed. There is secret magic, there is varied Edwardian (or possibly merely Edwardianesque) society, there are motorcars and country homes and sibling alliances and spells done with thread guidance and the prose voice is just where I needed it to be to relax into the story and the characters. Recommended.

Naomi Mitchison, The Fourth Pig. Reread. This is Our Naomi at her most political, in short story forms, and I love her so much. I don’t think I’d start here, I’d start with a novel, but she is so dear, she is so very having a 1930s here and trying to thrash around figuring out how to do it, and for all people talk about the last time we had a ’20s and the current era, and for all I kind of wish we were again…the ’30s, I imprinted on them hard when I was very small and here they are and I understand how they go and yes, this.

Tochi Onyebuchi, Goliath. Discussed elsewhere.

Dana Simpson, Unicorn Famous and Unicorn Playlist. The most recent two volumes of the Phoebe & Her Unicorn comic, tender and funny and loving and good. I relaxed right into these as soon as I had them to read. You can probably start here if you like, there are things that will be a little baffling like the popular girl at school also being popular with goblins, but you’ll get there fast enough, it’s a comic strip, it’s fine.

Lynne Thomas, Michael Thomas, et al, eds., Uncanny Magazine Issue 43. Kindle. I don’t review things I’m in, and I’m in this. But I did read it.

E. Catherine Tobler, Sonya Taaffe, David Gilmore , et al, eds., The Deadlands Issue 4. Kindle. I continue to find this a reliably good read to catch up on, and I particularly continue to be glad that they are running Amanda Downum’s column.

Claire Tomalin, The Invisible Woman: The Story of Charles Dickens and Nelly Ternan. A third of the way into this book, I went and put all the rest of Tomalin’s books on my to-read list, regardless of whether I had a preexisting interest in their subjects. She is having absolutely none of the cult of St. Charles Dickens–as well she should not–and she goes into some thorough detail figuring out what was going on with Ellen Ternan and her family and being a reasonable human being about what options were actually available to her at the time. So very well done. I enjoyed it thoroughly.

Alice Wong, ed., Disability Visibility: First-Person Stories from the Twenty-First Century. I think this set of essays will have something revelatory for everybody. No matter how active you are in the disability community, there will be at least one person’s perspective or details here that will be a moment of epiphany. And they’re all reasonably short, so if you encounter one that’s a perspective you already had in some detail, you can nod along and go on to the next.

Jane Yolen, Grey Heroes: Elder Tales from Around the World. Reread. I hadn’t reread this since I got it as a present twenty years ago, when it was nearly new. I think there are things Jane would do slightly differently now–particular terminology that’s changed currency, or ways that dialect might be used differently twenty years later. But in general it’s a solid collection of folktales that center elder heroes in a variety of contexts, which is something we still don’t see very much of two decades on.

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